Update on September 2, 2014: Sony has a new firmware update that adds XAVC-S video recording to the RX10 – a Digital Trends Editors’ Choice camera. The video format allows for Full HD (1080) recording at 50 Mbps “for extremely high-quality expression and minimal noise,” Sony says. It also uses a data compression called Long GOP (Group of Pictures) that makes video recording more efficient. The camera has also dropped in price, now selling for $1,000 – $300 less than the original pricing mentioned below.
Check out our full review of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 camera.
Original story: In addition to Sony’s new full-frame mirrorless cams, Sony is also introducing a new high-end “bridge” camera to the Cyber-shot RX series (which it managed to keep secret longer than the mirrorless models). The RX10, which will go on sale for $1,300 in November, is targeting buyers who want all the bells and whistles of an interchangeable lens camera but in a fixed all-in-one form factor.
The magnesium alloy RX10 has the look and feel of a DSLR, but slightly more compact – something like Canon’s small EOS Rebel SL1. Its build quality is weather proofed to resist dust and moisture. There are manual controls for focus and zoom (there’s also a zoom toggle), as well an aperture ring. It features a 24-200mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss lens, and while it can be considered a high-zoom lens, it’s not as long as the zoom lenses found in megazoom cameras. The wider f/2.8 aperture allows for nice background blurring effects. And unlike many megazooms, which are essentially point-and-shoots, the RX10 uses a larger 1-inch, 20.2-megapixel back-illuminated Exmor CMOS sensor – the same sensor in the RX100 II – and the new Bionz X image processor that’s also inside the new A7R and A7 full-frame mirrorless cameras. The processor is 3x faster than previous Bionz chips and uses new detail reproduction technology, diffraction reduction at smaller apertures, and area-specific noise reduction to help improve picture quality.
Related: Sony A7 Review
The contrast-detection autofocus system uses a new motor mechanism that gives it a faster and more responsive performance. The AF frame has three selectable sizes, better subject tracking (even if they move out of the frame for a second), and Sony’s upgraded “Eye AF” for improved quality around a subject’s eyes in portraits. Burst mode shooting is up to a very good 10 frames per second with continuous autofocus.
For amateur videographers, there are some pro-like shooting abilities. The RX10 shoots Full HD video at 60p or cinematic 24p, and can be activated in PASM exposure modes. Unlike other cameras that discard color information when recording video, Sony says the RX10 can read and process data from every single pixel, which creates smooth and details HD videos. You can output the video to an external monitor or record to an external storage via “Clear HDMI,” and use external mics via the XLR audio terminal for better sound capture.
The RX10 has both an OLED electronic viewfinder and a 3-inch tilting LCD. Another small LCD shows you basic shooting information. There are six buttons that can be customized. Built in is Wi-Fi and NFC that allows for image sharing and remote control from connected iOS and Android smartphones; the RX10 isn’t compatible with Sony’s downloadable PlayMemories Camera apps.
Sony clearly sees a market for this one-size-fits-all camera. It’s ideal for anyone who wants a strong shooter without having to lug around multiple lenses, like travelers or amateur photographers stepping up from point and shoots and using entry-level mirrorless and DSLRs. Although the RX10 is one of the better bridge cameras we’ve seen and offers specs that are more in line with high-end cameras than point and shoots, $1,300 is a lot of money considering you can a quality interchangeable lens camera and the flexibility of different lenses for that price. The RX10 isn’t for everyone, but there is an audience that would find this camera appealing.
(This article was originally published on October 16, 2013.)