Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Review: Sony RX-100

My Canon S100 was out for a (free) repair due to the dreaded lens error, and I wasn't sure it would make it back from Canon in time for the Greece trip, so I went out and bought a Sony RX-100. Others have raved about the image quality on this camera, and indeed the photos are outstanding. It was the only camera I relied on in Greece, and it delivered!

The photos are outstanding, and even my wife noticed the difference. There's no question that the RX-100 beats the pants off any other compact camera that's even remotely pocketable. It's bigger than the S100, and doesn't have GPS, but it's a great enough camera that I can recommend it for everyone, even non-photography enthusiasts.

There are, however, a few glitches, which would cause me to tell you to wait until the next version, which is surely due out soon:

  • Startup and shut down time is slow. It's on the order of 1.5s, and I don't know what it's doing because there's a significant pause between pushing the power button and the lens moving. It gets to the point where when you first use the camera, you push the power button, wait and see nothing is happening, then push it again, which of course results in the camera immediately powering up and shutting down. Once the camera is up, however, all annoyances are gone. The shot-to-shot time is outstanding (on the order of 300ms), and you can fire off a burst mode very quickly. This is a delightful camera to use.
  • You must shoot in RAW. Exposure compensation is a pain to use in this camera. Just do it in Lightroom or Photomate afterwards and you won't be unhappy. And there's no point shooting JPG if you're going to blow $650 on a camera.
  • There's no cheap underwater housing. The Ikelite housing for the camera is $400, and is incredibly big and bulky. Just for that alone, I'm still going to retain the Canon S100 for underwater photography. Fortunately, there was nothing worth shooting underwater in Greece that I saw.
  • There's no GPS. No Wifi. The lack of wifi doesn't bother me, but the lack of GPS does.
  • The panoramic mode is impressive, firing off lots of shots in rapid succession. But having had a chance to see the results afterwards, I'm concluding that the best way to shoot a panorama in this camera is the traditional way: shoot in RAW in burst mode (hold down the shutter), and then stitch it all in ICE afterwards.
Despite these relatively minor flaws, I'm very pleased with the camera. I'm not impressed by Sony's customer service, so if Canon ever sees fit to compete with Sony in this premium camera line, I'd switch vendors in a heart-beat, but until then, I'm going to keep shooting with the RX-100.

Highly recommended.
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