Sony RX100 V Image Quality


Color

Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Slightly below average saturation levels and hue accuracy.

ISO Sensitivity
80
125
200
400
800
In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured. More saturated colors are located toward the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center. Mouse over the links to compare results at different ISOs, and click on the links for larger images.

Saturation. The Sony RX100 V pushes dark blues a lot while pushing strong reds, purples and some browns, but not as much as many cameras, and it actually undersaturates light green and yellow by quite a bit. The RX100 V's overall mean color saturation of 108.5% (8.5% oversaturated) is a little lower than average these days, but the camera generally produces fairly pleasing colors in its images. As is usually the case, mean saturation drops as ISO rises as the camera suppressed chroma noise, to a minimum of 99.1% at maximum ISO. Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life.

Skin tones. Here, the Sony RX100 V did fairly well, producing natural-looking Caucasian skin tones that were a bit on the warm side with Auto white balance in simulated daylight. We preferred Manual white balance, which produced more pinkish tones. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.

Hue. The Sony RX100 V shifts cyan toward blue a lot, but also shifts aqua toward cyan,, orange toward yellow, and yellow toward green by small to moderate amounts. The cyan to blue shift is very common among the digital cameras we test; we think it's a deliberate choice by camera engineers to produce better-looking sky colors, and we don't find the resulting color objectionable. The RX100 V's handling of yellows and yellow-orange colors is one of its weaknesses: Yellows are rendered closer to a yellow-green, and significantly undersaturated as well. With a mean "delta-C" color error of 6.77 after correction for saturation at base ISO, hue accuracy is below average. Hue is "what color" the color is.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sensor

Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Auto setting produced reddish results, though Incandescent and Manual white balance worked well. Average exposure compensation required.

Auto White Balance
+0.3 EV
Incandescent White Balance
+0.3 EV
Manual White Balance
+0.3 EV

Indoors, under normal incandescent lighting, color balance was warm and reddish with the Auto white balance setting. Results with the Incandescent setting were pretty good, just a touch yellow. Color balance with the Manual setting was quite accurate. (Note: The RX100 V also has a Kelvin Temperature White Balance option, however we did not test that mode.) The Sony RX100 V produced bright results (almost too bright) with +0.3 EV exposure compensation, which is about average required for this shot. (Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.)

Outdoors, daylight
Pleasing color and good exposure accuracy under harsh lighting.

Manual White Balance,
+0.3 EV
Auto White Balance,
0 EV

Outdoors, the Sony RX100 V performed well for its class. +0.3 EV exposure compensation was required to keep the mannequin's face fairly bright in our "Sunlit" Portrait shot, which is actually a bit less compensation than most cameras require. Contrast is a quite high as you might expect under such harsh lighting, but despite the bright appearance, the camera did a good job, holding on to the majority of highlights. Manual color balance performed well in our "Sunlit" Portrait shot, though Auto white balance produced slightly warm and yellow skin tones. The Far-field shot with Auto white balance has very good color, just a touch cool. Default exposure is perhaps just slightly underexposed, but with almost no highlights blown, and while there are some very deep shadows, detail in the shadows is good for its class. However as expected, deep shadows do have moderate amounts luminance noise as well as some odd discoloration particularly in greens as the camera attempts to control chroma noise. Overall, though, very good performance in harsh lighting, especially considering DRO was off for these shots (see below).

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Resolution
~2,550 lines of strong detail.

In-camera JPEG:
Strong detail to
~2,550 lines horizontal
In-camera JPEG:
Strong detail to
~2,550 lines vertical
ACR converted RAW:
Strong detail to
~2,550 lines horizontal
ACR converted RAW:
Strong detail to
~2,550 lines vertical

In camera JPEGs of our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns up to just over 2,550 lines per picture height in the horizontal direction, and to just over 2,550 lines per picture height in the vertical direction. Some may argue for more, but aliasing artifacts start to interfere at that point. Complete extinction of the pattern didn't occur until about 3,200 to 3,400 lines. Adobe Camera Raw produced similar results though complete extinction of the pattern didn't occur before the limits of our chart and color moiré was more visible. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.

