Hands-on with the Sony RX100 IV
The Sony RX100 line-up is one of our favourite camera series ever, even though it’s from an area of cameras that barely gets any love any more: compacts. However, Sony has always stayed ahead of the decline with this range, and the Sony RX100 IV is no different.
This camera has some features that would make DSLRs costing a grand jealous, but it has a price almost unheard of among compacts: £840.
We haven’t been able to spend all that much time with the Sony RX100 IV yet, but here are a few thoughts on this top compact ahead of our full review.
See what Sony had to say about its new CyberShot cameras:
Sony RX100 IV: What’s new?
There’s a lot of interesting new tech in the Sony RX100 IV that makes it one of the most nimble cameras ever created. But you could mistake it for the last RX100 III from a distance, or even close up.
It’s still a tiny metal camera, with a manual control ring around the lens. Of course, paying upwards of £800 when today you can get the original RX100 for under £300 even though it looks and feels similar may seem like a bit of an ask. But while stature is important here, it’s not everything.
The most important changes are right there at the cameras core, in the Sony RX100 IV sensor and processor, and how the two talk to each other. It has a new DRAM chip, enabling incredibly quick handling of data: five times faster than the RX100 III.
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This allows for burst shooting of a very impressive 16fps, but there are loads more benefits than this. One particularly trendy feature is high-speed video. The Sony RX100 IV can shoot at up to 960fps. You’ll only get footage of roughly 1024 x 768 resolution at that speed, moving up to 720p at 480fps and Full HD at 240fps. That last one is the same speed as the iPhone 6’s slo-mo mode.
The Sony RX100 IV can also record 4K video and capture 17-megapixel stills while doing so. That DRAM chip must come in pretty handy when flinging data around at speed like this.
Sony RX100 IV: Lens and sensor
It’s this extra brain power that really sets the RX100 IV apart from the RX100 III. That and a new sensor style.
The series started off with a conventional FSI sensor before moving onto a BSI sensor with the RX100 III, now it uses the same stacked CMOS sensor as the RX10 II. It’s the very first 1-inch sensor of this type, ever. I haven’t had a chance to check out its high ISO abilities at all, but we’ll be sure to do so when we tackle the full review.
And as usual, it pays just as much attention to the speed of the lens. The Sony RX100 IV has an f/1.8-2.8 lens with a zoom equivalent to 24-70mm in the 35mm standard. That’s the same lens stats as the RX100 III.
This time, though, the very widest apertures will be much more useful on bright sunny days. The Sony RX100 IV has an incredibly fast electronic shutter that can shoot as fast as 1/32,000 of a second, fast enough to shoot right into the sun using a wide aperture setting.
Sony RX100 IV: Features
There’s also a high-spec EVF, with big upgrades over the last model. The Sony RX100 IV has a 2.36-million dot (XGA) OLED EVF, up from 1.44 million dots before.
You may not get the magnification of the Sony A7R II, but that’s a great spec for a camera this size.
The rear screen is a 3-inch tilt display of 1.22 million resolution, just like the RX100 III. You also get Wi-Fi and NFC.
Many will baulk at the Sony RX100 IV’s price, but that’s the reason Sony doesn’t just ditch its old RX100 models as soon as the new one comes along.
Is it worth the extra? If you’re not too bothered about 4K video and the camera’s data-juggling skills, wait for our full verdict to find out. The big question is how much that new stacked CMOS sensor will help out with image quality. After all, the RX100 III is already pretty special.