Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sony RX100- Too Little Too Late?

Sony Cybershot RX100- Too Little Too Late?

Cybershot shooters have been wanting a full featured compact camera ever since Sony abandoned the idea in 2006 when they purchased Konica Minolta and started the Alpha DSLR system. The last Cybershot that catered to enthusiast needs was the Sony DSC-R1, back in 2005. The RX100 is the first camera to incorporate a raw file option since then. But, is the RX100 the camera that Cybershot shooters have been asking for years? I doubt it.

Sony Cybershot Cameras

Reading the official specs below tells me that the RX100 has some of the features enthusiasts want, but it falls short on many other fronts. First of all there is no grip on the front of the camera, no optical or electronic viewfinder built in (nor is there an option for an evf possible either), no filter threads on the lens, no flash shoe, and 20mp might be a bit much for the camera and the user to chew on.
Sony Cybershot Cameras
There are however a few nice shiny spots. The ring around the lens is programmable for a few different functions, an idea that Olympus first came out with years ago. Canon has used it since then, and now Sony. Its a great idea and being customizable is nice.

Although the sensor seems packed with 20mp,  I'm sure it will perform at least at a decent level since there is a raw option and Sony are good at making sensors. The RX100 includes a lot of the same software goodies as the NEX and Alpha line like sweep panorama, DRO, multiframe noise reduction, art filters and more. The lens is pretty bright at the wide end but mediocre at the long end, and the range at its best (depending on the multitude of aspect ratio's available), is pretty average. A CZ lens with 24-120mm would have been much more attractive, for example.

Video button where my thumb rests, flat buttons, no tilt screen, uh no thanks.
 In the end though, Sony almost gave me a heart attack seeing that the RX100 had a raw option. There have been no Cybershot cameras since 2005 with a raw option, much to the dismay of many enthusiasts screaming from the bleachers for it. Still no NR off setting for Jpegs though, the new Sony standard. That means all the software goodies it has that only use JPEG writing won't give you the option to have the best IQ possible out of camera- they don't work with raw.

Seems like a small slick point and shoot typical of Sony's Cybershot division albeit with the inclusion of raw and a larger sensor. If that kind of camera appeals to you then you are the target market for Sony.

The camera will probably sell, but had it some features that enthusiasts really want or an APS-C sensor, it would have sold a lot better. I'm sure of that much. It's not hard to predict with today's finicky/spoiled buyers who have a multitude of more options out there to choose from- especially for the price the RX100 sells for- $649.99 USD.

Sony Cybershot Cameras


Sony Cybershot RX100 Full Press Release 

Sony’s New Advanced Cyber-shot RX100 Camera Packs Large Sensor and Bright Lens into Stylish, Pocket-Size Body

 New Model Contains World’s First 1.0-inch type 20.2 MP Exmor CMOS Sensor and Ultra-bright F1.8 Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T* Fixed Lens to Deliver Outstanding Picture Quality

SAN DIEGO, May 16, 2012 – Traveling light no longer means compromising on picture quality with the Cyber-shot® DSC-RX100 camera, Sony’s new flagship compact camera.

Striking the ultimate balance of form and function, the stylish, aluminium-built RX100 camera inherits many advanced imaging features from Sony’s a range of A-mount and E-mount cameras, delivering beautiful still images, crisp full HD videos and a level of manual control and creativity unmatched by any other camera of its size.

 “This camera is ideal for travel, portraits or street photography, delivering impressive results in a variety of lighting conditions with an intuitive, customizable control interface,” said Yosuke Tomoda, director of the Cyber-shot business at Sony Electronics.  “It’s a perfect step-up model for point and shoot users not interested in larger DSLR or compact system cameras, and also an outstanding choice for enthusiasts who may already own a large DSLR and are looking for a high-quality, pocket-sized ‘all-in-one’ second camera.”

 At the heart of the Cyber-shot RX100 is the world’s first 1.0-inch type Exmor® CMOS sensor with a resolution of 20.2 effective megapixels. Specially developed by Sony, the sensor has an area that’s approximately four times larger than the 1/2.3-type sensors in traditional point-and-shoot cameras. The sensor’s larger area takes in more light while capturing content, resulting in beautiful, detail-packed images and Full HD movie clips with very low noise.

The larger sensor is partnered with an exceptionally bright Carl Zeiss® Vario-Sonnar T* fixed lens with 3.6x optical zoom range.  In contrast to standard point-and-shoot cameras, it has a wide F1.8 maximum aperture to let in additional light and complement the resolving power of the larger sensor.

