How Does the New Sony RX10 Perform as a Run & Gun Documentary Camera?
Sony made a bit of camera history back in October, by announcing the first full-frame mirrorless cameras, the A7 and A7R. While those got most of the headlines, Sony also introduced the RX10, a 20 Megapixel fixed-lens camera with a sensor right around Super 16mm. Doesn't sound too interesting on the surface but the fixed lens is actually a great range of 8.8mm to 73.3mm (24-200mm full-frame equivalent), with a constant aperture of f/2.8. Let's also not forget the built-in 3-stop ND filter and image stabilization, and you've got a pretty interesting video camera that you can hold in the palm of your hand.
Johnnie Behiri over at cinema5D had a chance to test the camera, and put together this fantastic short documentary:
He did have some major issues with the lens however:
The lens is very confusing. While it is really good with manual aperture it is really bad with zoom.
There is no real “manual zoom”. It is a “fly-by-wire” one.
You can only zoom with your hand on the lens when not in “manual focus mode” as the focus and zoom are using the same ring.
If you use your hand to zoom you will find yourself twisting the focus/zoom ring at least 3 times from end to end.
Now, if you are in manual focus mode, you can use the little rocker opposite the “on/off” switch for zooming. This rocker has a certain “zooming speed” when not filming. In the minute you press the “REC button” it slows down dramatically.
While the camera does have some more cinematic features like clean 8-bit 4:2:2 HDMI and 60fps at 1080p as well as 24fps, it's not going to give you ultimate image quality in a controlled situation like you might get from something like the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera (which is now capable of RAW recording). To be fair it's still designed as a photo camera first, but it does have a bunch of features that make unpredictable video shooting much easier, like image stabilization and a built-in ND filter. Obviously a lot more is going to be in focus with a camera like this, so its aliasing/moire will be harder to hide.
It's an interesting model, and as long as you're not too picky, it looks like it falls in line with lower-end DSLRs in terms of image quality. I think the video above looks good enough for a lot of uses, but it all depends on your needs. At $1,300, it's not the cheapest camera of its kind on the block, but if you need a take-with-you-anywhere kind of camera that can do all sorts of things, is decent in low-light (12,800 max ISO), and can also double as a photo camera, it might be worth giving the RX10 a look.
Link: Sony RX10 -- cinema5D