A model that has been missing in Sony’s RX range has just been announced to fill-in the price gap between RX100 II and RX1 compact cameras. The new RX10 is very different from its siblings, however. Where the RX100 II aims to deliver small size and versatility of a compact camera, but higher image quality thanks to its 1″ sensor and the RX1 became the smallest digital full-frame camera with its gorgeous Zeiss 35mm f/2 lens, RX10 makes no claims to be compact. Because compared to either one of its two brothers, the RX10 is positively huge. But there is a good reason for that size.
Look at it closely – the biggest part of this camera is its lens. That is because, with its parameters, it is equivalent to a 24-200mm f/2.8 lens on a full-frame camera in terms of angle of view and light transmittance. Coupled to a sensor that is massively bigger than any of its super-zoom competitors, Sony RX10 is, like the RX1 and Sony A7/A7R, one of a kind.
1) Overview and Key Specifications
The Sony RX10 is built around the same sensor found in RX100 II. It is a 1″ back-illuminated CMOS unit with 20.2 megapixels and ISO range of 125-12800. It also shares similarly sturdy build quality with magnesium alloy used in its construction. There is a sharp 3″, 1.29 million dot tilting LCD screen at the back of the camera and a neat exposure compensation dial at the top with values ranging from -3 to +3 adjusted in 1/3 stop increments. Sony RX10′s EVF has 1.44 million dots, so it’s not the sharpest in the market, but by no means a bad one. Given that neither RX100 II nor RX1 have an EVF, I guess one should be thankful for this inclusion either way. Naturally, the EVF has 100% frame coverage and a decent magnification of 0.7x.
As is now common with a lot of new cameras, RX10 has built-in WiFi connectivity, as well as NFC on top of that. Video recording specs are also impressive. Not only can Sony RX10 do 1080p at 60p, but there’s also stepless aperture adjustment and sophisticated Direct Drive SSM autofocus motor in the lens that works in conjunction with contrast-detect AF system. Without worrying too much about what Sony’s extensive use of pompous-sounding abbreviations mean let’s just say it is an improved sonic motor. Similarly to Fujifilm X-E2, RX10 counters diffraction effect to an extent through the use of clever processing, while in video mode they’ve found a way to maximize resolution and minimize moiré by using all the pixels. The camera can also shoot up to 10 frames per second at full resolution in continuous AF mode. Without phase-detect AF system, it is hard to say how reliable continuous AF tracking will be.
The shutter speed range is 30-1/3200s, but the built-in 3-stop ND filter will allow the use of maximum aperture even in bright light. Which finally brings us to RX10′s party piece, the lens itself. On paper it has a focal length range of 8.8-73.3mm and max aperture of f/2.8 throughout. When factoring the 1″ sensor, this translates into a 35mm equivalent of 24-200mm lens in terms of angle of view. Naturally, the depth of field will be nowhere near a 24-200mm f/2.8 lens designed for full-frame cameras (if ever one such lens existed), but the relatively large sensor and built-in optical image stabilization does offer a lot of potential for low-light photography, at least compared to other super-zoom offerings. Truly, the RX10 has no equivalent on the market today. While there are cameras more impressive on paper, like the Panasonic DMC-FZ200 with its 25-600mm f/2.8 equivalent zoom lens, none of them have a sensor even close to RX10′s in size, which makes it rather special.
So far, I’ve only said the good things about the RX10. Naturally, because there are a lot of those. Unfortunately it is now time for a short rant and if you are a Sony fan, perhaps this is where you should stop reading what I’ve got to say. Because, first of all, RX10 costs a whopping $1300. Whether it is worth such a price tag or not is a matter of personal opinion, but I think it is too expensive. I can understand why it should cost quite a lot. What I am unsure of is whether such a camera at this price is actually a bit too much. It reminds me of the monstrous Sigma 200-500mm f/2.8 lens. Impressive, yes. But who would buy one even if they could afford it?
