Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100
Price Range: $468.99 - $598.00
CNET Editors' Rating: 4.0 / 5
The good: Speed, good looks, and pretty pictures number among the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100's strengths.
The bad: The camera tends to clip bright highlights more than we typically see, and the slippery body lacks a grip. Plus, the lack of a manually triggered macro mode might put off some fans of close-up photography.
The bottom line: The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100's compact, elegant design, generally excellent photo quality, bright, fast lens, and speedy performance make a great package if you don't mind spending a little more money.
Design, Features & Performance (out of 10)
Sony may be a camera-come-lately with its Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 enthusiast compact, but boy, what a debut: a fast performer equipped with a relatively large sensor and a bright, fast lens, and wrapped in a small, sleek body. It seems like Sony made a lot of intelligent decisions about design and feature tradeoffs to get the job done. Compared with many of its competitors it's relatively expensive, but it doesn't feel overpriced for what you get.
The RX100 generally displays good JPEG processing and noise reduction; it does a creditable job of balancing trade-offs between color noise and softness. Out-of-focus areas still suffer from mushiness as low as ISO 400 -- a common problem with cameras with smaller sensors -- but in-focus spots stand up pretty well until about ISO 800. Overall, the camera's JPEGs look solid up to ISO 400 and acceptable through ISO 1600, depending upon scene content. From a noise and artifact perspective, I was happy with an uncorrected 13x19 print of the ISO 1600 photo downloadable below.
But it's nice that you're not forced to rely on the high ISO sensitivities that often. While the lens aperture gets pretty narrow at the telephoto end of the focal range, it's still relatively wide for a nice chunk of the way. Here are the points at which the maximum aperture changes:
Keep in mind that while the aperture determines the amount of depth of field you'll have at a given focal length, so does sensor size. That means competing aperture specs are only moderately useful when it comes to comparing cameras: the f1.8 on the XZ-1 will look very different from the f1.8 on the RX100 because of sensor size difference. Larger sensors can achieve shallower DOF at a given focal length and aperture than smaller sensors, which gives the RX100 a compositional flexibility advantage over cheaper competitors. But typically, unless you're always shooting at a wide angle or close up, you'll probably still end up without a lot of background defocus. The more practical advantage the lens confers is simply allowing for more light.
The camera produces very nice low-ISO-sensitivity shots with lovely tonality. It doesn't have a neutral Creative Style, so the photos have Sony's typical Standard look, high contrast with pushed saturation. That said, it doesn't stress the range so badly that hues shift or shadow detail clips substantially. The one possible issue I encountered was that bright highlights on yellows get completely blown out. They're unrecoverable from raws in Sony's Image Data Converter software, but they might be there for better software. On the other hand, some clipped areas in bright, saturated reds of JPEG images proved moderately recoverable in the software.
The lens displays very good center sharpness through f5.6, with a slight falloff at f8 and noticeable softness at f11. There's also some aberration at f1.8, which is typical, and a little bit of barrel distortion on the left side at its widest -- it looks like Sony is performing in-camera distortion correction, which tends to make wide angle images look oddly linearized.
|Click to download||ISO 80 ||ISO 800 ||ISO 1600 |
Video looks good, bright, saturated, and reasonably sharp, with no notable artifacts in bright light, and is relatively noise-free in dim. The autofocus works well while shooting video, and the lens is sufficiently quiet while zooming. Audio comes through loud and clear and doesn't sound too compressed or tinny.
Editors' note: We recently updated our testing methodology to provide slightly more real-world performance information, so the results aren't necessarily comparable with previous testing. Until we're finished refining our procedures, we will not be posting comparative performance charts.
The RX100 is significantly faster than its competition for all but continuous shooting. It takes about 2.1 seconds to power on, focus, and shoot -- while that's not blazing-fast, it's still ahead of quite a few other models. Focusing and shooting under all but the darkest conditions takes about 0.3 second; in very low light, the autofocus automatically expands to the entire scene. Two sequential shots with the first prefocused take about 0.2 second for raw or JPEG. That increases to 2.3 seconds with flash enabled, which is on the fast side for this crowd. Shooting raw+JPEG with a fast SD card (a 95MBps SanDisk Extreme Pro) is fast and fluid without any interface lag.
