The RX100 has been an almost constant companion of mine for the past three years. It’s been around the world in my pocket & gone places where I would’ve left every other camera behind. I’ve captured moments that had otherwise been lost like tears in rain.
The camera is a bit slippery. I’ve added a stick on leatherette by Aki-Asahi that improves the grip.
The compact camera segment had been puttering along for the entire digital transition. Held back by tiny sensors and slow processing they generally saw significant limitations in image quality, low light performance and speed of operation. While the film realm offered loads of tiny & brilliant cameras, any digital equivalents were no where to be found. Like a bolt from the blue Sony changed that with the RX100.
The sensor in the RX100 is far larger than what had up until then been available in compacts. This gives the camera far higher imaging capabilities than what had previously been possible in any similarly sized cameras.
The camera also houses a Zeiss badged lens that’s pretty bright on the wide end. While the lens falls a bit short of technical perfection, it gives a very appealing rendering overall and offers a practical range covering most common uses. The fairly wide aperture, capable sensor and optical image stabilisation makes it possible to capture printable images handheld in all but the lowest of light.
In practice the RX100 passed the point for good enough image quality for almost every common use. A first for any pocketable compact. A capable processor and efficient software also allows for excellent auto focus and transparent overall operation. Even the controls are pretty good considering the small amount of real estate available on the tiny housing.
It’s a surprisingly durable little camera too. Mine’s lived in my jeans pocket, gotten dropped on rocks and concrete, sprayed with saltwater and beer, been to rowdy concerts and out to sea. Not once has it missed a beat. The casing shows some dents and scratches but all the controls and functions are as if none of it ever happened.
It has its share of niggles and drawbacks of course. It’s not my favorite camera ever to shoot. It’s not the one I reach for when I want to shoot for fun. It doesn’t offer the best ever image quality. But it does everything good enough and it fits in a pocket. That alone makes it pretty unique.
I’ve mostly replaced the RX100 with a Ricoh GR. But while the GR has some very specific strengths, it’s not really as good a camera for the casual shooting a pocket friendly compact often inspires.
The march of technology is generally pretty relentless. But even today, four years after its original introduction, it’s hard to see why anyone would really need anything more than the RX100, or either of its successors. Then again, needs and wants are two very different things.
All photos in this post were taken using the Sony RX100 except for images of the camera. Exif-data is intact. Open any image in a new window for a closer look.