Basic Specifications
Full model name: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 IV
Resolution: 20.10 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1 inch
(13.2mm x 8.8mm)
Lens: 25.00x zoom
(24-600mm eq.)
Viewfinder: EVF / LCD
Native ISO: 100 - 12,800
Extended ISO: 64 - 25,600
Shutter: 1/32000 - 30 seconds
Max Aperture: 2.4
Dimensions: 5.2 x 3.7 x 5.0 in.
(133 x 94 x 127 mm)
Weight: 38.6 oz (1,095 g)
includes batteries
Availability: 10/2017
Manufacturer: Sony
Full specs: Sony RX10 IV specifications
20.10
Megapixels
25.00x zoom 1 inch
size sensor
image of Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 IV
Front side of Sony RX10 IV digital camera Front side of Sony RX10 IV digital camera Front side of Sony RX10 IV digital camera Front side of Sony RX10 IV digital camera Front side of Sony RX10 IV digital camera

Sony RX10 IV Review -- Now Shooting!

by and Jeremy Gray
Preview posted: 09/12/2017

Updates:
09/13/2017: Gallery posted
10/10/2017: First Shots posted
10/11/2017: Performance posted
11/29/2017: Field Test Part I posted
: Field Test Part II posted

In the dying days of 2013, Sony launched the RX10, a camera which was lauded for bringing together the heady mix of a powerful, fixed zoom lens, and a much larger-than-average 1-inch type image sensor, as seen previously in its pocket-friendly RX100 II compact. Now, with the fourth-generation Sony RX10 IV, the company continues to hone that design, turning its large-sensor, long-zoom camera into an even more capable sports shooter.

To continue to our overview for more info on what's new and what's not, click here. If you're new to our Sony RX10 IV review, you'll want to click here and start by reading our first field test. And if you are just here to see our latest thoughts, you'll want to start by reading our second field test, below!

 

Sony RX10 IV Field Test Part II

Sports, low-light and video: Rounding out our test of this incredible long-zoom shooter

By | Posted:

81mm-equivalent, 1/100 sec. @ f/3.5, ISO 1250

In the dying days of last year, I posted my first field test of the Sony RX10 IV, the flagship model in Sony's large-sensor, long-zoom Cyber-shot camera family. And I was thrilled to do so, as the RX10 IV is clearly one heck of a camera. (Not already read that first test? If not, you'll want to start off there.)

Since that first test, some personal issues and a busy time of year delayed this long-awaited second field test for far longer than I'd have liked. (Mea culpa, and sorry to all who've been waiting!) But it's here now, and it's safe to say right up front that my experiences with this powerful -- if also rather pricey -- shooter have continued to be superb!

What's on the platter for my second field test?

Originally, I'd planned two more field tests to close out this review, but in the interests of being a little more expeditious, I've decided instead to combine them into a single test instead. We've already covered general, daytime shooting in my first field test, so if you've not already read that, you'll want to start there.

In this second part, we'll look at low-light / high-sensitivity stills in a sunset shoot around my hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee, and we'll also head down to the Smoky Mountains for an action shoot in the tourist town of Pigeon Forge. Finally, we'll head to nearby Gatlinburg, TN for some video shooting, including both 4K and Full HD, as well as high frame-rate / slow-motion capture.

The view from trackside is mighty impressive, with spectacular performance and top-notch autofocus

Let's start things off with the action shoot, since that will round out the last of the daytime still image capture, following on from the daytime shoot in my first field test.

107mm-equivalent, 1/2,000 sec. @ f/4.0, ISO 250

To get an idea of how well the Sony RX10 IV would perform with some reasonably fast-moving subjects, I headed down to an old favorite shooting location: The go-kart track of Xtreme Racing Center in Pigeon Forge. I've long enjoyed this particular location because there are several places affording a good shot of the track with the karts heading straight towards the camera down long straights, as well as some twistier parts where the karts briefly disappear from view behind foreground objects.

It makes for a good test of autofocus and tracking performance, as the karts move fairly predictably and with reasonable speed. (In the past, I've estimated their karts to be capable of around 25mph, which while still far short of the claimed 40mph, is probably a good bit faster than any other kart track in my area.)

