Sony RX100 IV Image Quality Comparison

Below are crops comparing the Sony RX100 IV against the Sony RX100 III -- its immediate predecessor -- as well as the Canon G7X, Fuji X30, Nikon J5, and Panasonic LX100. All of the models in this comparison are either direct competitors to the RX100 IV in the premium, large-sensor compact camera market, or otherwise, such as with the Nikon J5, which shares a similarly sized 1-inch-type sensor.

NOTE: These images are best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera. For those interested in working with the RAW files involved, click these links to visit each camera's respective sample image thumbnail page: Sony RX100 IV, Canon G7X, Fuji X30, Nikon J5, and Panasonic LX100 -- links to the RAW files appear beneath those for the JPEG images, wherever we have them. And remember, you can always go to our world-renowned Comparometer to compare the Sony RX100 IV to any camera we've ever tested.

Sony RX100 IV vs Sony RX100 III at Base ISO

Sony RX100 IV at ISO 125
Sony RX100 III at ISO 125

Despite the new sensor design in the RX100 IV, the resolution remains the same between these two models. The fine detail resolution is therefore very similar, though we can see slight differences, especially in the mosaic crop, with the Mark IV appearing a bit sharper.

Sony RX100 IV vs Canon G7X at Base ISO

Sony RX100 IV at ISO 125
Canon G7X at ISO 125

Another pairing of 20.2MP cameras with 1-inch-type sensors seen here. JPEG processing differences are apparent when looking at the top bottle crop. Detail overall is great from both cameras at base ISO, though the mosaic detail from the Canon looks ever-so-slightly more natural. The fabric swatches look very similar, though the Sony handles the pink swatch a bit better.

Sony RX100 IV vs Fujifilm X30 at Base ISO

Sony RX100 IV at ISO 125
Fujifilm X30 at ISO 100

The difference in resolution between these two cameras is very apparent in this comparison. Detail is quite good from the 12-megapixel 2/3-inch Fuji X30 sensor, but the Sony shows just what's capable from a larger, higher-res sensor.

Sony RX100 IV vs Nikon J5 at Base ISO

Sony RX100 IV at ISO 125
Nikon J5 at ISO 160

Here we have another 20MP match-up, and detail resolution looks quite impressive from both cameras. The newer 1-inch-type sensor in the Nikon displays much better detail than we've seen in the past. The Sony edges out the Nikon, however, with crisper, sharper detail, and also handles the tricky fabric swatches a bit better.

Sony RX100 IV vs Panasonic LX100 at Base ISO

Sony RX100 IV at ISO 125
Panasonic LX100 at ISO 200

Again we have a more striking difference in resolution (20.2MP vs 12.8MP), and while both do very well in their respective crops, the Sony RX100 IV shows more fine detail across the board by comparison, though on its own, the LX100 does a great job with fine detail here. Detail in the mosaic crop from the Panasonic is very clean and more natural-looking, while the Sony appears a bit more over-processed here by comparison.

Sony RX100 IV vs Sony RX100 III at ISO 1600

Sony RX100 IV at ISO 1600
Sony RX100 III at ISO 1600

Bumping up the ISO, we see a subtle but interesting change. The Mark IV, in the bottle crop, shows a bit more noise, but at the same time allows slightly more detail to come through than its predecessor. The same can be said ever-so-slightly on the mosaic crop. However, both cameras struggle with resolving detail in the fabric.

Sony RX100 IV vs Canon G7X at ISO 1600

Sony RX100 IV at ISO 1600
Canon G7X at ISO 1600

Despite very similar sensors, the Sony edges out the Canon here in all three crops. Detail in the Sony images are crisper while maintaining good control of noise.

Sony RX100 IV vs Fujifilm X30 at ISO 1600

Sony RX100 IV at ISO 1600
Fujifilm X30 at ISO 1600

The larger sensor in the Sony really shows its strength here compared to the Fuji. The Fuji's noise reduction processing is more apparent and really does a number on fine detail, especially in the fabric crops.

