First Impressions on the Sony DSC-RX10

Sony’s new DSC-RX10 may not be as much of a game changer as their new A7 and A7R cameras, but it’s not too shabby, either. (Photos of the camera are grabbed from various spots on the web, other photos are mine)

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When the RX10 was first announced, I didn’t think too much of it. Then a friend of mine bought one and let me play with it and I realized that this camera would suit me on many levels. One week later I succumbed to temptation and bought one.

The Sony DSC-RX10 features a Zeiss 24-200mm equivalent zoom lens that is F2.8 across its entire range, coupled with the same 1 inch sensor to be found in Sony’s RX100 Mark II pocket camera. My initial thought might have been, “Why put such great glass with such a small sensor?” Thinking about it more, the answer became obvious – a larger sensor would have meant larger and heavier glass to achieve the same aperture, and would have made this too large and heavy. It also would have increased the cost significantly.  At US$1,300 list price, it’s certainly not cheap. But with a 24-200mm F2.8 zoom lens, I think the price is relatively reasonable.

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Anyway, what I’m finding so far is that there is a lot to like about this camera.

  • Of course, the lens – I don’t have the most critical eye and won’t run this through batteries of scientific tests – basically I’m finding it sharp across the entire range, perhaps not as sharp as my Nikon 24-70 or 70-200 lenses, but each of those lenses costs more than this entire camera. And a lens hood is included.
  • The EVF (electronic viewfinder) is so good that I forgot it was an EVF and thought it was an optical viewfinder. And thank goodness there’s a diopter.
  • A PASM dial, an aperture ring on the lens and an exposure compensation dial gives me all the controls I want at my fingertips, and without digging through levels of menus. (The outer ring on the lens is for zooming, but if you switch to manual focus that becomes the focus ring, and you zoom via a lever in front of the shutter button).
  • Focus peaking
  • That LCD panel on the top of the camera (with a little button that lights it up)
  • Tiltable large clear LCD screen on the rear of the camera
  • Weather-sealed!
  • A “deep” grip means it’s comfortable to hold and shoot
  • Focusing may not be the fastest in the world but mostly I’ve found it to be quick enough for me
  • While the camera is certainly not light, the weight is reasonable.
  • My friend says this shoots amazing video – I haven’t tried that yet

My biggest gripe so far? Start-up is a bit on the slow side. Also, one has to charge the battery in the camera via the USB cable (or buy an external charger).

So while many are tagging this as an ideal travel camera, for me it may be an ideal every day camera. What I am looking for is something small and light enough to have in my day bag, but versatile enough that I can go into a club and use it to shoot bands at night. And here’s how that is working out:

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That shot above is the all-girl band currently playing at Hong Kong Cafe (formerly Neptune II) in Wanchai. It’s ISO 3200. And since Lightroom can’t yet deal with the RAW files from this camera, that shot is from the JPG, with a bit of post-processing tossed in.

The other thing for me is that while cameras such as Fuji’s X-Pro1, Sony’s NEX-7 and Olympus’s OM-D E-M1 look might attractive, I don’t want really want a second interchangeable lens system. I don’t want to have to go out and buy a range of lenses when I’ve already invested in a full range of Nikon lenses for my D800. This camera also addresses my major gripes with the RX100 – limited zoom range and a lens with a maximum aperture that drops to F4.9 as soon as you start zooming.

I’ve only had the camera for 4 days so it’s too soon to tell for sure. And of course I didn’t get a loaner or a freebie, I spent my own money on it, so I’m predisposed to liking it. Even so, I think this is going to work out fine. Here’s a few more very random shots from the past couple of days.

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(I admit I wasn’t paying close attention to the settings on this shot. I was in aperture priority mode and shooting from the hip so didn’t realize this was at just 1/40th of a second. BTW, this is also ISO 3200.)

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So this now becomes the camera I will carry on a daily basis. I’ll need to decide if I should sell off my Sony RX100. Given that Mark II is out and mine is Mark I, I don’t think I could get a lot for it and it could still be very useful to have a camera that fits in my jeans pockets. Then again, the camera on my iPhone 5S might be good enough in that regard.

 

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