Sony RX100 thoughts and updated camera coming

Discussion in 'Photography Board' started by havoc315, Jun 14, 2013.

  1. havoc315

    havoc315 DIS Veteran

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    A year ago, Sony introduced the RX100, making a huge impact on the compact camera market, and re-defining what a compact camera could be capable of. In the next couple of weeks, Sony is announcing an update on this camera.

    I used it exclusively for a week at Disney last year, to some remarkable results.

    In this day and age where every camera starts getting steep discounts a month after it's release, it's quite amazing that the Sony RX100 is still selling generally at it's full price of $650 a year later. Demonstrating great demand, despite the price so much higher than most compact cameras.

    So after owning this camera for a year, I wanted to share my thoughts.

    In reading about compact cameras, though there are some other very capable cameras on the market, the RX100 still seems to stand alone in terms of the combination of sensor size and fast lens.
    In many situations, it has proven to be the perfect camera. Certainly capable of replacing a dSLR for many people in many situations.

    In these situations the RX100 truly shines:
    -When you want top quality in something small. While mirrorless cameras are much smaller than dSLRs, they aren't nearly as pocketable at the RX100. So if you want to travel as light and compact as possible, with the smallest possible sacrifice in image quality... this is the camera.
    - Because it's small and pocketable, it become a great camera to take everywhere. There are lots of small and compact cameras. Though many of them don't produce quality much better than a good smart phone. In fact, in the next few months, we will even see smart phones with optically zooming cameras using upsized sensors. Still, the RX100 produces quality far surpassing than other compacts of the similar size.
    - In many cases, it will outperform dSLRs/Mirrorless cameras that are stuck with their kit lenses. The RX100 lens is very sharp, and very fast at it's widest aperture. It's a better lens than the "kit" lens included in many dSLRs.
    -It's a great landscape camera. It has great dynamic range, in the same league as many dSLRs. While the sensor is still smaller than dSLRs/most mirrorless, it packs quite a punch. I feel when shooting landscapes within its focal range, there is little to no advantage when shooting landscape jpegs.
    - It's a very good "candid" camera, "street photography" etc -- The focusing is relatively fast for a compact. Being small and discreet, a fairly low shutter lag, it is pretty darn good at candids.
    - It is a nearly perfect camera for most of Disney World. It's focal range -- 28mm-100mm equivalent, is really ideal for touring most of Disney World. The sharp lens is great for capture Disney landscapes and architecture. The fast lens and sensor with high ISO capabilities, allow true dark ride captures. I've never seen any other compact capture the true dark dark rides. The only time it can be lacking at Disney, is the telephoto isn't huge, which is a disadvantage if you are doing the Animal Kingdom safari.
    - The 20mp sensor resolves a massive amount of detail. (Which also allows extra cropping for more "zoom")
    - Video is excellent. Though I'm not a video specialist so I won't comment much.

    Now the disadvantages, of which there are a few.
    - Fixed LCD, no viewfinder. Especially in bright light, it can be difficult to compose your shot on the fixed LCD.
    - Maybe I'm spoiled by the excellent RAW files of my Sony A55. But I find that the RX100 raw files don't add a tremendous amount to my captures.
    - Compared to many compacts, there is significantly less telephoto range. This is a necessity of using a larger sensor though.

    When just comparing it to dSLRs, the big disadvantages are:
    - The sensor still isn't big enough to capture truly narrow depth of field. You can achieve some background blur, but not nearly as easily and to the same level as a dSLR/mirrorless, etc. Thus, if I'm focusing on portraits or artistic shots, there are still big advantages of a dSLR.
    - a dSLR still focuses and shoots faster. Especially when adding a telephoto lens, I'd much rather use a dSLR to shoot sports. If I don't care about the size of the camera and being discreet, I'd rather use the dSLR to shoot candids.

    Now comes the news that Sony is updating the RX100. According to substantiated rumors, the new camera will be fundamentally the same -- same sensor and lens. But with a couple key upgrades:
    -- A hot shoe. While I never felt a strong desire to add an external flash, this may be a big plus for some people. Even nicer in my opinion, is it could allow for the addition of an electronic viewfinder. (Though would that be worth the price and change in size?)
    -- Wifi -- The best thing about shooting with a smartphone is the ability to instantly share a photo. I think wifi is one of the better consumer "gimmicks."
    -- tiltable LCD screen --- This could really really help with composing shots, especially in harsh lighting.

