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Monday, 11 June 2012


With a name starting with RX this device could well be a doctor's prescription.

Mind not having a viewfinder could be a problem on bright sunny days, as
Mike has suggested.

Downsides? I've never seen the camera, and haven't used it, but it will have no EVF available (significant because viewing-screen-only viewfinding can be tough in bright sunlight).

But - it will have a new type of LCD with white pixels for boosting visibility in bright sunlight (I guess it will come at a cost of color accuracy).

QUOTE It has a 1"-size sensor (8.8x13.2 mm) UNQUOTE

If the 1" designation means one inch, how can the sensor size be described so if its size is 8.8x13.2 mm?

Oh. This sort of reminds me of the feeling folks had when after all the buzz and build-up, the Segway was announced.

So, basically, some of us were looking for more substance than was really there -- more than we should have expected, really, given the source. He was making a big deal and acting secretive about a product that had already been announced, and acting like it was going to be an incredible breakthrough when it's really just a small-sensor digicam that's better than most.

I like the Freudian undertones in your remarks on the Nikon CX cameras: "to woo... female(s)... without going 'all the way'..."

"significant because viewing-screen-only viewfinding can be tough in bright sunlight"

I've read this complaint many times, but I don't experience this. I live in sunny Adelaide (South Australia) and use a Canon S95 without issue.

The RX100 is supposed to be a pocket-sized one-in-all camera ... OVF, EVF, hot shoe & vertical handgrips are *not* part of the form factor, IMHO. If you want that extra level of ergonomic goodness, buy something like the OM-D EM-5.

BTW, I'm very keen to see how good the Sony RX100 is. As much as I like the size and features of the S95, a step up in IQ would be welcome.

On a somewhat off-topic note, I think it would've been better phrased as "(mostly female) non-enthusiasts" than the other way around, to avoid any unfortunate implication.

Anyways, one thing you didn't mention is that the camera is just so... sexy. Subjective, I know, but it has always amazed me how Sony can make cameras that look classical and modern at the same time, something I also saw in the NEX-7 and A77. Sure, most of it is borrowed from the Canon S100, but there's myriad of differences in the details and in design, details do matter.

I'm baffled by the 1" of the sensor. For me 8.8 x 13.2 gives a diagonal of almost 15.9mm, nowhere near an inch.

I know sensor sizing is mysterious but this seems simply wrong!

Andrew from Addis

Christer and Andrew,



One interesting side effect of sunlight viewing using the screen of my Canon S95 - I can't see it at all in portrait orientation. Let me explain: it has a polarised cover (probably to keep those colours punchy) and I wear polarized shades. So sometimes, there is no viewfinding to be had at all. Took me ages to work it out, too.

Just ordered my RX100 through your site to B&H. I like my NEX7 so much that I want this for my shirt or coat pocket camera. The NEX7 and this new camera are the first cameras I have purchased sight unseen in my 50 years of being a equipment geek. I like Sony cameras and trust B&H to take it back if I feel differently upon handling and using this new model. Great Web Site Mike, keep up the great work. Don

I agree with Sven. Add-ons like EVFs aren't the point of this little camera. This is a small P&S for your pocket or purse that is considerably smaller than the smallest m4/3 setup. I may buy one for my wife.

I'd wish they give up the sensor type size that makes absolutely no sense and difficult to compare between them. A much better measure would simply be the surface in mm². Ex: 220mm². A good analogy is a car cylinder.

Otherwise the RX100 doesn't interest me too much. No EVF no buy. I'm getting old and I don't want to wear glasses just to take a picture.

And in a way they could make an even smaller camera with an EVF and a 2" LCD. The giant back LCD wouldn't be needed anymore and that would leave more space for real controls.

I had to stop wearing sunglasses for that reason - I shoot my S95 all the time. Apparently it happens with all LCDs, i.e., also the EVFs of the OM-D, NEX, and so on... No portrait format shooting in the summer...