See thumbnails of all test images

Sharpness & Detail
Fairly sharp images with good detail, but area-specific noise reduction and sharpening can produce an overprocessed look, especially at higher ISOs.

Good definition of high-contrast
elements here with only minor
sharpening haloes.
Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression tends to blur
detail in areas of subtle contrast.

Sharpness. The RX100 V produces fairly sharp looking images with fairly mild sharpening halos around high-contrast edges, but Sony's area-specific noise reduction and sharpening algorithms can lead to some unnatural or slightly crude looking results at higher ISOs. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.

Detail. The crop above right shows fair detail for the class of camera, with moderate levels noise suppression in the darkest areas of the mannequins's hair, and almost no chroma noise. Quite a few individual strands are smudged together in areas of low contrast at base ISO, though, but performance here is decent considering the size and resolution of the sensor. Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.

RAW vs In-Camera JPEGs
As noted above the Sony RX100 V produces fairly sharp and clean images, but fine detail can suffer as a result of aggressive default processing. Compare a base ISO in-camera JPEG to an Adobe Camera Raw conversion below to see what we mean.

Base ISO (125)
Camera JPEG, defaults
RAW via Adobe Camera Raw

In the table above, we compare an in-camera JPEG taken at base ISO using default noise reduction and sharpening (on the left) to a matching RAW file converted with Adobe Camera Raw 9.1 via DNG Converter 9.9 using default noise reduction with strong but tight unsharp masking applied in Photoshop (in this case 400% USM with a radius of 0.3 pixels and a threshold of 0).

As you can see, ACR produced quite a bit of additional detail that isn't present in the JPEG from the camera. Fine detail in the mosaic crop for example is more realistic and refined-looking from the ACR conversion, while the in-camera JPEG is much cleaner and more contrasty, but isn't quite as detailed or accurate. This is also true of the fabric crop, where ACR was able to resolve much of the thread pattern in the red-leaf swatch which the camera's JPEG engine presumably treats as noise, and also does a better job reproducing fine detail in the pink fabric. But as is usually the case, more noise can be seen in the RAW conversion particularly in flat areas as shown in the bottle crop, thanks to ACR's light default noise reduction. You can of course apply stronger noise reduction (default ACR NR used here) to arrive at your ideal noise versus detail tradeoff. Bottom line: You can do noticeably better than the camera with a good RAW converter, provided you're willing to apply your own noise reduction and sharpening to taste.

ISO & Noise Performance
Good high ISO performance for a camera its size.

High ISO Noise Reduction = Default
ISO 80 ISO 125 ISO 200
ISO 400 ISO 800 ISO 1600
ISO 3200 ISO 6400 ISO 12,800

ISO 80 and 125 produce very similar results, with clean, detailed images containing almost no chroma noise. ISO 200 shows a very minor drop in image quality as noise reduction ramps, but fine detail is still very good. ISO 400 shows an additional small step down in detail with very good overall image quality. At ISO 800, luminance noise is more noticeable, accentuated by fairly aggressive sharpening, but chroma noise is still welll-controlled and fine detail is fair. ISO 1600 is noticeably softer thanks to stronger noise reduction and more visible luma noise, but chroma noise is still very low and there's still some fine detail left. At ISO 3200, fine detail takes a larger hit, and the camera's aggressive processing produces images with a somewhat crystalline look in some areas. Image quality drops off very quickly from here, with ISOs 6400 and 12,800 looking more like impressionistic paintings than photos, with an almost hammered looked to flatter areas. Chroma noise in the form of diffuse purple and/or yellow blotches is also visible in darker midtones and shadows.

