Review: The Sony RX10

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Does a fairly bulky/ heavy, expensive – $1,300 – fixed-lens, (relatively – 1″) small sensor camera have a place in the current camera ecology? Sony seems to think so. The RX10 is all about its lens: a fixed-aperture 24-200/2.8, Zeiss-branded unit that’s about the size of an 85/1.8 for a full frame camera. It is definitely not small. Sensibly, Sony have scaled the rest of the camera to match. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks trying to figure out whether this is perhaps one of the smartest products of late, or fighting an uphill battle. The sad reality is that it probably will disappear as a footnote, overshadowed by its illogical A7 and A7r brethren.

Note: Welcome to the new review format. I’m going to tell you what I think, nothing more, nothing less. I shoot raw and process with ACR/ PS CC with the intention of subjecting the files to my normal workflow and finished-shot standards. If you’re looking for rigorous technical tests, there are other sites who have the time and resources to do it more comprehensively than I do. What I do is actually use the equipment to make photographs – after all, isn’t that the point of a camera?

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This is not a small camera with everything fully extended/ deployed. Think consumer DSLR size, almost. Unlike consumer DSLRs and kit zooms though, this lens is excellent and f2.8 through the entire range.

In designing the RX10, somebody sensible probably actually sat down and thought about what the average consumer or hobbyist actually needs. Decent lens range and quality; doesn’t matter if fixed: check. Decent low light performance: check. Stabilizer: check. Good image quality: check. Ability to blur backgrounds (sigh): check. Manual controls, even if they never use them other than for bragging rights: check. Good LCD/ EVF: check. Good movie mode: check. The problem is, by the time they put everything together, it cost too much – or they realized how good a product it should theoretically have been – and then some corners were cut to maintain margins control the overruns. Unfortunately, these are very visible.

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The camera has the same 20MP, 1″ sensor from the RX100II that’s capable of 1080p video, 10fps RAW and a surprisingly clean ISO 3200 (on par with the E-M5, and the last generation of APS-C cameras); it punches far above what you might imagine a sensor of that size should be able to do, and comes quite close to M4/3 at lower ISOs. This is a good thing, and one of the camera’s strengths. It’s paired with a Zeiss-designed 24-200/2.8, which offers very good resolution and microcontrast at all focal lengths and apertures – despite being a very ambitious zoom range and aperture. No, it’s not perfect, there’s probably some software correction being applied to even the raw files (knowing Sony) – and the corners could be better, but it’s good enough, the center is excellent*. It even has decent bokeh, if you use a longer focal length wide open and have a reasonably distant background. There’s a close-focus mode too, which doesn’t have to be separately enabled. Focusing is fast under pretty much all conditions and focal lengths – never mind that it doesn’t have phase detection photosites. It doesn’t need them. Mind you, it still can’t track moving objects though. In short: the camera’s image quality potential isn’t going to be the limiting factor in your photographs, and I know from experience with the RX100 that the sensor is capable of 24×36″ prints.

*Bear in mind this is coming from somebody whose new reference lens is the 55mm Otus.

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Bathroom gamma

So far, so good. Then we get into the controls: what Sony did leave on the mechanical side made a lot of sense: aperture ring (with switchable detents, smooth for video work, clicky for stills); a fly-by-wire lens ring than switches between zoom and focusing; exposure compensation and mode. Throw in a couple of control dials for good measure – even if the one under your thumb is far too stiff and buried to be easily usable. Again, all this is fine and good – a sensible choice. The menus are the usual unintuitive Sony disaster; however it might just be me not having spent much time on a Playstation recently. Even then, there’s a lot of configurability and customization built in; enough that you could mostly stay out of the menus once you’ve set it up. And I’m sure it’ll be a lot more familiar to a regular Sony user; there’s even NFC (whose symbol looks confusingly like a Nespresso machine, though I couldn’t figure out how to get it to make me a coffee) and wifi for the hipstagram crowd. One thing they do deserve a commendation for is making the instant review mode a full-fledged playback mode, so you can zoom, scroll, delete and compare images (like the Nikons) – I’m looking at you, Olympus and Canon.

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Negative positive negative positive

The RX10’s movie mode is worth mentioning. Video quality is quite impressive; there’s very little to no rolling shutter; linear control over exposure via an aperture ring that can be de-clicked; focusing and zooming can be done smoothly via the lens ring or lever around the shutter, and on top of that, you get focus peaking and zebras too. As a bonus, the stabilizer works very well, and is a definite cut above the RX100’s. Video exposure can be fully manual or fully automated, as you please. It even has stereo mics built in, and external sockets for both external mic input and audio monitoring. I think the 1″ sensor size is actually in a sweet spot for video work: big enough to do well in low light and offer decent depth of field control and reasonable dynamic range; but not so big that focusing becomes a challenge. In all honesty, if my partner and I didn’t already have three E-M1s between us, we’d probably be looking at one of these for video work; in fact, we might do so anyway.

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The cameras’s feel and haptics are a mixed bag. Some things are great: the grip is a masterpiece of curved comfort and sticky rubber; the dials have the right amount of clickiness and damping to not move accidentally but still be easy to turn; including a backlit top panel status LCD is a refreshing and useful change – but if only you could turn off the back LCD completely and use the EVF only. Design wise, I think it’s minimalist, well-proportioned and attractive; there are hints of Leica S about its left flanks. The lens cap is the first one that I’ve found to be an improvement on the Nikon design; it’s secure and easy to pinch open. Both LCD and EVF are of good resolution and refresh rate, but aren’t bright enough when the sun’s out outdoors. The eyecup isn’t deep enough to shade your view, either. And from here, we start going slowly downhill: there are so many near misses on this camera, it’s frustrating. The buttons are well laid out, but they’re flush flat and lack travel, making them difficult to locate by feel. There are two control dials for exposure, but the one under your thumb is so small, stiff and recessed you can’t easily turn it.

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And it goes on: the (far too small) flash pops up in a very cool way like an aeroplane’s air brakes, but unlike an aeroplane’s air brakes, it’s a bit tricky to fold back down – I predict many broken flashes. The right side strap lug digs into your shutter finger; it should be 5mm further towards the back. There’s a dedicated and customizable AE-L button, but it’s too low; it should be where the movie button is (under your thumb) and the movie button should be where the AE-L button is. The shutter button is threaded for a cable release, and has nice springing, but far too much travel to the first intermediate position (AF) and almost none thereafter to full release, accompanied by a stiff break point. That’s a shame, because the leaf shutter on this thing is astoundingly quiet and smooth; it makes a pin drop seem loud and echoey by comparison.

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There really is nothing to give away the fact that this was shot at ISO 3200. Not even dynamic range.

However, the biggest disappointment in my book is the build quality. This simply does not feel like a $1300 camera; the main body itself is fine, and the plastic’s texture does a great job at imitating metal (helped by the weight of the thing, most of which is in the lens). It’s the details that fail: the tilting LCD has a little notch to help you get it out of its recess; except when you pull it by this notch, you also discover that the cover is only secured by two screws at the bottom, and the top is simply snapped into place. Result? It separates from the panel itself. Design fail. Hold the RX10 in your right hand, and you’ll feel comfortable and at home. Until you move it around a bit, then the lens barrel starts clunking (it’s wobbly – try moving it with your hands). Said lens barrel is also plastic, which is fine, except you can also see – and feel – the rough moulding lines in places. And then – again, on a $1300 camera – you don’t get a charger, you have to charge it over USB; which means you either have to spend even more on an external charger, or be limited to one battery. Good thing it lasts a while. But oh, so close, Sony, so close!

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An inexplicable scene.

I think nobody can question the fact that Sony has a history of both innovation and pushing the technological envelope – from the first walkman to cramming ever larger sensors into smaller bodies (too bad the rules of optics mean that the lenses can never follow). The only problem is that sometimes these designs can be so left field that it’s not only unclear who they’re aimed at, but it also appears that sometimes things were done for the sake of it – not because they needed to be. The F828-series and R1 are cameras in this mould; in many ways, I think the RX10 is, too. It is definitely a much more mature and conventional design than the other two; it is probably meant to appeal to the same user group, too. Except that user group has now moved on to full frame or mirrorless, and has been conditioned by both Sony’s own and other marketing departments that more is always going to be better. In effect, the reason their products don’t succeed is because their marketing people continually shoot themselves in the foot. A good example: I requested an RX1 to review from Sony Malaysia after it was released. More than a year later, nothing. I followed up when the RX1R was announced, to be told, ‘we’re working on it’. Never mind the fact that there are definitely review samples out – all the local magazines already published theirs – or the fact that my monthly readership is several times more than all of the print magazines’ circulation combined.

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Everything is relative, including time. Note bokeh – 100mm equivalent, f2.8, approx. 2ft subject distance.

And that’s the problem with the RX10: sufficiency. It is far more capable in every way than most people will ever need; to be honest, I could get away with using one of these for almost all of my professional work, and even the workshop videos. It will even do things that my other cameras will not – leaf shutter with full flash sync up to 1/1600s at f2.8, anybody? I wouldn’t need to carry 20kg of gear. I wouldn’t need to worry about lenses. I could have a few in case one broke, without breaking the bank. The RX10 is a camera that does many things very well, has some annoying niggles that you can probably overlook in light of the fact that none of them are really major. It is something that really makes you question the ‘more better’ philosophy being perpetuated elsewhere – in effect, an extremely refined Swiss Army Knife. An obsidian scalpel may be better for heart surgery, but let’s face it: how many really actually need that? In fact, I’m seriously considering buying one myself. Ironically, my biggest challenge in justifying it is also sufficiency: if I’m using this, what is all the other gear doing? MT

The Sony RX10 is available here from B&H.


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  1. I want to buy the Sony Cybershot RX10, but I want to know the way to check if this camera is REALLY new or an open box return disguised as new. can we check the number of clicks? How? Or any other way, please?

    • No idea, sorry. There may be a something in the EXIF data, but I don’t think Sony records the number of shutter actuations for fixed lens cameras.

  2. saint tiwari says:

    I was looking at new RX10 II, and there are no reviews, except from gadget/electronics oriented websites. Since the new kid is very similar to the RX10, i thought i will check out this review.
    You like(d) the camera. Will you check out Mark II in future?

