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Category Archives: Sony
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)
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.
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
- 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:
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.
(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.)
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.
Sony has been making headlines with a lot of intriguing new camera announcements lately.
First came the QX10 and QX100 – seriously scaled down efforts that had a lens and a sensor and then use your smartphone for a screen and controls. Given that the QX100 uses the same sensor as the RX100, I was intrigued – until I found out it’s not capable of saving RAW images and watched a review done by the Digital Rev guys that really bashed the accompanying iPhone app (the review was here but seems to have been pulled).
Next is the Sony RX10 – a camera featuring a 24-200mm zoom lens with a maximum aperture of F2.8 across its entire range. I lost interest when I found out that this definitely-not-pocket-sized camera was pairing that lens with the same 1 inch sensor in the RX100 II. It’s not a big surprise that the list price for this camera is US$1300 given that sort of glass but I question who the target market for this camera might be.
Finally we come to something a lot more interesting. After months of rumors about a “full frame NEX” camera, they’ve announced the A7 and A7R – two mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras featuring full frame sensors.
The A7 features a 24 megapixel sensor and will sell for US$1,700 while the A7R has a 36 megapixel sensor and will go for US$2,300. Here’s the specs for the A7R, which I got from here.
- Mount: Sony E Full-Frame
- Sensor Resolution: 36.4 MP
- Sensor Size: 35.9 x 24mm
- Image Resolution: 7360 x 4912
- Native ISO Sensitivity: 100-6,400
- Boost Low ISO Sensitivity: 50
- Boost High ISO Sensitivity: 12,800-25,600
- Processor: BIONZ X
- Metering System: Advanced 1200-zone evaluative metering
- Dust Reduction: Yes
- Weather Sealing/Protection: Yes
- Body Build: Magnesium Alloy
- Shutter: Up to 1/8000 and 30 sec bulb exposure
- Storage: 1x SD slot
- Viewfinder Type: OLED EVF, 2.4 million dots
- Viewfinder Coverage: 100%
- Speed: 4 FPS
- Built-in Flash: No
- Autofocus System: Fast Hybrid AF (phase-detection AF/contrast-detection AF)
- LCD Screen: 3″ TFT LCD with 921,600 dots
- Movie Modes: Full 1080p HD @ 60 fps max
- Movie Exposure Control: Full
- Movie Output: MOV, Uncompressed via HDMI
- In-Camera HDR Capability: Yes
- GPS: No
- WiFi: Yes
- Remote Control: Yes, PC control w/ remote video capture control
- Battery Type: InfoLITHIUM® NP-FW50 (7.2V)
- Battery Life: 340 images
- USB Standard: 2.0
- Weight: 407g (body only)
This image (from here) kind of sums up what I find intriguing about this camera:
That’s a Canon EOS 5D Mk III on the left. It’s probably comparable in size to my Nikon D800. On the right is Olympus’s new OM-D E-M1 – similar in size to the Sony but packing a much smaller M4/3 sensor.
So here’s what I started thinking – my Nikon D800 body weighs 1,000 grams. The Sony A7R, aside from its much smaller size, weighs less than half of that.
My most-used lens, the Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8 weighs 900 grams. The Zeiss 24-70mm F4 lens weighs in at 426 grams.
The Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8 weighs 1,530 grams. The Sony 70-200mm F4 lens weighs 840 grams.
So I can walk around with 2,000 grams on my shoulder/around my neck or under 1,000. For you young kids out there the difference may not matter much but for an old guy like me, it very well could. On the other hand, an F4 lens is not an F2.8 lens and the differences could be important to me as well. And initially there is no Sony E mount equivalent to my Nikkor 85mm lens, an important lens for me as well.
I recall a couple of years back when I had the Sony NEX-7 that I loved the camera but was very frustrated by the lack of lenses that worked well with its APS-C sensor. The A7 and A7R will have just 5 lenses initially (the two I mention above plus a “kit” lens running 28-70mm with variable maximum aperture, a 35mm F2.8 and a 55mm F1.8). Of course more will come in time.
So the question becomes – would I trade off my Nikon D800, 8 lenses, 2 speedlights, battery grip and other accessories and convert to this new Sony system – primarily because of size and weight? It’s not a decision to be made lightly. I will be looking at reviews very carefully and also watching for new lenses. I don’t see myself making any moves right away, but six months from now it could be a different story.