Sony RX100 IV vs Nikon J5 at ISO 1600

Sony RX100 IV at ISO 1600
Nikon J5 at ISO 1600
At ISO 1600, both cameras do well here in terms of noise control; the Nikon actually displays slightly less noise, though the Sony resolves more fine detail in the mosaic crop. The biggest difference here is in the fabric swatches, in which the Nikon has more difficulty resolving detail.

Sony RX100 IV vs Panasonic LX100 at ISO 1600

Sony RX100 IV at ISO 1600
Panasonic LX100 at ISO 1600

The large resolution difference really makes this a difficult comparison. The Panasonic has a much lower resolution, but looking closely, you can see it has very well controlled noise at this higher ISO and also a very good amount of fine detail for this image resolution. The Sony, on the other hand, by comparison appears a bit softer and less detailed.

Sony RX100 IV vs Sony RX100 III at ISO 3200

Sony RX100 IV at ISO 3200
Sony RX100 III at ISO 3200

At ISO 3200, the RX100 IV shows slightly more noise again, like in the ISO 1600 comparison, and subsequently, shows a bit more fine detail in the mosaic crop than the RX100 III. Both cameras, however, really struggle with the fabric swatches, particularly the red one.

Sony RX100 IV vs Canon G7X at ISO 3200

Sony RX100 IV at ISO 3200
Canon G7X at ISO 3200

Noise is pretty apparent here from both cameras, and really impacting fine detail. In the mosaic crop, in particular, the Sony just edges out the Canon with slightly more visible fine detail. Both cameras really have a tough time resolving any recognizable detail from the red fabric swatch, though the Sony handles the pink fabric slightly better.

Sony RX100 IV vs Fujifilm X30 at ISO 3200

Sony RX100 IV at ISO 3200
Fujifilm X30 at ISO 3200

As with the earlier comparison, the larger sensor in the RX100 IV allows for much better handling of higher ISOs than the X30's smaller 2/3-inch sensor. The Sony displays less noise and more detail here in this comparison.

Sony RX100 IV vs Nikon J5 at ISO 3200

Sony RX100 IV at ISO 3200
Nikon J5 at ISO 3200

The bottle crop from the Nikon is rather impressive, displaying crisper detail and less noise than the Sony's. However, the Sony takes the prize for more fine detail in the mosaic crop. Both cameras, on the other hand, struggle significantly with the fabric swatches at this ISO.

Sony RX100 IV vs Panasonic LX100 at ISO 3200

Sony RX100 IV at ISO 3200
Panasonic LX100 at ISO 3200

Image resolution aside, the Panasonic, which is nevertheless based on a larger Four Thirds sensor, does a rather impressive job with well-controlled noise and lots of detail at this ISO. The Sony image appears noisier and with less fine detail by comparison.

Sony RX100 IV vs. Sony RX100 III, Canon G7X, Fujifilm X30, Nikon J5, and Panasonic LX100

RX100 IV
ISO 125
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
ISO 125
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
ISO 125
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
ISO 160
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Detail comparison. Comparing high-contrast detail, we can see that most, if not all cameras do well at base ISO. The Fuji X30, with the smallest sensor of the bunch, pulls up the rear with slightly less crisp fine detail. As the ISO increases, however, differences in resolution performance appear. The Sony RX100 IV definitely shows visible noise and softer detail at the higher ISO levels, but it's more or less on-par with the other 20MP 1-inch-type sensor cameras here, though the Nikon J5 struggles more at ISO 6400. Additionally, the Canon G7X resolves slightly more super-fine detail at the higher ISOs than the Sony cameras. The real standout, however, is the larger-sensored Panasonic LX100, which produces lots of fine detail all the way up the ISO scale, despite having a lower megapixel count than the competition.


