Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100
One of the largest image sensors to be found in a compact camera; high 20MP resolution; Full HD video with stereo sound; full manual controls and intelligent auto settings; solid aluminium construction and understated design
Very expensive for a pocket camera; backplate buttons are small enough to warrant fingertip precision; image quality not exact match for DSLR or system cameras offering even larger sensor for a similar cost
Every new camera needs a unique selling point and with Sony’s pocket-sized RX100 that is the holy grail of ‘DSLR quality in compact form’. Though the solid feel, aluminium build model resembles your average high-end snapshot from the outside, inside is a 20.2 megapixel sensor that at one inch is four times the physical size of the 1/2.3-inch chip found in 99% of all compacts.
This partly helps substantiate its claim for much better picture quality. Neatly implemented features such as a periscope-like pop-up flash further the impression that this is something special. You can’t change the lens however, so Sony has provided a very bright f/1.8 aperture. This suggests usefulness for low light shooting, plus also wanted allows for the creation of a DSLR-style shallow depth of field effect, where the subject is sharp but the background is attractively soft.
While the above sounds great, the $799 asking price will dissuade casual enquirers. In truth this is probably a tool for someone who already owns a DSLR or compact system camera, but wants something just that bit smaller with quality almost a match. Those putting pictures first will overlook the fact that the 3.6x zoom range here is modest, but sufficient if you’re not worried about candid shots from afar, equating to 28-100mm on a 35mm film camera.
The lens ring that surrounds it can be used for mechanically zooming in or out too, plus adjusting shutter speed and aperture with the aid of a screen boasting – unusually – a resolution of more than a million dots.
Macworld Australia‘s buying advice
There are 10 shooting options provided in all, running the usual gamut of manual and full auto modes, with a Superior Auto choice automatically enhancing images at the point of capture. Imagine an in-camera Photoshop ‘Auto Levels’ tool, though processing slows marginally in this mode. Pictures are clean and clear, and while, like Nikon’s ‘1’ system cameras which also feature a similar sized sensor, quality isn’t an exact match for the punch of a DSLR, this Sony’s still streets ahead of the vast majority of pocket cameras.