Basic Specifications
Full model name: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10
Resolution: 20.20 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1 inch
(13.2mm x 8.8mm)
Lens: 8.33x zoom
(24-200mm eq.)
Viewfinder: EVF / LCD
Native ISO: 125 - 12,800
Extended ISO: 80 - 25,600
Shutter: 1/3200 - 30 seconds
Max Aperture: 2.8
Dimensions: 5.1 x 3.5 x 4.0 in.
(129 x 88 x 102 mm)
Weight: 29.3 oz (832 g)
includes batteries
Availability: 12/2013
Manufacturer: Sony
Full specs: Sony RX10 specifications
20.20
Megapixels
8.33x zoom 1 inch
size sensor
image of Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10
Front side of Sony RX10 digital camera Front side of Sony RX10 digital camera Front side of Sony RX10 digital camera Front side of Sony RX10 digital camera Front side of Sony RX10 digital camera

RX10 Summary

Conventional wisdom says that if you want the best pictures, you want interchangeable lenses. The Sony RX10 turns that theory on its head, substituting the interchangeable lenses for just the one fixed lens -- but what a great optic it is! With a bright f/2.8 aperture and a generous 24-200mm equivalent range, you'd need a lot of bulky, expensive glass to match the RX10's lens on your SLR or CSC. The RX10 also has a huge advantage over its bridge camera rivals, thanks to a much larger sensor, and it debuts some interesting features including full-sensor readout for video capture. Is it pricey? Sure, but we think it's worth it. This could just be the camera which convinces you that interchangeable lenses are overkill!

Pros

Smaller than SLR/CSC with comparable lenses; Larger sensor than other bridge cameras; SLR-like body without the hassle of changing lenses; Weather-sealed; Constant f/2.8 maximum aperture; Generous zoom range; Great viewfinder; Swift performance; Plenty of enthusiast-friendly features including raw shooting; Wi-Fi and NFC wireless sharing.

Cons

Expensive compared to other bridge cameras; Menus respond slowly after burst shooting; Lens doesn't zoom very quickly; High ISO performance doesn't quite match RX100 II.

Price and availability

Shipping from November 2013, the Sony RX10 was originally priced at around US$1,300, however it has since dropped in price to around US$850, making it a fantastic deal. Only a black body color is available, as you'd expect for a camera aimed at enthusiast use.

Imaging Resource rating

4.5 out of 5.0

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Sony RX10 Review

by , Dave Etchells, Zig Weidelich and Dave Pardue
Review posted: 11/26/2013
Last updated:

Sony RX10 Review -- Front left view

Once a popular category, the market for enthusiast-grade, all-in-one cameras (aka "bridge" cameras) has been a little moribund in recent years. The new Sony RX10 promises to breathe new life into the high end of that field. While there's been a steady stream of new bridge-camera models, increasingly compact and affordable mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras have squeezed the category unmercifully, making it harder to justify spending $500 to $600 on what's basically just a small-sensor camera.

Canon upped the ante some in early 2012 by introducing their G1X, bringing a near APS-C sized sensor, and a price point of $800 to the fray. It was a very capable camera, but some found its 4x zoom range a little limiting, and the maximum aperture at the tele end was only f/5.8. Now comes the Sony RX10, using the same (excellent) 1-inch type sensor as the RX100 II, but this time adding a bright, constant aperture, 8.3x f/2.8 zoom lens with a 35mm-equivalent range of 24-200mm.

That's just the very tip of the iceberg of goodness, though. The Sony RX10's feature list is pretty eye-popping, including superior electronic viewfinder optics, a new and super-fast autofocus system, 10 frames per second shooting, and exceptional video capabilities.

The Sony RX10 also sets a new high mark for bridge-camera pricing, with an equally eye-popping list price of US$1,300. Given its feature set, excellent sensor and quality optics, though, we think Sony's going to sell as many of them as it can manage to produce. This is a bridge camera that truly redefines what's possible for the category.