With a fast card, the camera can burst JPEGs at 2.5 frames per second for an effectively unlimited number of shots without slowing. You can shoot raw continuously at the same rate for around 17 shots; after that, it drops to around 2.2fps. However, while faster than many competitors' times, neither of these is really great. Continuous shooting with the RX100 and many other viewfinderless models is mostly a point-and-pray process, anyway. In the case of the RX100, the tracking autofocus seems to lag behind even slow-moving subjects, another not-uncommon problem.
The LCD becomes a little washed out in direct sunlight but remains sufficiently visible.
Design and features
With only a couple of possible exceptions, the RX100 is a sleek, well-designed camera; it's compact and attractive, with a sturdily built aluminum body.
My biggest problem with the RX100's design is the lack of a grip. That combined with the slippery metal body means I'm constantly in fear of dropping it, and forced to grip it extra tightly, which can get really tiring if you shoot one-handed a lot. Over and over again we've seen companies drop the grip to make the camera seem smaller or shinier or somethinger only to add it back in a subsequent generation. It's nuts.
I like the control ring, which you can program to operate for one default setting (such as zoom or shutter speed) and to use in conjunction with the Fn button, which you can program to access up to seven more settings. However, you can't use the control ring while the camera's on a tripod (unless you have a very small plate); the ring extends just far enough below the bottom of the camera that there's no clearance to rotate.
The camera can be customized quite a bit. In addition to the Fn button, you can also reprogram the operation of the left and right navigation keys on the back dial as well as the center button. And there's a Memory Recall option on the mode dial so you can select from three custom settings slots.
|Canon PowerShot S100||Olympus XZ-1||Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7||Samsung EX2F||Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100|
|Sensor (effective resolution)||12mp CMOS||10mp CCD||10.1mp MOS||12.4mp BSI CMOS||20.2mp Exmor CMOS|
(7.6 x 5.7mm)
(8.07 x 5.56 mm)
(13.2 x 8.8mm)
|Sensitivity range||ISO 80 - 6400||ISO 100 - ISO 6,400||ISO 80 - ISO 6400||ISO 80 - ISO 3200/12800 (expanded)||ISO 100 - ISO 25600|
|Closest focus (inches)||1.2||0.4||0.4||0.4||1.9|
|Continuous shooting||2.3fps |
23 JPEG/8 raw
12 JPEG/ n/a raw
(11fps without tracking AF)
(10fps with fixed exposure)
|Viewfinder||None||Optional EVF||Optional EVF||None||None|
|11 area |
|25-area Contrast AF|
|Metering||n/a||324 area||n/a ||n/a||n/a|
|Shutter||n/a||60-1/2,000 sec; bulb to 16 min||60-1/4,000 sec||30-1/2,000 sec||30-1/2,000 sec; bulb|
|LCD||3-inch fixed |
|3-inch fixed OLED |
|3-inch fixed |
|3-inch articulated AMOLED |
|3-inch fixed |
|Image stabilization||Optical||Sensor shift||Optical||Optical||Optical|
H.264 QuickTime MOV
|720/30p Motion JPEG AVI |
|1080/60p AVCHD @ 28Mbps; 1080/60p QuickTime MOV @ 28Mbps |
|1080/60p/ 50p |
|Manual iris and shutter in video||Yes||No||n/a||n/a||Yes|
|Optical zoom while recording||Yes||Yes||n/a||Yes||n/a|
|External mic support||No||Yes||No||Yes||No|
|Battery life (CIPA rating)||200 shots||320 shots||330 shots||n/a||330 shots|
|Dimensions (WHD, inches)||3.9 x 2.3 x 1.1||4.4 x 2.6 x 1.7||4.4 x 2.6 x 1.8||4.4 x 2.4 x 1.1||4.0 x 2.4 x 1.4|
|Weight (ounces)||7||9.3||10.6 (est.)||11.4 (est.)||8.5|
|Availability||November 2011||January 2011||August 2012||August 2012||July 2012|
The top mode dial offers the usual manual, semimanual, and automatic modes, plus a dedicated movie mode (with a full set of manual and semimanual exposure controls) and Sweep Panorama.
