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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £949
inc VAT

Outstanding photos and videos and a pleasure to use: the RX10 is a class act


13.2×8.8mm 20.0-megapixel sensor, 8.3x zoom (24-200mm equivalent), 834g


The RX100 II gave some of the best photos we’ve ever seen from a compact camera, so it came as no surprise to see similar results here. Noise was virtually imperceptible at low ISO speeds, and the sharp lens and accomplished JPEG engine produced photos that could easily be mistaken for an SLR’s output. Processing RAW files in Adobe Lightroom 5 gave a further boost to the fidelity of fine details and wide-reaching control over colours, but this camera’s JPEG output is more than up to scratch.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 sample
Details here are razor sharp – not bad for a 20-megapixel sensor sat in front of a bright f/2.8 lens

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 sample
Comparing JPEG and RAW output (processed in Lightroom 5) reveals that a little more precision is available in RAW files

The 24-200mm (equivalent) focal length range gave far greater flexibility to frame shots than most SLRs’ and CSCs’ kit lenses allow. Meanwhile, the constant f/2.8 aperture delivered a shallow depth of field for telephoto shots that helped subjects stand out from the background. Best of all, the constant aperture let us zoom in without the risk of rising noise levels. F/2.8 captures four times more light than f/5.6, and this advantage more than made up for the smaller sensor compared to rival cameras with Micro Four Thirds and APS-C sensors.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 sample
The extended zoom range is extremely useful for composing shots…

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 sample
…but it’s the f/2.8 aperture that really makes the difference. There’s a fair amount of noise in this ISO 6400 shot, but rival cameras would have had to use much faster ISO speeds, or risk blurring the picture with slower shutter speeds

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 sample
Direct comparisons with the Panasonic G6 at a 197mm (equivalent) focal length demonstrate how the RX10’s brighter lens is more significant than the G6’s bigger sensor. Both cameras are set to shutter priority, 1/200s, but the G6 is forced to use a much faster ISO speed to compensate for its darker aperture, and that pushes its noise levels up

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 sample
The difference is even more pronounced indoors, even at a relatively modest 50mm (equivalent) focal length

With a lack of headline-grabbing specs and a price just shy of £1,000, it’s hard to imagine people queuing up to buy the RX10. However, on the simple issues of zoom range and image quality, we’re hard pressed to think of a more capable camera at this price. The Canon 700D and 18-135mm lens costs around £750, while the Panasonic G6 with 14-140mm lens costs around £650. All three cameras have broadly similar (35mm-equivalent) focal length ranges, and their sizes and weights aren’t wildly different. The RX10 trails slightly behind the 700D for image quality in wide-angle shots, but it maintains that quality as it zooms in in subdued light, whereas the others deteriorate significantly. Constant-aperture lenses are available for SLRs and CSCs but they’re limited to 3x and 4x zoom ranges and cost from around £500 to over £1,000.

Of course, SLRs and CSCs have the flexibility of being able to swap lenses for all sorts of specialist uses. Attach a cheap f/1.8 prime lens to an SLR and it’ll beat the RX10 hands down in low light, albeit without the luxury of a zoom. However, a bag full on lenses isn’t always practical when travelling, and it can get very expensive. For dependable image quality across a generous zoom range without the hassle of changing lenses, the RX10 is in a class of its own. The fact that it’s brimming with luxurious features makes that little bit easier to justify the high price.

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Basic Specifications

CCD effective megapixels20.0 megapixels
CCD size13.2×8.8mm
Viewfinderelectronic (2,400,000 pixels)
Viewfinder magnification, coverage100%
LCD screen size3.0in
LCD screen resolution1,288,000 pixels
Articulated screenYes
Live viewYes
Optical zoom8.3x
Zoom 35mm equivalent24-200mm
Image stabilisationoptical, lens based
Maximum image resolution5,472×3,648
File formatsJPEG, RAW; AVCHD, MP4 (AVC)


Memory slotSDXC, Memory Stick Pro HG Duo
Mermory suppliednone
Battery typeLi-ion
Battery Life (tested)420 shots
ConnectivityUSB, micro HDMI, microphone in, headphone out, Wi-Fi, NFC
Body materialMagnesium alloy
Lens mountN/A
Focal length multiplierN/A
Kit lens model nameN/A
AccessoriesUSB cable, neck strap

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB

Camera Controls

Exposure modesprogram, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed30 to 1/3,200 seconds
Aperture rangef/2.8-16
ISO range (at full resolution)80 to 12800
Exposure compensation+/-3 EV
White balanceauto, 9 presets with fine tuning, manual, Kelvin
Additional image controlscontrast, saturation, sharpness, noise reduction, dynamic range optimisation, colour space
Manual focusYes
Closest macro focus3cm
Auto-focus modesmulti, centre, flexible spot, face detect, tracking
Metering modesmulti, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flashauto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain, red-eye reduction
Drive modessingle, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, WB bracket, dynamic range bracket, panorama, HDR

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