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Sony RX10 Review: Extended Walkaround

by Dave Etchells

I've always liked the all-in-one convenience of bridge cameras, and have owned and used a number of them in the past. At some point I became frustrated with the low-light limitations imposed by their small sensors, and AF speed was often lacking as well. For a while, I resigned myself to lugging my SLR along everywhere with me, or at least everywhere from which I cared about bringing back reasonable-quality images. But the bulk of not only the camera body but the necessary complement of lenses made that frustrating as well. As mirrorless cameras have improved in performance and simultaneously become more compact, I've gravitated to them but there were still lenses to lug, albeit much smaller ones than the equivalents for my APS-C SLR bodies.

I immediately loved the Sony RX100 and the even better-performing RX100 II when I first saw them, as they were quite pocketable while still delivering excellent image quality, even in low-light conditions and after dark. I still wished for more than the short 3.6x zoom range, though, and while I loved the f/1.8 maximum aperture at wide angle, f/4.9 at tele made it harder to isolate subjects with shallow depth of field. While the RX100 has let my SLR and CSCs stay home more often than not, its lack in the telephoto department meant that I still felt the need for a CSC with a longer zoom when going on any extended trips.

Sony RX10 review -- RX10 versus RX100 II

The Sony RX10 changes all this, though, as it not only offers a 200mm-equivalent telephoto, but a 24mm-equivalent wide angle, usefully wider than the RX100's 28mm.

The Sony RX10's great optics don't come without a price, though, and the first thing I noticed when I picked one up was how large and heavy it was -- comparatively speaking, at least. Nobody is going to mistake this baby for a pocket camera. Comparing it to the RX100, which very much is a pocket camera, the RX10 weighs in at 1lb 13.3oz (832g), compared to the RX100's 8.5oz (240g). When it comes to size, the RX10's roughly 5.1 x 3.5 x 4.1 inches (129 x 88.1 x 102.2mm) bulk is fully 5.2x larger than the RX100's svelte 4.0 x 2.3 x 1.5 inches (102 x 58 x 38mm).

Sony RX10 review -- RX10 versus Olympus E-P5

OK, so the Sony RX10 is a solid handful, but making the comparison in the other direction, a Micro Four Thirds shooter would need to pack along a body and two lenses to cover the same range at an f/2.8 constant aperture, a 12-35mm f/2.8 and a 35-100mm f2.8. Those two lenses plus even a smallish Micro Four Thirds body would end up involving more bulk, more hassle, and considerably more money than what the RX10 provides in one package. And that's just for Micro Four Thirds; a similar setup on many mirrorless systems and DSLRs would likely be even larger.

Admittedly, the Micro Four Thirds system sports a sensor about 35% larger than the one found in the RX10, but the RX10's uses backside illumination for greater light-gathering efficiency, so the actual difference in picture quality at higher sensitivities isn't as much as you might expect.

In the hand. As noted above, the magnesium alloy-bodied Sony RX10 is a substantial handful, but it's still quite compact for what it offers. It has a fairly deep grip, which I always like, given my longer-than-average fingers. In the interest of keeping the whole package as small as possible, though, it's also a relatively narrow grip. One of the consequences of this is that I found myself having to reach back a bit to get my index finger on the shutter button. Really, though, given the desire for as small an envelope as possible, there wasn't much of a choice for any other way to do it. I'll gladly accept that minor ergonomic bobble for the sake of not having the camera be any bigger than it is.

Sony RX10 review -- in hand

In addition to the deeply-sculpted grip, my hold on the camera was enhanced by the pronounced thumb lip on its rear panel. Between the two, the camera always felt very secure in my hand, to the point that I could actually shoot one-handed if I wanted, despite its mass. That said, I'd very much want to shoot with a two-handed grip as a matter of course, as the RX10's weight and balance almost demand it.

Cameras can be heavy without necessarily feeling well-built, but that's not the case with the Sony RX10. You'd expect a $1,300 camera to feel solidly constructed, and thankfully that's very much the impression the RX10 conveys. Controls feel precise, and the body has a very solid, "quality" feel to it. The zoom lens, too, seems quite solid, even when extended to full telephoto. Some zooms have a tendency to rattle around a little when fully extended, but the lens on the RX10 struck me as more solid than most. I could wiggle it a little at full extension, and it didn't seem as loose as many do.