I'd argue that the camera (like a lot of cameras, actually) offers too many automatic mode options: there's a scene program mode, intelligent auto, and Superior auto. I always thought the whole point of automatic was to not have to make any choices.
The movie button on the back is a bit hard to press because the location demands it be too recessed in order to keep from accidentally hitting it. The rest of the controls have just enough travel to keep from being difficult to operate.
In order to get rid of useless or screen-cluttering information like the Soft Skin or flash compensation setting -- the latter shouldn't even appear if the flash is forced off, for example -- you have to switch to the graphic display, which I find harder to parse quickly.
While the RX100 has a nicely rounded shooting feature set, I'd hardly call it expansive. The camera lacks a hot shoe, viewfinder, or articulated LCD. And even if you're willing to trade those off for the more compact size, it also lacks geotagging capability and wireless connectivity. It has features like the aforementioned Soft Skin Effect and Auto Portrait Framing, which I think are out of place in a camera for more advanced users. I'd rather have the ability to manually invoke macro mode, which, like with Sony's point-and-shoot models, here can only occur automatically. In addition to face detection, it can register up to eight faces, which it can then use for Smile Shutter or autofocus tracking.
For effectsionistas, the RX100 offers a handful, with a few very nice ones. But you've got to scroll through every variation -- a rotating cornucopia of 33 slots when there are really only 13 filters -- which gets seriously annoying. They're not accessible in raw or raw+JPEG mode (though the camera doesn't bother to tell you that's why they're grayed out) so you can't save a simultaneous version without effects, and you can't control any of the parameters.
While the Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 is pricey and imperfect, it's still darn good. Plus, based on past experience, even if competitors I haven't yet tested can surpass it in design or speed, I don't think they'll be able to match the photo quality. (Canon might be able to if it matched a fast lens to the G1 X's sensor.) Despite its drawbacks, I'd still rank it as one of the best compact cameras I've ever tested, and certainly the best under $700. But if you can't bring yourself to pay the premium price, one of these other enthusiast compact models will probably suit.
|Product Description||Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 - Digital camera|
|Product Type||Digital camera - Compact|
|Dimensions (WxDxH)||4 in x 1.4 in x 2.3 in|
|Supported Flash Memory||SDHC Memory Card, Memory Stick Duo, SD Memory Card, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, SDXC Memory Card, Memory Stick PRO Duo|
|Sensor Resolution||20.2 megapixels|
|Focus Adjustment||Manual, Automatic|
|Min Focus Range||2 in|
|Focal Length||10.4 mm - 37.1 mm|
|Image Stabilizer||Optical (Steady Shot with Active Mode)|
|Display||- TFT activematrix - Color, LCD display - 3 in|
|Supported Battery||1 x Sony NP-BX1 Li-ion rechargeable battery ( Included )|
Average User Rating: 4.0 / 5
User Rating Breakdown
5 Star: 5
4 Star: 2
3 Star: 1
2 Star: 0
1 Star: 0
Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100
Rating: 4.5 / 5
on October 29, 2012
4 out of 4 users found this review helpful
Pros: Superb automatic functions.
LCD display is excellent.
Build quality is great.
Built-in flash works well.
Cons: Optical zoom is just 3.6x.
There's no Macro button.
Summary: I wanted a compact camera that I could carry everywhere, all the time, with ease. What I read about the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R100 sounded really good, so I ordered one plus a Lowepro pouch to keep it safe. The camera is considerably better than I expected. It produces absolutely stunning photographs so I am completely delighted with it.
I really don't find the lack of a view finder any hindrance as the screen brightness can be turned up enabling it can be viewed in sunlight. The only thing that I miss is a fully articulated screen like the Nikon D5100 has, or a tilting screen like the Sony NEX cameras have, but I suppose it would have increased the front to back thickness.
The camera's on-line user guides leave some room for improvement so I look forward to a good book becoming available. I'm still trying to get my head around the differences between the dial settings of Intelligent Auto ("Automatically identifies the scene's characteristics and shoots a photo") and Superior Auto ("The device beautifully shoots automatically while reducing blurring and noise") - why and when you should use either!
