This week Sony unveiled a new camera designed to compete as a second camera for people who know about photography and have pro gear as well as for less-serious photographers who just want to take better pictures on a compact. According to Sony, the new DSC-RX100 is the most advanced camera in this line.
Sony distinguishes itself as the only company whose fixed-lens digital cameras’ three key elements — the lens, the imager and processor — are all made in-house. And now Sony’s well-known Exmor imager, Bionz processor and Carl Zeiss lens (manufactured by Sony) have been redesigned and repackaged as a premium camera with a bigger sensor than you’d expect to find in the average compact point-and-shoot (P&S) device.
People are taking more pics than ever and they always want to take better pics. However, the P&S camera market is declining in favor of smartphone. On the other hand, smartphones will never have a large-size sensor. Sony believes that industry growth areas are long zoom, CMOS sensor, and large sensor. So even while the overall industry is declining, sales of large-sensor cameras are on the up.
Cameras with a large sensor (either 1.5″ or APS-C size) are large cameras such as interchangeable lens cameras (ILCs). Therefore better quality implies larger size. Indeed, most ILC owners only have one lens — the perception is that for better pictures, a bigger camera is required. But for customers who want a high-quality-image camera that is portable, Sony introduces the DSC-RX100 — a premium compact camera with a large sensor. The RX100 is aimed at two types of customers: those who feel that their smartphone can achieve what a P&S can do, but don’t want to carry around a DSLR; and those who have an ILC but want a dinkier second camera that they can keep in their pocket.
The RX100 has a newly developed 1.0″ Exmor large-surface CMOS sensor with 20.2M pixels, which is approximately four times larger than smartphone camera. The new Sony camera also has a premium Carl Zeiss lens with optical 3.6x zoom. At f/1.8, this is a really bright lens that captures more light and hence allows extremely low noise performance. The lens has T* (“T-Star”) coating, which dramatically reduces artifacts of light reflection on images. Maximum ISO sensitivity is 6400.
The LCD display includes white pixels additional to RGB pixels to increase brightness for better visibility when shooting outside.
With a short focal distance and large aperture, the RX100 camera allows a refined defocus effect. Other new features of the camera include a unique control ring with menu of picture effects, a durable battery that gives 330 shots per charge (about 100 more than existing batteries), and USB charging. The camera shoots in RAW as well as JPEG.
At the presentation of the new camera, although I was able to play with the device I could not to take any pictures with it, so I don’t have any images to display in this post that were taken with the camera. The product launches mid-July with a $649 price-tag.