600mm-equivalent, 1/2,000 sec. @ f/4.0, ISO 1250

Over the course of an hour or so, I wandered around the perimeter of the track, shooting thousands of frames, mostly in short bursts of around a second (~24 frames) at a time, but occasionally north of a hundred raw+JPEG shots at a time to really give the buffer a workout. With the exception of occasionally having to pause for the camera to write its buffer to flash after the longer bursts, the Sony RX10 IV didn't keep me waiting much at all. This is one spectacularly swift camera, and its autofocus is hands-down the most impressive I've seen yet in a fixed-lens camera.

600mm-equivalent, 1/2,000 sec. @ f/4.0, ISO 320

Time and again, the RX10 IV rattled off many dozens or even hundreds of shots in a row without missing focus on a single frame. And that was true even as the karts came impressively close to me. I found that I could get shots where the racers' helmet and shoulders came close to filling the frame, towards the end of bursts that had tracked focus successfully all the way from the other end of the straight. Almost all of the time, if focus was missed for a shot, it was either because I'd wandered off the subject or briefly let up on the shutter button.

With that said, the subject tracking can be a little iffy sometimes, and I found it easier to shoot with a fixed focus point, keeping the subject under that point as much of the time as possible. The subject detection algorithms too often jump onto another object and start tracking that instead. (In wider shots of the scene below, the on-screen mark indicating the subject's location loved to race off along the black stripe of the tire barrier all by itself, even if there was no motion anywhere within the image frame.)

All three frames above are shot from the same location, and were taken as part of the same burst with continuous AF tracking. (They're the first, 57th and 76th frames in an 85-frame burst, respectively.) The focal length is unchanged throughout, as the Sony RX10 IV doesn't allow the zoom to be adjusted during a continuous burst of frames.
All shots are 600mm-equivalent, 1/2,000 sec. @ f/4.0. First and last frame are ISO 1250; middle frame is ISO 1600.

But that's easily worked around, and pretty subject-specific. There's only one significant fly in the ointment for the RX10 IV as a sports shooter: You can't adjust the focal length at all during burst capture. Both the zoom ring and rocker are disabled during a burst, so you're stuck with the focal length you started at unless you have time to end the burst, adjust the zoom and then start shooting again. But with the quickly-moving karts, that wasn't so easy to do without missing the action. It'd have been much easier to slowly rack the zoom outwards as the karts approached me, but that's not possible with the RX10 IV.

600mm-equivalent, 1/2,000 sec. @ f/4.0, ISO 500

But with that one shortcoming aside, the Sony RX10 IV's combination of spectacular performance, extremely quick and accurate autofocus and a far-reaching zoom lens make for a really, really compelling sports shooter. And the same attributes that make it great for sports will also prove very helpful with other active subjects like kids and pets, too!

164mm-equivalent, 1/200 sec. @ f/4.0, ISO 1600

An evening shoot in downtown Knoxville

With sports shooting covered, next on the roster was low light shooting. I headed to familiar territory in downtown Knoxville, taking advantage of the RX10 IV's impressively far-reaching zoom lens to seek out some unfamiliar subjects at both ends of the zoom range. As I typically do when in need of low-light subjects, I actually started shooting during the golden hour, allowing the ISO sensitivity to ramp up automatically as the light faded over the next hour or two.

We're already well covered for low-sensitivity shots in the gallery, though, so with the exception of the karting shots above, I've limited the shots in this field test and its corresponding gallery update to those shot at ISO 1200 and above. (Not all of the shots from the gallery are included in this field test or the one which preceded it, so you'll want to make sure to browse through the remainder here.)

Much better low-light image quality than small-sensor megazoom cameras

So how does the Sony RX10 IV's image quality hold up once the sun slips down beneath the horizon? Much like its predecessors in the RX10-series -- as well as the pocket-friendly RX100-series which share the same sensor size -- the RX10 IV does a great job in low-light conditions, by fixed-lens camera standards.