    • No, because a) it is of no interest to me b) reviews take significant time c) I now have to buy cameras to get access to them. Why would I spend money to work and receive abuse from trolls?

  3. I never go lower than APS-C sensor. People are going higher to 35mm full frame. why must I go lower? If RX10 was using APS-C sensor, I will jump for it.

  4. Thanks for review, Ming. I’ve had the camera for a couple of months now and agree with all of your “pros” and “cons”. I’ve only shot with prosumer cameras and find the build quality to be acceptable. The introduction of the Panasonic FZ1000 triggered a 25% price drop in the RX10 (in Australia), so the price / function / quality equation looks a lot better 🙂

    The RX10 is my “serious” camera (I also bought an external flash for it, the built-in flash is too wimpy). The RX100m3 is my pocket camera. Having two cameras with the same UI makes life easier as well.

    • Indeed it does – that kind of price drop is not insignificant AND yes, there’s a good reason to run cameras with the same UI.

      • Another comment: after having the camera for a week, I was the 2nd photographer at a friend’s wedding. The camera / external flash combo did a very good job. There might have been one or two technical issues (slow AF at longer focal lengths?) but that might have been operator error as well.

  5. Richard Paul says:

    I own this camera. The body is not plastic imitating metal. It’s magnesium. I’ve seen an exploded version of the camera. It’s mostly made of metal. Yes, the lens wobbles a bit. But there is no molding line on the barrel. The inside barrel is high quality plastic. The outer barrel is magnesium.

    The various features all work well especially focus peaking.

    What makes this camera great is the quality of the photos, but more importantly, the videos. It kills a friend’s expensive Canon DSLR in the video department. I see no annoying rolling shutter artifacts when using the RX10.

    I also own an RX1R which is a superb camera. Both have their advantages over the other.

    • Magnesium can also be injection moulded. But in this case, that seam line is definitely plastic. A little exploratory scratching didn’t remove paint, it removed plastic shavings.

      The inside barrel is pretty ordinary plastic and wobbles.

      You’re paying for the feature set, but not the build quality. I agree that image and video quality are impressive, build quality is not.

      • Richard Paul says:

        I have to totally disagree about the build quality. The case is all magnesium. It’s not injected molded plastic. My lens barrel has no visible seam. Yes, it does wobble slightly. But that seems to be normal. The knobs are all metal. The screens covering the stereo microphones look precision made. Everyone who’s looked at my camera has commented it’s superbly made.

        I own several cameras including two Leicas. The RX10 is a solidly made camera. I see no cutting of corners. Your review is the only one citing cheap build quality.

        • I certainly don’t think Leicas are the pinnacle of build quality either – recalls for detaching strap lugs? Base plates cracking? Hmmm.

          So long as you’re happy with it, that’s the most important thing.

          • Richard Paul says:

            Well, if Leica’s aren’t the finest built cameras, I’m wasting my time arguing. The lugs were fixed. I’ve never heard of a base plate cracking. I own an M9, a Monochrom, an X Vario and a Digilux 3. They are all superbly crafted. Far better than the cheap plastic build of my Nikon D600 which ended up needing the shutter replaced because it tossed crud onto the image sensor.

            • Do a little search and you’ll see I wasn’t the only one with a cracked baseplate. They tend to give way at the little notch end when you put the camera vertically on a tripod because that small piece of metal is insufficient to support the weight.

              The D600 is not any better than the RX10.

              • Richard Paul says:

                I can only go by my own plus two friends who own Ms. None of us ever had the base plate crack. I checked with the Leica rep in my area. He never heard of it as far as being an issue.

                Leica makes the best built cameras and some of the finest lenses. There’s a reason they cost so much.

                I just ordered a new M 240. I’m in the process of selling my M9 which is in mint condition. I had no idea a used M9 was worth as much as I’m being offered for it.

                • They cost that much because of marketing and German labor rates. Nobody else could sell a camera with a 2.5″ low-resolution LCD and focusing system that’s almost always misaligned for that much. I’ve seen several M9s and S2s with cracked sensors because the frames weren’t properly aligned. Do you really think your Leica rep would acknowledge a problem that would possibly cost him a sale, or affect reputation?

                  I’ve seen enough, owned enough and suffered enough to know it’s a waste of my time. I’ve had lenses with detaching elements and coatings – an 0.95 noct and 21/1.4; mechanical failures of aperture blades and clear optical decentering. I’m not here to convince you of anything or change your mind. But hey, buy whatever makes you happy.

                  • Richard Paul says:

                    It’s obvious you have an anti-Leica agenda going.

                    I’ve owned Leica gear going back to film days. I owned two M film cameras plus a Leicaflex. I currently own seven M lenses. I have never suffered any problems with cameras or lenses. My friends who own Leica gear have never complained.

                    I just sold my pristine M9 for $5,000! Now I’m about to buy a new M 240.

                    But back to the Sony. It’s not cheaply made. That’s utterly laughable. It happens to be one of the best built cameras I own. Go on the web and read the reviews. They cite the superb build quality.

                    • No, I just report what I see and experience. If you’ve actually read any of my Leica reviews you’ll see they’re generally quite positive. But given the very high failure rate of the gear compared to everything else I’ve used, I just can’t recommend it. Good for you if it works for you, enjoy your cameras and perhaps find another site that agrees with your opinions. You don’t have to argue with me if you disagree…

              • Richard Paul says:

                The D600 is a lot cheaper made than the RX10. It’s mostly plastic.

    • It’s lovely enough that Bob Krist uses one.

  6. Hello Ming,

    I read you commentary about the Sony RX10. I am researching digital cameras to determine an intelligent purchase. I was hoping your commentary would provide me with the insight to simply purchase this camera and feel relieved. Yes, I’m lost in a jungle, while blindfolded, trying to find the perfect leaf. Some ‘sales’ type human beings suggest the RX10 is a good decision if I don’t want to buy and have many lenses. This part makes sense. For $1300 dollars, I don’t want a cheap but overpriced plastic toy. This is in reference to you comments about the build quality of the RX10. I also have discovered I will only speak to people who have been around photography and equipment for many years. Too many young people simply enjoy pushing buttons and have no idea what quality is. Their knowledge is simply reciting manufacturing specifications and marketing. These same people would use a fine micrometer as a wood clamp. You know where I am and there are simply too many widgets, cameras, lenses, reviewers that are nothing more than marketing agents. Then the element of subjectivity; I like red, he likes blue. I like pictures of birds only, he only likes portraits of women wearing lots of makeup, she likes photos of white horses only and on and on and on. The engineering types; are things made to within 1/10,000 ths. of an inch, while others are completely satisfied is something has a lifespan of 72 hours. It’s all insane and that’s where we are on planet Earth and have been for a number of centuries. This, we, need to evolve. Your personal suggestions, advice, criticisms are welcome. Thank You Ming.

    • The perfect leaf doesn’t exist. Find a leaf that works for you, and then abandon all review sites etc. and just go take photos. You’ll be a lot happier that way. I can’t say if the RX10’s build will be sufficient for you, but it was a bit borderline for me. Then again I’m the 1/10000ths type of person…

  7. Hi Ming.
    I do enjoy your reviews but feel that you may have been over-picky about the build quality of this camera. Am holding one in my hands now and can find no moulding lines on the lens and the LCD screen seems securely fastened to its surround. Perhaps your example is a bit of a dog…? Mine seems to built like a tank except for a slight wobble on a fully extended lens.
    I’m really enjoying using it and I understand and sympathise with your last thought about what to do with the rest of my gear.
    The answer probably is……sell it!
    Thanks for the thought-provoking reviews and articles!

    • I’m reporting it as I see it. The LCD bezel has definitely separated on more than one occasion and there is a moulding line. QC would appear to be variable. No reason to sell it, I didn’t buy this camera. It was a review unit from B&H (Sony Malaysia don’t seem to be interested in people who aren’t blind product evangelists).

  8. Louis Lawrence says:

    Picked up my RX10 last week and used it for a wedding on Saturday (together with my Canons) – all I can say is YES!! The first test it had to pass was the environmental sealing. Got caught in the rain no probs (I dont think my 50D + 15-85 would have made it) – Louis

  9. Hi Ming,
    i am an old owner of the “glorius” Sony R1;
    in these years, i have used it a lot, for familiy, landscapes and travels pics with overall good satistfaction;
    i always wished an optical stabilizer on the R1 zeiss lens, that i consider very good about quality/sharpness/colour rendition;
    so prior to upgrade to the RX10, my question are (even to others):

    – can you tell me if the zeiss lens on the new RX10 is equally good compared to the zeiss lens on the old R1 ?

    – how good is the optical lens stabilizer in this new RX10 (how many “stops” can you achieve i mean) ?
    is it really a valid/added value or is it not so good/usable in practice ?

    thanks in advance..

    • I used the R1 so long ago that I can’t remember, to be honest. The stabiliser is good for perhaps 2 stops. It is not as good as the E-M1/ E-M5 stabilisers, but comparable to most DSLR lens-based optical systems.

  10. Hi Ming, really enjoyed your review- it helped me appreciate my camera better seeing your lovely images. Did you ultimately purchase the camera and are there other photos that you have taken with it?

  11. Wonder how good this camera is as a dedicated video camera?

    • Pretty good, actually. Continuous iris, exposure zebras, peaking, 1080p60, a large enough sensor/ fast enough lens to be able to isolate but not so large that you have focus issues…

  12. tony burke says:

    hello ming
    have you tried Nikon v1 system – constantly surprised by this!
    if so how would you put quality against rx10 ( still have r1 but another story, nostalgia, I think )

  13. “…if I’m using this, what is all the other gear doing?” I have a D600 for my “no compromise” output and sports, an E-pl5 (that should soon be replaced by a GX7, horrible ergonomics) for “pleasure” photography and some compacts that I never fell in love with (Nikon P7700, wonderful slow mammoth, and tiny shaky S110). I love M43 for their small enough primes (got already the so underestimated 14 f2.5, the so overestimated 20 f1.7, the sweet-spot 25 f1.4 and the beloved 45 f1.8), and even though I considered many zooms, each time I tried them, I kept going back to my primes because of them lacking in one area or another (not enough separation, too high ISO needed, big size and weight, so so bokeh, …). In my perception, zooms defeat the point of M43 size advantage which is why I tried and still keep too a 1 inch Nikon J1 with a 30-700mm equivalent lens smaller than Panasonic 14-42! This is where RX10 came as an evidence, a clean sensor close enough to the best M34 until IS01600, with a jack of all trade lens that is not gigantic, but still keeps it in the bridge proportions to throw it without overthinking in my everyday bag. I’m keeping the J1 for its fun factor and small dimensions, but my new go-everywhere zoom camera is the RX10. Does this positioning help you keep along M43s? 🙂


  14. I am a Pentax user from film to digital for many years, I started videography with Pentak K01 two year ago. I made good money covering wedding & events. Small investment big money. Then came RX10 , with all best spec I need yet cheap. Video AF is very good till I use less MF compare to K01.Low light videography is no worry about noise at high ISO. I bought Sony RX10 3 weeks ago for RM 3900.00 & so far made RM 20000 from 8 events. None of my customers complain about camera size or doubt the quality they will receive from this small beast. 1 inch sensor gave me good depth to keep things in focus & less depth when I need. The best from this camera is able to record video at low shutter speed, as low as 1/4. Interesting for creative video. The best focus peaking you can find in any camera with Zeiss lens. I will buy second unit soon. To all of you — Buy & enjoy making money.

