The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 is the latest addition to Sony’s fast-growing family of compact digital cameras. Aimed squarely at the professional photographers and serious hobbyists market, this little gem is already making waves in other parts of the world.
Renowned photography blogger Steve Huff proclaims the RX100 as the “best compact digital camera ever made” while Hong Kong’s technology blogger Jonathan Sin described it as “every blogger’s dream compact camera”.
To top that off, photographers on the GetDPI forum are calling it “the professional photographer’s compact digital camera”.
These are not your regular accolades. I don’t even remember when was the last time a camera received so much attention, much less a compact digital camera.
It was really difficult to write a first-impression article without being influenced by such rave reviews. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to handle the RX100 weeks before I received my review set from Sony, thanks to Jonathan.
In the limited amount of time I had with the RX100 back then, the one feature that stood out from the rest was its fast auto-focusing capabilities. You don’t get that a lot with other compact digital cameras.
A few days after I received my review copy of the RX100, I was invited to attend a drumming cardio workout over the weekend. With an existing shoulder injury, I declined to participate but made full use of the opportunity to put the RX100’s auto-focusing capabilities to the test.
This is the part where reality starts to kick in and all the accolades meant nothing to me. For an indoor event packed with lots of movement in low light situation, it became clear that there were more misses than hits using the RX100. Make no mistake here; the RX100 is not a convenient excuse for not using a proper DSLR system for an event with so much action and in a low light situation.
That said, the hits do count for something and the fact that I even managed to get some good shots out of this event really says a lot about the RX100.
A quick show of hands – how many of you are confident of getting results at such an event using other compact digital cameras? I didn’t think so.
I even managed to squeeze in some black and white shots using the camera filters.
Speaking of filters, the RX100 comes loaded with the same filters that you get on the Sony NEX cameras. If that was not good enough, you will be pleased to know that the RX100 has similar advanced features like Peaking (manual focusing assist) and Clear Image Zoom that’s only available on the recently launched NEX-F3.
I will try out as many filters as possible for my full review of the camera.
Moving on, one of my favorite uses of compact digital cameras is for close-up photography. I used to be the kind of photographer who would lug a DSLR with a macro lens for outings and shoot nothing but close-ups of flowers and plants.
Now that I no longer own a DSLR system, I was happy to settle for a compact digital camera that lets me take decent close ups.
With the RX100, I got more than what I bargained for.
At the time of writing this article, the RX100, at f/1.8 on the wide end, is one of the faster compact digital cameras in the market right now. The fast aperture, coupled with Zeiss-branded lens, make the RX100 an excellent camera to use for close ups.
With a minimum focusing distance of 5cm, you can go pretty close to your subject, although there are some other cameras in the market that let’s you go up to 1cm. That’s another story for another day.
Initially, I thought something was wrong with the camera lens because of the soft and dreamy effect that comes with close-ups shot wide open. It was not until I took some close-ups again at home with some controlled lighting that I realized this is an effect you don’t really get elsewhere.
Don’t get me wrong. Instead of condemning the soft and dreamy outcome of images, I love the effect to bits.
Many users out there will condemn the camera for the lack of sharpness. Well you know what? Sharpness is overrated and especially so when we are talking about a compact digital camera here.
I like the soft and dreamy effect because you don’t get that with other compact digital cameras. That makes shooting with a RX100 so much more exciting because you never know what you are going to get.
If sharpness really matters so much to you, just stop down to f/2.8 or simply back off from your subjects. The sharpness of the shots becomes really apparent.
For now, that’s about all I have to say about the RX100 and I will need a bit more time to evaluate the camera.
In the words of popular photographer Kirk Tuck, I am going to have to take a few more hundred shots with the RX100 before I am qualified to give a proper verdict.
Thoughts on the camera so far:
In the limited amount of time I have with the RX100, it is a really pleasant camera to use. The fast auto-focusing is something you don’t commonly see in a compact digital camera but it’s something extremely useful to have especially if you have moving subjects like children (or pets) running around.
The soft and creamy look when shot at f/1.8 is really subjective. Either you really love the effect or you will hate it to the core because of the lack of sharpness. I for one like it because it opens up to creative usage with the camera. That is something you don’t always get with a compact digital camera.
However, the accolades given to this camera do count for something. In the short five days that I have with this camera, I have the feeling that it is all that I ever need … for a compact digital camera.