Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 camera review

Resembling a cross between a digital SLR and a Howitzer cannon, the Sony Cyber-shot RX10 looks like a serious contender for serious photography from the off. It would have to be with a suggested retail price circa £1,000. Previous RX series cameras, such as the RX100 and RX1, have been decidedly compact in their styling.

Unlike a DSLR however, the RX10’s lens cannot be swapped. But when it boasts Zeiss branding to get enthusiasts salivating, plus a focal range the equivalent of 24-200mm in 35mm terms, with incremental markings etched on the lens barrel – thereby placing a broad range of framing options at our fingertips without having to otherwise move a muscle – why would you want to change anything? Thus, Sony is pitching this camera as a way for current DSLR owners to be able to reduce the burden of carrying a body and several lenses in order to achieve what the RX10 promises with its one lens. A bonus is that it also features a relatively bright maximum aperture of f/2.8 for us still to be able to achieve those DSLR –like shallow depth of field shots, and coupled with a backlit Exmor R CMOS sensor, the huge lens gives a better performance in low light.

The RX10 is aimed at reducing the burden for serious photographers who would normally be tempted into packing a larger DSLR body and array of lenses

When we delve inside, the RX10 likewise impresses. The sensor size is one inch, the same dimensions as featured in Nikon’s ‘1’ system cameras as well as Sony’s RX100 Mark II model released last summer. This means its chip is physically larger than most current super zooms or bridge cameras. From this we derive a respectably useful resolution of 20.2 megapixels – pretty much what we’d expect at this price. Incorporating a latest generation Bionz X processor, the RX10 is wrapped in a magnesium alloy shell that feels just like a down-sized DSLR when you pick it up, but what’s more useful on a practical level is the ability to switch between eye level electronic viewfinder (EVF) activated via eye senor, and 3-inch, 1.2 million dot resolution LCD screen just below. The latter can be tilted up or down to aid high or low angle shooting. This is particularly useful for capturing video.

A relatively chunky body has meant large and readily accessible controls, including two top plate dials; one for selecting any of the 10 shooting modes, and the other for incrementally dialing in exposure adjustment values of between +/- 3EV. The zoom can be adjusted in a couple of ways; either by gripping the lens barrel and turning it by hand, or using the zoom lever that encircles the shutter release button. We used the RX10 for filming a school play from the wings, whereby the ability to zoom in or out silently by hand was a real boon, the camera’s auto focus adjusting so rapidly that we avoided the usual couple of seconds of blur whilst it re-focused.

OUR VERDICT

Though this is not an inexpensive option, when you add up what a semi pro DSLR body and a similar zoom would cost, investing in the RX10 actually makes for a sound investment.

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