  15. Could you please let us know what the desaturation and contrast settings are that you use with this camera for those beautiful natural looking colors?

  16. As always, this was a very informative and enjoyable read.

    Ming, are you at all interested in any of the other recent “enthusiast not quite compacts?” I’m thinking specifically of the Olympus Stylus 1, with its smaller sensor (but smaller price) and big apparent specs and feature set: EVF, tilting touch screen, fast lens, long reach, OMD styling.

    I always find your take on small cameras particularly good, since the accompanying images always illustrate that the photographer makes the image, not the gear — a great reminder for gear obsessed junkies like me. 🙂

  17. Great discussion and gorgeous images.
    I have the FZ-200, but am thinking of getting the RX10. Will I see a huge improvement in image quality?
    I’ve had 3 Lumix cameras and they never break down. Will the RX10 be as reliable?
    Thanks for your time.

    • Image quality: yes. Reliability: no idea. You have to use many samples of something for years under various conditions to determine that with any degree of accuracy.

  18. 24×36″ prints from the RX100…? Now that’s more impressive than I might have expected.

    I would assume one could do at least as well (if not better) with the E-M1.

    • That would be my limit from 15MP. Less if there are a lot of fine detail subjects, such as leaves or grass. But at that size, the D800E is just beginning to hit it’s stride.

      • Given that M4/3 is significantly bigger than the 1″ sensor in the Sony, then I guess one could comfortably make a 24×36″ print from the E-M1 … all else being equal. Most folks don’t ever get to that size and it’s certainly well past what’s sufficient for a double-truck.

        It’s actually amazing how far this tech has come over the past several years. Back in the days of film, getting a decent 24×36″ Cibachrome off a 35mm transparency would have been a challenge.

        Understood on the D800. Another league again, just as a 4×5 would be another league up still.

        All a matter of how much you need, or is really necessary, I suppose.

        • I stop at 16×24″ for fine art – 6″ viewing distance – if you increase that, then 36×50″ is no problem.

          • Interesting. 6 inch viewing distance, huh? And specifically what viewing distance to observe 36×50″ for M4/3…?

          • plevyadophy says:

            Gosh, that’s a bit close isn’t it, just 6 inches?

            I think what would be interesting would be blog post from you on real world printing; that is to say, not solely based on the standard formulas we get for reproduction ratios based on pixel count, but your take on pixel quality (so say, compare three or four cams that you have experience with) and how it relates to print size by way of a comparison of typical viewing distances for art sale, gallery display and commercial (industrial, advert etc) use.

            As you know Ming, I am a bit of geek so can probably find or have seen all sorts of techie stuff on photography but the one thing I don’t think I have ever seen is something as really useful as the blog post I am suggesting you write up and which you partially hit on with your comments so far following on from this RX10 review.

            I think such a post will be something of a reality check/surprise for many of us.

            Warmest regards,

            • I’m pretty demanding. To the point my printmaster got a new printer mainly because I thought the old one felt slightly ‘loose’ at that viewing distance, and there wasn’t quite enough tonal separation in the reds. My benchmark for sufficient fine art quality is 6 inches. Regardless of size. If you can do that to a large print, it’s positively immersive and a whole different level of experience – my current exhibition is at that level, and the prints are 36×36″ and up to 60×90″ 🙂

              • plevyadophy says:

                wow! now, THAT is demanding. 🙂

                Me, I usually subsribe to the usual 12 inches or distance equal to the diagnonal.

                Out of curiousity, what printer did your printmaster get then to satisfy your requirements?

                And if I may be so nosey, what printer do you use at home/office?

            • That would be very worthwhile, actually.

  19. Rain Santiago says:

    Interesting review Ming, I suppose you could probably take this camera into concerts which they ban interchangeable lenses and the RX10 can slip through security:D

    • Maybe, except it’s big and looks like the lenses interchange. Probably better off to go with an EVF-less M4/3 compact like a GM1 instead…

      • Unfortunately not…security tends to let superzooms pass and block anything with “interchangeable lenses” – even if it is a E-P1 with a 14-42…(happened with me once, and a guy with a Lumix FZ200 passed with no problem).

        • So, still useful to have one of those superzooms then – especially the kind with 600/2.8 equivalents…

          • I’m still thinking about a RX10 exactly for these cases. 🙂 In fact, in a festival some months ago that have this kind of restriction (albeit I saw some DSLRs, all in hands of pretty girls – some flexibles rules by the security guards, I guess) I’ve brought an old Sony HX9V (1/2.3 sensor, 24-384mm f/3.3-5.9), put it on manual and the resulting pictures were much better than I expected.

  20. Hi Ming, must be interesting to receive all these comments (and answering them too).
    I plunged for the RX10 after some rational debate — it represents 95% of my needs (not wants). There may be 1% time when I need the reach beyond 200mm, 1% time when I need the exaggerated perspective shorter than 24mm (that’s when I ran out of ideas; reaching for an ultra wide angle lens usually would give me the “creative” perspective 🙂 ), 1% time when I need focus tracking for that “bird-in-flight” shot (which so far I never tried), 1% time when I need the ridiculous 6-figure ISO for the candid candle-lit picture, 1% time when I need a vertical grip. I lugged the camera to a 2000km 3-day trip, deliberately leaving all the other gears behind just to prove the point, and I did. (I lied, I brought along a set of “back-up” equipment just in case the camera quit on me, that’s my insurance plan for every trip. I didn’t want to be a tourist on a 2000km trip if the only camera I brought acted up on me… but, honest, I only pulled out the “back-up” camera once for the ultra-wide angle lens, for about 5 shots).
    My problem right now is I proved the point that I have 1 camera (that’s about 5% of all my gears!!) that meets with 95% of my needs, now what do I do with the 95% of the equipment? Keep it for that 5% need??
    The camera needs extra care and pampering in order to get good results, sloppy techniques would not result in the sample photos in your review, that I know. It is not the camera for easy-going photographers, but a do-it-all camera for really serious people who would take the care and trouble to extract every ounce of performance out of the camera. (20M on a 1″ sensor? That’s some serious pixel density!)
    Actually a question — I sometimes found some of the files having that “digital” watercolor effect, even at ISO400. I had dialed the high ISO NR to “low”, should I set that to “off”? I looked at files from my trip companion’s FF camera and they are like oil paintings with distinct brush strokes while some of mine are water-color-ish…. While I still recon the files to be usable (that’s the pampering I refer to), I started to ask myself lugging along a set of FF equipment for the “rock solid” files may be worth it….

    • Well, it’s time consuming, for sure. I have to find time between flights and commercial shoots and client meetings to keep the site turning over 🙂

      Sell the other gear, use the money to travel and take pictures you’d never have gotten otherwise because you couldn’t afford it. But yes, before you so that, turn NR off and shoot raw. I don’t think you can disable it completely, but it will be less blotchy. You will of course have to deal with the noise instead, but I found with careful exposure and some NR on the raw file, 3200 was perfectly usable.

      • Wow, that’s a very bold suggestion you have there!!
        I had been shooting RAW since 2003, but I changed to shooting both RAW and JPEG recently. Cameras like the RX10 really show the “advantage” of shooting JPEG — we can tweak the “creative style” for a preferred sharpness, contrast and saturation, the DRO is useful at times, and there’s in-camera correction on the lens that’s hard to do with RAW. I can post-process the RAW files to make it look like the OOC JPEGs (if that’s a JPEG I like) but it means work. My recent workflow goes like this — look through the JPEGs first for files to keep, then use the JPEG if that’s what I like. If I need heavy handed post processing, I dig out the RAW and delve into it. I can save time with this workflow, but I have to remind myself to make sure I have the right camera settings before I bake them into the JPEGs. When I was shooting RAW, I never have to care about those settings.
        I think that the RX10 is an amazing camera for those who take the trouble to manage the files……
        Thanks for your advice!! NR is now off.

        • The RAW files are even better. And so far, no JPEG has been able to match what I can do with a RAW file – simply because you’re throwing away data before you get to the JPEG, and the data that’s thrown away might have been important to you tonally…

  21. Very interesting review, Ming, thank you. At the office, we have a Sony R1, and I am still impressed how good quality the RAW and jpeg files are. But it was expensive, over $1000 in 2005 or ’06. I can see the point of the R1 and this new unit: the excellent lens will let most casual and serious photographers do most of their photography (except for macro, or other really specialized disciplines). But this new camera is expensive, and many casual users in the USA will go to the big box store and buy a Canon with kit zoom for half the price. Great idea but the mass market may not care. All the best, and thanks for an interesting blog.

  22. Nicholas Goh says:

    Hi Ming, did you encounter a lag time when extending/retracting the lens or that the focus ring did not even respond at times no matter how you turn it?
    I encountered this problem when testing the RX10 at a Sony centre yesterday and I remember reading something about this in a review. I had a bad experience with the compact zoom lens of the Nex 6 and hopefully this is not another quality issue again.

  23. Very interesting review of rather interesting camera, thank you. I would be curios how does the RX10 compares to Nikon V1 + 10, 18.5 and 30-110 (setup I have since recently). The RX10 could be a great do-it-all travel companion and still leave enough place in the bag for a Rolleiflex or Mamiya 6 😉

    • Hard to say since I’ve never shot it. But…I suspect

      RX10 + MF film is a very interesting combination. I do something similar with a GR/ Hasselblad and 80mm.

