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- Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100
- Sony's high-end RX100 has been hailed as the best compact digital camera of all time.
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 Digital Camera Review$649.99
A decent-sized mode dial is within easy reach of the thumb, provides quick access to any of the traditional PASM shooting modes, as well as two automatic modes, a deep custom mode, and more.
Most of the same manual controls you might find on a DSLR are also unlocked in the RX100. In fact, the very menu system is lifted directly from the NEX lineup. "By wire" manual focus (with or without digital zoom) is available, and it's responsive enough to actually use in the field. Bulb mode and various bracket options are available, as are many other advanced options.
Focus is usually reliable and moderately fast, however there are some issues with real-world usage that will crop up from time to time. First, minimum focus distance is rather strict when you're zoomed in. The problem is alleviated at the closest focal length, but for portrait photography you'll need to back up to a reasonable distance. Second, the f/1.8 lens is capable of producing an in-focus area that's so narrow you may have trouble keeping your subject inside it after locking focus, especially while hand-holding. A decent way around this is to use continuous autofocus in conjunction with subject tracking.
Manual focus is a "by wire" solution, but it's responsive enough to give the illusion of direct lens manipulation. Image preview is also quick enough to use in the field, making Sony's solution far better than what we're used to from compacts.
A pretty wide variety of aspect ratio and resolution options are available on the very first page of the main menu. JPEG quality may be set to Fine or Standard but, most importantly of all, the RX100 is capable of lossless RAW encoding, which provides the best image quality of all. It's also possible to capture RAW & JPEG shots simultaneous.
Just like the Canon S100, the RX100 features a physical control ring surrounding the lens barrel, which can be configured to adjust many different shooting variables, such as exposure compensation, ISO, white balance, zoom, aperture, shutter, and even less common options like picture effect or color mode.
But despite its flexibility, we strongly prefer the S100's control ring. That one had tactile clicks as the user rotated the ring, indicating each new position. The RX100's ring is smooth all the way around, and if you're rotating even moderately-fast, the software doesn't keep up. As a result, we just didn't use this feature very much, preferring the rear rotating dial instead.