This is what this sensor size makes sense for IMHO. The Nikon J1/V1 don't make sense to me, the RX100 does.

Can I infer from this that Sony thinks like me, or that I think like Sony?

And are either of these options something I should brag about?

Will I retire my Canon S90 in favour of the RX100? Maybe that's the next mystery TOP readers can solve.

I was NOT in the market for a $650 point & shoot, but I'm tempted to actually preorder (never done that before) this camera. I use a couple DSLRs, a Sony NEX kit and a pocket camera (a Sony HX5V). I find the NEX a lousy replacement for my DSLR and at the same time, not terribly portable and I find my portable has crummy IQ despite reviews saying it has decent IQ for a point & shoot. I'm half tempted to ditch the NEX kit altogether and get this. (Well, I'll keep NEX for video, I suppose). It competes with cameras like the LX5 and XZ1. With the tele end at f/4.9 and a still small sensor, I won't get shallow DOF, but I'll get no worse low light performance there than with the XZ1 and considerably better low light at the wide end at f/1.8. I've always like imaging-resources assessments of IQ based on prints and for this camera, they say:
up to ISO 400 - great 20x30" prints
"ISO 800 shots were soft enough at 20 x 30 that we preferred the 16 x 20-inch prints...(cut)"
ISO 1600 usable at 16x20 but they prefer 13x19
ISO 6400 looks good at 8x10
All that with a lens that's f/1.8 at 28mm equivalent and f/2.8 at around 35mm equivalent or so in a camera the size of the S100 is pretty amazing to me.

I grabbed my chest when I wrote the check for my S95 and now this comes along for $250 more?
For that kind of dough I could buy a D3200, dust off my bag of pre AI nikkors and have all kinds of sick fun.

"Looks like my readers are smarter than I am:"

A: flattery will get you ...

B: A generalizable truth about collective general knowledge vs. individual knowledge - even if you were much more knowledgeable than you are.

C: One of my pet peeves about contemporary culture - confusing knowledge, knowing facts, with intelligence, the ability to reason.

Seems to me that things have only gotten worse in our schools since my kids were in school. We have gone beyond simply conflating these two different things into elevating rote knowledge and devaluing actual "smartness".


From the Wikipedia article: "David Pogue of the New York Times states that "the actual sensor size is much smaller than what the camera companies publish – about one-third smaller"."

It's a guy thing.

Well, talk about anticlimax...

Clearly, there are at least two camps on LCDs and direct sunlight.

I am more than content with LCD alone, if it is well done. I would be happier with my Canon G11 without the extra size, weight and cost of the optical viewfinder. I'd guess I've looked through it maybe 3 or 4 times in over three years of regular use, just for curiosity. I don't recall using it to take a shot. Mostly, I simply forget it is there. Of course, the articulated screen makes finding a good angle easier.

In my experience and testing, the fixed LCD of the S100 is visible enough to easily see and frame the shot, with brightness turned up, at any angle but where the sun reflects directly off the surface of the protective cover. Then, the shade of my hand makes it work fine. It only takes one hand to take a shot with it, especially in bright sun, with the resultant high shutter speeds.

Obviously, there are those whose less than first rate vision will make an optical viewfinder of EVF necessary, or who will simply prefer them. I am bothered by those who complain about the need to hold an LCD at arm's length. That is a reflection of individual vision. Young people, with flexible lenses in their eyes, have no such problem. Old folks like me with good varifocal glasses shouldn't have a problem with holding them closer. Other folks like me with nearsightedness in their viewing eye can look over or under their glasses and see the LCD clearly very close up.

To generalize about LCD problems in the sun is too simplistic, and may mislead those who would be more than happy without other means of viewing/framing. To so comment, without qualification, starts to slip into the common reviewer's trap of falling back on a list of standard features, without consideration of their details and how they relate to the overall intent and usefulness of the camera.

