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Sony DSC-RX100

TIME Magazine says this is one of the 50 best inventions of 2012. Right alongside the likes of the Mars Curiosity Rover. This is a compact digital still camera, but it is no ordinarily one, because it sports a large 1″ sensor and carries a really fast f/1.8 28mm equivalent lens. It is so astounding that it sort of defines a new product category. This is the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100.

I’ve been eyeing getting a digital camera for some time. Over a year, actually. Maybe two. At the beginning, I was awed by mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, like the Sony NEX-3 and NEX-5 (and then later the NEX-5N). They were great cameras. Fast, superb photos, and allowed plenty of manual control. They were small and compact too, at least when compared with traditional Digital SLRs.

But they still weren’t small and compact enough. It’s not like a smartphone camera that will, for all practical purposes, always be with you wherever you go. A camera is only good if it is actually around to take photos. I really wanted something that was compact so that it could be carried around as often as possible.

That’s why I’ve been sticking with smartphone cameras for so long. They are always around with me. They don’t take great quality photos, but at least they are always around to be able to take photos. Sometimes, I’d think smartphone cameras are actually the best, because overall they capture effectively more quality moments than most Digital SLRs typically would. (I.e. a Digital SLR may produce great photos or pixels, but that doesn’t happen so often; a smartphone camera may produce mediocre photos, but it produces so many more of it. Get the logic?)

I had also considered various types of compact cameras. Some were reasonably fast and produced reasonably good photos. However, none were really outstanding where image quality is concerned, and there’re always a lot of compromises to be made. It was difficult to decide.

Then, there’s the Sony RX100. It just came into the market earlier this year. It’s compact. It’s fast. It takes great quality photos. It basically excels in every area that really mattered a lot to me. For a compact camera, it has a huge sensor (probably largest in its class), fast lens, full manual controls, RAW support. It even takes great videos. This camera does not ask you to make any big compromises.

Except in price. The biggest downside to the RX100 is its price. At its suggested retail price, the RX100 actually costs more than low-end mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. (Fortunately, even though it’s a Sony, it’s possible to find great bargains if you know where to look.) Of course, you might still not want a mirrorless intechangeable lens camera because it’s substantially less compact, particularly when you also compare with the lens included.

The price aside, the RX100 makes it an easy choice for enthusiasts like me. Here are the reasons why:

  • Fast camera operation (shutter lag, shot-to-shot times)
  • Fast auto-focus operation
  • Fast lens
  • Superb quality still photo
  • Manual controls
  • Relatively good 1080p video recording
  • Compact size

The really cool thing is that the RX100 is only slightly larger than the Canon Powershot S95/S100/S110, despite having a sensor size that is 2.8x bigger.

There are more features that would have been nice to have. Examples include GPS and WiFi, since these are already commonly available in lower-end cameras. More zoom would be nice too, since the 3.6x optical zoom on the RX100 is a little on the short side. However, none of these are really critical, and all things considered, I think the RX100 is still great.

I’ll have more better quality photos in my post in future! No, not all the time, of course. The RX100 isn’t going to be around as often as my HTC One X smartphone. (The HTC One X actually does take reasonably good photos too, but it does requires an optimal shooting environment and condition. Photos of the RX100 in this post were taken by the HTC One X.)

Look out for more detailed review in future! (But you can already find plenty others on the Internet.)

Update (10 Dec 2012): TIME Magazine has also selected the RX100 into it’s Top 10 Gadgets of 2012.

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