I am not a fan of Sony cameras, to be fair. Not saying they are bad, oh no. They are actually quite brilliant for what they are. It is just that I’ve never been tempted by any of them, because of how technological in their nature these cameras are. I prefer equipment that successfully hides all the clever stuff under the hood and focuses your attention on photography itself, while Sony, in my opinion, gives priority to the technology itself. It shouts about it proudly – BIONZ X processor, Exmor R sensor, Direct Drive SSM AF mechanism, Tru-Finder EVF, White Magic LCD, Super-Steady Shot, TRILUMINOS Color and Display and BRAVIA – I don’t even know what that means. It is like every bit of the camera needs a name written in capital letters down to rubber grip. But this is stuff you boast to your mates in a pub. “My Sony Cyber-Shot camera has a new BIONZ X processor that’s better than the older BIONZ processor, and also a White Magic LCD.” It’s tech-centered. I don’t want all that written on my camera. I want a camera that hides the pompous titles and delivers great results that speak for themselves. I want simplicity. Having said all that, it is difficult not to be impressed with how the manufacturer is trying to come up with new niches and bring never-before seen products. Don’t mind my rant. Just like the RX100 II and RX1, the newcomer is an impressive technological advancement.
Here is the list of key specifications:
- Resolution: 5472 x 3648
- 20.2 megapixel 1″ BSI CMOS sensor
- ISO range of 125-12800
- Autofocus: Contrast Detect (sensor), Multi-area, Center, Selective single-point, Tracking, Single, Continuous, Face Detection
- Number of focus points: 25
- Lens: Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24–200mm (equivalent) f/2.8 with optical image stabilization and 62mm filter size
- 1.44 million dot EVF
- Screen: Tilting 3″, 1.290k dot
- Shutter speed: 30-1/3200 sec, built-in 3-stop ND filter
- Up to 10 frames per second shooting speed
- WiFi and NFC connectivity
- Full HD 1080p60 video recording
- Storage: SD/SDHC/SDXC/Memory Stick Pro Duo/ Pro-HG Duo
- Battery Life (CIPA): 420
- Weight (inc. batteries): 813 g (1.79 lb / 28.68 oz)
- Dimensions: 129 x 88 x 102 mm (5.08 x 3.46 x 4.02″)
2) Official Press Release
Here is the official press release for Sony RX10:
Sony Adds High-Performance Zoom Camera to Acclaimed Cyber-shot® RX Line
New RX10 Model Combines Versatile 24-200mm (35mm equivalent) F2.8 Lens with Legendary RX Series Image Quality
SAN DIEGO, October 15, 2013 – Sony’s new Cyber-shot RX10 camera adds a high-zoom model to its premium line of Cyber-shot RX series cameras.
The new camera features a 1.0-type, 20.2 effective megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor combined with an impressive 24-200mm (35mm equivalent) F2.8 Carl Zeiss® Vario Sonnar T* zoom lens to deliver the ultimate combination of performance and versatility in a high-zoom camera, giving photographers the ability to shoot impressive high-resolution still images and crisp, clear full HD videos with ease.
This unique pairing of large, high-resolution sensor and premium zoom lens is complemented by an advanced BIONZ™ X processing engine and AF system, ensuring that all content shot with the new RX10 camera – still images and full HD videos alike – is richly detailed, crisp, and continually in focus.
“The innovative new RX10 high-zoom camera is a natural extension to our popular RX family of products, carrying on its legacy of balancing compact size and high-performance imaging in the ultimate package,” said Patrick Huang, director of the Cyber-shot camera business at Sony Electronics. “It’s an unparalleled all-around performer that will leave enthusiasts, hobbyists and even professionals reaching for their DSLRs less and less.”
Sensor and Lens
The new RX10 camera shares the same high-resolution, 1.0-type 20.2 megapixel Exmor ® R CMOS sensor used in Sony’s popular RX100 II compact camera. About 4x the size of a standard compact camera sensor, it excels in producing high quality images in all types of lighting conditions. The BIONZ X processor is about 3x faster in processing speed compared to previous BIONZ predecessors, and reinforces the impressive image quality of the sensor by applying new detail reproduction technology and area-specific noise reduction. It also utilizes diffraction-reducing technologies, which compensates for the lens diffraction at smaller apertures.
