24 April 2018

Some thoughts on the Sony RX100 IV

I never really paid much attention to the Sony RX100 range of compact cameras, what with the latest model costing (until recently) around £1000.  Who the bloody hell would pay £1k for a compact camera?

Well, after a few weeks with the Sony RX100 IV (which I didn't pay anything like £1k for) I think I get it.  It's an amazing little beast of a camera.

The series started live back in back in 2012 with the original RX100, and it is currently on version number 5.   If like me, you don't mind being a version (or four) behind the latest model, some cracking deals can be had on the earlier models.

I wanted a compact camera that I could slip into a pocket that would still produce quality results.   Ideally it also needed to have a flippy screen, a view finder, have a decent size sensor, a fast lens, and be capable of using for long exposure night photography.  Anything else was a bonus.

At time of writing there was really only two choices, the RX100 or the Panasonic LX15.  The Panasonic has a faster lens, and a few more features (that I probably would never use), but was lacking the viewfinder that was really a must have for me.

I've used it for some night and astro photography so far, and the image quality has impressed me hugely.   Likewise the battery life, obviously never going to be close to that of a DSLR is actually quite good - only one time I've had to swap out a battery after a long afternoon / evening of shooting stills, high speed video, and long exposures.

Oh and that high speed video, up to 1000 frames per second.  Wow!  As an experiment I filmed the lightning storm we had recently from the safety of the bathroom window, and the results...  Well you can see for yourself.

Although it pained me to buy in to the Sony Apps you can get for the camera (they should be included as part of the camera damnit), the two I've used so far, "Smooth Memories" and "Time Lapse" are actually very good indeed.

With Smooth Memories you can take those lovely milky water images without the need for an ND filter - it takes a bunch of images, merges them together, and spits out a RAW (or JPG) file.    The results are good, very good.

I've only used the dark skies part of the time lapse feature so far, but that made it very easy to take 20 images to then merge together in post to produce the image below - I'd have let it run for longer, but the screen on the camera went dark, and I wasn't entirely sure what it was up to, so stopped it after 10 minutes.

Long exposures up to 30 seconds, and anything more you need a remote release / bulb mode for.

Sure the focal length could be longer, at just 24-70mm, but you can't fault the speed of the lens, varying from f1.8 to f2.8 at the longer end.  That's impressive for any lens, let alone one build into such a small body.

As I said at the top, who'd pay £1k for a compact camera?   Well, after using it for a couple of weeks, I probably would.

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