It's after dark where the light-gathering benefit of the larger 1-inch sensor size used in the RX10 IV really makes itself known. Compared to smaller-sensor, long-zoom rivals, Sony's flagship RX10-series camera yields much more satisfying images with significantly more detail and lower noise levels, to boot.

164mm-equivalent, 1/200 sec. @ f/4.0, ISO 1600

Admittedly, you'll get even better IQ from a similarly-priced interchangeable-lens camera

Of course, that's to be expected, as the RX10 IV will also set you back close to US$1,700 as of this writing. That's enough to buy three or four small-sensor superzooms. In fact, it's even sufficient to buy an entry-level or perhaps mid-range interchangeable-lens camera along with two or three consumer-grade lenses, or maybe an enthusiast-oriented zoom instead.

You likely won't cover the same focal length range with a DSLR or mirrorless camera as you would the RX10 IV's built-in zoom, but you'll also likely find that, courtesy of an even-larger sensor, the interchangeable-lens camera will deliver a noticeably higher level of low-light image quality. And nor will that interchangeable-lens camera be capable of the mindblowing burst capture and autofocus performance of this camera, or anything even remotely approaching it.

Overall, I think low-light image quality will more than satisfy most RX10 IV owners

To make a long story short, having a smaller sensor than that in an ILC is just the tradeoff you have to make if you want this level of performance in a camera of this size and cost, especially when it has no strong rivals. So bearing that in mind, what did I think of the Sony RX10 IV's image quality in low-light conditions?

I have to say, I think it does a really great job! I've included a raft of images below shot at ISO 1000 or above through all of the native sensitivity range, so you can make the final judgement for yourself, as there's certainly a measure of personal taste here. However, speaking personally I wouldn't hesitate to use anything up to ISO 1600 equivalent in any conditions, and even up to ISO 3200 you're only really losing the very finest details, with picture quality still pretty darned good overall.

81mm-equivalent, 1/100 sec. @ f/3.5, ISO 1000

Colors feel a bit muted by ISO 6400, and noise does start to intrude a bit if viewing 1:1, but even all the way up at the maximum native sensitivity of ISO 12,800-equivalent you can get very usable results. And having shot entirely handheld well after sunset, I think the Sony RX10 IV will more than satisfy owners in this respect.

Let's take a look at some more examples; note the captions for exposure information.

65mm-equivalent, 1/80 sec. @ f/3.5, ISO 1250

24mm-equivalent, 1/30 sec. @ f/2.5, ISO 1600

97mm-equivalent, 1/100 sec. @ f/3.5, ISO 2000

27mm-equivalent, 1/30 sec. @ f/2.5, ISO 2500

50mm-equivalent, 1/50 sec. @ f/3.2, ISO 3200

67.5mm-equivalent, 1/200 sec. @ f/4.0, ISO 4000

159mm-equivalent, 1/160 sec. @ f/4.0, ISO 5000

123mm-equivalent, 1/125 sec. @ f/4.0, ISO 6400

221mm-equivalent, 1/250 sec. @ f/4.0, ISO 8000

170mm-equivalent, 1/200 sec. @ f/4.0, ISO 10,000

74mm-equivalent, 1/60 sec. @ f/3.5, ISO 12,800

The RX10 IV makes for a very capable video camera, too

To round out this second and final field test, I want to turn to movie capture. And here, like its predecessors, the Sony RX10 IV comes very amply equipped indeed.

4K video, 3,840 x 2,160 pixels @ 30 frames per second

You can use either the dedicated video button or, optionally, the main shutter button to capture XAVC S-compressed clips at 4K (3,840 x 2,160) or Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixel) resolution. Full HD clips can also be recorded in AVCHD format, and frame rate options include 24, 25 or 30 fps at either 4K or Full HD resolution, plus 50p, 50i, 60p and 60i at Full HD only.

Plenty of control is available over the look of your footage, with profiles included for ITU 709, S-Log 2 or S-Log 3 gamma curves, among others, and support for manual adjustment of black gamma, knee, color mode, saturation, phase, depth and detail. You can also enable or disable image stabilization (including active and intelligent active SteadyShot modes for Full HD footage, but not for 4K), or adjust the autofocus drive speed and tracking sensitivity.