  24. Thomas Turner says:

    I own a Sony A7 w/28-70mm kit lens and I’m currently debating whether I should keep it or send it back and go with an RX-10. The biggest hurdle for me is trading awesome the low light performance of the A7 for the utility of the RX-10. I consistenly find myself in low light situations unfortunately and the A7 performs very well at high ISO’s. I sure the RX10 noise gets nasty at around ISO800 or so, but even at double that, ISO1600 still isn’t enough to handle the situations I find myself in.

    I’m an enthusiast shooter mostly but I’m about to do more serious un-paid video work for a small organization. I’d love to see how the RX10 performs paired with an Atomos Ninja2. Since theirs no budget for this endeavor I have to use whatever equipment I have on hand. The A7 requires me to go out and purchase at least another lens, plus several other items that I may need for the video which isn’t in the budget. Not to mention this has to be my main camera for shooting the family and friends routinely.

    I suppose it’s a question of what I can afford now as opposed to later. Do I keep the A7 and add lenses as I can afford them and make due or do I pickup a do it all RX10 and roll the dice.

    • 1600 is usable on the RX10, and 3200 with some NR. The 28-70 kit lens on your A7 is as much as 2 stops down on the RX10’s lens, which means you’d have to be at 6400 to 12800 to match – and I don’t think those ISOs are clean on the A7 at all. You’re probably better off buying one of the fast primes or something.

      If either is to be your sole professional system, I’d seriously reconsider Sony – firstly for lack of lenses, secondly for lack of future support. The RX10s will do the job now, except for your high ISO demands.

      • Thanks for reply Ming. Which Sony are referring when you I should reconsider the Sony? The RX or the A7?

        • Both, actually.

          • I see. Well in that regard, I just returned from playing with an old friend the Canon 70D at my local electronics store and I gotta say, it was a revelation. The 70D just is so quick and responsive to input, I believe most people call it IQ. It feels like a professional tool. With it I get an giant list of resonably priced lenes to choose from and endless third party support for peripherals like intravelometers, and smartphone apps, etc.

            As much as I love the A7 for its high ISO performance, portability, and connectivity, for pure shooting experience, the 70D’s got it beat hands down.

  25. Thanks for the very good assessment of the RX10. I share many of the same feelings as you.

    Years ago I owned a Panasonic LC1. It was my first taste of good small sensor and brilliant matched lens. Prior to that I used a Pentax ME Super/50mm lens for nearly 20 years. While the LC1 couldn’t keep up with the demands of modern professional photography in the digital era, it planted a seed for me about the advantages of such designs, like larger viewfinders, fast flash syncs, more dof in lowlight, quiet shutters and amazing lenses that are matched to the sensors.

    I continued to use dslrs and experiment with compacts and m43 cameras but nothing won my heart. The Nikon V1 came close as I loved the image quality, size, focus and the 10-100mm lens but I hated the forced image review and lack of physical controls, however it’s the camera I wanted. The V2 was not what I wanted and I felt doomed once again to a life of hauling full frame cameras around but the RX10 may change that for me. Now that the RX10 is in my hands I think I have found a highly usable and much less flawed small sensor camera.

    So far I’m impressed with it. I love the physical controls, jpeg image quality (with sharpening and noise reduction turned down/off), viewfinder, custom buttons, great HDR mode, built in ND filter and general feel of the camera.

  26. Many thanks for yet another thoughtful and helpful review Ming. Some of the subsequent comments have referred to the RX10 as a head rather than a heart choice – and I feel obliged to write that I *love* my RX10! Since as Thom Hogan wrote about why he bought the RX1 “love is an irrational feeling that cannot be explained to others”, I should add that I also really like the fact that I’m producing better IQ than with my D7000/16-85, that it’s two thirds the weight/size, has a very useful EVF, and I don’t have to faff with changing lenses. For perspective, I should add that I take mostly travel and family pics, but I’m no less ‘serious’ a photographer for that.

    • Glad to hear it – enjoy and use it proudly. A serious photographer is not one with expensive gear, it’s one who always feels the urge to shoot and can produce whatever they want with whatever they’ve got handy. Photographs are made first with the eyes, and then only translated with a camera.

      • chou chong says:

        Taking my 3-plus year old to Disneyland HK day after. Heart says bring Nikon 600 but the mind says take the Rx10 instead and spare some attention to mum and child.

      • Michael Aldrich says:

        well hello Ming I a new to your site only found you whilst researching about the RX10, I enjoyed your review
        very honest I thought! I have an NEX 6 and also Panny FZ2000 but I am seriously thinking of buying the RX10.
        How would you say the FZ2000 compares with the RX10 -is the Sony a better camera altogether or the Panny?
        I am not a pro photographer – but just like photography. I was thinking that the RX10 would cover all my bases
        so to speak – having one camera that can do so much was my idea. Any thoughts,would this be ok for an Amateur like myself, or a bit too ambitious do you think?
        Many thanks I enjoyed looking at the shots you took with the camera – really nice and interesting.
        Michael Aldrich

  27. Ming, sorry but once again I am going to have to complain about your review. For the Df I had to correct you about how ghastly it looked for us cool horn-rimmed glass wearing latte drinkers but this time I am afraid the complaint is a little more technical.

    You say “And it goes on: the (far too small) flash pops up in a very cool way like an aeroplane’s air brakes”

    Oh dear, wrong, wrong, wrong! You mean spoilers and not airbrakes. Spoilers differ from airbrakes in that airbrakes are designed to increase drag without regard to affecting the lift, while spoilers reduce lift as well as increase drag.

    Very nice pictures though 🙂 Am a big fan of the fan.

  28. “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others…”? I feel tempted to start applying this to the concept of sufficiency! ( “all contemporary cameras are sufficient, but some are more sufficient than others.” 😉 )

    After reading your review here I’m curious how you’d personally weigh sufficiency vs. the M4/3 EM-1 i.e. weather sealed, strong build quality, very similar price but for the body only…

    • Personally – for my needs, the E-M1 works better, because I know I will encounter situations where I need the environmental protection and some of the other things the E-M1 does well, like speed and responsiveness.

      • Thanks, I had guessed that’s how you’d view the two of them but your closing comments re RX10 capabilities and sufficiency were just positive enough to set me wondering. I think I’d personally take the EM-1 on the basis of environmental protection alone, but that’s exactly because my existing gear was not bought with environmental protection in mind … I’ve discovered I’d now like to grow the extent I’m shooting by carrying something I feel confident with under more challenging conditions.

      • PS – thanks for including that Dali melting clock… gave me a chuckle.

  29. Glad to hear positive feedback on RX10. I have been waiting for Sony to come out with this camera for years so that I can replace its predecessor, the DSC-R1, which I love. Unfortunately, the RX10 has the same sensor as RX100 which I also have. So I’ll wait another year to see if Sony will come out with a RX10 with a bigger sensor.

    • Unlikely, because that would mean significantly larger lenses or limited zoom range and aperture – either of which would significantly diminish the appeal of the camera, which is really all about balance.

    • Unlikely, because that would mean significantly larger lenses or limited zoom range and aperture – either of which would significantly diminish the appeal of the camera, which is really all about balance.

    • plevyadophy says:

      Hi Young,

      I too have the Sony DSC-R1, and still use it (a camera ahead of its time).

      I don’t regard this camera as being a true successor (a true successor would have an APS-C size sensor at the very least or perhaps, in keeping with the benchmark set by the DSC-R1 (biggest sensor on a fixed-lens zoom cam), a 35mm sensor and it would maintain the unique postion of the LCD).

      Conceptually, at least, this cam, the RX10, is in my view a cross between the DSC-F828 (an awesome cam let down by image quality issues (noise and purple fringing)) and the DSC-R1.

      • I always wanted an F828, but it was way out of my budget at the time. On the times I was lucky enough to use one though, I did find the sensor very noisy above ISO 100 – even by the standards of the day…

  30. Drazen B. says:

    Decent performance for a camera of that particular type and target user designation, I have to agree.

    If I could only shake off that ‘uncle Bob’ feel and stigma following mega-zoom bridge camera I’d give it a second thought, though.

    For me, as for I believe many others here, the tactile and emotional relationship with the camera/tool is a good part of experience of taking photographs, sorry.

  31. For me the RX10 is the most innovative camera for stills/videos in 2013 and shows the way into future: small sensors with optically very good zoom lenses. I mean we can see the effect already now on the micro 4/3 cameras and their good zooms. And it will be possible to make superb zoom lenses with even smaller sensors.

    I think in 15 years, cameras with interchangable lenses will be used only by a handful of people.

  32. Good stuff, does the wider end show much distortion? the building photos i guess were not shot that wide. The camera is is very interesting as a one stop travel camera especially when traveling on smaller planes where weight restriction is even worse than normal.

  33. You ~can~ turn the LCD completely off.
    MENU → GEAR(3) → [Finder/Monitor] –> choose “Viewfinder”

  34. b1llab0ng says:

    Hi Ming
    The distortion on the architectural shots looked very well controlled I guess some perspective correction was made in ACR but so many lenses have difficult to manage distortion if it’s the case the lens is that good it would be big plus.
    Great photos and great review.

  35. Taildraggin says:

    Our small town newspaper sent over their photographer to an event and I expected to have someone tethered to Earth like a Zeppelin by their photo equipment show up. A lady showed up with one of the larger Nikon Coolpix that looks like this Sony, telling me, “It’s all we need for the paper.” 1000s of small newspapers in the world and all they need is a Coolpix…

    This is quite a bit more expensive and I’d imagine competes against a D5300 w/18-200 or 18-300…

    • It pretty much is. The impact of the photo is in light and composition, not the number of pixels. Newsprint quality requires perhaps 4-5MP maximum. Question is whether she knew what she was doing or not…

  36. plevyadophy says:

    Don’t buy it.
    It’s a Sony.
    Enough said!!!

    • Hahaha!

    • stanis riccadonna zolczynski says:

      Just listen to Al Jonsons Sonny Boy, you know :
      Climb up on my knee Sonny Boy
      Though you’re only three Sonny Boy
      You’ve no way of knowing
      There’s no way of showing
      What you mean to me Sonny Boy.

