When I reviewed the Sony RX1 I was thrilled with the image quality, but very disappointed with the fixed lens. I loved the Sony NEX-7, but interchangeable lenses on a compact camera isn’t my thing. This made me extremely eager to test out the RX100 because I hoped its smaller sensor sibling would finally dethrone my Fujifilm X10 as my personal point and shoot camera.
Since my wife is the primary point and shoot user in our house, I decided to let her spend a couple weeks with this camera before I put my hands on it. She uses her iPhone for most candid snaps and the X10 for her important shots, so I wondered what she would do with the RX100 in her purse along side her favorites.
She was attracted to this camera due to its nice compact size and her favorite feature over the X10 was that she could operate it complete using one hand (including power on/off) – something all busy moms are sure to appreciate.
Ease of use was important, but would it be enough to win her over? Would this camera finally dethrone the X10? Read on to find out.
Real World Sample Images
I’m going to cut to the chase and let the photos taken with this camera speak for itself. You be the judge as to the quality of these images taken the way REAL PEOPLE use this caliber camera. These aren’t studio shots, they aren’t pre-planned, and many aren’t even taken by me – they are taken by my wife who captures the adventures of our son and everyday life.
All of these photos are in-camera JPEG’s – yes, JPEG’s because I’m testing the camera – not the sensor. I can tell you that I do keep the RAW’s wherever possible (not all features allow for RAW) and that unlike most cameras these days I’m not crazy about the in-camera JPEG processing of the RX100. That’s a shame too because it’s the JPEG preview that you see on the camera, and despite what the pixel peepers say – it’s actually what many buyers of this class of camera actually use.
With zero instructions from me, my wife gravitated to the Intelligent Auto mode as I suspect she was searching for something similar to the EXR mode on the X10. She tried SCN (Scene) mode, but it wasn’t as intuitive to her as the X10, so she avoided it. She didn’t discover the Pano mode, but she liked it once she saw it (she uses pano on the X10 occasionally).
All images are exactly as they came out of the camera. They’ve been imported into Lightroom 4.3, keywords added, and then exported using the Original option. All originals may be download for PERSONAL USE ONLY. You must delete them after reviewing them. You may not edit or reuse any images for any purposes or reason – including non-profit – without a hand signed license agreement by me personally. Of course, these are real world shots so few are worth stealing – ha, ha. ;-)
The full gallery of images is at http://www.ronmartinsen.com/sony/rx100. It should be noted that there are many duplicates in the gallery because those are where I used the in-camera HDR or DRO features, so the first is with that feature off and the second is with the feature applied.
Intelligent Auto just worked for this whereas the EOS M failed miserably!
(see the only usable EOS M shots here taken at the same exact time)
f/1.8 @ 10.4 mm,1/250, ISO 3200, No Flash (flash intentionally disabled)
In the “hurry up and turn on the camera to get a shot of the rambunctious toddler” scenarios,
it got about 3 out every 10 bang on – that’s impressive for a point and shoot
This success rate made my wife grab for it more than the iPhone
f/1.8 @ 10.4 mm,1/200, ISO 800, No Flash
With only a far away kitchen sink light on, I just snapped this to see what this camera could do
I was impressed that it came out so nice and stable as my hand was really in an awkward
position. Its stabilization is excellent and phenomenal with video!
f/1.8 @ 10.4 mm,1/13, ISO 800, No Flash
In IE, Safari & Firefox the mouse in and out images are identical, but in Lightroom, Chrome you see a washed out gradient for the in-camera image (mouse out) and a bright red (should be orange) image for the RAW conversion in Lightroom (mouse over)
Lightroom and Chrome are accurate.
f/1.8 @ 10.4 mm,1/250, ISO 1000
If you don’t take it out of auto modes, this camera loves f/1.8 (too much)
That said, it’s not bad for a handheld shot
Chrome the color is very accurate with reality whereas all other browsers oversaturate
f/1.8 @ 10.4 mm,1/30, ISO 125, No Flash
HDR & DRO Mode
The Sony Dynamic Range Optimization (DRO) mode is much discussed on the web but it most closely resembles Fujifilm EXR in terms of performance. I still think EXR has the edge, but DRO was better than nothing. Even still, I found the in-camera HDR feature to outperform DRO to my eyes. The big difference though is that DRO will work when RAW format is active, but HDR only works with JPEG only mode.
DRO supports Auto and 5 manually chosen levels whereas HDR has Auto and 6EV levels. I laugh a bit at the EV levels for the HDR as it doesn’t feel like it’s doing real HDR since the camera seemingly takes one exposure and then manually creates the final image in-camera. For HDR a non-processed image is retained followed by a processed HDR. My samples gallery contains a bunch of examples and the HDR images are identified as being the brighter images.
Here’s a real world example in a touch scene:
The windows is where you see the biggest difference and the improvement is worth using this feature, but if I did a 6EV by hand or with a DSLR, you’d not have overblown windows like you see here so this setting is a joke. Usable yes, but 6EV – not!
I’m not a video shooter, and much of what we do with this class of camera is so bad I can’t bear to share it. However, I did toss one short video in its native MTS file format with all default settings for movie mode up on my samples site. It’s 59.5MB and it really shows how solid the stabilization is since I’m hand holding the shot and rotating on an uneven surface.
NOTE: The offline original is better than the online version I’ve shared. It’s much smoother with less compression.
The Wife Verdict
My wife loved using this camera and found herself taking a lot more images with it because of its one hand operation. She never really got used to the features and missed both the EXR mode and the exposure compensation dial (which we call the make it brighter/darker knob at home <g>) on her x10.
If this were a $300 camera we’d probably keep it, but at $648 (at the time this was written) it’s definitely going back to B&H in favor of the x10. It’s compact size doesn’t make up for the performance and features of her x10, and the benefits just don’t justify the price – for her.
Compared to Other Compact Cameras
As common sense dictates, cameras like the RX1, XPro-1, etc… destroy it in image quality. However, if you are only printing 4x6 prints (but it can easily do 16x24”) and sharing your images on Facebook (etc…) with small images like I have here then this is all the camera you need for that output format.
Where to order
Other articles you may enjoy
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- Sony NEX-7
- Sony DSC-RX1 (Full Frame Compact Camera)
- Which camera should I buy?
- Canon G1X vs G12 vs Fujifilm X10
- Canon G15 vs s110 vs G12
- Fujifilm FinePix X100
- Fujifilm X10 (2011 P&S of the Year)
- Fujifilm XPro-1
- Olympus OM-D E-M5
If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this. B&H loaned me the camera I used for this review.