Sony set the bar high with the RX100 III, and the RX100 IV promises to be even better. Michael Topham tests the latest premium compact camera to hit the shelves
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 IV – Our Verdict
The improvements that have been made to the RX100 IV are centred around its new sensor. The repositioning of the high-speed circuitry has resulted in it being able to shoot faster and offer unique video capabilities such as high frame rate mode that allows you to record super slow motion footage. It’s fascinating creating slow motion movie clips and gives photographers the opportunity to capture the fastest moving subjects in a unique way. The introduction of ultra high-resolution 4K video and the sharper viewfinder sees it advance upon the RX100 III in other areas too.
The autofocus and image quality performance is extremely impressive for a camera so small, though our thorough testing revealed it doesn’t appear to offer any advantages in these criteria over its predecessor. The extra demands of the new sensor ask more of the battery, but the fact it can be charged via USB does mean you can charge it in the car between locations, just like I did, or alternatively you could use a USB power bank out on location. Another feature that proved its worth out in the field was the built-in ND filter – ideal for long exposures and instances where you’d like to dial in a slower shutter speed to capture movement.
For trips away and times when you don’t want to carry a camera larger than one that can fit in your pocket, the RX100 IV is a perfect travel companion. The fast lens and excellent level of customisation allows you to get creative with the images you take in the way you’d like to control the camera. A rubberised or pronounced hand grip like that found on the Sony Cyber-shot HX90V would have prevented it slipping from my hands out in the field – thankfully my quick reactions prevented any serious damage on test.
The introduction of a touchscreen would also enhance focus point positioning as well as reviewing images in playback mode and we’re hopeful that this will be introduced in the future. Other than these two points and its slightly limiting battery stamina, it’s a pocket compact that’s a pleasure to use and delivers superb image quality. It doesn’t come cheap however and its £849 asking price might be a bit of a stretch for some. Those who feel they can live without the advanced video functionality and new speed benefits can (at the time of writing) make a £280 saving opting for the older, but still excellent Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III.