4K video (top) and Full HD video (bottom) compared.
4K clip is 3,840 x 2,160 pixels @ 30 fps; Full HD clip is 1,920 x 1080 pixels @ 60 fps

Time code and user bit info are supported, and audio levels can be monitored via the built-in headphone jack, displayed on-screen and controlled automatically or manually. You can input audio from either the built-in stereo microphone or a 3.5mm external microphone jack.

You can also capture still images during movie capture at either 4.2, 7.5 or 17-megapixel resolution, or have the RX10 IV capture some stills automatically as it detects attractive compositions. And if your computer's not up to the task of editing 4K video just yet, you'll be happy to know that the RX10 IV also includes proxy recording, which captures two clips at once: A lower-res 720p clip for quicker editing, and an ultra-high definition 4K clip that you can swap in right before your final render.

Original 4K video (top) and simultaneously-recorded proxy video (bottom).
4K clip is 3,840 x 2,160 pixels @ 30 fps; proxy clip is 1,280 x 720 pixels @ 30 fps

You can also record slow-motion video with capture rates of 240, 480 or 960 fps for playback at 24, 25, 30, 50 or 60 fps. This allows a slow-motion effect ranging anywhere from 4 to 40x, so you can really slow the action down. Shooting times for HFR video range from as little as three to as long as seven seconds.

From top to bottom: High frame-rate video clips shot at 240, 480 and 960 frames per second. All clips are set to play back at 24 fps for a 10x, 20x or 40x slow-mo effect, respectively. Other rates could be achieved with 25, 30, 50 or 60p playback.

As you can see in the examples above, that's typically more than sufficient, though. Slow-motion video doesn't lend itself well to long clips in the first clips, and the RX10 IV lets you choose whether to start the clip at the moment you press the video button, or to record continuously and then keep only the last few seconds from before you pressed the button. That makes it quite easy to time your shots to catch the action.

The only real frustrations are that you can't adjust the zoom or focus while HFR mode is active, and that you're still forced to wait for the camera to upsample its HFR clips to their output resolution. That's an annoying requirement which wastes flash card space and battery life, and also potentially causes you to miss action while you're waiting for the previous clip to be rendered.

(Note that at the lowest frame rates, the camera does come fairly close to recording at the Full HD output resolution, with a capture resolution of up to 1,824 x 1,026 pixels. But at the highest rates and in shoot time priority mode, the actual capture resolution can be as low as 912 x 308 pixels.)

But other than these frustrations with HFR mode, the Sony RX10 IV really impresses with its video-capture capabilities. And thanks to its far-reaching, relatively bright zoom lens you should be able to get the shot in most situations, while the relatively large sensor means that video quality is very good indeed, for a fixed-lens camera.

And that about wraps things up for this second field test. Watch this space for our final conclusion, coming soon!

 

Sony RX10 IV Overview

By and Jeremy Gray | Posted: 11/29/2017

The power of the RX100 V in an SLR-like package that's infinitely more versatile

The Sony RX10-series might have been much larger than the diminutive RX100-series -- the company refers to it as being palm-sized, and it's similar in size to a DSLR with a short-zooming kit lens -- but it has nevertheless hit a sweet spot, providing great image quality in an extremely versatile package. And we profess to being big fans of the formula, having awarded all three previous generations of the Sony RX10 the coveted Dave's Pick title, despite a pricetag that was hefty, to say the least.

With the Sony RX10 IV, the company has clearly put a big focus on performance, just as it did with the fifth-generation of the RX100 series, the Sony RX100 V. But where all of that performance didn't necessarily always make sense in such a pocket-friendly camera, it will be a whole lot easier to make the best advantage of the power underlying the RX10 IV thanks to its much more powerful zoom lens.