An S100 with optical or EVF viewfinder would simply lose some of its most attractive qualities. The same is likely true of the RX100


The Pentax Q is almost as large as the RX100. Wow.

Sunlight viewing is to EVFs what low light viewing is to OVFs. Something you learn to live with. Bracing against your face is nice for long focal lengths though.

I'm interested to see if the 1" sensor finds its way into the superzoom segment (used to be 18x, now 35x zooms).

"To generalize about LCD problems in the sun is too simplistic, and may mislead those who would be more than happy without other means of viewing/framing."

So you think the sentence "I've never seen the camera, and haven't used it, but it will have no EVF available (significant because viewing-screen-only viewfinding can be tough in bright sunlight)" needs still more qualification? That people can't deduce for themselves from that that the lack of an EVF only MIGHT be a problem?


I thought this was a serious site. After this post and your comments on the Nikon 1 I'm not so sure.

I'm not a girl and I really want a Nikon 1 V1.

Big build-up, lousy finish. But then if you're only trying to woo unenthusiastic females, then Bob's your uncle I guess.
Personally, as a female, I've become very enthusiastic about the Olympus OM-D just from reading your posts and the enticing comments from so many other readers.
Haven't taken a bite of that apple yet, but tempting, very tempting.
I'll take Mike Johnston and TOP readers' comments over Pogue any day as far as camera gear goes.

John K.,
'Sokay with me. Unlike some I don't see marketing to females as being a negative thing for us males...as I also don't see marketing to males as a negative thing for females. I used to be a big fan of the Contax Aria, and, like the Nikon 1's, it was developed for and marketed to females in Japan.


Those advanced compacts may be designed for "non-enthusiast females" but end up serving mainly enthusiast males (at least in Europe and North America they do). What a tragedy.

How disappointing that all of that was for another small camera without an optical viewfinder. I have about $1,500 to spend on a well-built, small digital camera that I can see through, but no camera manufacturer has one to sell me. The Fuji X100 comes close, but it's built quality is not worth the price in my opinion. The SONY NEX 7 is well-built, but I don't want to see the world through (or is it,on?) an EVF.

To Mike,

I was the way you stated it.

So you think the sentence "I've never seen the camera, and haven't used it, but it will have no EVF available (significant because viewing-screen-only viewfinding can be tough in bright sunlight)" needs still more qualification? That people can't deduce for themselves from that that the lack of an EVF only MIGHT be a problem?"

You'd think so, wouldn't you? And yet, as an active member of a busy photography mailing list and reader of (too much) photo blather on the web, I notice a lot of folks - who have not used a good contemporary LCD - making bald assertions that one can't see them in sunlight.

I believe that people make assumptions based on editorial decisions in the stuff they read. By choosing to mention lack of EVF vs. say, the trade-off of EVF for size, weight and cost or that the much higher pixel count partially offsets the larger sensor's potential for better high ISO performance and wider dynamic range, it is easy to create in some reader's minds the idea that the lack of an EVF is a bigger deal than other aspects not specifically mentioned.

I didn't mean to make a big fuss, just point out something I've noticed in the web-o-sphere. There will always be those few who saw an early, 1.5" LCD and will always believe that's all there is, and some of them will offer that opinion freely and often.

My old Canon S110 1.5" LCD was poor in bright light, the Fuji F10 LCD just unusable at some angles, the F30 much better. The AMOLED display on my Samsung WB650 is just amazingly good in direct sunlight, even better than the S100.

It just isn't true that lack of an EVF is a bad thing for all of us.


I would be very attracted to that RX100 if I was not already a Canon Powershot S Zen Master with my S95. The S90, and now the S95, has been my pocket camera since 2009. Because I call upon it to do damn near anything, usually unexpectedly, I devoted myself to really mastering its usage and attributes. This devotion has really paid dividends over the years. Today a significant number of the images I prize most highly would not exist if I'd not invested to time to master that terrific little camera.

