Review: Sony Cybershot DSC-RX 100

     Print Edition: November 2012

Sony Cybershot DSC-RX 100
Price: Rs 34,990

Specs:
CMOS 20.2 MP; F1.8 -F4.9 28-100 mm lens; 1/2000 to 30 sec shutter speed; ISO 25600; Full HD 1080p (60fps); SD/SDHC/ SDXC, Memory Stick Duo; RAW.

OVERALL
The RX 100 is a versatile compact camera which can do most of the things you can with a DSLR, even RAW images. However, for the additional features and functionalities you have to pay a premium. Still it is a superb option for power users.

RESULTS
We thought the best way to test a full-frame camera would be in low light and at high ISOs. The ISO can go two stops above 6400 for an equivalent of 25400. At this range the images are bright even without any strong light sources, though we noticed noise when the light was halogen based. Yes, the low light performance is impressive compared to other DSLRs, but we have seen better performance with a compact mirorless, the Olympus OM-D EM-5. We also felt that under certain conditions the images were not as vibrant as we would expect from a Nikon. But these are all small glitches when you consider the performance in normal circumstances, which is top notch.

DARK KNIGHT
One look and it is hard for you to say if the new Sony Cybershot DSCRX100 is different from regular compact cameras. It actually looks like one of those new compact mirroless cameras. Well, it is not. It is in fact the first compact camera from Sony that is able to capture RAW images. It also sports a control ring around the lens. Those are what make this camera different.

DESIGN
The control ring can be deceptive. But the RX 100 is a compact camera, though not just any compact camera. Its all-black body and build makes it look and feel very solid. There is a control dial on the side of the LCD that lets you do the same even quicker, but the ring is definitely a welcome addition. It also sports an F1.8 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T 3.6x optical zoom lens. The mode dial is on the top right while the Fn button above the control dial lets you select and edit other parameters in any of the modes.

EASE OF USE
The settings mode will take care of most auto functions, even though there are Intelligent Auto and Superior Auto for the rest. In fact, the macro mode on the RX 100 is among the best we have used. Intelligent Auto can detect for itself if you are clicking a portrait or a landscape and adjust the settings accordingly. The video quality is good in MPEG, though it gets sluggish in AVCHD. But the zoom is smooth with the Full HD recording and you have the option of shooting in Program or Shutter/Aperture/ Manual modes and this is a great functionality. Another good feature is the fact that this camera can charge directly through an USB, so no need to carry extra adapters.

PERFORMANCE
A 20.2 MP camera means your images are going to have quality and the RX-100 does not disappoint in any sense. The control ring makes composing shots much easier. For instance, if you are in full-auto it becomes the zoom control, while in shutter priority it controls shutter speed and so on. And as the LCD offers live view you get to know exactly how your shot will look. The auto-focus is real fast, even in low light and for that the wide aperture of the lens could also be a factor. The D-Range optimiser brings the best out of the images, especially when you are taking a night shot, by adjusting the gamma curve to optimum levels. While the RAW and RAW+JPEG capture modes are great options to have, especially for those who would like to get the best out of their images, these can slow down the processing time. It takes a few seconds to save these files if you don't have a Class 10 memory card, which is becoming a prerequisite for most modern day cameras. We also felt that the auto-modes were much faster than the semi-auto modes. One basic flaw we noticed was the lack of a battery indicator. If it is there somewhere, we couldn't find it.

OVERALL
The RX 100 is a versatile compact camera which can do most of the things you can with a DSLR, even RAW images. However, for the additional features and functionalities you have to pay a premium. Still it is a superb option for power users.

BAG IT OR JUNK IT?
Good camera if you don't mind the price tag
Text by Nandagopal Rajan
Pictures by Rajwant Rawat


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