The Sony RX10 IV's body and lens are almost unchanged from its predecessor

Take a quick glance at the Sony RX10 IV, and you could very easily confuse it with its predecessor. The entire body design is retained almost unchanged, as is the whopping 24-600mm equivalent, f/2.4-4.0 zoom lens which lends it the look of a DSLR camera with the lens attached. (But unlike a DSLR, this lens is permanently fixed in place, giving Sony advantages in packaging that have allowed far, far more zoom reach than you'd expect to find in an SLR camera with a similarly-sized lens.)

As before, that lens includes Sony's Optical SteadyShot image stabilization technology, which has a 4.5-stop corrective strength, a must when shooting towards the telephoto end of its mighty range, especially in low-light conditions. But while both lens and stabilization system are unchanged, we understand that Sony has rethought how the latter works, making it more active during framing for a better shooting experience.

A couple of minor control tweaks in the autofocus department

On the outside of the camera body, if you ignore the change in the model number, there are only two significant differences to be found. Both hint at an area which was key to the redesign beneath the skin: Autofocus. On the side of the body at the base of the lens barrel is a brand-new focus range limiter switch, allowing you to switch between the full focus range or to limit the Sony RX10 IV to focusing at distances greater than 10 feet (3m).

As before, you'll be able to focus to as close as 1.2 inches (3cm) at the wide-angle position, or 2.4 feet (0.7m) at the telephoto end of the range, incidentally, giving the RX10 IV quite good macro capabilities for such a long-zooming camera. And the adjacent focus mode switch has sprouted a new "A" position, which is used to access a new auto-servo focus mode that chooses between single or continuous autofocus as the camera deems appropriate.

Real-world handling thoughts on the Sony RX10 IV

Now would seem as good a time as any to hand things over to our Reviews Editor Jeremy Gray, who's on the ground in New York for the official launch of the Sony RX10 IV, to give us a little insight into the camera's handling. Take it away, Jeremy!

While you can capture excellent images from 24 to 600mm with gear from nearly all manufacturers, it's something special with the Sony RX10 series to be able to shoot crisp images across that entire range in a single camera, much less a camera that is comfortable to hold and weighs in at just 2.4 pounds (1,095g) loaded and ready to shoot.

Regarding the comfort of the newest model, the Sony RX10 IV feels quite nice in the hands, although it doesn't have the same robust, rugged feel you might expect from a camera that costs nearly US$2,000. With that said, the new three-inch display, which is still tilt-capable for framing high or low shots, looks great, and now offers Touch Pad AF and Touch Focus functionality. The 2.35-million dot XGA OLED electronic viewfinder looks very good too and is nice to use thanks to its reasonably large size. (The Sony RX10 IV has a manufacturer-rated 0.70x magnification, speaking in 35mm-equivalents.)

Like its predecessor, the Sony RX10 IV allows you to control the zoom via the switch beneath the shutter release or by rotating one of the three rings on the lens (in order they are focus, zoom and aperture rings). In both cases, the RX10 IV is somewhat slow to zoom from 24 to 600mm, although it did feel better to use the zoom ring. While the camera is one built for speed, zooming is not an area where the RX10 IV feels fast.

The aperture ring is a nice touch, allowing easy user control over the f-stop. The ring has a lot of resistance, which is great for making precise adjustments, but not so good for making large adjustments quickly. You can adjust the aperture ring to be de-clicked as well, which is perfect for making quiet aperture adjustments, which could prove useful to videographers.

If you're familiar with its predecessor, the RX10 IV will feel very familiar. It maintains its general DSLR-substitute body style, meaning that there are numerous controls on the camera body itself and it is well served as a complement to an A7-series or A9 camera or as a person's sole camera. In both cases, it should feel capable and familiar.

The big news is to be found on the inside of the Sony RX10 IV

So... the body we all know and love from the RX10 III remains almost unchanged. It's what is to be found on the inside that's the really big story here. And if you've been paying attention to the way Sony's engineers and designers think, you won't be surprised in the least to find that the Sony RX10 IV is based around the exact same 20.1-effective megapixel image sensor as in the pocket-friendly Sony RX100 V. (We understand that the image processing algorithms used to process its output have been updated to those used in the Sony A9 mirrorless camera, though, bringing the potential for another step forward on the image quality front.)

