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Sony DSC-RX100 Camera Review

9/20/2012 6:31:13 PM

As a compact, Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 is impressive thanks to high visual quality and hi-class lens with wide aperture, deserving the price.

Introduced in May 2012 in USD, DSC-RX100 is the first Cyber-shot camera that Sony has equipped with large sensor and Carl Zeiss hi-end lens promising to provide user with best image quality.

Description: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 is equipped with 1inch sensor and large aperture optimizing for low-lighting capture.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 is equipped with 1inch sensor and large aperture optimizing for low-lighting capture.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 reminds people of Canon’s Powershot S100 introduced last year. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 also uses multi-function knob installed above 3.6x zoom, on the top edge lies power button, quick capture button integrated with zooming lever, function wheel and pop-up flash. However, Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 is thicker (3.6mm) and sturdier than Canon Powershot S100 (2.6mm thick).

Description: DSC-RX100’s LCD screen uses exclusive WhiteMagic technology optimizing visual quality and energy consumption.

DSC-RX100’s LCD screen uses exclusive WhiteMagic technology optimizing visual quality and energy consumption.

This camera is equipped with 1inch Exmor CMOS sensor (20.9pixel resolution) supporting 1:1, 3:2, 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratio. Compared with sensors of Micro Four Thirds series and APS-C sensor of models having replaceable lens, the camera’s sensor is still smaller in design yet it gets more compact and easily put in pocket.

Description: Tab menu on DSC-RX100’s interface looks similar to those on SLT models and cameras having replaceable from the same manufacturer.

Tab menu on DSC-RX100’s interface looks similar to those on SLT models and cameras having replaceable from the same manufacturer.

Not only does it come with a large sensor, but Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 also owns hi-end Carl Series Vario-Sonnar T* lens (from Germany) supporting F1/1 aperture at 10.4mm focal length (35mm equivalent focal length is 28mm). In addition to 3.6x optical zoom, Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 features Clear Image Zoom (7.2x) and Optical Steady Shot.

Beside 3 traditional capture modes: Intelligent Auto, Superior Auto and Sweep Panorama, this camera is fully equipped with creative modes (PASM) and RAW format support.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 also comes with popular contacts such as micro-SD, micro-HDMI and good compatibility with memory cards: SD, SDHC, SDXC and Memory Stick.

In practice, we felt comfortable with this model’s 248g weight (including battery and memory card). Although metal case gave decisive operation, it was still not suitable for people with hand sweat. Control keys on top and sideways edge are properly placed and high-sensitive yet some of them were so small that they were hard to be pressed. We felt that zooming, adjusting aperture and steering function wheel were easily completed. “Fn” button allowed user to assign up to 7 different function keys from control menu, which comes handy when user desires quick access to regularly used features.

The rear 3inch LCD TFT monitor plus 1,229,000 pixels provides large observation angle, HQ display and low glare when used right under sunlight. User had only one option for focusing via LCD screen as Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 doesn’t support EVF (Electronic viewfinder). You can also choose different display modes on screen, from basic (ISO, speed and aperture) to detail (parameter on the left and color balance).

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 focuses on not only hardware but also improvements in interface which is horizontally tab-styled and understandably categorized. We found no difficulty navigating through menus as well as setting up configuration. The camera also provides a physical button, chosen from menu, for removing separate or inclusive photos.

Description: The device’s perspective analysis seemed smart; we didn’t need to activate macro-mode to shoot this flower.

The device’s perspective analysis seemed smart; we didn’t need to activate macro-mode to shoot this flower.

Description: Sony DSC-RX100 gave high-detailed photos (this image was cropped from the above one).

Sony DSC-RX100 gave high-detailed photos (this image was cropped from the above one).

Setting up resolution at 18MP and aspect ratio at Fine, captured images owned 4,864x3,648 pixel resolution and averagely 5MB size/ image. Trying shooting photos in Superior Auto mode with the above configuration, we saw that the result was satisfactory. In standard lighting, captured photos displayed high detail and accurate colors. Thanks to hi-end Vario-Sonnar T*, purple fringing in high-contrast images were significantly reduced.

In this capture mode, Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 was quite smart to analyze different perspectives. Though, once needing to shoot in low-lighting without the help of either flash or tripod, user must pick one of these modes: Night Scene and Hand-held Twilight for night scene and Night Portrait for capturing portrait at night. We found out that this mode ran smoothly and gave no blurriness.

Though 3.6x optical zoom was quite limited in distant capture, with high definition and realistic colors at tele focal length (100m equivalent) plus good anti-shake ability, this problem was not much considerable.

Description: Image captured in ISO 800

Image captured in ISO 800

In test of noise elimination, Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 gave impressive results in ISO range between 80 and 6400. Noise was well controlled under IS0 6400. This meant user could capture photos even in low-lighting while quality was still as good as expected.

Description: With ISO 3200, colors were still accurate plus no decrease in detail.

With ISO 3200, colors were still accurate plus no decrease in detail.

The camera’s recording ability supports Full HD videos of two most popular formats: MP4 and AVCHD ver. 2.0. If preferring AVCDH format, user has two options for Full HD60p and Full HD60i. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 also features digital zooming and shooting images during recording videos. Through test of recording ACCHD videos in Program Auto mode, captured scenes were smooth and clear. Additionally, sound quality was quite good, with low noise in even in windy condition. Zoom lens seemed working quietly and it didn’t make any noise during recording. After trying using digital zoom, we knew that video quality’s detail was slightly decreased.

Despite not having the largest sensor (while Canon PowerShot does by having 18.7x14mm sensor), Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 still gains the upper hand thanks to a lot of powerful features including quick autofocus, depth-of-field for photos similar to which camera owning separate lens is able to create and nice visual quality.

The product’s key features

20MP Exmor CMOS sensor plus 13.2x8.8mm size

3.6x Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar zoom lens

28-100mm (equivalent) focal length

3inch LCD screen plus 1,229,000 pixel resolution

ISO 80-6400

1080i/1080p video resolution

Micro-USB/micro-HDMI contact

330-shot battery life

102x59x36mm size

248g weight (including battery and memory card)

 

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