Last week I posted about my experience moving from the venerable Nikon SLR/DSLR family to Sony mirrorless. At the end of the post, I foreshadowed this week’s (once again, gear-centric) post.
A pro – friend and mentor noted to me privately that, although we all know it’s not about the gear, it’s about making pictures (he does know – he makes very good ones – and rarely talks about what gear he used to make them), the tools we use clearly influence our shooting and our ability to capture imagery. And, there is little doubt that technology has made that process potentially better.
Ironically, we had not spoken about the camera I mentioned last week (Sony’s RX100 iv, compact point and shoot). I have been looking at it on dpreview and other sources and wondering whether the talk about the image-capability of their new “exmoor” stacked sensor is just “hype.” In our private conversation shortly following my posting, he told me had had just purchased it and gave me the benefit of his early-thinking. Well, I ordered it, so you know his comments were positive.
There is an old saying that goes something like: “the best camera is the one you have with you,” or something similar. I will change that for my own view: “the best camera is the one you use.”
I never found a P&S camera that produced image quality that satisfied me
I have owned some pretty nice DSLR cameras over the years, including my current full frame sensor, Sony a7. I won’t be getting rid of that camera. It has its uses and purposes, particularly when I have a dedicated photographic outing planned. But even with the reduced load the mirrorless system has made, I still need to lug around a couple extra lenses, a tripod, and other gear.
in my own view: “the best camera is the one you use”
Lately, I have found myself grabbing the smaller, NEX-6 with its compact “kit” lens for daily use, keeping in the car, and on much of my travels. I have several nice lenses for the NEX-6 (including a couple Zeiss primes), but they were gathering dust. The convenience and compactness of the single camera has driven me to use it the most over the last couple years.
I have done that before, with a series of P&S cameras, including a couple Nikon Coolpix models, a couple of the Canon G-series, and even a raw-capable Olympus P&S. Some were touted to be “professional” backup quality. But I never found one that produced image quality that satisfied me. They looked pretty good on screen at small size and 72ppi, but just wouldn’t hold up when made larger. And they just didn’t do well in low light situations. That, is, until the NEX-6. That camera has surpassed my highest expectations.
So, when credible sources indicate that I should expect similar quality (or perhaps better?) from a compact P&S with a Carl Zeiss zoom lens, I have to take notice.
The new camera arrived Friday, so I have only been able to charge it up and play with it a little. It is new enough that the current Photoshop ACR version does not yet support the raw images, so all I have to look at so far is some jpegs. Until I get raw support, I have set the camera to capture both jpg and raw, so I should be able to go back and do some comparison. Images are pretty much right out of the box. Just some minor “pre-sharpening” done in PS.
What I can say is, so far, I am impressed. As the posted images show, image quality is pretty good on a computer screen. And lens bokeh is remarkable, given the physics involved. I read somewhere that f1.8 on the 1 inch sensor in the RX100 is about the equivalent to f3.5 on a full frame sensor. So, I don’t expect it to match up to a prime, Carl Zeiss f1.8 lens on my a7. But nonetheless, it is pretty nice. Of course, the only images I have made are of flowers, fairly closeup, at longer focal lenght of the lens. I need to find some cityscape or landscape to shoot at shorter lengths, and to see how the different depths of field look.
Images seem to be sharp, and the AF seems to be quick and accurate. The in-camera menu system is very much the same as the system in the a7 cameras (the older NEX system was a bit different and there was always at least a brief “disconnect” when switching back and forth).
For those of us who were brought up on a viewfinder (and I expect is shows our age), the pop up viewfinder is pretty cool. And it has the same “realtime” look to it as the viewfinder on my a7. For those who don’t want a viewfinder, it stays flush into the body of the camera (much like the popup flash). The rear LCD is large and clear. I have read that it is remarkably easy to read even in sun. I have ordered a screen protector for it and that may defeat this. We will see.
The RX100 is clearly quality-built, mostLY metal, and fairly hefty. The last film camera I owned was an Olympus OM – something or other – point and shoot. This camera is remarkably similar in size. Smaller in both length and width than my android LG G2 phone, it is about 3 times as thick. It will easily fit in a pocket.
I travel to a far-away land in a couple weeks. It will be fun to do some side by side shooting with my new “toy,” and my a7. Both will have Zeiss 24-70 lenses, so this should be as close to “apples to apples” as I can get with 2 so very different cameras.
More on this one later………