      When there are grey skies,
      I don’t mind the grey skies.
      You make them blue Sonny Boy.
      Friends may foresake me.
      Let them all foresake me.
      I still have you Sonny Boy.
      Maybe that will relieve your Sony weltsmertz

  37. Thanks for continuing to do these reviews. The balance among technique, philosophy, and technology really plays a part in what makes your writing so compelling. Please don’t let the annoyances dissuade you.

    • Thanks Kevin! I will continue sharing thoughts on gear I find interesting…if people deem this sufficient as a review, then all the better 🙂

  38. Wonderful review, Ming, as always. I have owned an RX10 since Christmas and my observations are broadly similar (though less-sophisticated) to yours. One area where I disagree with you is edge/corner sharpness. On my copy, the zoom is extremely sharp in the corners when stopped down to f/5.6. I’ve shot a number of test shots to verify this and always come away shaking my head at the quality of the results. This is very encouraging since the RX10 will primarily be a travel camera for me on those trips where I don’t have time to be futzing with a kit. Landscapes at ISO 125 and f/5.6 just look fantastic.

    • Thanks Matt. This is NOT a simple optical formula, and I suspect that sample variation plays a big part in performance – my lens barrel wobbles quite a bit, this cannot be good for centering…

  39. As good as this is, the competition these days is pretty fierce. For 1300$ you can get any Nikon APS body with the excellent 18-140mm lens or almost any mirrorless model with a good lens. I guess because it fails to be a real jack-of-all-trades many will be reluctant about paying this sort of cash for a fixed lens camera, even a very good one.

    • The lens on this is a BIG step above any kit zoom – both in quality and speed. If you want to match it on that level, you’ll be paying a lot more than $1300 just for lenses alone.

      • I get the excitement about the lens but at the same time I can’t shake the fact that its a F/5.6 equivalent compared to APS. And rarely I look at a picture from a 1″ sensor and my jaw drops. The quality is too close to premium compact cameras and that makes it very hard to justify 1300+$ for a camera even with an above average lens. And it seems quality control is not up to the highest standard.

        • That’s a depth of field issue, not a lens quality issue. And there are plenty of reasons why we don’t need shallow DOF for everything.

          If it makes you feel any better, Leica QC is much worse – and look how much you’re paying there…

          • I know I’m defending a camera which costs upwards of $7k – but Leica do offer free calibration/alignment of the lenses and bodies in the first year of purchase (might be two years come to think of it). When I found my Leica to be soft with the 50mm but sharp with the 35mm – I took all three items to the local Leica store – I asked if they needed proof images, was told no need, that the problem didn’t even need to be described since Solms would do a full calibration and checkup regardless. 3 weeks later all came back tack sharp and performing very well indeed.

            I don’t believe there’s a limit on how many times I can send them in either (within the year). One of the lenses was outside the free CLA period, but Leica calibrated that lens free of charge.

            I fear nothing’s perfect, just ask all those Canon users whose $6k 1D Mark III cameras suffered from misaligned focus assemblies. Think that whilst QC is very important, excellent customer service after the purchase matters at least as much. Does anyone have any experience with Sony on that front?

            • One or two years is fine, but seriously: do you want to send the whole caboodle off for three weeks every time you buy a new lens? That’s an unacceptable amount of downtime if it has to work as a professional tool. NPS turnaround for pro bodies here is usually next day if they have parts, with a loaner in the meantime. Sometimes it’s even same day.

              No experience with Sony customer service…

      • RX10 with APS-C sensor would be very juicy!

        • But the lens would have to be a LOT larger to maintain the same FOV, aperture and image quality. Note how many 18-135/2.8 zooms there are for APSC: none. So it may not make sense at all.

        • I agree. I would like to see a larger sensor – and to keep it the same size, would live with a lens with a shorter reach – 24-85mm 2.8 would be great.

  40. really nice review! It is truly a shame then, as much as i do like minimal philosophy that sony uses some of the time, there really doesn’t seem to be a great deal of concern for UI or as you say haptics. I am stunned by the images i get from my rx100 despite its mediocre lens. but, after inheriting a virtually valueless yashica and a couple of decent pentax primes i just don’t enjoy the experience of shooting with the sony, and its cheap feeling buttons and weird fly by wire lens ring

    • The Sony cameras produce the results – just not the experience. And for something that’s meant to be a fun hobby, that does matter.

  41. stanis riccadonna zolczynski says:

    So lets sum our wishes up. A Sony sensor in no nonsens leica M like, Nikon 1 size mirrorless body with compact primes rounded by streamlined 24-200, lenses and body waterproofed to a meter or two, global shutter for video, articulate EVF, Olympus 5-axis stabilo, optional battery handgrip with mini XLR, … well tell me where to stop

    • Actually, none of that. We’re pretty much there with the RX10. Weather sealing isn’t that much of an issue – it’s not difficult to implement. An external charger is easy. And a mechanical zoom ring isn’t that difficult either.

  42. For people who dont live in the us, the sony external charger is usd100 for something that a usd80 point and shoot has no issue providing. That is a legitimate gripe.

    • has NPBX1-compatible charger and 2 batteries for <20 euros. has the same for <10 gbp.

      some sony accessories are extortionate, for which there are no current alternatives (e.g. EVF/OVF for RX1/100)… but battery is non issue

    • Even if you do live in the US, they don’t include it – my RX10 was a loaner from B&H.

  43. dont understand the gripe re: (sony) USB charging.
    1) it provides far more charging opportunities with the implements you already have: at the computer; in the car; on the move with the USB plug you use for your tablet/phone; leeching from your laptop; and now even some airplanes have USB ports (and no EmPower connector required like for some outlets!)

    a 2nd battery is a separate purchase whether its USB or traditional. but now the 1 supplied battery stays more charged more of the time. without needing to carry a bulkier cable and power brick.

    if you need to do external charging, it can be bought for next to nothing on ebay. certainly meaningless next to a 1000$ system.

    at best, in-body USB charging is an overall much smarter solution. at worse, it costs you an additional 10$. i, for one, appreciate it

    • Tom Liles says:

      Isolde, hello. It sounds like you’re speaking from experience on this. I can too, and in my experience the novelty of USB charging wore off on me very quickly—mainly because of the inordinate amount of time it takes to charge a camera battery via a USB line. I’d have way rather had a mains plug-in unit — like every other device — and have a battery and camera ready to go in half the time. I did consider an extra battery plus external charger, which would’ve been 150 USD+ equivalent, here in Tokyo. Thought better of it in the end.

      You’re right about the chances for USB connectivity. But this does not occur in isolation. In practice, I found few chances for hooking up my RX100mk2 to conveniently charge while I did my computing, for example (and the most important example, at that) as of the two USB ports on my MBA, one is permanently taken by my iPhone (now iOS7 kills a fully charged battery in a matter of hours) and the other often needed for card readers for CF cards, external drives, etc. As a working port, if you like. This in mind, plus the long long charge cycle on USB, I found I had to go out of my way to allocate dedicated RX charging time: which kind of torpedoes the convenience argument. In my case, anyway.

      It would have been more convenient to me to have charged with a regular brick and mains connection. Not less.

      One of the tiny niggles that turned me off the camera in the end. Though I don’t fault Sony for trying. Not offering both battery charge routes out of the box can be faulted though, and is cheeky as hell—definite point loser there.

      P/S A Tristan and Isolde fan? A romantic classic (and interesting examination of madness, to rival Hamlet or even Orestes’ ordeal in The Oresteia)

      • Tom Liles says:

        By the by, yes there was a mains plug head into which the USB line clipped and then I could charge from the mains; but, thanks to the wiring layout of my office and home, probably most wired buildings on earth, that meant leaving a 700 USD camera on the floor, under desks or etc for people to kick or kids to molest. Sure I could take precautions to mitigate—but it is supremely annoying to a pampered lazy-bones like me that I’m even there having to perform a safety hazard assessment and mastermind a camera charging protocol like that. I just want a battery in a brick charging, leaving me time and peace of mind to waste hours on the internet, etc. The camera can wait, safely, on my desk.

        There’s definitely a degree of status quo bias. No doubt.

      • Hello

        Im looking at a Fuji and an Olymus brick, and they output 0.65A and 0.6A, respectively. By comparison, all of my USB chargers for both home and car, “oem” and 3rd party, output 1.0A-2.1A. computers are 0.5A minimum, with mac laptops supposedly pushing up to 2A. They charge faster. Though I’ve not strictly timed them.

        If you’re connecting the camera to the computer, you could simultaneously use it for data transfer. No need for it to permanently house a card reader. Besides, a transfer is a quick one-and-done process.

        Or charge your phone to the wall with the 3$ plug. Or use that 3$ plug to charge the camera. If you do spend 10$ for an external battery charger (I’ve never paid more than this for Canon, Pana, etc) you get to charge 2 batteries at once: 1 external, 1 in-body.

        A 3$ thumb-sized USB plug and micro-usb cord is something that is almost always on my person, and is universal to my gadgets (phone, tablet, ext drives). A larger cord + wart is something additional to carry that is purposed uniquely for the camera.

        All this writing to say that in usage, i’ve never had any battery issues related to Sony’s implementation. And that what makes it different makes it better, not worse. Of course, Y.M.M.V. warning applies.

        • Tom & Isolde, one of my last acts of 2013 GAS was to buy a used GR (from Japan!) and it came with Ricoh’s optional external charger whereas the GR by itself uses a USB cable like the Sony to charge batteries. Maybe there’s something allergic to $700 P&S cameras about external chargers …

          Anyway, the external charger takes forever to charge the little battery. I forget how long the in-camera charging takes, but it would not surprise me if it takes just as long if not longer due to thermal issues, since the charger is surrounded by a whole camera! I have a high-speed AA charger and the batteries are quite warm after that thing finishes. The Olympus M1’s external charger is also quite slow.

          And speaking of Tristan & Isolde, hearing the complete opera live in one evening was one of the transcendent artistic experiences of my life. But if you don’t have 4+ hours, just listen to the beginning and end, as the beginning Prelude and the ending Liebestod are performed together as a suite in concerts and recordings.

    • stanis riccadonna zolczynski says:

      And of course, after a day in the outback, you pull out gasolin driven power generator to USB your battery dead Sony.