Sony RX100 IV Print Quality

Very good 24 x 36 inch prints at ISO 80-125; a solid 11 x 14 at ISO 1600; a good 5 x 7 at ISO 6400.

ISO 80 to 125 images look very good at 24 x 36 inches, with crisp detail and rich color reproduction. Print sizes up to 36 x 48 inches are fine for wall display purposes here.

ISO 200 prints also look good at 24 x 36 inches, with only a minor amount of softening occurring in fine detail such as our mosaic tile area of our Still Life test target.

ISO 400 yields a nice 20 x 30 inch print. There is a trace of softness in our target red swatch and a mild amount of noise in flatter areas, but nothing major.

ISO 800 images require a reduction in size to 13 x 19 inches in order to pass our "good" grade. Even at this size there is still a trace of noise in flatter areas of the target and a common softening in our tricky red fabric swatch, but otherwise a solid print overall.

ISO 1600 prints reveal too much noise at 13 x 19 inches to call good, but the 11 x 14 inch prints tighten up nicely, so we advise keeping it at or below that size here for your critical printing.

ISO 3200 delivers a good 8 x 10 inch print. There is no contrast detail remaining in our target red swatch, but that's very typical for all but larger sensors by this ISO.

ISO 6400 yields a good 5 x 7 inch print, which is not bad at all for a 1-inch sized sensor, and the print shows a good amount of overall color saturation remaining.

ISO 12,800 prints a good 4 x 6, which yet again is not bad for this sensor size.

The Sony RX100 IV delivers print sizes that we expected, right in line with the predecessor model, the RX100 III. The Mark IV's big updates were primarily centered around the new stacked sensor, which is a technology more for improvements in speed than image quality. If you're debating between the two, the image quality difference is not a factor in terms of available print sizes.

About our print-quality testing: Our "Reference Printer"

Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer, which we named our "Printer of the Year" in our 2015 COTY awards.

The Canon PRO-1000 has a lot of characteristics that make it a natural to use for our "reference printer." When it comes to judging how well a camera's photos print, resolution and precise rendering are paramount. The PRO-1000's more than 18,000 individual nozzles combine with an air feeding system that provides exceptional droplet-placement accuracy. Its 11-color LUCIA PRO ink system delivers a wide color gamut and dense blacks, giving us a true sense of the cameras' image quality. To best see fine details, we've always printed on glossy paper, so the PRO-1000's "Chroma Optimizer" overcoat that minimizes "bronzing" or gloss differential is important to us. (Prior to the PRO-1000, we've always used dye-based printers, in part to avoid the bronzing problems with pigment-based inks.) Finally, we just don't have time to deal with clogged inkjet heads, and the PRO-1000 does better in that respect than any printer we've ever used. If you don't run them every day or two, inkjet printers tend to clog. Canon's thermal-inkjet technology is inherently less clog-prone than other approaches, but the PRO-1000 takes this a step further, with sensors that monitor every inkjet nozzle. If one clogs, it will assign another to take over its duties. In exchange for a tiny amount of print speed, this lets you defer cleaning cycles, which translates into significant ink savings. In our normal workflow, we'll often crank out a hundred or more letter-size prints in a session, but then leave the printer to sit for anywhere from days to weeks before the next camera comes along. In over a year of use, we've never had to run a nozzle-cleaning cycle on our PRO-1000.

See our Canon PRO-1000 review for a full overview of the printer from the viewpoint of a fine-art photographer.

*Disclosure: Canon provided us with the PRO-1000 and a supply of ink to use in our testing, and we receive advertising consideration for including this mention when we talk about camera print quality. Our decision to use the PRO-1000 was driven by the printer itself, though, prior to any discussion with Canon on the topic. (We'd actually been using an old Pixma PRO 9500II dye-based printer for years previously, and paying for our own ink, until we decided that the PRO-1000 was the next-generation printer we'd been waiting for.)


Enter this month to win:

1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate

2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate

3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate