These reviews are meant to give a personal, hands-on experience by a professional photographer, and do not go into all the equipment specifications readily available elsewhere on the internet.
|Don't let its small size fool you. The Sony DSC-RX100 is capable of delivering pro-quality RAW images from an unassuming, small, point-and-shoot package.|
Sensor size is the most defining contributor to digital image quality. The standard sensor put into most point-and-shoot cameras is 1/1.7". The 20.2MP RX100 1" sensor area is 2.76 times larger even though the camera itself is almost the same size as a point-and-shoot camera like the Canon S100. The base format of the RX100 is a 3:2 proportion, which is the same as 35mm full-frame cameras, but 4:3, 16:9, and my personal favorite, 1:1, are also available. I found myself setting the camera to shoot both RAW and jpg at the same time, and usually set the jpg image to be captured in the black and white creative style and 1:1 square crop. This way I have the jpg if I want it, while the RAW image remains in full 16-bit color with a full 3:2 size if I want to take advantage of it later.
|Using the technique described above, this is what I see as I photograph using the black and white creative style and 1:1 square format, while I still capture the full RAW data in the image below in case I want to modify the image later.|
While it might have a look of point-and-shoot simplicity, the RX100 is equipped with plenty of conveniently placed pro options. A dial on top of the camera selects the shooting mode, which include the familiar M (manual), A (aperture priority), S (shutter priority), and P (full program) in addition to a simpler iAuto mode. The four focus modes include AFC (continuous), AFS (single-shot), MF (manual), and DMF (auto-focus with allowance for manual correction).
The lens is a Carl Zeiss f/1.8-4.9 zoom with a 10.4-37.1mm ( a 2.7 image multiplier factor gives a 28-100mm equivalent) optical range. The f/1.8 aperture is nice for low light but quickly fades to f/4.9 at the longer focal length. Furthermore, even at f/1.8 the 10.4mm short focal length does not yield much in the way of selective focus.
The menus are convenient and intuitive to use. The moveable ring around the lens can be programmed to sever different functions that are easily called up by the fn (function) botton on the rear of the camera. Frankly, this is one of the easiest cameras I have ever used and made all the more so by incorporating features that are most expected by professional photographers.
|Having the RX100 handy and quick to use allowed me to grab this stock photo from a moving taxi on a highway coming back from the airport. I had just enough time to roll down the window, point the camera, and click off a few frames.|
|The built-in, pop-up flash can be manually tilted.|
Another feature that will appeal to pros is how the built-in flash can be tilted with your finger to adjust the angle of the light to either bounce it off the ceiling or simply lift some of the light off of the foreground. Tilting it back just a bit takes enough light off the foreground to provide a more natural, even transition from front to back. Such a feature comes in handy when, for instance, you subject is sitting across a table from you an you want to add some fill light without burning the foreground with excess light.
|This image was stitched together from two RAW photos to make a higher resolution panorama.|
|A shot like this pushes the limits of a this camera. It was taken in very low light at an ISO of 2500 with considerable technique to mimic an Instagram look added later in Photoshop.|
|By starting with a high 20.2MP resolution images retain detail even when cropped to a square format.|
Bottom line is: This camera is an overall winner. It isn't going to replace your full frame DSLR, but it will serve you well in a pinch when you just have to get the shot. And, yes, it does shoot HD1080 video.