    • No gripe at all – except they don’t include the separate charger. There are definitely times when I’d want USB charging, but times when I’d want an external one – I’ll easily go through two or three batteries in a full day of shooting, and charging all of those in camera is very, very slow. (Not to mention keeping you up all night waiting for it to finish so you can swap out the dead batteries). If the cost is that meaningless, why not just include it since the camera is already $1300? That just feels…stingy.

  44. If I buy it what I would do with all the rest of my equipment. I havent seen anything better for traveling. Did you? The only thing that would make me keep my 5DMIII is the TS-E 24 for my architectural jobs.
    Great review. TA

    • Depends on what you want to do while travelling, I suppose. I shot with pretty much just the D800E/Otus on my last trip, and I was very happy with the results. I could also be happy with a GR or E-M1 and 12-40.

      • Or, even, despicably HAPPY ♫ with an E-P5 and its simple albeit almighty Leica DG 25mm f/1.4!!!

        I’d buy that cam in a heart beat, IF I were convinved that over and above great IQ Sony can also provide great MQ (manufacturing quality); its reliability may turn out all right overall in the long run, but I’d fear the recurrence of the A700 syndrome (unwelcome dust specs all over inside VF, under LCD panel, etc.)

  45. I’ve played with the RX10 a little in the BH Photo when I was in NY and was impressed, just like you. Astonishing lens.

    But have the same felling that you described in a comment above, “it is a Swiss Army knife when I have a toolbox full of specialized precision equipment.” Too expensive for a beginner, and with little use for a professional, because he already have more specialized cameras.

    About video quality: if you think about getting one for video (and since you already have a set of m4/3 glass), you might reconsider about taking a look in the Panasonic GX7; I’ve bought one and, beside taking good pictures (not as good as the E-M1’s ones, but on par or a little better than the E-M5), it’s video quality is astonishing – miles ahead than both the E-M1 and the RX10, with the exception about stabilization. It’s even better than my GH2 hacked with the most patches around.


    • How do you find the stabilizer on the GX7?

      • For video, you don’t: the stabilizer don’t work for video in the GX7, hence the “with the exception about stabilization”. 🙂

        For photos, it works, not as good as the E-M1’s – which stabilization is amazing; but since I need a camera that makes very good videos AND photos, I’ve got the GX7 – the pictures are a bit worse but the video quality is miles better than both the E-M1 and the RX10. If you need a spare video camera (and make most of the shots with some kind of support), could be worth a look; for pictures, the E-M1 is better.

        • Oh shoot. One of the enormous strengths of the E-M1 for video is the stabilizer – you can do all sorts of things handheld.

          • I know, I’ve tested it and the stabilization is mind blowing – but the Olympus codec don’t have a very high bitrate and it “breaks” (some blocking appears) when the scene have a lot of details – less than the E-M5, but it still happens.

            I’ve fell in love instantly for the E-M1 when I’ve tested – still image, stabilization and (is first place) handling, but the video quality issues were a deal breaker – I’m still an amateur and could not afford a great range of bodies (and could not bring more than one camera body to my country because of customs taxes). Having good hopes for a future E-M2, but regarding video quality image and for my needs, the GX7 was a better choice (choices, always choices).

            The recommendation stays – if you find someone that have a GX7 or could make a brief test with one (not for a review, just for a little try), record some 1080p24 footage with it. It is really impressive – but, of course, the E-M1 could fulfill your needs for video. Choices, always choices. 🙂


            • Agreed; a higher bitrate (and 25P) would be nice on the E-M1.

              That said: we use three E-M1s to produce the workshop videos now 🙂

              • Three E-M1’s? Then I guess that you’re already covered for the video sessions. 🙂

                (and after my reply I’ve remembered that, for video only, the Panasonic G6 could be a more sensible – and MUCH cheaper – alternative than the GX7)

              • Out of interest, what workshop videos were shot with what (excluding through-the-finder stuff)? I sort of assumed D800 based on a photo you posted of your partner’s rig in Singapore 🙂

                • Fundamentals, Outstanding Images Ep.1-3 – D600
                  How To See Ep.1 KL – D600, E-M5
                  How To See Ep.2 Tokyo, Street Photography 1 – E-M1

                  • Cool. Honestly couldn’t tell the difference between the E-M1 and D600.

                    • That’s because my partner is very good at color grading and editing 🙂

                      Huge difference practically though – much less weight, less conspicuity, I can shoot normally and we don’t get kicked out of places for filming…

  46. Personally I don’t find this camera the least bit appealing, despite the surprisingly positive review. Can’t argue with the specs or the sample images, and I’d happily try an A7, so it’s not brand snobbery… Maybe it’s just the stigma attached to bridge cameras. One for the head, not the heart.

    • I don’t blame you. Same issue here, at some level: it make a lot of logical sense, yet I still reach for the GR first. Or the Otus.

      • I think it tries to be too many things at once. Good for everything, excellent at nothing, type of thing. Video great, but no manual focusing ring. Bridge camera at a price of a prosumer mirrorless/DSLR. Bulky but no weather sealing…

      • Currently fighting a slightly irrational desire to swap my Coolpix for a GR, actually; I’ve seen one going cheap at a local shop. The Ricoh has enough little touches (one-handed operation, ND filter, ability to shoot different aspect ratios with live preview, those gorgeous black and white conversations…) that it’s remained very appealing, although the Nikon really is brilliant for colour stuff. The styling of the GRs since the film days is definitely a factor in their desirability too, at least for me.

        • You can shoot one-handed with the A, too – I did. I love the color out of the A over pretty much everything except the Hasselblad’s digital back – yes, that includes the D800E, which often requires quite a lot of color correction work.

          Honestly though: I’m going to say hold on to the A, unless AF speed bothers you, or you want to shoot a lot of monochromes.

          • Wow, that’s a strong endorsement. My wallet thanks you! Now if you can just teach me how to get equally good B&Ws from the A in your next workflow video… 😀 Certainly agree on colour compared to my D800 too; wonder why the A’s so much nicer than a near-flagship?

            • Honestly: it’s not easy. I had to spend a good 20min tweaking the tones on ‘London Dawn’ to get what I wanted. I suspect with the GR it would have been a gradient, a curve, and done. As for D800 vs A: simple, the A is newer.

  47. You know what is the problem with your equipment reviews, ming?
    Its your pictures, they are so darn impressive, I thought, “is this sony rx10 really so incredible?”
    I scrambled to download full size res pictures from other review sites, took one look, and said “nah, its not really that impressive, its ming, he has sent me on another wild goose chase, bless his soul.”.
    Seriously, I have a folder full of downloaded samples picts from other sites of cameras and lenses you reviewed.
    It goes something like this-
    Ming reviews ‘x’, I go “wow”, scramble, scramble, download, download, take a look, go “meh”.
    Ming reviews’ Y’, I go “wow”, scramble, scramble, download, download, take a look, go “meh”; ad nauseum infinitum.
    And you wonder why manufacturers are reluctant to sent you stuff for review.

    Happy new year.

    • Sent is ‘send’, lest I incur wrath for poor english. 🙂

    • My thoughts ~exactly~.

      I look at Ming’s sample photos and my jaw drops: “can the camera really be that good.”

      So I decided to take Ming Thein at his word and invest more in my education rather than the gear. I’ve got Ming’s fundamentals, his outstanding images, and intro to PS videos, and I can now see how Ming is able to achieve such high quality output. And also how much more I have to learn before I start going for the gear once again.

    • Haha – well, I would have thought if anything the manufacturers would be scrambling for me to make their product look good…oh well, shrug.

      The pixel level quality is pretty good, though. Obviously not up to AA-less cameras like the D800E/ E-M1/ GR, but not far off. Benefits of a matched lens-sensor combo…

    • If you decide what to buy using Ming’s photos, than, an iPhone would be sufficient, heck if everybody can shoot like Ming, P&S compact camera would still be around… 😉

  48. I’m a D800E user who’s seriously considering this as my go anywhere camera.The RX10 seems to be an excellent compromise – an all in one solution with sufficient image quality and good versatility. My main concern regarding this camera is whether the fly-by-wire zooming is too slow and inaccurate for candid photography work. Did you find the electronic zoom frustrating to use? I’ve used the Panasonic LX7 and Oly XZ-1 and find both cameras to be painfully sluggish as one racks the zoom lever and wishes the zooming action was faster or more accurate. Your feedback in this particular area is greatly appreciated. Thanks! Truly appreciate your balanced reviews.

    • It’s on the slow side, but accurate enough. I got around it by using the step zoom feature – handy since I usually shoot with primes anyway. Skipping between FLs is faster than if you just leave it to zoom continuously.

  49. Good to still see you doing reviews although you often complained about the reactions from fanboys lastly.

    And a very good read it was! In theory I find the RX10 very tempting, but I really wonder if a Nikon D7100 with a 16-85/3.5-5.6 lens wouldn’t be the better choice since the RX10 isn’t exactly small anyway. You’d get much better IQ from the Nikon sensor and the lens is said to be very good considering its zoom range. Of course the range is smaller, but you gain IQ and a much better workmanship and haptic perception on the other hand.

    I really have concerns regarding the IQ of the RX10 sensor and from what I have seen online in many reviews up to now I can’t see it on par with the E-M1 at ISO 3200. What about your own shot:
    Isn’t this purple-blueish hue in the shadow areas a huge hint of color noise?

    Maybe I just want to reassure myself that the E-P5 I ordered 2 days ago was the right choice. I had a hard time choosing between the E-P5 and the D7100 but in the end I wanted a relatively small and light package. And the E-P5 plus 12-40/2.8 zoom and 60/2.8 macro lens should give me the IQ I’d like to have. I would have chosen the E-M1 if the body hadn’t been twice as expensive as my E-P5 with VF-4.
    And what’s very important to me: You always praised the black and white performance of the Olympus sensors lately. Since I love shooting b/w, this was a key aspect for me as I have never managed to get as pleasing b/w results from a D800E I once owned as from a Ricoh GR, its results I can not really differentiate from the Leica Monochrom output considering the tonality (not per-pixel-sharpness of course).

    • Well, I put down my thoughts on gear I find interesting enough to bother testing. Whether people think that’s adequate for a review or not is another matter 🙂

      I disagree on the D7100 choice: the RX10’s lens *is* quite a bit better than the 16-85, and you gain between 2/3 and 2 stops – at the long end, that basically claws back all of the advantage of the larger sensor.

