Sony has just announced the RX10, a 24-200mm (about 8X optical zoom) fixed lens camera that has a fixed (and large!) f2.8 aperture. This is really interesting in terms of specifications, because it’s not easy to find this type of f2.8 (constant) zoom lens in compact cameras. The sensor of the RX10 is the same as the one found in the (awesome) Sony RX100 II camera, and if you are not familiar with either of them, this sensor is about 4X larger than what is commonly found in compact cameras. Sony’s goal is to have power-users “reach their DSLRs less and less”.
The auto-focus (AF) speed has been improved, thanks to a new motor driven by data feedback from the BIONZ X image processor and the EXMOR image sensor. Focus speed is often limited by the ability of the lens to adapt quickly to the request of the imaging electronics, so it’s a good place to shave some milliseconds in AF. For movies, it is also imperative that the motor be fast and silent at the same time so that no noise is transmitted to the movie.
Not a lot has been revealed about the BIONZ image processor, but two points are important: first, Sony says that it is 3X faster as previous processors. Secondly, it attempts to perform noise-reduction only in specific places, which would hint that the overall image sharpness should be better, since anti-noise (blurring) algorithms are not applied when not absolutely necessary.
The overall speed of the electronics allow the Sony RX10 to shoot at 10 frames per second in burst mode, and since the f2.8 aperture is constant, it means that you can do this even at the highest level of zoom, which is great for photographing animals or sports action where it is not possible to get closer.
In terms of video recording, the RX10 brings 1080p-60 recording on the table and audio-level meters, in addition to the option of using an external microphone (requires an adapter) to get a top-notch overall quality. I think that 60FPS is important because it compensates for common panning motions that are too quick. Most people want to focus on what they film, not on putting their cameras “on rails” to make sure that the final result won’t be jittery.
Since it is targeted to enthusiast photographer, the Sony RX10 comes with a number of manual controls, including a lens ring that can also obey electronic commands for smooth transitions during movie filming (that reduces shake motion from rotating the ring by hand). Exposure and other frequently accessed setting can partially be remapped to one of the six customizable buttons on the camera.
Finally, the Sony RX10 comes with the latest software developments from Sony, including the ability to connect to WiFi, or be controlled remotely by an Android smartphone. This impressive camera doesn’t come for cheap and Sony has set the price at $1300. The official time frame for its availability is “