The lens has two control rings on it, one to adjust either the focal length or manual focus, and the other for lens aperture. The zoom setting can also be controlled via the zoom toggle that surrounds the shutter button. (If you're focusing manually, then this is the only way to control zoom.) As is the case with most fixed-lens cameras these days, zoom operation is always "fly by wire". The zoom ring only instructs the camera to adjust the focal length setting; there's no direct connection between the ring and the optical elements. The same is true of focus and aperture, as well.

Sony RX10 review -- in hand

A common gripe I have about fly-by-wire zoom controls is that they often aren't very fast, and the Sony RX10's zoom operation is unfortunately no exception. Whether controlled via the zoom toggle or the zoom ring on the lens, the RX10's zoom operation can best be called leisurely. I understand why fly-by-wire zooms need to move at a very measured pace when controlled via a toggle control, but a zoom ring offers much richer possibilities, in which large or small, rapid or gradual motions of the ring could convey to the camera detailed information about the user's intent. Why not free the zoom ring from the plodding pace dictated by the zoom toggle, and allow for both more rapid and more precise control? It's possible that the very measured pace of the RX10's zoom operation is all that the actuator can manage, but if there's some margin for greater speed, I hope Sony will consider a firmware update to provide more responsive control when the zoom ring is used.

Electronic viewfinder and LCD screen. I liked the Sony RX10's EVF and LCD displays quite a bit. The LCD sports a resolution of 1,228,000 dots, better than than the vast majority of cameras out there. It can be tilted 84 degrees up or 43 degrees down for low-level or overhead shooting, and offers either automatic brightness control, or a manual option with 5 steps of adjustment. It also has a "sunny weather" mode that cranks the brightness up enough that I had no trouble seeing what was going on, even in full sunlight.

The electronic viewfinder (EVF) has an OLED screen, with 1,440,000 dots of resolution. That's a step down from the incredible EVF resolution of the Sony Alpha 7 that was announced at the same time, but it's sufficient that there's relatively little pixelation visible when looking through the eyepiece. Text and readouts did appear a bit sharper in the A7 and its dynamic range is greater as well, but the EVF in the Sony RX10 is clearly in the top tier of what's out there, regardless.

Sony RX10 review -- in hand

Speaking of the eyepiece, Sony's really outdone itself with viewfinder optics on the RX10. We're told that the viewfinder lens has no fewer than four double-sided aspheric lens elements, an unprecedented level of optical sophistication for an EVF. It shows in the view you see when looking through it, though. No fuzzy corners, chromatic aberration or other distortions; the view is clear and crisp, from corner to corner.

The RX10's EVF view is quite expansive as well. It has a 33 degree angle of view, and a 0.7x viewfinder ratio. Bottom line, it's a big, roomy viewfinder with an unusually broad field of view. Unfortunately, as an eyeglass-wearer, this also means that I need to mash my glasses against the viewfinder eyecup a little, in order to be able to see all of the frame without shifting my eye position. A minor gripe there, but I'll gladly accept the trade-off for the expansive view inside. While it can be tough seeing the entire EVF frame when wearing glasses, the good news is that the Sony RX10's dioptric correction appears to cover an unusually wide range. It has a working range of -4.0 to +3.0m-1, and handled my roughly 20:200 nearsighted vision easily, with some adjustment left beyond that level.

Sony RX10 Review -- top menu

User interface. The Sony RX10's user interface will be immediately familiar to anyone who's used a Sony camera in the recent past. It's very similar to the UI on the RX100 and RX100 II, an efficient collection of tabbed menus that does a good job of presenting a wide range of configuration options in a compact format.

I always prefer more functions available directly via external buttons, versus less, and the Sony RX10 scores well in that area, with two more buttons than its little brothers. First and foremost, there's a nice exposure compensation adjustment dial on the right rear corner of the top deck, right under your thumb - excellent! There's also a C ("custom") button on the top deck that can have multiple functions assigned to it, as well as AEL and Fn buttons on the rear panel, along with the usual four-way keys surrounding a central button, all inside the rear-panel control dial. Another dial is presented edge-on, above the Fn button and to the right of the dedicated Movie button.

