With the same sensor as the RX100 II, which is one of the best compacts we’ve tested, could the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 bridge camera break the dominant hold of the DSLR and CSC? Read the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 review...
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 at a glance:
- 20.2-million-pixel, 1in CMOS sensor
- Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24-200mm (equivalent) f/2.8 lens
- ISO 125-12,800 (expandable to 80)
- 3in, 1.229-million-dot tiltable LCD screen
- Electronic viewfinder
- Manual aperture ring
- Street price around £1,000 body only
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 review – Introduction
Unless you have been hiding under a rock for the past few months, you’ll no doubt have heard that compact camera sales are falling due to the popularity of camera smartphones. This has forced the camera industry to re-address its product lines, with many manufacturers reducing the number of cameras they produce and creating products with a clear target market, and very specific needs, in mind.
Alongside Fujifilm, Sony has been particularly successful at rooting out these new segments in the camera market. Its RX series of cameras started with the Cyber-shot DSC-RX100, a premium compact camera with a large 1in sensor that is four times the size of the sensor found in many of its rivals. The RX100 was upgraded earlier this year in the form of the RX100 II to feature an improved sensor, a hotshoe/accessory port and Wi-Fi connectivity, although it is the Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 that leads the product line. The RX1 has a 24.3-million-pixel, full-frame sensor, with a fixed Carl Zeiss 35mm f/2 lens, in an extremely small body.
Now comes the latest camera in the RX range, a premium bridge camera known as the Cyber-shot DSC-RX10. As with the other cameras in the RX range, Sony has identified a gap in the market where it thinks it can deliver a successful product. However, like the previous RX-series cameras, the RX10 comes at a price. With an RRP of £1,049, it is the most expensive bridge camera on the market by some margin, although Sony hopes that it will far exceed the expectations that most photographers have of bridge models.
With small compact-camera-sized sensors and low-resolution electronic viewfinders, bridge cameras have had a stigma attached to them for many years. They deliver the image quality of a compact camera, but with the advantage of a huge zoom lens and handling that aims to mimic a DSLR. For many enthusiast photographers image quality alone is a reason to avoid bridge cameras, but, says Sony, this is the first thing it tackled when designing the RX10.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 review – Features
Images: The 24-200mm equivalent zoom lens is more than enough for most situations
With the same 1in (13.2×8.8mm), 20.2-million-pixel, back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor as the RX100 II, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 has a sensor four times larger than those found in most bridge cameras. This means that the 20.2-million-pixel resolution isn’t crammed onto too small a surface area, especially as the back-illuminated technology positions the circuitry on the sensor’s rear, leaving more space for the photodiodes. It certainly works with the RX100 II, which produces excellent images with a high dynamic range, low noise and good detail resolution.
Accompanying the sensor is a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 8.8-73.3mm (24-200mm equivalent) f/2.8 lens. This dominates the camera body, as the constant f/2.8 aperture makes the lens large and quite heavy for a bridge camera. This lens is not designed to be a super-high-powered zoom with a 50x range, but how many enthusiast photographers demand such focal lengths anyway? The reality is that most photographs are taken well within the 24-200mm range, so Sony’s thought process has been to make a high-quality lens with this range. The f/2.8 aperture will help ensure images can still be taken in low light, and that there is a reasonably shallow depth of field so photographers can be creative. The minimum working distance is between 3cm and 30cm, depending on the focal length that the lens is zoomed to, which is impressive given the size of the sensor and the complexity of the lens.
When using the speed-priority shooting mode, up to 10fps can be captured in a continuous burst, although the ability to focus between frames is sacrificed. In the standard continuous shooting mode, I found that the camera can take around 3fps when shooting raw and JPEG images, and is a little closer to 4fps when shooting JPEGs only.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 has a huge number of additional features, including sweep panorama, automatic redeye reduction, dynamic range optimisation, HDR image creation, a soft-skin effect and, of course, Sony’s excellent SteadyShot image stabilisation, which can be used in both still photography and video capture.
The RX10 is Wi-Fi compatible and can send images to a smartphone, tablet, computer or even a compatible Sony TV.
It also has NFC connectivity to enable almost-instant wireless connection.