The camera's superb automatic functions and its provision for full manual control is a powerfully enticing combination for such such a tiny package. One minor criticism, the blue Zeiss label on the front of my camera is coming unpeeled. I haven't had the camera long though it has been in daily use. I have taken hundreds of photos with it. The camera is both delightfully easy to use and yet very versatile. I love it.
Unfortunately Sony's software only supports Windows or Mac, which is not a lot of use to me as my OS is Linux. Nevertheless, Ubuntu 12.04 detects the camera automatically and Shotwell 0.12.3 imports photos without any difficulty.
I still find the camera's menu a bit baffling though. For example, no matter which setting the top dial on the right is turned to (P, A, S, M, MR, and so on), the DRO/Auto HDR option (under the camera icon, in menu 3) remains permanently greyed out. So I fail yet to understand its purpose, or how it can be selected. Nevertheless, the camera is really wonderful, so I can recommend it most highly. I'm glad I chose this one rather than the NEX 5N that I contemplated buying. The RX100 complements my DSLR perfectly.
The DRO/Auto HDR option was re-enabled when I reset the camera to its default settings, so I must have inadvertently changed some setting to disable it in all modes. I still haven't figured out what I did! I really don't find Sony's user guide or manual () very helpful and hope someone (eg David D Busch) will produce a book soon. Concerning the Zeiss label, it seems that I was mistaken because what unpeeled appears to have been a protective film leaving the label itself intact on the camera. I have managed to find an external charger for NP-BX1 batteries via Google.
*See more information & take more profit for the RX100 at: Digicams2012.wordpress.com/sony-dsc-rx100/
Hope my review is helpful.
Quality Compact great for Video & Discreet Photography
Rating: 4.5 / 5
on November 30, 2012
2 out of 2 users found this review helpful
Pros: Compact size, easy to carry and looks discreet when traveling.
Great Video quality even in low light at high ISO.
Very nice Bokeh, shallow DOF.
Minimal Lens Warping
Lots if Useful SCENE mode
Functions can be assigned to focus ring.
Cons: no 24fps for film look although shooting at 1/30 shutter speed looks close.
NO OEM filter system - but there are Mag Filter solutions out there.
Focus Ring takes a lot of turning to focus.
MTS video format - hard to preview files in Adobe Premiere.
Summary: I needed a camera with quality Video and fast, snappy action before a trip to South East Asia. I got the A77 and then returned it for the Rx-110,( due to bad low light performance) and I was really happy I did: Video looks amazing, Shoots Stills fast with no shutter lag, and is discreet due to size. I was able to bravely shoot anywhere, got great results from moving vehicle as well. Video came out fantastic, friends could not believe it came from a camera that fit into my pocket. I recommend filter adapters from Carry Speed and buying extra battery. Overall this camera offer serious quality performance at a compact size and reasonable price. Its fast, does not lens distort and take nice shallow DOF shots. Great back up cam for any DSLR user.
DSLR photo quality in compact camera. I LOVE IT!!!
Rating: 5 / 5
on January 2, 2013
1 out of 1 users found this review helpful
Pros: 1. Takes crisp and clear pictures.
2. Great in low light conditions.
3. Decent battery life.
4. Awesome features.
5. Beautiful compact design.
Cons: 1. No GeoTagging or Wi-Fi.
2. It's a bit pricey.
Summary: In short, this is a great camera! I got the RX100 has a replacement to a Canon SX230. It's such an improvement. Also, if you're a DSLR user and don't want to lug around a large camera this is the camera for you. The picture quality is simply amazing. Also, great ease of use and packed full of features that I'm still discovering with every use.
Astonishing image quality for the size.
Rating: 5 / 5
on August 24, 2012
1 out of 2 users found this review helpful
Pros: SWEEP PANORAMA AND HANDHELD TWILIGHT ARE GENUINELY USEFUL ,MANUAL FOCUS IS A JOY ON THE RX100,LOW-LIGHT PERFORMANCE AND SPEED BOTH FEEL DSLR-LIKE .
Cons: nothing ,nothing
Battery falls out, has to be taped in, but good pics.
Rating: 2.5 / 5
on January 3, 2014
0 out of 0 users found this review helpful
Pros: Good pictures, easy to use.
Cons: I've lost the battery while on a trip, and had to replace it.
Summary: Although I love the pictures, I'm replacing it because of the battery issue.
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