Sony Cyber-shot RX100 first-look review

Find out our first impressions of the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 in our hands-on first-look review

Sony Cyber-shot
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Sony Cyber-shot RX100 Highlights:

20.2MP 1in Exmoor CMOS sensor
28-100mm f/1.8-4.9 Carl Zeiss zoom lens
ISO 100-6400, extendable to 25,600
10fps burst shooting
3in, 1229k-dot White Magic screen
Aluminium body
Raw shooting

Sony has taken the wraps off its latest compact camera, the Cyber-shot RX100. Representing a new line for Sony, the RX100 is a premium compact camera aimed at those wanting the best quality in a pocketable camera.

To underline this, the RX100 employs a 1in sensor - the same size as found in Nikon's 1 series Compact System Cameras. This not only means it has a sensor area 4x larger than a typical 1/2.3in sensor found in most compacts, but is also quite a bit larger than the 1/1.63" sensors found in the RX100's closest rivals, the Olympus X-Z1 and Panasonic LUMIX LX5, while also offering a larger sensor size than the Fujifilm X10's relatively large 2/3in sensor.

While it may share an identical physical sensor size to the Nikon 1 series, it's a completely new chip, with an impressive resolution of 20.2MP. Even with the high resolution, the photosites (pixels) on the RX100 are 3.6x larger than those on a typical 1/2.3in sensor, allowing the RX100 to have an ISO range from 100-6400, that's extendable to an ISO equivalent of 25,600.

To match the sensor, Sony has chosen a fast 28-100mm lens engineered by Carl Zeiss with a variable maximum aperture of f/1.8-4.9. The lens features Zeiss T* coating for reduced reflection, while there's advanced aspherical lens technology also employed. The lens also features a 7-blade aperture diaphragm.

The rear of the camera features a 3in display with a 1229k-dot VGA display. It features White Magi technology, where white pixels are added to the RGB structure to contribute to the brightness of the display, while it also sees a 35% reduction in power consumption. On top of that, the screen also incorporates Sony's TruBlack technology.

Considering the relatively large sensor size and fast zoom lens, the RX100 is a nice and neat package, only a touch larger than the PowerShot SX100. The RX100 features a very streamlined design, with the body constructed from aluminium and providing a high-quality feel.

With minimal exterior controls to keep the camera as compact as possible, the RX100 relies on some clever touches to make it quick and enjoyable to use.

Round the lens barrel is a finely balanced command dial that can control a range of settings - it can adjust the aperture in Aperture priority for example, while it can be used to adjust a host of other shooting controls in tandem with the function button. This can have up to 17 settings assigned to, while the controls at the rear of the camera can also have their settings altered in the menu should you prefer an alternative quick access setting rather than pre-programmed flash settings or drive mode.

As you'd expect for a camera of this calibre, Raw shooting is included, while there's also Peaking MF assist - something we first saw on Sony's NEX-series Compact System Cameras.

There's also Sweep Panorama, shooting a series of shots consecutively as you move across the vista, before stitching them together to create one final panoramic image.

In the time we've had with the RX100, we have to say we're impressed. It's a lovely, well-thought out compact camera that's a joy to use, while the image quality promises a lot.

Price is still to be confirmed, but a rough figure of £550 has been mentioned, while Sony expect the RX100 to be available come the end of July, beginning of August.

We have a sample that we've been testing for the last week, so hope to have a full review in the coming days, so check back soon.

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 review sample images gallery

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