Sony RX10 £815
22nd Nov 2013 | 12:29
A premium bridge camera with the RX100 II one-inch sensor and f/2.8 constant aperture lens.
It's no secret that the compact camera market is declining, but one area that seems to continue to perform reasonably well is the bridge camera market.
Sony has already taken hold of another lucrative area of the market with its RX100, and follow up, the Sony RX100 II topping the sales charts of the premium compact area.
Now, the company has put that sensor inside a bridge camera in the shape of the RX10. Not only does it have that excellent sensor, Sony has also designed a new processor, the Bionz X, which promises to deliver processing speeds which are three times faster than the equivalent found in its predecessor.
Further still, the RX10 is equipped with a 24-200mm lens (35mm equivalent) with an impressive f/2.8 constant maximum aperture. Add in the tilting one million dot LCD screen and 1.4 million dot EVF, built in Wi-Fi and NFC and you've got a pretty attractive package – especially for a bridge camera.
Build quality and handling
The RX10 is very reminiscent of a DSLR camera, especially a beginner model such as the Nikon D5200. It has a large, chunky grip with a textured rubberised coating which lends it an air of quality.
On top of the camera are a number of dials and buttons which enthusiast photographers will no doubt appreciate, including a dial for switching between exposure modes including aperture priority and shutter priority, and an exposure compensation dial.
Anyone that has used a Sony camera before will be familiar with the extensive range of buttons and dials that can be customised, and there are a few available on the RX10 too, including a small "c" button on top of the camera, this is useful if you're often looking to change one particular setting, such as sensitivity.
The lens itself is fairly chunky, which also makes it quite satisfying to hold. An aperture ring can be found at the base of the lens, for quickly changing apertures. A small, but appreciated, touch is the ability to switch on and off the clicking noise it makes as you turn the dial, especially if you want to use the camera for video recording.
Zooming the lens can be done in one of two ways. You can zoom using the lens itself, or, if you prefer you can use a switch around the shutter release button – the latter is likely to appeal to compact camera users and is helpful when you're shooting one-handed. Either way, zooming is a fluid and quick motion.
One very nice touch on top of the camera is a LED screen for displaying key settings. This can be illuminated when it's dark, which could be handy in low-light conditions.
The back of the camera has a tilting screen. You can tilt it downwards for composing from above, or upwards for shooting from high angles, such as overhead. While it's a small shame that the screen doesn't articulate, which would have been more helpful for portrait format shots, this may have added unnecessary bulk and perhaps even expense.
To change the autofocus point, you will need to use a combination of buttons and the scrolling dials/arrow keys on the back of the camera. We're a little disappointed not to see a touchscreen on a camera of this calibre as it makes things like setting the AF point so much quicker and easier.
The LCD screen is also joined by an electronic viewfinder. Bridge camera viewfinders tend to have a bad reputation, but this has to be easily one of the best we've ever seen on a camera of its kind. It's a large and clear device that is genuinely useful and easy to use. As there's also an eye sensor, switching between using the screen and the EVF is also a doddle.
Usually it's pretty difficult to give an indication of performance this early on in the review cycle, however, with the RX10 we can be pretty much assured of excellent image quality as it uses the same sensor as the already proven RX100 II, which is fantastic.
Couple that amazing sensor together with the new Bionz X processor, and we should see something pretty special from the RX10.
Early indications from the pre-production sample camera we were able to use are extremely promising with beautiful colours and fine details. Having the ability to shoot at f/2.8 throughout the focal length is also great and offers the opportunity for some creative shallow depth of field effects to be created.
Autofocusing speeds also seem to be pretty quick, locking onto the target subject with ease in the majority of the conditions we were able to throw at it. We'll be keen of course to test this even further when a final production sample becomes available.
This camera is exactly what's needed to shake up the bridge camera market. Offering a great deal of flexibility, in an admittedly pricey body, it'll be interesting to see what the consumer makes of it.
Look out for a full review in due course.
The following images were taken with a full production sample of the RX10.
The images below were taken with a pre-production camera and as such may not be representative of final image quality.