Similar to high-performance DSLR optics, the lens features seven- bladed circular aperture. This makes it easy to produce images with subjects in sharp focus against a smoothly-blurred, beautifully defocused background. The lens also features an Advanced Aspherical (AA) lens element that contributes to the camera’s extremely compact dimensions without sacrificing optical zoom performance or resolution.

Newly optimized to complement the 1.0-inch type sensor and lens, the camera’s powerful BIONZ® image processor maximizes shooting response times while helping assure exceptionally clean, natural images. It also extends sensitivity right up to ISO 25600 (using Multi Frame Noise Reduction), allowing for exceptionally clear handheld images in low light conditions. To capture fast-moving subjects, the RX100 camera can also shoot at up to 10 frames per second (in full resolution) and has high-speed autofocus that locks onto a subject in as quickly as 0.13 seconds (depends on scene and lighting conditions).

The new RX100 camera features a high-resolution 3-inch 1,229k dot Xtra Fine LCD™ display and also adds a new feature: WhiteMagic™ technology. This uses additional white pixels to boost screen brightness, allowing users to see subtle details and tones on the screen in all types of shooting environments, including outdoors in bright sunlight.

For making manual adjustments while shooting both still images and movies, the new camera has a smooth control ring around the lens body, which can be used to alter exposure, zoom, creative picture effects and a variety of other customizable functions.   Additionally, frequently used functions can be assigned to the Fn (function) button for instant access, and the Memory Recall feature can store up to three groups of customized shooting settings based on user preference.
Similar to a DSLR-style interface, there’s a choice of auto and manual focus modes on the Cyber-shot RX100 camera for enhanced image control. For those that prefer focusing manually, MF Assist magnifies images to simplify fine adjustments, and there’s also a pro-style peaking function that highlights sharply-focused areas of the image on screen.

The RX100 camera offers a generous choice of artistic options to expand creative shooting possibilities.  It includes the option for six different creative styles and a variety of popular picture effects including Toy Camera, Partial Color, HDR Painting and several others, most of which can be previewed directly on screen before shooting.

The new Cyber-shot features Auto Portrait Framing – a feature found on Sony’s latest a range of A-mount and E-mount cameras -- making it simple to create sharp, perfectly framed portraits. This unique feature automatically detects faces in a scene, crops the picture accordingly creates a tighter, pro-style composition at full resolution.  Both the original and cropped photo are saved for review. 

New accessories include a spare battery, dedicated carrying case and a battery charger designed to complement to the new camera. 

Pricing and Availability
The Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 digital camera will be available this July for about $650.  The camera and accessories will be available at Sony retail stores (www.store.sony.com) and other authorized dealers nationwide.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"First of all there is no grip on the front of the camera, no optical or electronic viewfinder built in (nor is there an option for an evf possible either), no filter threads on the lens, no flash shoe .."

Blah ... The point of the camera is to be pocketable and small. A larger grip and viewfinder would have ruined the camera. There is Nex for that, You missed the boat again with that comment.

June 6, 2012 at 12:31 AM  
Blogger C.GARRARD said...

All of that could be added and still remain pocketable. Ricoh GRD series was pocketable and had one of the best grips for compacts I've ever used/reviewed. LX5 has a hotshoe, pocketable. Even the Canon S100 has a grip, pocketable. EVF technology has grown exponentially, they are smaller and more detailed than ever- one could fit if the flash were repositioned.

So if I'm missing "the boat" you are on, I'll gladly stay ashore and let you go out to sea.



June 6, 2012 at 5:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LX5 is much bigger than RX100, with 3 times smaller sensor, but yet LX5 is heavier. Ricoh GRD didn't have a zoom lens, but yet it's size and weight match RX100 , despite 3 times smaller sensor.

I don't think you know what you are talking about. There is nothing comparable to RX100. It's the size of S95 but sensor that is 3 times bigger than S95

June 6, 2012 at 6:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On several occasions I took apart broken cameras (Sony, Fuji, Canon) just for the fun of it, to see how they were made. There is enough place to fit in a viewfinder, by all means. The problem is that camera makers hold that building in a VF would take away the profit... After all, there's only so much you can push the price up!

June 6, 2012 at 6:58 AM  
Blogger Vladimir said...

Spot on, Carl. Adding a tilt LCD would've added probably 3mm and 30 grams to the camera. A small grip protruding as far as the lens is also easily implementable. Video button is again at the same place as NEX-7. 20MP for what? Advanced user or not, this is supposed to be a camera for leisure time and not add to your hardware costs. And that mode dial could've been just a dial.
Anyway, still a good camera and I think it will sell very well. Especially compared to the moronic Canon G1x.

June 6, 2012 at 2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sony nailed it with the RX100; possibly the best compact ever.

