Court Leve is a sports, wedding, portrait, and pet photographer. His work has been published in National Geographic Adventure, Powder, Ski, Skiing, Freeskier, Parade Magazine, ForbesLife Mountain Time, Spirit Magazine, Southwest Art, and more. He is a regular contributor to the BL Blog.
- Sony RX10: Thoughts, Test Shots, and Quick Review
- by Court Leve
Coming from a background in SLR cameras, and owning a number of point-and-shoots over the years, it was interesting to have a chance to use the new Sony RX10. It’s the first ‘bridge’ camera that I’ve used and I was somewhat skeptical about how it would perform. In short, this camera is very impressive and makes for a great all-around camera and an excellent choice as a travel camera.
The RX10 is easy to use in either full automatic or manual modes. The design is simple to navigate with the most commonly used controls quickly accessible without having to dive into menus. If you have used the RX100, the RX10 will be a short learning curve. Even if this line of camera is new to you, it will still be a pretty quick study with shutter speed, aperture and ISO controls in logical places. Even when I needed to navigate the menu system it was very straightforward.
I used the camera in a number of different situations ranging from a conference in extremely low light, landscape images, portraits, and on my recent trip to Cabo, Mexico. For my trip, I brought my RX100 along with my Nikon D800 with a number of lenses but I wound up only using the RX10 while traveling. The size, weight, and focal length is perfect for traveling and a vacation. I won’t say it will beat my D800 in overall performance but that’s not a fair comparison by any means.
A few of the highlights, starting with the lens: having a constant 2.8 aperture throughout the entire 24-200 focal length is a pleasure. The lens is sharp and, although there is not a true macro feature, I found its close-up abilities to be very impressive. The camera is also very capable in low light and able to produce very usable images at 3200 ISO. It is also basically silent, which is great when working in a quiet room.
Wireless transfer is a feature that is becoming standard on most new cameras and something I hope more companies will include. It’s fun to be able to beam your photos to your phone or tablet – making sharing a whole lot easier. Sony’s app is free and worked well on my iPhone and iPad (works on Android as well). Aside from this being a fun feature, I was asked by a client if they could get some images right away for web use and I was able to get them a few photos for their social media updates right away.
If I had to nitpick the list would be short, starting with the speed that you can zoom in and out. While you can manually rotate the barrel of the lens, it’s not much quicker than using the normal zoom toggle with your index finger. I set my camera to the step mode, which jumps to preset focal lengths when you rotate the lens manually. I expected the manual zoom to be in real time but it’s much slower than I’d hoped. Initially I thought this would be a deal breaker but I learned to work with it.
Next would be focus speed. It’s a little slow, basically a step up from most high end point-and-shoots but struggles in low light or low contrast settings. Not really anything shocking there, I suppose, but a few times in bright light I still struggled to get sharp focus quickly.
On the upside, the viewfinder is great to use both while shooting and reviewing images, especially in bright sunlight. The flip screen on the back is also nice and also bright and easy to see. Being able to use an actual aperture ring on the lens is handy and it allows for quick adjustments. That, combined with the thumbwheel acting as your shutter speed control, the camera basically functions as an SLR would. The P and Auto modes also did a great job.
This camera will work for a lot of people. Anyone looking to move up from a point-and-shoot will enjoy the bump up in quality. A pro or avid shooter can use this for a backup camera or for their own personal travels and not feel like they are hugely sacrificing what they are used to getting out of their full DSLR kits.
• Excellent travel camera
• Good backup camera
• Good high ISO images/low noise
• Great zoom range
• Wireless transfer
• Great close up abilities
• Electronic viewfinder
• Easy access controls
• Excellent metering and white balance
• Slow to zoom
• Focus could be faster
• Could use a bigger/longer lasting battery
Rent the RX10 for your next vacation or travel adventure.
Learn more about transitioning from your point-and-shoot camera.