So the Sony may have a bigger sensor in a similarly-sized package but I am not remotely tempted to jump on a new pocket platform without much more extraordinary provocation. (Gee, sounds like a statement that could easily be re-purposed with minor edits,eh?)

As much enticing as the camera is, the 28mm equivalent wide angle and the fact that it's a Sony puts me off.

Colour me intrigued: The benefits one gets from knowing a small sensor compact camera inside-out surely can't trump a larger sensor, can it? I'd like to see the difference.

By the way, as someone who has roundly criticized Sony for the really poor menu system on NEX (I dislike using my NEX-5 except in Auto mode) I was encouraged to see that Sony ditched that menu system and went to one similar to that used on the SLTs (my newest Sony, other than a compact, is the A700, but I've tried a couple of SLT models and find the menu systems similar and still quite good). And they've apparently made it quite customizable. It appears that either (a) Sony thinks more highly of RX100 buyers than NEX buyers or (b) they're finally listening to the criticism and maybe we'll see them dump the cell phone menu from NEX in the future. (Now if only they'd add the ability to set ISO to Auto in M mode).

Ken the Zen Master of the Canon S95:
Your comment are a huge tease: I sense a really interesting column for TOP on your techniques of mastering a P&S.

Dear Emmanuel,

I totally agree that the old video tube definitions are confusing in the extreme, which is why I never put them in my articles, but only refer to sensor linear dimension-- usually as scaled relative to full-frame 35mm, i.e., this is a 1/3-scale sensor.

This doesn't require extreme precision-- nobody really needs to know if it's 1/3.2 or 1/2.8 scale.

Describing sensors in terms of their areal dimension, though, is a bad idea because almost all metrics of image quality scale with the linear dimension, not the area. Using area as a measure exaggerates differences in a misleading way.

Regardless, I promise that you will never, ever see me referring to a '1"' or whatever sensor unless its physical dimension is 1". Should I fail to keep that promise, you have permission to bludgeon me severely.

pax / Ctein

Readers who are above the age of fifty would understand the annoyances with the lack of an EVF, no matter how good the LCD could be... We just don't seem to get long enough arms....

I look at this Sony sensor rather as the solution for the next generation Nikon 1 series .... If the IQ is of any indication, it would open up the door for the Nikon 1 to the "main stream" enthusiast camera....

Dpreview has published a preview of the RX100. Sample images are astonishingly poor even by Dpreview standards (where the photographer not the camera often comes up short), and they were made with a production model. The sample images appear uncharacteristically low in contrast and color saturation for typical Sony jpeg rendering aimpoints, and after taking a couple of files into PS5 to try additional color and tone corrections, I concluded the files need a lot of PP work to get even close to being OK on color and tone quality. Maybe RAW files will be a better starting point from this camera. Additionally, for a 20MP camera, fine details are real mush, so all in all, the hype on this new camera far exceeds the reality of the output quality as far as I can tell.

OK, I get that it is not for the enthusiast. But will the non-enthusiast actually see the difference? By definition they are non pixel peepers.
Now the enthusiasts will see the difference but much of the improvement in IQ is lost by holding it at arm's length and waving it around before shooting.
Lastly, if it has the wretched delay that all other P&S cameras have why bother?
As far as I can tell the users of these types of cameras never recall the instantaneous aspect of picture taking that was available with even the most humble of film cameras.

On the 1 inch sensor thing - I wish all of the camera companies would just dispense with all of that old time CCD referencing and just state dimensions in mm. That way anyone who actually would dare venture to a spec sheet could see what pieces of crap some of the point & shoots really are.

For this Sony, may be nice for my parents, but no hot shoe or sync terminal is an automatic lose for me. On the point & pray cameras, while I may not use them often, I do use them.

I use a Panasonic GF1, a Canon S95 and a trio of recent EOSs.

When the sun shines brightly, as it sometimes does in NE England, I fit the grainy accessory EVF to the GF1 out of necessity, not choice. The Canon S95 becomes useless with sunlight falling on the screen. The EOSs remain perfectly usable under all lighting.