The Sony RX10 IV's sensor still yields a maximum image size of 5,472 x 3,648 pixels, identical to that of the earlier camera. The important change here isn't one of resolution or pixel size, but rather of the new Sony Exmor RS sensor's performance and provision for on-chip AF.

Fast Hybrid autofocus with blinding performance and high-density AF tracking

As in the previous RX10 III (not to mention the RX100 III and IV), the Sony RX10 IV's image sensor uses a stacked design which combines embedded DRAM memory to allow for extremely swift full-resolution capture. It also now includes 315 on-chip phase-detection autofocus points, just as in the RX100 V, allowing for swift and accurate hybrid autofocus, where the RX10 III had to make do solely with contrast-detection.

These 315 PDAF points are broadly distributed across 65% of the image frame, ensuring that your subject should be adequately covered no matter where you want to place it, or to track it around the frame. (It's not often that you'll find yourself wanting to place the point of focus much closer to the edge of the frame anyway, for compositional reasons.)

And when it comes to tracking, the Sony RX10 IV debuts a Cyber-shot first, inheriting the same high-density tracking AF system which we've seen previously in the Sony A6300 and A6500 mirrorless cameras, while the autofocus algorithms are borrowed from the Sony A9. The result should be exceptionally swift autofocus, and very capable AF tracking that uses information not just from the user-selected autofocus point, but also from many of those which surround it, helping the RX10 IV to more accurately determine what constitutes the subject itself.

And there are plenty more autofocus system tweaks, besides...

Nor is that all on the autofocus front, either. For one thing, as we mentioned earlier there's now a focus limiter function that will prevent the camera from racking through the focus range into macro territory if you are dealing with a particularly challenging subject. There's also a new automatic AF mode, as we said, which chooses between single-servo or continuous autofocus by itself, if you're not sure which will be best for a given subject, or are shooting an erratic mixture of moving and static subjects.

Sony has also upgraded the Eye AF algorithms in the RX10 IV, and it will now better handle the task of focusing on moving faces, or those for which you only have a three-quarter view looking to one side of the camera, rather than a full face looking more directly at the lens. And as Jeremy noted earlier, there are also new possibilities thanks to the newly-added touch-screen panel. You can now focus by tapping directly on a subject when using live view on the main LCD, or use the LCD panel as a touch pad for focusing while framing your subject through the electronic viewfinder.

There's also a new AF-On function, and while it doesn't have its own dedicated button, you can assign it to one of the user-configurable function buttons yourself, if it would prove useful for your chosen subject matter. And you can also register a focus point or area for quick recall from a function button, which will prove very handy if you're shooting a somewhat predictable subject which requires that you frequently want to change and then revert the focus point -- say, a tennis match, for example.

In fact, you can now go even a step further and recall whole custom settings groups, including not just the AF point, but other details like the exposure and drive modes, shutter speed, sensitivity or exposure compensation with a single button press, if you want.

The Sony RX10 IV boasts so much performance it might just blow your mind

Although the image processor at the heart of the Sony RX10 IV still carries Sony's Bionz X branding, just as in the earlier RX10 II and III, there's clearly a whole different level of power on tap here. We understand that the image processor in the RX10 IV, as well as its supporting LSI chip, are both identical to those used in the flagship Sony A9 mirrorless camera, and that gives this fixed-lens model truly epic shooting performance.

Where the Sony RX10 III was capable of an already-swift 14 frames per second burst capture, the RX10 IV unlocks the same mind-blowingly swift 24 fps capture that we've seen previously in the pocket-friendly RX100 V. And that's with a JPEG buffer depth that's manufacturer-rated at a whopping 249 frames, enough for a full 10+ seconds of continuous burst shooting at the maximum rate.

Now, we should note here that Sony specs this figure not at the highest-quality Extra Fine JPEG mode, but rather at the next step down in Fine JPEG mode. We will of course be testing the performance for ourselves, both in the lab and the real world, as soon as we get the chance, but in the meantime IR founder and publisher Dave Etchells gave it a quick test at the press event in New York, and in Fine JPEG mode saw a buffer depth of 251 frames, just slightly besting Sony's spec, while he also recorded a 114-frame raw burst, and a 110-frame raw+JPEG burst.

