Back in October, Sony announced the Cyber-Shot RX10, a 24-200mm camera that had the particularity of featuring a lens with a fixed f2.8 aperture, regardless of how far you zoom. Inside, it shares most of its hardware with its famed RX100 older sibling which was built for ultra-compact low-light performance. When I previously covered the RX10, I imagined that it would be a great “do it all” camera since most people I know love having the flexibility of a long zoom.
Most high-powered zoom lenses aperture will get smaller as you zoom far away. This means that less light hit the sensor and of course, that has a big impact on noise and image quality. That’s why the RX10’s fixed f2.8 aperture is so great – you get all the long-zoom benefits, without the obvious drawbacks. I had an opportunity to put the theory to the test yesterday: here are some photos and video that I have captured with an RX10 loaner that I had on hand for a few hours yesterday.
If you want to jump right away and take a look for yourself at the high-definition photos, I’ve uploaded the full-size, untouched images to our Ubergizmo Flickr account.
As you can see below, the 200mm zoom capability can come in very handy in real-world situations like this game. All the photos were shot handheld (without a tripod or any other support) and under rather cold weather conditions (for California), so extra shaking due to shivering may be induced. I was more worried about not having head or hands of the spectators show up in the frame, than trying to get the perfect shot or settings, and I suppose that most users would experience the same feeling in a similar situation. To make it simple, I used the “auto” mode, and just basically point and shoot. The results are rather very good, check for yourself:
First, I’m going to establish a baseline by showing where I was sitting in the stadium. This is a photo at 24mm (no zoom). Next, I’ll show you a fully-zoomed picture of the cheerleader over there. You will see that you get quite a bit of details, and it’s not really obvious that the photo was shot from so far away.
To see more details, I’m showing you a 1:1 crop of the above photo. As you can see, the details are extraordinary, given that I’m shooting this at far more than half a football field away. Most people that I’ve shown these photos to, were quite impressed, and it’s pretty much the whole point of this high-powered zoom+ fast lens configuration of the Sony RX10.
Fortunately, video recording exhibits most of the same qualities than still photos. I was able to zoom just as much and the video recording quality is very high and clean. There is a little bit of jittering because I shot this handheld, but the stabilization system did its job, and this look very good as you can see in the video sample below. The large f2.8 aperture makes it possible to shoot 1080p 60, even in more difficult conditions, but since this was a sunny day, that was not a problem at that particular moment.
I may come back to the Sony RX100 for a full review since I did not yet have the time to look at the ergonomics, battery life and other important aspects of the camera. However, I was curious to see how good this design would be in a real-world situation, and I have to say that I came away very impressed with the zoom performance of the camera."I CAME AWAY VERY IMPRESSED WITH THE RX10 ZOOM PERFORMANCE"
I own a number of DSLRs and the cost involved to match this level of zoom would typically be higher, or at least not obvious to reach. I also suspect that the RX10 will be a better video shooter because its autofocus (AF) is more convenient and faster than what most DSLR have, regardless of price. I also own a couple of mirrorless cameras, and the issue with those is that a 200mm fixed-f2.8 lens is very expensive, if available at all, depending on the model you own.
I hope that this gave you some insights as for what the RX10 is capable of in the real-world and in fully-auto mode. I hope to have the time for a more complete review of the system soon.
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