      That 3200 shot was pushed in the shadows; my postprocessing can be deliberately torturous to see how the sensor performs at the extremes.

      Agreed on D800E monochromes vs GR. No idea why, though. Theoretically the D800E should be better since you’ve got a lot more tonal information to work with – sometimes, it’s just flat.

      Interestingly, the price differential between E-M1 vs E-P5 with VF4 is not very much at all here…

  50. Nice review Ming – seems to me the Sony RX10 is a rather unique camera with little in the market offering the same range of features. It almost seems like what Leica’s infamous Mini-M should have been. A quality zoom lens (f/2.8 no less), knockout sensor and stabilized high quality video to boot. As a high end travel camera this seems the one to beat – provided you can overcome the haptics and questionable build issues you raise.

    I’m very interested in seeing how the next version of the camera turns out – I guess that largely depends on how successful sales of the RX10 are.

  51. Appreciate the review … as a hobby photographer, I like the idea of an all-in-one camera. Currently using the RX100 but the tele end is a little slow (f4.9). I actually shot a wedding of a friend using the RX100 … you accept the limitations of the camera (for its benefits) but the slow tele (and AF) is a nuisance. If I use a wedding as a baseline for “general purpose” photography, I get the impression the RX10 would handle a wedding better than the RX100. Michael Reichmann was impressed with the RX10 (especially the lens) but found the slow zooming an annoyance.

  52. Tom Liles says:

    Enjoyed the review MT. The 3200 hat picture was the standout for me. No need for a thousand words there.

    As you know I had the RX100mk2 but gave it back to the shop (at a hefty loss, too). Yet I wouldn’t hesitate to speak warmly of the camera and Sony’s RX series in general. Glad I tried — wasn’t for me — but glad I tried.

    I’m actually going the other way on this. And thanks in part to my experience of the RX100mk2 (which I only mention twice because it shares sensor with the RX10). I’m going to be buying one of those entry level DSLRs we’re all down on, on some level or another. The D3200 is my pick. My choice for a compact (relatively speaking, of course) walkabout camera.
    It’s OK if this is a mistake—a brand new D3200 body is only 30,000JPY. I repeat brand new. The Sony hotshoe EVF, standalone, costs more. A hundred dollars more.

    I would’ve considered something like the RX10. But it’s just too pricey. Way way way too pricey.

    • It’s actually not a bad idea, especially with a fast prime or pancake. And the focusing screen is small, so it’d be easy to cut a nice one down to fit. I’ve honestly considered a 100D on several occasions…

  53. …my Olympus C-5060 can do pictures with flash even with 1/2000 s !!!
    I love that feature.

    • stanis riccadonna zolczynski says:

      My Ricoh GXR has two lens units 28mm and 50mm and both can do the flash at 1/3200sec!!!!!

    • Super high speed sync opens up a lot of creative possibilities.

      • plevyadophy says:


        • The ability to control ambient relative to your own created light, without having to use silly amounts of power (and consequently very small apertures or ND filters etc). You can easily change the mood of an image…outdoors, in bright sunshine.

          • plevyadophy says:

            Oh, OK.

            I knew that. I just thought there was some other things. Sorry, I wasn’t trying to be a smart arse.

            And yeah, it is kinda liberating when you can just spin the shutter speed wheel without a care in the world as to sync speed.

            By the way, you do know there is a wee trick you can employ with your OM-D that will allow you similar freedom. If you email me off-line I will tell ya if you don’t already know and perhaps you can do a blog post on it or something or post my tip in one of your other more appropriate blog posts rather than me/us hijacking this thread about the RX10 (even if it is a damn Sony!!!!! LOL!!!)

            • A lot of cameras will let you ‘increase’ the apparent sync speed but not without consequences – flash power drops by a stop every time you up the shutter speed by a stop, and the total flash duration increases considerably.

  54. Wonderful set and review Ming! Really like my RX100 and this looks like an improvement in many areas. The RX10 is a bit too big for me though.

  55. It sounds like a really nice camera. I am still very much enjoying using my rx100. However Sony came about designing these 1″ sensors, they sure did a nice job. I’ve managed to get quite a few keepers from my rx100. Sure, there are things that it cannot do — e.g. it has a limited zoom range and cannot take macro photos, but it is a great “take everywhere” camera. The rx10 seems to sort of be the rx100 on steroids. It can do more and it is larger, but the price is substantial.

    Not having used the camera, the price is my biggest grumbling point. $1300 is a lot of money. Buyers can get a dslr with 2 kit lenses for substantially less. Many buyers still believe that a dslr is the pinnacle of camera design (it certainly has a number of advantages) and is the design that one needs to own in order to take serious photos — I think Sony has a hard sell here. I hope that that the camera sells well enough for Sony to make a second version.

    I’d buy this camera if it weren’t so expensive. Right now, I use my om-d for macro work (primary purpose) and telephoto. That’s it. The rx100 covers everything else. It would be nice to have this to replace the rx100 on occasion.

    • The price is definitely going to be the sticking point for most. And it doesn’t help that I think most of their intended target market has no clue about lens quality; this has a MUCH better lens than any two kit zooms. Optics aside, it’s anywhere from 2 to 2/3 stops faster for a start…if you want to price up comparable optics, then the balance swings dramatically in favor of the RX10.

      • Agreed.

        I think that the target market, as you mentioned, has no clue about lens quality and simply looks at focal length coverage. They are going to see the same zoom range on this camera as on any entry or mid level dslr kit and just go with the dslr becuase (1) it is less expensive for equivalent coverage and (2) they can tell their friends they have a dslr, which also happens to have a larger sensor than the rx10. Of course, I base this off of my experience camera shopping with my office mate. All he cared about was zoom coverage. 😐

        • Oh well. I suppose the photographer is redundant these days. More is better, right?

        • On the target market: they’re aiming to hit the overlap between someone who recognizes the lens quality, is willing to go fixed lens, and is willing to pay $1k+ for the RX10. That’s a small market, and it gets even smaller when the only genre the market has available for this is “super zoom”. It will be the nice outlier/upsell that will help a clerk close a $500 Canon sale.

          I always find these platypus products interesting (it lays eggs, but it’s a mammal). The slip out of companies when someone has the terrible business sense to build a great product, not something led by a market. Sony’s been making more than most these days.

          • Sadly, that small market isn’t going to be enough for Sony. And it’s a shame, because the RX10 really hits all the bases for 99% of photographers – what’s missing is education…

            Interesting analogy with the platypus.

            • Betamax all over again. It’s a gift and a curse: Sony assumes the market is educated enough to support their crazy innovative products. That believe allows them to create things no one else will.

              The problem here is that communication between camera makers and their customers is generally limited to what shelf the product is on and the feature-sheet that has a bulleted list of specs. Such an an ecosystem will not be kind to the RX10, which will be put next to super zooms and bulleted with megapixels and focal range.

              I believe that this camera does hit all the bases for 99% of photographers, but those are *rational* needs. The fixed lens is a barrier for aspirational thinking. Do most enthusiasts comfortably know their needs to pick up a camera that they can’t see as ‘growing’ with them? I don’t think so. One thing that affects camera sales as much as specs and ergonomics is the *perceived potential* of the camera. Until manufacturers figure out a way to address these without raw specs (more pixels, sensor, lenses) or simply placate these needs, the potential of cameras will be bottlenecked by the market.

              • It hits almost no irrational wants whatsoever – and for a product that’s a discretionary spending object of desire…well, honestly, it doesn’t provoke gearlust in anybody I’ve shown it to – even if they agree it’s a very sensible piece of kit.

  56. Gary Morris says:

    I liked this review. Despite setting out a somewhat negative beginning, it seemed that you actually liked this camera (perhaps very much). Maybe not as much as you would have hoped, but enough to admit that it could meet many of your needs. And that is the paradox that I find myself in, vis-a-vis cameras. The geekier side of me is always in search of the “ultimate” camera. The practical side admits that something such as the RX10 would probably fulfill 95%+ of my usual needs-wants-ambition. But in the end the geek wins out and I continue my quest (sometimes to the astonishment of my checking account). Overall the only thing you cite in this review that stands out for me in a negative sense is the comment that mold lines can be seen in the plastic barrel. Not good. At $1300US I expect better and so should Sony. Not a deal killer but still… I’d be interested to read more from you in the future if you do decide to buy this camera.

    • I do like it. Far more than I expected to. But the problem is I don’t know what I’d do with it or when I’d use it if I did buy it – it is a Swiss Army knife when I have a toolbox full of specialized precision equipment. I generally bring the box instead of the pocket knife…

      • Juan Noel says:

        Very interesting. Your pictures says you do know what to do with it. All you have to do is find the occasion. If you can’t because of your toolbox of precision equipment, that is unlikely to be the same problem for many of your current readers or soon to be readers. In fact, it might be a great use to many more of your non-readers. After all, it is not easy to put together an APS-C body and a lens with an equivalent range and quality. You would need two zoom lenses of quality and the would readily exceed the price for this one.

        • Probably more useful for the non-readers. I have quite good insight into what my readers do own/use…and you’d be surprised how many of them do have the Otus problem (or equivalent).

          • Juan Noel says:

            Then, the link to your review in some forums like DP Review would be helpful to those non-readers. Despite your conflicted state of mind, the quality of the photographs will give them some idea of its still photography potential when in capable hands

            • I avoid DPR like the plague. Firstly, if I post a link to my site, it gets deleted within minutes. Secondly, the forums are full of equipment fanatics that don’t seem to care about photographs anyway.

              • Juan Noel says:

                I agree about DPR forums but I do look in once in a while because there are some who value the instrument less than the art for which they serve, who nevertheless visit. The link that led me to this review is there and this is my first encounter with your work

                • Only the equipment reviews ever get linked. That says a lot, I think, especially given that’s a very small portion of the total content on the site. In any case, it’s academic because the people who run it are so afraid of competition that I can’t post anything that links to my site without getting banned and deleted. Their loss.

  57. I think the problem is that while this camera may not be right for you, you are unable to step outside of yourself in the review to think about how other people might use this camera.