None of this can be directly compared with our in-house testing figures, as these use an intentionally hard-to-compress test subject for a real-world, worst case scenario, but they certainly body well for the Sony RX10 IV's real-world performance. Unfortunately, flash card write speeds still look set to be an Achilles heel for the RX10 IV, as Dave also noted a card clearing time of 48 seconds for Fine JPEGs once the buffer filled, and a leisurely 67 seconds for raw+JPEG buffer clearing. Solely raw buffer clearing was the best of the bunch at around 34 seconds, but you should bear in mind that this is for less than half as many frames as in JPEG mode.

Watch this space for more formal performance testing at a future date, just as soon as we're able. And if you don't actually need this much performance, note that lower rates of 3.5 or 10 frames per second are also optionally available.

A faster electronic viewfinder and a higher-res (but possibly less bright) main LCD panel

Although the hardware of the Sony RX10 IV's electronic viewfinder, which Jeremy mentioned earlier, looks to be much the same as in the previous RX10 III, we understand that it now has lower lag than in the previous-generation camera. (Sony hasn't yet quantified the scope of this improvement, however.)

It's still based around a 1,024 x 768 pixel Organic LED panel with a 0.39-inch diagonal, and has a 0.7x magnification (35mm equivalent with a 50mm lens at infinity), as well as an eyepoint of 21.5mm from the eyepiece frame, and a -4 to +3 diopter corrective capability. Sadly, unlike that in the Sony A9, the RX10 IV's electronic viewfinder is not blackout free, so it won't be quite as useful for framing fast-moving subjects. (But in this class, there's no camera offering that feature, so it's perhaps an understandable omission nevertheless.)

Sony has given a little and taken a little with the LCD monitor, however. Total resolution has increased from 640 x 480 pixels to 800 x 600, and there's now a touch-screen overlay, as noted previously. But where the previous Sony RX10 II and III used Sony's WhiteMagic LCD technology for a brighter (yet lower-powered) display, the Sony RX10 IV seems to have returned to a standard LCD panel technology, likely in the interests of saving cost.

Now, we should note that we haven't yet had the opportunity to compare the RX10 III and IV side by side, so it's perhaps possible that LED backlight technology has improved sufficiently in the meantime to negate this difference, but even if so, that improvement could likely have been even more significant with use of WhiteMagic technology, which couples the traditional red, green and blue pixels with white ones, allowing its desirable characteristics.

Oh, and there is of course still an info LCD panel on the top deck, which is handy for quickly checking your remaining shots and exposure basics.

The Sony RX10 IV should be an even more capable long-zooming movie camera, too

The preceding RX10 III was already a fairly capable movie camera in its own right, especially by fixed-lens camera standards. The Sony RX10 IV looks to be even more impressive in this respect, though. It retains its predecessor's ability to shoot ultra-high definition 4K or high-def 1080p videos in XAVC S or AVCHD formats using the full sensor width without line-skipping, and at a maximum sensitivity of ISO 12,800-equivalent.

But now, it offers in-camera proxy recording capability, shooting both a UHD 4K clip and a simultaneous HD (720p) clip which can be used in its place for faster editing in your non-linear editor of choice, before substituting in the much higher-res 4K footage for a better-quality result at render time. (And this works not only for 4K clips, but also for lower-res Full HD / slow-motion footage.)

There's also a choice of S-Log2 or S-Log3 gamma curves to suit your post-production workflow, where the RX10 III only offered S-Log2. (Not sure what this means? Sony gives you a quick rundown on S-Log here.)

We also understand that focus peaking has been improved in the Sony RX10 IV, which will be great if you want to focus manually. And if not, you can now use touch AF during movies, as well, and take advantage of the on-chip phase-detection pixels for smoother focus transitions from one subject to another in your scene.