High ISO performance is similar to the RX100 IV's which is to say pretty good, but default noise reduction is a bit heavy-handed at moderate to high ISOs. We're of course pixel-peeping to an extraordinary extent here, since 1:1 images on an LCD screen have little to do with how those same images will appear when printed. See the Print Quality section below for our evaluation of maximum print sizes at each ISO setting.

Note: We used to shoot this series at f/4 because of the relatively low light, but we now shoot it at f/5.6 or f/8 for 1"-type and larger sensors, as lens performance well away from center where we take the above crops is often not optimal at wider apertures. The added depth of field for a scene with this depth is also a better compromise than the potentially slightly sharper but shallower focus depth that a larger aperture would produce.

Extremes: Sunlit, dynamic range and low light tests
Pretty good dynamic range for its class. Good low-light performance, capable of capturing bright images in near darkness at all ISOs.

0 EV +0.3 EV +0.7 EV

Sunlight. The Sony RX100 V did fairly well under the deliberately harsh lighting in the test above. To keep facial tones reasonably bright, +0.3V compensation was required, which led to some clipped highlights in the mannequin's shirt and flowers, though not as many as we often see from smaller sensors. Some may prefer the +0.7 EV setting for its brighter overall exposure, but we found too many highlights were clipped. Detail is quite good in the shadows at +0.3 EV, though very deep shadows are a little grainy with some discoloration, but noise is well-controlled and still fairly fine-grained. Very good results in harsh lighting for such a compact camera, but consider using fill flash in situations like the one shown above; and it's better to shoot in the shade when possible.

Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)

Face Detection
Aperture Priority, 0 EV
Face Detection Off
Aperture Priority, 0 EV
Face Detection On
Auto Mode,
0 EV

Face Detection. Like most cameras these days, the Sony RX100 V has the ability to detect faces (up to 8 in a scene), and adjust exposure and focus accordingly. As you can see from the examples above, face detection improved exposure in Aperture Priority at f/8, producing a slightly brighter face than without it by reducing the shutter speed from 1/80 to 1/60s. Full Auto mode is a also bit better than Aperture Priority without face detection, however it is still a bit dim. It selected a larger aperture of f/4 while using a relatively fast shutter speed of 1/160s, and automatically applied DRO (see below) to reduce overall contrast.

Outdoor Portrait DRO Comparison
DRO
Setting:


Auto
(Default)


Off

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Level 4

Level 5

Dynamic Range Optimization is Sony's name for their dynamic range enhancement technology. DRO divides the image into small areas, analyzes the range of brightness of each area, and adjusts the camera's image processing parameters accordingly to make the best use of the available dynamic range. Auto DRO is enabled by default on the Sony RX100 V. You can also set the level manually, from 1 ("weak") to 5 ("strong"), or turn it off. As one would expect, DRO is only available for JPEG files.

The above thumbnails and histograms show the effects of the various levels of DRO on our "Sunlit" Portrait shot with no exposure compensation. Mouse over the links on the right to load the associated thumbnail and histogram, and click on the link to visit the full resolution image. As you can see from the thumbnails and associated histograms, increasing DRO progressively boosts shadows and midtones while leaving highlights essentially intact, though boosting shadows does make noise slightly more visible. The Auto setting did a pretty good job overall, and the five manual levels give quite a bit of control over the effect.

Above, you can see the effect of DRO settings on our Far-field shot. The default Auto setting produced a nicely balanced exposure, despite the harsh lighting. A useful feature.

Far-field HDR Comparison

High Dynamic Range. The Sony RX100 V's HDR mode takes three images in rapid succession, one nominally exposed , one underexposed, and one overexposed, then combines them into one high dynamic range JPEG automatically. Lighter areas from the underexposed image are combined in-camera with darker areas from the overexposed image to produce an image with compressed tonal range. The camera then saves a single composite image, as well as the nominally exposed image. The overlaid images are micro-aligned by the camera, but it can only correct for so much movement. If it can't micro-align successfully, an icon indicating HDR capture failed will appear. For best results, the subject should be static. There is also a manual mode where you can select 1 EV ("weak") to 6 EV ("strong") difference in exposures.