    I do my pro shooting with the Nikon D800 and have about 10 lenses for that. I’d love to get the Sony A7r or Olympus OMD-EM1 but I have decided that I am not going to invest in a second lens system.

    So I have had the RX10 for close to two months. I can use it if I’m out at work for the day and then want to stop into a bar at night and photograph a musician, thanks to the versatility of the lens and the great high ISO performance. (And I seriously think you have undervalued the video performance here.) I can also use it as a travel camera for my upcoming trips to the UK and France, without having to bring along an entire bag filled with lenses.

    I think your comments about the build and the pop-up flash are those written by someone who is pre-disposed to dislike the camera. You don’t like how it feels in your hand? That’s entirely subjective. You think people will break the flash? You haven’t broken it so far, I haven’t broken it so far. You don’t like the build but you don’t mention that it’s weather sealed.

    Now, I will admit that I am someone who has gone out and actually spent my own money to buy this camera, so that means I am pre-disposed to liking it and justifying my decision. But I only bought it after doing some extensive testing with the one my friend bought several weeks before me.

    Of course reviews are subjective. But I think you’ve been unfairly harsh in this case. As a travel camera for amateurs it’s very strong. As an alternative to cameras such as the Canon G16 it comes off as much stronger (though stronger enough to justify a price tag that’s double? debatable).

    At the end, for me, your review of the camera doesn’t come down to your written word, it comes down to the photos you’ve taken using it – and I don’t know that anyone could seriously debate the quality of those!

    • I think you need to re-read the review, slowly.

      Firstly: “I think the problem is that while this camera may not be right for you, you are unable to step outside of yourself in the review to think about how other people might use this camera.”
      That’s because it isn’t my job to tell other people what to shoot or how to shoot or how to use their equipment. You’re in the wrong place for that.

      Secondly: “You haven’t broken it so far, I haven’t broken it so far. You don’t like the build but you don’t mention that it’s weather sealed.”
      No, but I nearly broke it twice, which is why I mention it. And the camera is NOT weather sealed. There are NO gaskets around the memory card or battery doors.

      Thirdly: “And I seriously think you have undervalued the video performance here.”
      Again: you are missing the point. I don’t know which review you’re reading, but this is cut and pasted from the review: “The RX10′s movie mode is worth mentioning. Video quality is quite impressive; there’s very little to no rolling shutter; linear control over exposure via an aperture ring that can be de-clicked; focusing and zooming can be done smoothly via the lens ring or lever around the shutter, and on top of that, you get focus peaking and zebras too. As a bonus, the stabilizer works very well, and is a definite cut above the RX100′s. Video exposure can be fully manual or fully automated, as you please. It even has stereo mics built in, and external sockets for both external mic input and audio monitoring. I think the 1″ sensor size is actually in a sweet spot for video work: big enough to do well in low light and offer decent depth of field control and reasonable dynamic range; but not so big that focusing becomes a challenge. In all honesty, if my partner and I didn’t already have three E-M1s between us, we’d probably be looking at one of these for video work; in fact, we might do so anyway.”

      Fourthly: “I think your comments about the build and the pop-up flash are those written by someone who is pre-disposed to dislike the camera. You don’t like how it feels in your hand?” “But I think you’ve been unfairly harsh in this case.”
      I am going to assume English is not your first language, because you must also have missed me saying: “The grip is a masterpiece of curved comfort and sticky rubber; the dials have the right amount of clickiness and damping to not move accidentally but still be easy to turn” and concluding with “In fact, I’m seriously considering buying one myself.”

      Because I’m really going to bother with something that’s a waste of my time. Oh wait, I just did.

      • stanis riccadonna zolczynski says:

        No weather sealed. Why Sony? You`ll get humble Pentax K-50 with 28-200 kit zoom for less, both weather sealed.

  58. Ron Scubadiver says:

    Ming, I think the camera manufacturers are in a phase of experimenting with new products and formats. The pressure from mobile phones is wiping out the compact camera space, so the search is on to find a product that is worth having and works better than a low end DX/APS-C DSLR.

    Happy New Year, have a great 2014.

    • The lens is what makes up the difference here. It’s certainly not priced like a low end APS-C camera at all, that’s for sure.

      • Ron Scubadiver says:

        That corresponds to what I am thinking. The user experience and IQ have to outperform a low end APS-C camera to justify the price. People ask me to take pictures with their cameras constantly. I frequently go into shock at how bad the viewfinders are on so many cameras.

  59. Sony got one thing very right with this camera – you won’t have to worry about them making not making enough lenses :p

    You come across quite conflicted in this review. With the whole arguments on sufficiency this camera seems to really challenge your requirements for needing anything else. Even on the haptics front it seems to suffice.

    But there is one thing interchangeable lens systems have in their favour – the fun that is derived from using different lenses, Could this camera prompt you to be creative in a way the Otus and D800E does?

    The RX10 seems to really be a jack of all trades camera – but also nothing that jumps out at you to really love it.

    Having said all of that, impartially it could be an excellent travel camera. This along with a full frame system would give you two different looks. Would that eliminate the need for a m43 system?

    • That’s because I am conflicted. On one hand, this is sufficiency-in-a-box, on the other hand, I keep reaching for the Otus.

      Yes, it still prompts me to be creative – and it’s a camera I want to pick up and use – but I also know that I will be able to see the difference in print.

      M4/3 splits the difference between this and full frame – either you go with M4/3 or this and full frame; either an A7R/55 if you want to go light, or D800E/Otus if you want to optimize image quality. At least it shares a battery and UI with the A7R, though.

      • And that could also be the problem with M4/3 – it is a half way house. Thankfully the lenses are stellar otherwise it could not survive. But won’t M4/3 also fall short in the quest for the best image quality?

        • Yes, but it’s less of a compromise than the 1″ sensor would be. and it gains again because of the lenses and stabilizer. I’ve got 36×45″ prints from the E-M5 in the current exhibition, and I don’t think anybody would say they’re lacking image quality…

          • Sigh, I realised after I submitted my comment that you mentioned there was an EM-5 print in the exhibition that was pretty darn good. The IBIS for me is a killer feature from Oly, it really sets them apart. How is the stabilizer on the Sony for stills?

            Personally 200mm is a bit overkill for me…..

          • 36×45?!? That’s like the existence proof of sufficiency for almost everyone. People are going on about how their fancy prosumer Epson printer (3880) can do 17×22, and the M5’s little sensor can hold up at 4x the area.

            Thanks for the review, and I like the new format, too. The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera’s sensor is a little smaller than the RX10’s, and people are really loving its quality, especially after the last software update that fixes a bunch of issues. That sensor size is really the sweet spot for affordable video, and it maps to one of the classic cinema film sizes, too, so its rendering makes sense to many filmmakers.

            • I should add that it still looks great at 1ft viewing distance. However, you do of course need to start with a good file, and a lot of people tend to assume that pixel count also automatically translates into pixel quality – there are a lot of other variables that go into it, especially shot discipline.

              I wanted to go bigger than 60×90″ on a couple of the images, but 60″ is the largest size of canvas and printer that can still do photo quality…

              • Thinking about this more, I also realized the subject matters. A wide angle landscape where small details may matter probably is better with more pixels, but something with bigger magnification (eg. portraits or small product shots) is probably OK with fewer pixels.

      • Iskabibble says:

        $1200 bridge camera vs $4000 lens + $3000 FF camera. Yeah, that’s a real world conflict most people wrestle with every day.

        • Tom Liles says:

          Does not compute: the conflict is between this AND the 4K lens + 3K body, OR m43 camera AND the 4K lens + 3K body.
          Sufficiency aside, the Otus and D800E are never off Ming’s table…

          As written down in the first reply to the first comment on this review. There, look up. Yes, that one

          You have to exercise your charity and stop for a second to consider a writer’s intent, I’ll grant you, but that’s within your gift. Surely.

        • Actually, I think it’s quite a real question for a lot of my readers.

          • Iskabibble says:

            How many readers here do you think own the Otus?

            • Actually, based on email correspondence and people I’ve talked to offline alone, at least a dozen. There are even more than that who’ve got them on order but are awaiting delivery (or Canon mount, which has been delayed til Feb/March in some parts of the world). And I know there are far more than that who own a lot of Leica glass that costs even more…money is not the restricting factor.

              • plevyadophy says:

                Given how expensive this lens is and it’s a manual focus lens anyway, perhaps those waiting for Canon mount would do well to follow the advice of Lloyd Chambers and just get the existing lens in Nikon mount and use an adaptor to mount it to their Canon cam (the lens mount is deeper on Nikon I believe?) provided of course they get a good quality adaptor.

      • Interesting mini-review, Ming. Your frankly stated impressions as a working photographer are always enjoyable and thought provoking. You are not the only professional photographer conflicted about the state of the art and “where should we go from here?” Kirk Tuck posted an insightful and humorous blog on his that is well worth the read for those who are interested in these questions about camera development and photography in general.

        • Thank you, and thank you for the link – I’ve got a slightly different take on that question, which I’ve just finished writing and will be published in the next few weeks…

    • William Cottrell says:

      Wel,l I have just bought the RX 10 and am a little conflicted as well. I had downsized everything a couple of years ago to just a bridge camera, Fuji XS-1 which I love. The only thing is the image quality is not quite up to everything else. The RX 10 has the image quality but feels horrid compared to the XS-1. Parts of the RX 10 are very plasticy with harsh detents. The lens hood is simply a shocker. Manufacturing mould lines, rough finish and very poor locating flanges with bits of plastic flaking off. The other truly awful thing is the rear screen which screeches plastic on plastic grinding sounds when extended horizontal. And, I am afraid to say the flash is a potential spot for accidental damage. The strap lugs are very annoying as the stick into your hand on the small grips and make a noise if the you use a wrist strap. Fuji’s XS-1 is less than half the price and is a lovely camera to operate. I am very surprised no-one has yet compared these two top line bridge cameras…they deserve it!! Oh and Fuji’s manual zoom….stunning!!!


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  3. […] a decent fast lens with a reasonably wide range is probably the order of the day: something like a Sony RX10. Very likely that will have a more accessible shooting envelope than a low end DSLR with a kit […]

  4. […] cameras and high quality primes (GR, Coolpix A, X2 etc). There are also some good zooms – the RX10 and X Vario come to mind. The higher end of this spectrum tends to perform very well indeed; the […]

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