By Gavin Stoker Macworld UK | on January 28, 2013
Price: £457.50 plus VAT
Pros: Palm-size compact that is reassuringly solid. Larger-than-average sensor and resolution given its proportions. Bright and fast lens. Ability to control functions via twist of the lens ring. Neatly incorporated pop-up flash. Sharp results.
Cons: Pricey for a compact without an interchangeable lens. Tiny rear plate buttons require fingernail precision.
A compact with heavyweight features yet a lightweight body. That’s the proposition offered by Sony’s good-looking RX100, which encases a larger than average one-inch CMOS sensor, enabling a plentiful 20.2 megapixel effective resolution within an aluminium chassis.
Its manufacturer has also found room to shoehorn in a periscope-like flash that pops up automatically on a half squeeze of the shutter release if your proposed pictures would otherwise be too dark.
If you’re not fond of flash, fortunately there’s a bright f/1.8 maximum aperture lens to fall back on, which directs plenty of light onto that larger sensor. This has allowed Sony to claim pro-like results for the RX100, and indeed when viewed on screen certain images are nigh indistinguishable from those taken on a consumer digital SLR. And thankfully so, as the price tag for this 3.6x optical zoom camera, despite its relatively modest 28-100mm focal range in 35mm terms, is nudging £500.
As well as full point and shoot operation and the likes of the image enhancing Superior Auto mode, there are naturally creative options to be found on the stiff-feel shooting mode dial. A customisable Memory Recall mode sits alongside regular program mode, aperture priority, shutter priority and manual modes.
Falling under the thumb at the back is a video record button; the RX100 offers 1920x1080 pixels clips with stereo sound. Its coolest feature however is a lens control ring that, yes, allows users to zoom in or out by giving it a twist, but also, when in the likes of program mode, enables the adjustment of aperture and shutter speed, plus the selection of automatically applied special effects filters such as miniature, watercolour, illustration, toy camera and pop art modes.
Shots are composed and reviewed via 3-inch, 920k dot resolution LCD – it’s clear if not a patch on the EX2F’s AMOLED screen, but otherwise there’s very little to grumble about. Results are near pin sharp and can almost deceive that they were shot on a much bulkier DSLR.
The RX100 is as good as premium compacts get – especially with current street prices taking £100 off the manufacturer’s asking price.
This review is taken from our group test of the four best pocket-sized cameras for creative pros.