"Too Little Too Late?" Are you kidding? It is already #10 on Amazon.com and demand is likely to exceed supply.

Just like Canon copied the LX3 with the S100, look for the same to soon happen with the S100. Sorry, but cameras like the S100, LX5, etc. cannot compare.

June 6, 2012 at 2:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would get it over the Nikon J1 any time of the day and over any compact outgrew with a non APS-C sensor.

June 6, 2012 at 4:55 PM  
Blogger C.GARRARD said...

"I don't think you know what you are talking about."

Then apparently I don't.


June 6, 2012 at 5:12 PM  
Blogger C.GARRARD said...

""Too Little Too Late?" Are you kidding?"

Nope. But I do think you misunderstood my point about raising that question.

The market has been full of serious compacts for years, Sony has not been in that market.

That, it seems is quite obvious. It's a decent effort to be sure, but decent won't cut it in today's market to stand out or succeed. You need to be better than the best.


June 6, 2012 at 5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only Opponent for this Camera is the s100.

For Users who like Compacts in size of an Ixus and as light as possible this is a good Choice.

I do Not Need an evf, None of my Compacts has had it, no mobile has it.
i Prefer to have it compact with a very Good Image quality. For Otter purposes I have my dslr. This is a Great Backup Cam, small and light.

It makes less Sense When people are always making a List what ist should have, hotshoe, evf, gripp etc
Everything Would Result in a bigger or Heavier Cam!

June 6, 2012 at 11:45 PM  
Blogger C.GARRARD said...

"The only Opponent for this Camera is the s10-"

Not true.

But maybe you are defining the genre by mere minute differences in grams or millimeters.

If that's the case, so be it.


June 7, 2012 at 4:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most of the pictures I see of the RX100, there's no Zeiss logo. Is the pictures out there without the Zeiss logo final?

I would have really liked to have the Zeiss logo.

June 9, 2012 at 12:24 AM  
Blogger C.GARRARD said...

Looks like the product images (provided en mass to Press) don't have the logo as they were shot on pre-production cameras. As you see on the reviews with camera in hand, the logo is there. We'll have to wait to see for sure on out of box production samples but quite likely the cameras will have the logo.


June 9, 2012 at 9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree to that Sony could and maybe should have added just enough grip (like GRD) without compromising the compactness.
But other than that I find very little to fault on the design. I also think that the price is right for what you get.
EVF, Hot sghoe, filter thread. All things that someone who is looking for a 100% carry-always camera can live without. Like me, I have the S95 for exactly the same reason, but am very excited about RX100.
All these things can be in another camera, which may then suit the taste of some other photogs. The kind of photogs that look at X10, or G1X or maybe a mirrorless with a small lens.

Dear C.GARRARD, you lose a loy of credibility by discrediting a camera as a "point and shoot" because you dont like it. And you say that Sony has to be better than the best to not earn "a too little to late". Hmmm.... please point us to any other such small camera with a sensor this big, and with such a bright lens. There is no such competing camera, not even close.

June 11, 2012 at 4:34 AM  
Blogger C.GARRARD said...

"Dear C.GARRARD, you lose a loy of credibility"

Unless I'm right of course. Which, remains to be seen. I won't debate your opinion because after all like mine, it's an opinion.


June 11, 2012 at 5:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jesperMP says:
We can already know if you are right or not with regards to "point-and-shoot or not".
An Ixus is a point-and-shoot. Not because it is small, but because it has only basic controls. You cannot influence the cameras automatic decisions about metering, or whitebalance, etc. except in a very limited and/or very cumbersome way.
Cameras like S95 and RX100 are not point-and-shoot cameras because they have all the controls of bigger cameras. I have an S95, and I can directly access ISO, exposure compensation, and white balance, all without having to dive into the menu system. It seems that RX100's contols are at least as good.

I notice that it is a common practice by many reviewers to diss a camera by calling it "point-and-shoot", without arguing why the camera in question falls into that category.

June 11, 2012 at 6:12 AM  
Blogger C.GARRARD said...

I thought I explained my viewpoint about point and shoot quite well. But, I'll be more specific- in exterior controls it is very similar to a nicer sony point and shoot camera that they typically have come out with in the past. Flat buttons, common icons and placement, no grip on the front, boxy shirt pocketable design, not hot shoe, no viewfinder, etc etc.

Is that term a negative connotation to you? How would you describe it?

Seems like cutting the ends of hairs to me.

But your opinion is yours, hope that explains my stance a bit better though.


June 11, 2012 at 5:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was absolutely sure I was going to get a GRD IV, but with this new camera coming out, I might have to hold out on it. I have no problem with 28mm fixed... but the larger sensor, 1080p video, mind you I think the Ricoh looks way better.