Improved wireless connectivity, with the same battery / accessory support carried over

In most respects, the Sony RX10 IV's power, storage and connectivity features are unchanged from the RX10 III. In some respects, that's a great thing. For example, if you're upgrading from an earlier RX10-series model, you'll be able to use the same NP-FW50 lithium-ion rechargeable battery packs that you already have on hand. And the same is true of your Multi Interface Shoe-compatible accessories, as well as your micro HDMI and micro USB cables. You'll also be able to use the same external microphones and headphones you could since the RX10 II. Speaking of batteries, CIPA battery life is down just slightly with the new LCD to 400 shots versus 420 for the predecessor. It remains the same with the EVF, at 370 shots.

However, it also means that the Sony RX10 IV still lacks support for UHS-II memory cards, just as did its predecessors. They'll still work in the RX10 IV body, but they'll fall back to UHS-I compatibility mode, which is slower. (And this goes some way towards explaining the still fairly sedate buffer clearing times of the RX10 IV, a shortcoming it shares with its predecessors.) Our understanding from speaking with Sony about this is that there were constraints in terms of both pricing and packaging which prevented Sony from including UHS-II support in the form factor and at the pricepoint it wanted.

The good news, though, is that the already great Wi-Fi + NFC connectivity of the Sony RX10 III has been supplemented with a Bluetooth Low Energy (aka Bluetooth 4.1) radio in the newer camera. This allows the Sony RX10 IV to piggyback off your phone's GPS receiver and clock, keeping its time up to date through time zone changes and automatically geotagging your photos with their capture location as they're captured without the need for its own built-in GPS receiver. And since Bluetooth 4.1 has relatively minimal power requirements, it should be able to do so without destroying your smartphone's battery life, something which has caused us to turn this feature off in many past cameras.

The Sony RX10 IV carries a very steep pricetag, but let's face it: There's no real competition

And now we come to the part you've all been waiting for. (Unless you caught Jeremy's allusion to it in his hands-on report, that is.)

The Sony RX10 and RX100-series have always been known for their steep pricetags at launch, and the same is true of the Sony RX10 IV. If anything, even more so. Slated to go on sale in the US market this October, the RX10 IV carries list pricing of right around US$1,700. That puts it another US$200 above the already-bracing pricetag of the preceding RX10 III.

Yes, it's a big ask, there's no question about that. However, it has to be said that there really isn't another camera on the market with these features, and so it's perhaps understandable that Sony expects a premium pricetag for what is, essentially, a unique camera. If you need its pairing of image quality, zoom range, performance and video capabilities, well... Your choices are either to pay that price, or to wait for a rival to catch up. (And thus far, they've arguably not even caught up with the previous-generation RX10 III yet, so you may be waiting a while.)

Much as we'd love to see the RX10 IV at a lower pricetag, we can't blame Sony too much here. Developing cameras like these costs a lot of money, and that's money which is hard-fought over in the modern camera market. Rather than asking Sony to lower its price in the face of minimal competition, we'd sooner ask of Sony's rivals... What are you waiting for? Catch up already! If you can...

 

Sony RX10 IV Field Test Part I

The large-sensor, long-zoom love affair continues...

by Mike Tomkins |

Right from its very beginning, I've been a big fan of Sony's RX10 camera family. I've personally reviewed every single camera in the series to date, and I've found the RX10 line of cameras to be great all-rounders, capturing everything from family and pet photos and travel shots to sports, nature, portraits and more with equal aplomb.

The original Sony RX10 single-handedly created the large-sensor, long-zoom camera market, and the followup RX10 II -- of which I personally own a copy -- further refined the experience while adding a performance boost. Last year's RX10 III brought even more performance and a new, much further-reaching zoom lens, albeit with a noticeable increase in heft. And now, some four years after I first reviewed the original RX10, the new Sony RX10 IV aims to take the RX10 III design to the next level courtesy of major autofocus and performance improvements which it shares with Sony's pocket-friendly RX100 V compact.

Suffice it to say that I've really been looking forward to getting my hands on the Sony RX10 IV ever since its announcement in mid-September 2017 -- and now that I've done so, I'm happy to be able to bring you the first in my two-part, real-world test of the RX10 IV!


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