Even if I don’t go down the Sony road, kudos for them for pushing the market. It will be interesting to see if and how Nikon and Canon respond to these new cameras.
It’s not often that we see something that’s the result of such outside-the-box thinking as Sony’s soon to be released QX10 and QX100 “cameras.”
As I understand it, each of these may just look like a lens, but when paired with your smartphone, they’re entire cameras. The “body” is a zoom lens, a sensor, a slot for a storage card, a shutter button, a function-assignable ring and a clip. The “body” clips onto your smartphone and uses the phone as the viewfinder, shutter release, back-up storage and presumably other functions as well. The “camera” communicates with your phone via WiFi or NFC – meaning it doesn’t actually have to be clipped to your phone to be in contact with it. You can hold it in the palm of your hand; you can mount it on a tripod – as long as you’re within 15 feet of the camera, you can use your phone as a wireless trigger.
The QX100 is essentially a slimmed down version of Sony’s new RX100 II. Same lens 3.6x zoom lens that’s F1.8 at the wide end. Same 20 megapixel 1 inch sensor. Same processing engine. Image stabilizer. Various auto modes and effects. HD video recording. Weighing just over 6 ounces with the battery inserted. At a list price of US$500.
The QX10 has a smaller 1/2.3 inch 18 megapixel sensor. A 10X zoom lens that goes from F3.3 at the wide end to F5.9. For US$250.
These are available either in black or in a white/gold combination and are set to be released at the end of September.
Since the QX100 is a rethink of the already proven RX100 II, we can guess that it’s a very capable camera indeed. Hopefully the necessary iOS and Android apps to run it are also capable. We’ll see if this is just a soon-to-be-forgotten experiment or if it catches on and inspires similar devices from other manufacturers. Either way, kudos to Sony for some truly imaginative thinking here.
But imagine walking down the street using this for street photography. Cupped in the palm of your hand, finger on the release button, most people won’t know you’re holding a camera or taking their picture.
Yes. I want one.
Standing guard in front of Tai Om Village, much like the Colossus of Rhodes, no? Except probably unlike the Colossus of Rhodes, a minute after I took this photo all the village dogs came over and took turns peeing on it.
Here’s a crop that shows how well the sensor from the Sony RX100 performs.
All of the RX100 photos I’ve been posting have been from RAW – though honestly, to my eyes at least, I’m not seeing a huge difference between the JPGs and the RAW files.
I think the only reason I left the house today was because I pushed myself to do it so I’d get outside and get to know the RX100 a little bit better. The result – bought 1 of the 2 things I needed to buy and somehow ended up buying shoes that might be too small. Anyway …. outside, the RX100 really shines (pardon the pun). This first photo more for the textures and the detail rather than anything else:
And here’s a crop from the above.
Is it as sharp as my D800? No, of course not. But it’s certainly good enough. And since I do crop a lot, having a 20 mega pixel sensor certainly doesn’t hurt.
Maybe some time I should do a post on how horrible it is to have to shoot when you only have an LCD screen and not a viewfinder. Exact framing is all but impossible, especially in bright light. I wish there was an accessory viewfinder available for this, but without a hot shoe I suppose there’s no way to mount one.
And you lose the stability one gets when one holds a camera with two hands, elbows bent, up against your face. Fortunately Sony’s image stabilization works pretty well to compensate for that.
Now with some cropping and a few other minor adjustments:
As you should be able to see, the detail is fine enough to clearly make out the two characters on those red signs on the door.
I love wandering around in Hong Kong and coming across classic shops like this one:
I suppose this sort of image cries out for a black and white treatment, huh?
Always something interesting to see along Sai Yeung Choi South Street on a Saturday.
A bit further down the street.
Doesn’t really look much like RDJ, does it?
Well, as I said in the subject for this post, random shots.
But overall, yes, the Sony RX100 is so small and light that one can easily bring it along for the day without having to think twice. And you can pull it out of your pocket, turn it on and grab a photo (or, ahem, snap a shot) with one hand, which is nice. The small size will definitely be an advantage for remaining inconspicuous or looking like a tourist when shooting crowded streets.
I’m not finding the Sony menus as annoying as I was anticipating. But I’m still not really familiar with the controls – it’s not like a Fuji X camera where everything is right there on dials in front of you. I need to get a bit more used to the controls and start getting the hell out of “P” mode.