June 11, 2012 at 8:50 PM  
Blogger C.GARRARD said...

There's something to be said about using a camera and not just reading about it, it makes all the difference in the world.


June 12, 2012 at 6:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your typical backseat driver with an agenda, desperately trying to write off a camera that already appears to become a massive success (the waiting lines are less successful to those having to wait..). It's quite something to have Canonites and Nikonians drooling over a Sony compact instantly, let alone after the very positive review(s).

June 13, 2012 at 9:53 AM  
Blogger C.GARRARD said...

Welp, you are certainly entitled to your opinion. At least you know what I think and I don't hold back any punches.

Isn't it funny though that when I'm overly positive my opinion is spot on, but when I give open and honest comments and/or criticism it's met with comments like yours- I have an agenda (whatever that means- and agenda to do what exactly...?) and other harsh and often personal comments about my opinion and persona.

So basically, it's best to stick to being honest- which I will continue to do.



June 13, 2012 at 10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This website has become a waste. Sorry, but I would value the opinion of my gardener first. Time to move onto to other reputable websites.

June 19, 2012 at 2:46 PM  
Blogger C.GARRARD said...

Please move on, if you want a refund please let the person at the counter know on the way out.


June 19, 2012 at 5:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dont really want to pile on here, but the headline on your RX100 review just seems really out of touch with a huge sector of the market. Maybe you're not part of that particular sector, there is a huge market for this camera.

As a second, carry everywhere compact to go with their DSLR or mirrorless ILC, almost everyone I know has been drooling over this camera.

July 19, 2012 at 7:19 AM  
Blogger C.GARRARD said...

I'm aware it's selling well right now. So did the X10 for Fuji, early adoption on new cameras is so common its predictable especially when it fits a certain niche that is popular with enthusiasts. Right now bigger sensors are popular in smaller cameras but, photokina is coming up and that's when the RX100 will quickly be forgotten.

Two or three months of good sales does not a good camera make. If it sells well for an entire year I'll gladly eat my words. But I don't think it will.


July 31, 2012 at 9:14 PM  
Blogger Crix said...

Sorry to see your IMHO overly negative attitude towards the RX100.
It is a premium compact camera (high price, many controls, very small size, very good lens).

It is much better than the ZX1, LX5, S100 class in terms of IQ. It is also more expensive.
It is not quite as good as m43 or the Nex series, but not that far away especially if those are used with their kit lenses. And it is even smaller than those MILCs.

So it sits inbetween those camera classes. There may be m43/Nex/DSLR buyers who will prefer this camera as their one-and-only camera simply because of size, weight and comparable IQ. And there will be P&S upgraders who will prefer it because of better IQ but smaller size lower and weight to their previous cameras. And there will be those who will take it as an additional carry-everywhere backup camera because of its IQ bundled with carefree size.

If you complain about the lack of an EVF or grip, IMHO you have missed the boat and not noticed that for the above mentioned buyers, this makes perfectly sense.

I recenty was on a multi-days bicycle tour and took a minimal kit with me: Nex with kit lens without EVF, instead of my P&S. I took some nice pictures but frequently had to hurry behind the others because of the delay unpacking and packing even this small kit. In the end, I left it dangling around the shoulder. If I would own a compact camera small enough for cargo pants, I'd have much preferred that.

August 10, 2012 at 6:15 AM  
Blogger C.GARRARD said...

I'm not overly negative about the RX100, I'm honest. I know what I like in a camera and that shouldn't threaten your sensitivities. It's also my opinion, which also shouldn't threaten your's. Do you see me tell you your opinion is wrong? No. It's your opinion, and I value and treasure it respectfully.

Fact is I've used the RX100 in hand, quite a few times. And I much prefer using the Canon S100, smaller sensor and all, to the RX100. There are many reasons why too, but those are personal to me and my needs.

Citing reasons for your opinion doesn't change mine. I'm certainly not wearing a sign on my forehead that says, "This is my opinion, but I'm not really sure about it and please take it as fact".


January 30, 2013 at 8:42 PM  
Blogger C.GARRARD said...

Ahhhh its nice to see I was right. Sony adds a grip option, evf option and a hot shoe, tilt LCD, and addressed other negatives I mentioned with this camera with the RX100 II. Sure the RX100 sold well, but hard core enthusiasts and other customers wanted the items I mentioned apparently or Sony wouldn't have added them. So for all of you who thought I was being negative, honesty reigns. You should be thanking me and others for speaking up about the RX100's short comings instead of insulting me at the time the comments were made. We get better products if we are honest about them.


June 28, 2013 at 5:20 AM  

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