These observations are based on the use of this equipment in a variety of conditions, shooting both professional and personal work. They are not simply assumptions based on editorial decisions in stuff I've read.

You could take away the rear LCD completely and I don't think I'd ever miss it if the camera had a decent OVF. I don't believe I ever missed a rear LCD when I was shooting film.


@ Jeff Wilson: "The Canon S95 becomes useless with sunlight falling on the screen."

Ah, you are but a grasshopper my son. You must learn to see what you cannot see.
-- S95 Z-Master

"Readers who are above the age of fifty ..."

Edwin, I of the "not everybody needs an EVF, especially me" posts am 68.

Ripe Moose

Ken the Zen Master,

I heartily agree. I am in the process of reaching for that state with my S100.

I don't know if this would be true of the different sensor and processor of the S95, but I have found that Focus Magic appears to have been made especially for the S100. Out Of Focus correction, radius two, even on the most perfectly focused images, is like a magic window cleaner, clarifying detail without side effects.


Am I the only one for which RX100 sounds like a Mazda sportscar or some hi-fi receiver model? (Google tells me it's actually a Yamaha motorcycle)

I own the LX5 which takes good pictures but in the end it is not truly pocketable ... and this is with a sensor about 4x the size .... amazing! However my beef about the LX5 is taking a photo this way . no good for me I'm afraid. An OVF/EVf is not part of the from factor but an articulating screen could be and for me thats fine as photos from the waist feel comfortable , are more stable and remind me of DLR .... so i await for someone to provide me with one !!!


Wow! You must have excellent eyesight! When I compose with the LCD, I have to hold it about 16" in front of my face in order to make out the major indicators, like focus confirmation. But I am never able to see the other settings when composing:- the exposure compensation, the aperture, and so on. I can compose alright, but I would not be able to make out the exact details, like if everyone in the group is looking forward. All I can do is to make sure the camera is straight, I have included everyone and then some room at the edges.....

I am still carrying my Nex5 around, but I know MY limitations and I'll never use it for the wrong situation, and there are still annoyances.

I admire you, Moose. I guess "everyone's mileage varies"....

@Kenneth Tanaka: "Ah, you are but a grasshopper my son. You must learn to see what you cannot see."

That sounds suspiciously like an admission that you can't see the screen in full sunlight. No thanks, I'll use a DSLR in those circumstances.


What is a 1" size sensor? Area? Length?

I'm with Ken Rockwell on this:

"Sony is deceptive when claiming a '1 inch' sensor. Its image area is only 8.8 x 13.2 millimeters (0.34" x 0.52"), so where is the FTC when you need them to stop this baloney?

"It's probably a great point-and-shoot, but Sony is being deliberately deceptive by representing anything about its sensor as being 'one inch.' The 'one inch' baloney comes from the 1940s when television engineers specified image pick-up tubes by the outside diameters of the much, much larger vacuum tubes which held the much, much smaller imagers. There aren't any tubes in the DSC-RX100.

"If the DSC-RX100 has a one-inch sensor, then I'm 18 feet tall."

Even though I have an DSLR, a m43 system, and an X10, I've pre-ordered this camera obviously sight unseen. The sample images I've downloaded (not the DPReview images), but real RAW files from TechRadar, as well as the samples from Sony's Japan, almost look like they could have come from a DSLR. And as I've learned from my D800, Sony really is the king right now for sensor technology. I expect the RX100 to have typically good DR and color depth. And I shoot a lot of video, so the manual video at 1080 60p (Progressive) with hopefully image stabilization that's on par with their excellent HX9v. Love my X10, but it's almost a camera bag P&S, while the RX100 can go with me everywhere. Great blog, that I read often.

Almost forgot, for shielding and LCD, Delkin makes an excellent pop-up sun shade/screen protector that I used on my GRD and it works wonders. Cheers.

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