The fixed Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T* 24-200mm lens offers superb clarity and resolving power, with a wide F2.8 maximum aperture across the entire zoom range that delivers extra brightness and bolsters low-light capabilities. The wide aperture combined with a seven-bladed iris diaphragm allows for easy creation of professional-looking photos with smooth, defocused backgrounds.
AF System, EVF Viewfinder and LCD
The new Cyber-shot RX10 camera features an extremely speedy and responsive new contrast-detection autofocus system thanks to a new-generation Direct Drive SSM (Super Sonicwave Motor) mechanism that works with the Exmor R CMOS sensor and powerful BIONZ X processor.
Additionally, the camera has lock-on AF that accurately tracks moving subjects, even if they disappear momentarily from the frame. Users also have a choice of three selectable sizes for the spot AF frame, cutting the risk of accidental focus errors with very small subjects. It also has an upgraded ‘Eye AF’ that ensures crisp portraits focused accurately on the subject’s eyes.
The new RX10 high-zoom camera can shoot at up to 10 frames per second with continuous autofocus. This capability combined with the advanced AF and versatile 200mm, constant aperture F2.8 lens makes it an outstanding choice for shooting fast action and sports.
The camera also features a high-contrast OLED Tru-Finder™ that provides crisp edge-to-edge visibility and a wide viewing angle of about 33°, as well as a clear, bright 3.0-type White Magic™ LCD tilts up or down for easy framing for even more compositional freedom.
Impressive Full HD Video Shooting
The Cyber-shot RX10 camera has a host of advanced HD video shooting capabilities, including the ability to capture full HD video either 60p (AVCHD progressive) or a cinematic 24p frame rate, with full control over P/A/S/M exposure modes. Additionally, the camera can read and process data from every one of the large sensor’s pixels to create extremely smooth, highly-detailed Full HD videos. It also has a ‘clear’ HDMI® output which allows footage to be reviewed on an external monitor or recorded to a separate storage device.
The RX10 has an audio level meter with adjustable levels to ensure that movies sound as good as they look and there’s a microphone jack and headphone output for accurate level monitoring. Further, the RX10 model is compatible with the XLR-K1M adapter, which takes users into the world of pro-quality sound recording and allows for the addition of an external microphone via a balanced XLR terminal.
Design and Control
Aesthetically, the new Cyber-shot RX10 features a variety of fully customizable controls and settings that offer DSLR-like flexibility for advanced users. The lens itself has a manual control ring that can be used for zoom or focus control, as well as a dedicated aperture ring that can be set to ‘stepped’ (clicking) or smooth and silent (very useful for movies) when making adjustments.
The camera has six different customizable buttons plus a top-mounted LCD for instant confirmation of exposure and other key settings. The camera has a premium feel thanks to its light, rigid magnesium alloy build, and is also dust- and moisture-resistant for use in outdoor situations.
Wi-Fi and Other Convenient Features
The RX10 model has on-board Wi-Fi for easy connection with any iOS or Android™ smartphone, and features NFC (Near Field Communication) one-touch for simple connection to NFC-enabled Android devices. Consumers can share photos wirelessly on a connected mobile device, HD TV or home networked devices. Additionally, a connected phone can be used as a smart remote control to fire the camera’s shutter.
The new camera plays back high-resolution still images directly on a connected 4K television, offering four times the detail of Full HD. It also features support for TRILUMINOS™ Color, delivering an impressive variety of rich, natural colors when content shot with the camera is played back on a compatible BRAVIA™ television with TRILUMINOS Display.
There’s a range of compatible accessories for the RX10 camera including the new LCJ-RXE premium jacket case that protects the camera from dust and knocks. Additionally, the ECM-XYST1M Stereo Microphone can be attached via the camera’s Multi Interface Shoe™ for crisp dialogue and ambient sounds while shooting HD video, and the HVL-F43M flash and HVL-LEIR1 Video IR light ideal for capturing subjects and taking creative shots in low light.
Pricing and Availability
The Sony Cyber-shot RX10 high-zoom camera will be available for purchase this November for about $1300. The new camera and all compatible accessories will be available at Sony retail stores (www.store.sony.com) and other authorized dealers nationwide.
Please visit www.blog.sony.com for a full video preview of the new Sony RX10 camera and follow #SonyCamera on twitter for the latest α camera news.