Sony RX10 Review -- controls

Like other recent RX cameras and the simultaneously-announced A7/A7R, the Sony RX10's user interface is highly configurable. You can assign any of 41 different functions to the C button, 41 to the AEL button, 42 functions to the center button inside the rear control dial, and 37 functions to each of the left/right/down buttons. Even the rear control wheel can have one of four different functions assigned to it.

Sony RX10 Review -- Quick Navi menu

As if that's not enough, the Fn button brings up a "Quick Navi" display across the bottom of the screen, whether you're viewing the LCD or EVF, with 12 slots or tiles in it. Each of these tiles can have one of no fewer than 27 functions assigned to it, or it can be left empty or blank, to simplify the function display.

For the most part, this interface worked the way I expected; the Fn button drops you into it and the up/down keys let you scroll to the function you want to adjust. I experienced a bit of a disconnect between the operation of the upper command dial and the lower control ring (lower rear dial), once I'd positioned the cursor over the function I wanted. The control ring would always immediately act to change the selected setting when I rotated it, while the upper command dial would only do so for ISO adjustment, the rest of the time requiring that I press the center button to first to enable it. Why not more consistent? (I initially commented on this originally with our pre-production camera, but have confirmed behavior is identical with final Version 1.00 firmware.)

Sony RX10 Review -- Disabled menu option

One hugely welcome change from earlier Sony models is that the terribly modal user interface now offers useful explanations of why you can't select a menu item that's grayed-out. Previously, various options would be grayed-out if they didn't apply to the current camera configuration. (For example, a setting pertaining to manual focus would be grayed out if you were in an autofocus mode.) The problem was, the camera wouldn't tell you why something was grayed out! It was often a puzzle and guessing game of many steps to figure out why the @#! you couldn't change a given menu setting.

I suspect others complained to Sony about this as well, so it probably wasn't just me bringing it up every time I had a chance to talk with their engineers, but I'm happy to report that Sony listened, and the new RX10 (and the A7/7R that were announced at the same time) actually tells you why you can't access grayed-out menu options! To my mind, this was the single biggest thing Sony needed to change in their user interface, and they've done it! It doesn't appear that every grayed-out menu has an information screen associated with it (a couple still say only that "this function is currently disabled") even in production firmware, but it's nevertheless a huge improvement.

The Sony RX10's larger body also enabled another welcome addition, namely the top-panel LCD data-readout screen. While most of what's displayed there is also visible in data overlays on the rear LCD screen, my old-school side likes seeing them clearly displayed on the camera's top panel.

Sony RX10 review -- in hand

 

Sony RX10 Field Test

Find out how the Sony RX10 performs in the real world

by Mike Tomkins |

Sony RX10 field test photoThe RX10 foreshadowed. When Sony announced its RX100 compact camera -- spiritual forebear of the RX10 -- in the middle of last year, I was thrilled -- and I was among the first to rush out, credit card in hand, to buy one for myself. The RX100 answered what seemed to me to be an obvious need for some middle ground between point-and-shoot cameras with the image quality you'd expect of a postage stamp-sized sensor, and mirrorless or SLR cameras with the bulk you'd expect from a large sensor.

My RX100 wasn't intended to replace the latter -- and you'll still have to work hard to pry my SLR from my cold, dead hands -- but its combination of significantly better image quality than the typical point-and-shoot and a much more compact body than an interchangeable-lens camera made huge sense to me. It's gone on to become my go-to camera, with my cellphone relegated to throw-away snapshots, and my SLR to carefully-planned, you'll-never-have-another-chance photo opportunities.

Sony RX10 Technical Insights

Let's take a look under the hood

by Mike Tomkins |

Sony RX10 tech section illustrationSensor. It might have a completely different form factor, but the Sony RX10 is based around the exact same 20.2-megapixel, 1.0"-type Exmor R CMOS image sensor seen previously in the Sony RX100 II.

