Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 review

July 14, 2012

Overall Rating:


Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100

  • Star rating:



Price as Reviewed:


Packing a 20.2-million-pixel, 1in sensor and small enough to fit in a trouser pocket, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 could well be an ideal day-to-day camera

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Build and Handling

In the hand, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 feels like a well-crafted and quality camera. Its diminutive 101.6×58.1×35.9mm size means that it slides comfortably into a trouser pocket, yet its metal construction gives it a satisfying weightiness with the smooth all-black exterior resistant to scratches. There is a little give in the shutter release, but it still sits flush in the body. This is a camera that should stand the test of time.

With its premium build, full manual control and price tag, the RX100 is aimed at the enthusiast market. However, the camera’s balance of auto and manual modes, and its array of shooting functions, make it suitable for both enthusiasts and novices. Sony Alpha users will immediately be at home with the in-depth menu, which is easily navigated. Many of the buttons can be customised, including the function button, which can hold between one and seven settings from a choice of 17, such as image size, aspect ratio, creative style and ISO. With such key controls available, I found I frequently accessed the function button menu. Likewise, quick access of up to three complete exposure set-ups is possible via the ‘memory’ mode on the shooting-mode dial.

Another area of customisation is the LCD display. Pressing display on the control wheel brings up information such as the electronic level gauge, histogram and exposure settings. To keep the screen clean, the display for controls such as the lens ring and the mode dial guide can be turned off.
A built-in flash sits flush in the body, and has an output that is standard for a camera of this size, and which is suitable for close-range subjects. It offers fill-in and ±2EV exposure compensation. The unit itself pops up on a crane-like mechanism for good clearance from the lens.

The 3.6x zoom range can be extended another 2x up to 200mm, via the Clear Image Zoom control. Like the Sony Alpha 37 and 57 cameras, the extra zoom is achieved by interpolating neighbouring pixels, so image quality is not as crisp as in the native zoom range. Using the electronic zoom, it can be tricky to achieve a precise zoom every time, so selecting the lens-control ring to operate the zoom helps to ensure precise framing.

A new NP-BX1 battery has been created for the RX100, which Sony hints is likely to be used in future Cyber-shot models. It has a claimed 330-shot life, which is approximately 30% longer than most other Cyber-shot cameras. After a day’s use, I found the camera still had a little power left.

A wide f/1.8 aperture lets in plenty of light, but at this setting in bright sunlight the camera’s maximum 1/2000sec shutter speed is not quick enough to provide an accurate exposure, so the aperture needs to be taken down to f/2.8. For slower shutter speeds, the camera includes SteadyShot, which my tests show to add 2EV of blur-free handheld shutter speeds when shooting at the 100mm focal length, and up to 4EV at 50mm (around 1/15sec).

Of the numerous shooting effects, only the watercolour and illustration effects can be applied post-capture. In fact, these are the only in-camera edits that can be made, so any effects must be selected pre-capture or achieved using editing software.

Unfortunately, Sony’s Image Data Converter software for raw file processing is not included in the box, but the compatible 4.1 version is available via a free download on the Sony website. An optional leather case is well suited to the camera’s elegance.

Aspect ratio adjustments include 1:1 (above) 3:2, 4:3 and 16:9

  • External mic: No
  • Video: Full HD (1080p) AVCHD (50fps), MP4 (30fps), VGA (480p)
  • Built-in Flash: Yes
  • White Balance: Auto, 11 presets (including 4 fluorescent), custom
  • Memory Card: SD, SDHC, SDXC, Memory Stick Pro Duo, Micro SHDC
  • Output Size: 5472 x 3648 pixels
  • LCD: 3in, 1,229,000-dot, TruBlack TFT LCD
  • Sensor: 20.2-million-effective-pixel, 1in, (13.2 x 8.8mm), Exmor CMOS, 3:2 aspect
  • Exposure Modes: Program, aperture priority, shutter priority, manual, memory, iAuto, Superior Auto+, 180° sweep shooting, 14 scene modes, picture effect
  • Weight: 240g (including battery and card)
  • Power: NP-BX1 Rechargeable Li-Ion
  • Lens: 3.6x optical zoom, 10.4-37.1mm (28-100mm effective) Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T with 7 elements in 6 groups
  • File Format: JPEG, raw (ARW 2.3 format), JPEG+raw (still images)AVCHD 2, MP4 (video)
  • AF array: Multi-point (25 points), centreweighted, flexible spot, spot tracking, spot face detection
  • Shutter Speeds: 30-1/2000sec
  • Drive Mode: 10fps continuous high, 2.5fps continuous low, single, 2sec or 10sec timer, self-portrait (one/two people), bracketing ±0.7EV, white balance bracketing low/high
  • Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB
  • Dimensions: 101.6 x 58.1 x 35.9mm
  • Metering System: Multi-segment, centreweighted, spot
  • Connectivity / Interface: Mini HDMI, Micro USB, hi-speed USB 2.0
  • Compression: 2-stage JPEG
  • Exposure Comp: ±3EV in 1/3 steps
  • RRP: £549.99
  • Focusing Modes: Single, continuous, manual and direct manual
  • ISO: 125-6400 (extended to ISO 80-25,600)

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