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 review – Build and handling
Although the body of the RX10 is made of polycarbonate, the top-plate and lens barrel are built from magnesium alloy, giving the camera an extremely solid, robust feel. It feels good in the hand, with the large f/2.8 lens adding a nice weight to the camera and the fairly generous handgrip providing a comfortable hold.
Many little touches on the RX10 make it feel much more like a DSLR than a bridge camera. The metal shutter button, which is surrounded by the on/off toggle switch, is just like that found on an enthusiast-level DSLR. The attention to detail shown in the camera is great. For example, Sony has included a thread in the shutter button for a mechanical cable release. In these days of infrared, radio and Wi-Fi remote-release options, people still fight for the inclusion of a traditional cable-release mount and it is included in the RX10.
Another great feature on the RX10 is the manual aperture ring. Again, this signals a desire to make a premium-quality model that offers enthusiast photographers the experience of using a ‘proper’ camera. A discreetly hidden switch, almost on the underside of the lens, allows the aperture clicks to be switched on or off. Turning the clicks off will prevent the aperture ring from clicking into place at every 0.3EV aperture value, instead moving smoothly through the range. This feature has been designed primarily with videographers in mind, to allow them to quickly increase the depth of field while shooting a movie scene. However, it will also be useful for those photographers shooting in a very quiet environment, such as at a wedding.
The two features of the RX10 that remind us that this is a bridge camera and not a DSLR is the use of an electronic control for the zoom, and electronic, fly-by-wire manual focusing. The motor-driven manual focus operates in very slight increments, so manual focus is simple. This is particularly important given that a slight turn of the manual-focus ring calls up a 100% preview of the focus area, either on the rear LCD screen or in the electronic viewfinder. Using an electronic zoom control will never be as fast as a mechanical zoom, and I found it took five half-turns of the electronic lens zoom ring to move from 25mm to 200mm, which is much more effort than zooming an equivalent 18-200mm lens on a DSLR. There is also a zoom toggle control just in front of the shutter button that takes the lens from its shortest to its longest focal length in just over 3secs, which is an acceptable amount of time for a zoom lens of this type.
Sony has explained that one of the reasons for the electronic zoom, rather than a mechanical zoom, is to ensure that the lens can be operated smoothly and steadily at a variety of different speeds when shooting video footage. To this end, the zoom control of the lens does its job. In fact, the speed of the zoom on the RX10 is as good as, if not a little faster than, that found on other bridge cameras.
In use, the RX10 is difficult to fault. All the camera’s buttons and dials are placed logically, and the on-screen menu system is the same as that found in other RX-series and Sony Alpha cameras. The menu is bright and clear, but most importantly, all the camera’s settings are where you would expect to find them.