Typical point-and shoots with similar zoom reach use a 1/2.3"-type sensor; the RX10's sensor is almost 4.1x larger. All other things being equal, that greater size translates to more light-gathering area, and a better signal-to-noise ratio. (Read: lower noise.) On the other side of the coin, though, the RX10's sensor area is only about one-third the size of an APS-C sensor, as used by most DSLRs and some CSCs.

Backside illumination. We mentioned that the Sony RX10 uses an Exmor R-branded image sensor, indicating that it's a backside-illuminated design. BSI sensors move their circuitry beneath the active layer of the sensor, as shown in the diagram below, so that incoming light isn't blocked. That gives the RX10's chip an advantage in terms of sensitivity and noise performance, compared to a standard image sensor of the same size.

Sony RX10 Image Quality Comparison

See how the RX10's image quality compares to a variety of cameras

by Mike Tomkins |

Sony RX10 image qualityThe Sony RX10 truly stands in a class by itself -- a premium fixed-lens, long-zoom camera with a constant maximum aperture of f/2.8, a 1-inch-type imaging sensor, and a hefty pricetag. Since the RX10 has no direct competitor, we had to pit it against a wide variety of cameras to help give you a better idea of how unique this bridge camera is, and where exactly it fits among DSLRs, mirrorless models, bridge cameras and enthusiast compacts. And we're glad we did, as we soon discovered that it stacks up surprisingly well against larger-sensored cameras. Is the Sony RX10 a plausible replacement for an SLR or mirrorless camera and expensive, bulky constant-aperture lenses? See for yourself!

Below are crops comparing the Sony RX10's images against those taken with the Canon T5i, Olympus E-M1, Panasonic FZ200, Panasonic GX7 and Sony RX100 II.

Sony RX10 Conclusion

The Sony RX10 could change your mind about interchangeable lenses

by Mike Tomkins |

When Sony announced its RX10 bridge camera last month, the news was met with a mixture of excitement and confusion. Some saw it for what it was, and were absolutely thrilled. Others didn't understand: Weren't the days of thousand-dollar-plus bridge cameras long gone? What was the point of a smaller sensor than a mirrorless or SLR camera, but in a body of similar size? Just whom was this thing for?

For many of those who got it, there was little question that the Sony RX10 was a camera they'd long been waiting for. Perhaps there was a stifled groan at the price, followed by a quick look over our samples to be sure, but chances are they've already bought theirs, or at least made a mental note to do so just as soon as they can.

 

In the Box

The Sony RX10 retail box ships with the following items:

  • Sony RX10 camera body
  • NP-FW50 lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack
  • AC-UB10 battery charger (charges in-camera via USB)
  • Lens cap
  • Lens hood
  • Hot shoe cap
  • Eyepiece cup
  • Shoulder strap
  • Micro USB cable
  • Instruction manual
  • CD-ROM with Sony PlayMemories Home and Image Data Converter 4 software

 

Recommended Accessories

  • Extra NP-FW50 battery pack for extended outings
  • BC-VW1 battery charger (if you want to charge one battery while shooting with another)
  • Large capacity SDHC/SDXC memory card. These days, 16GB is a good tradeoff between cost and capacity for a consumer DSLR, but if you plan to capture HD movie clips or shoot in RAW format, look for larger cards with Class 6 or faster ratings.
  • External shoe mount flash (HVL-F20M, HVL-F60M, or HVL-F43M), or other accessory flash
  • ADP-MAA shoe mount adapter (if you want to use an older strobe with Sony / Konica Minolta's proprietary shoe, colloquially known as an iISO shoe)
  • AC-PW20 power supply kit with DC coupler
  • HVL-LEIR1 or HVL-LE1 video light
  • ECM-CG50 mono or ECM-ALST1 / ECM-XYST1M / XLR-KM1 stereo microphone
  • CLM-V55 clip-on LCD monitor
  • RM-VPR1 remote commander
  • PCK-LM15 screen protector
  • Small-to-medium size camera bag

 



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