Mouse over the links above to load the associated thumbnail, and click on the link to visit the full resolution image. As you can see, the Auto setting did a decent job, similar to the 2 EV manual setting. Normally, the higher the manual setting, the more highlights are toned-down and shadows opened up, however the 5 EV setting oddly seemed to take a step back. As you can see, though, higher settings can produce flat and unnatural results. Watch out for ghost images and other artifacts from subject movement during the capture sequence, though, as can be seen in some of the shots above. (It seems the RX100 V attempts to avoid ghosting by including a moving subject from only one of the frames, however this isn't always successful as you can in the 6 EV image.)

Dynamic Range Analysis (RAW mode)
While we once performed our own dynamic range measurements based on in-camera JPEGs as well as converted RAW images (when the camera was supported by Adobe Camera Raw), we've switched to using DxO Labs' results from their DxOMark website. As technology advanced, the dynamic range of modern high-end cameras in some cases exceeded the range of the Stouffer T4110 density scale that we used for our own measurements. DxO's approach based on RAW data before demosaicing is also more revealing, because it measures the fundamental dynamic range of the sensor, irrespective of whatever processing is applied to JPEGs, or to RAW data by off-the-shelf conversion software.

In the following, we use DxO's "Print" dynamic range results, which are scaled based on camera resolution. As the name suggests, this scaling corresponds to the situation in which you print at a given size, regardless of how many megapixels the camera might have. (In other words, if you've decided to make a 13x19 inch print, that's the size you're printing, whether the camera's resolution is 16 or 300 megapixels.) For the technically-minded, you can find a discussion of the reasoning behind this here on the DxOMark website. Also note that DxO Labs uses a signal-to-noise (SNR) threshold of 1 when defining the lower boundary of acceptable luminance noise in their dynamic range measurements, which corresponds to the "Low Quality" threshold of the Imatest software we used to use for this measurement.

Here, we've decided to compare the RX100 V (in red) to its predecessor, the Mark IV (yellow) as well as to the Canon G9X II (orange), which also uses a 1"-type 20-megapixel BSI sensor. (As of this writing, DxOMark has not yet tested the Canon G7X II nor the Panasonic LX10 so we selected the G9X II because it's Canon's latest camera with a 1"-type sensor.) You can always compare other models on DxOMark.com.

As you can see from the above graph (click for a larger image), all three cameras produce very similar dynamic range scores with a peak of about 12.5 stops at base ISO. It's interesting to note that DxO has detected that the Sonys are both applying some light spatial noise reduction to their RAW files at ISO 6400 and 12,800 as indicated by the "smoothed" data points, while the Canon does not, giving those cameras an edge in dynamic range at the highest ISOs, but at the cost of slightly reduced detail.

Overall, excellent dynamic range performance from the RX100 Mark V for a 1"-type sensor with essentially the same performance as its predecessor and the latest rival. Click here to visit the DxOMark page for the Sony RX100 V for more of their test results and additional comparisons.

  1 fc
11 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
1/16 fc
No NR
ISO
125

1s, f1.8

13s, f1.8

13s, f1.8
ISO
3200

1/25s, f1.8

1/2s, f1.8

1/2s, f1.8
ISO
12800

1/100s, f1.8

1/8s, f1.8

1/8s, f1.8

Low Light. The Sony RX100 V performed very well in our low-light tests thanks to its fast lens, capturing bright images at the lowest light level (1/16 foot-candle), even at the base sensitivity setting (ISO 125). As expected for a 1"-type sensor, noise is a little high at ISO 3200, but fairly fine-grained, while chroma noise is well-controlled with default noise reduction. The RX100 V's highest single-shot ISO of 12,800 is quite grainy with noticeable noise reduction artifacts, but that's no surprise.