    So having enjoyed by RX100..... I've found that it has not replaced my dSLR. I use both, in different situations. It's not unusual for me to be carrying both. Though I tend to carry my RX100 where I don't want the bulk of my dSLT. When I do have both in hand, I usually do go with the dSLT.

    Would I recommend the RX100 and to who?

    As your "main" or "only" camera:

    -If you are strictly a point & shooter, and don't mind spending the money the RX100 is great if you can live within the focal range. But many point & shooters have grown accustomed to having a huge zoom, and they may be disappointed in this camera. I honestly do not think a huge zoom is important in most cases--- If you aren't shooting sports or wildlife, then I certainly think an RX100 can be the "only" camera for a point and shooter.

    -If you are debating whether to enter the dSLR/mirrorless world, and debating whether to simply buy an entry level dSLR with kit lens: For people who would never expand beyond the kit lens, the RX100 is probably the better all around camera. You'll get better results with the RX100 in most cases, for a similar price, in a smaller package.

    -For a true dSLR/mirrorless camera user--- The RX100 is a great complimentary camera, if it fits in your budget. But if you enjoy an assortment of lenses for your dSLR/mirrorless, then the RX100 won't be able to match the versatility you enjoy. The RX100 is NOT a replacement for a full dSLR/mirrorless system. It is a great compliment to such a system.

    Anyway, enough babbling, and here are some photo samples taken over the last year:

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    winter-95.jpg by Havoc315, on Flickr

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    Epcot Illuminations by Havoc315, on Flickr

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    Last light by Havoc315, on Flickr

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    View from Grand Central by Havoc315, on Flickr

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    Tower of Terror library by Havoc315, on Flickr

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    Pumpkins by Havoc315, on Flickr

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    Grand Central Station NYC by Havoc315, on Flickr
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    museumnightrx-49.jpg by Havoc315, on Flickr

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    Bryant Park Fountain by Havoc315, on Flickr

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    Disney Hollywood Hotel by Havoc315, on Flickr

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    DSC00666 by Havoc315, on Flickr
     
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  3. WDWFigment

    WDWFigment Owner of Disney Tourist Blog

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    Great review and even better photos!

    The only thing with which I disagree is on RAW. It doesn't have as much dynamic range as any DSLR I've ever used, but I'm still shocked at what I can do with those RAW files.

    I'd consider the upgrade for the WiFi alone.
     
  4. havoc315

    havoc315 DIS Veteran

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    I go back and forth. On my A55.... I can get so much out of the RAWs, and the jpeg engine isn't perfect.
    On the RX100... Certainly some of those example shots were done in RAW, which certainly helped. But I've had a bit less luck recovering highlights compared to dSLR/T raw. And I'm overall pretty happy with RX100 jpegs. My entire Disney trip was shot in jpeg.
     
  5. Shazzasmd

    Shazzasmd Mouseketeer

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    Very nice review/summary of your use with the RX100. I have only had mine for a couple of months, but agree with all your comments. I just returned from a month long trip to Alaska, and used the RX100 as a complement to a 5DMIII. It was great to be able to keep the 100-400mm lens on the 5DMIII, and use the RX100 when I wanted a wider angle (there were still times I used the 5DMIII with a wide angle, but the RX100 performed very well).

    And - the size of the camera made it convenient to carry everywhere, with little sacrifice in IQ for most travel photography situations. I will also say that I found the in-camera HDR mode to work well in many lighting situations.

    I may try taking just the RX100 on my next trip to WDW. I doubt the upgrade will tempt me, although having the tilt screen would be advantageous (as you stated).
     
  6. wiigirl

    wiigirl DIS Veteran

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    Great review...love your pics too. :)
     
  7. hakepb

    hakepb DIS Veteran

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  8. havoc315

    havoc315 DIS Veteran

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    Bunch of reviews are already up. One of the big websites said something to the effect of, "the RX100 was the best compact camera, now it's the RX100 Mii"
    But yes, based on the reviews and the posted sample pics, at least jpeg ISO performance appears to be improved. So it was already perhaps the best low light performing compact, and now it's better.
    Quite a remarkable feat.

    To be honest, I'm often happier with the noise results out of my RX100 over my APS-C based A55. Between the high resolution sensor and effective noise reduction, I get usable results as high as ISO 3200 with sufficient detail.

    This was ISO 2000..... So if the RX100Mii is better than this, that's quite impressive:

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    Haunted House by Havoc315, on Flickr
     
  9. havoc315

    havoc315 DIS Veteran

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  10. havoc315

    havoc315 DIS Veteran

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