Color balance is pretty good with Sony RX100 V's Auto white balance setting, just a touch cool, even at highest ISO and lowest light level. We didn't notice any significant issues with hot pixels, pattern noise or heat blooming. (Some hot pixels can be seen with long exposure noise reduction disabled (rightmost column), but that's normal.)

LL AF: The camera's AF system was able to focus unassisted down to about -2.7 EV on our low-contrast AF target, and down to about -4.2 EV on our high-contrast AF target, which is very good. And with its built-in AF assist lamp enabled, the RX100 V can autofocus in complete darkness as long as the subject is within range and has sufficient contrast.

How bright is this? The one foot-candle light level that this test begins at roughly corresponds to the brightness of typical city street-lighting at night. Cameras performing well at that level should be able to snap good-looking photos of street-lit scenes.

NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) For such applications, you may have better luck with a digital SLR camera, but even there, you'll likely need to set the focus manually. For information and reviews on digital SLRs, refer to our SLR review index page.

Output Quality

Print Quality
Very good 24 x 36 inch prints at ISO 80 to 125; a nice 13 x 19 inch print at ISO 800 and a good 8 x 10 at ISO 3200.

ISOs 80 to 125 deliver very good prints at 24 x 36 inches, with vibrant detail, rich colors and a nice overall "pop" to the printed image. Larger prints are certainly fine for wall display purposes up to 36 x 48 inches.

ISO 200 also yields a nice 24 x 36 inch printed image. There are only mild traces of visible noise in a few flatter areas of our Still Life test target, but it's still a very good print with nice color and contrast overall.

ISO 400 begins to introduce a bit of softness in the red channel as well as a touch more noise in flatter areas of our test image. A reduction in print size to a still lofty 20 x 30 inches tightens things up nicely, and delivers a very good image.

ISO 800 is where most 1-inch-sensored cameras start to display signs of ISO strain in larger printed images, and the Sony RX100 V is no exception. A further size reduction to 13 x 19 inches allows for a very good print here and minimizes most noise reduction artifacts. There is a bit of mild noise in a few areas of our target, but plenty of fine detail and full color remains.

ISO 1600 delivers a 13 x 19 inch print that isn't bad for this ISO and sensor size! It in fact almost passes our good grade, and is definitely usable for less critical printing applications. But in order to pass our official "good" seal we recommend remaining at 11 x 14 inches and below here. Most all contrast detail is now lost in our tricky red-leaf swatch, which is a typical phenomenon for all but the top cameras at this ISO, but otherwise this size yields a quality print.

ISO 3200 produces an 11 x 14 inch print similar to the 13 x 19 at ISO 1600, and one that almost passes our good grade. However, the 8 x 10 print here is quite good and, despite the obvious loss of contrast detail in our red-leaf swatch as well as the expected minor noise in a few areas of our target image, still looks quite good overall and delivers full color and nice detail.

ISO 6400 is a relatively difficult ISO for this sensor size to muster in prints, but you can still expect a good 5 x 7 for your family room. There is a bit of muting now in the colors, and the overall pop is not quite there, but it's still a fairly good print.

ISO 12,800 turns in a 4 x 6 inch print similar to the 5 x 7 at ISO 6400, and one that just passes our good seal which is not bad at this ISO for a 1-inch sensor to be able to pull off.

The Sony RX100 Mark V turns in a solid performance in the print quality department for its sensor size, and doesn't disappoint in the expectations we had for it. Several ISOs in the middle range almost bumped to a print size higher than its predecessor the RX100 IV, but in the end there hasn't been any significant increase in overall print quality since the RX100 II. Indeed, the real technological advances have mostly come in the speed and video departments, which are certainly good reasons to upgrade. If you're new to this line you can expect quality prints up to ISO 3200 for 8 x 10's, which is a good limit to suggest for most all 1-inch-sensored cameras if you intend to print your photographs for anything but casual purposes.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V Photo Gallery .

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!



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