Up to now, most of us had to make a tradeoff between portability and quality. No more. This camera can take shots as good –and sometimes better- as my trusted DSLR.
Take a look at my sample shots at http://www.flickr.com/photos/gdada/sets/72157630705719378/
This camera fits in my hand, in my pocket and in my laptop bag. In fact, I am using the case for my wife’s Lumix TZ8. I can bring this camera with me anywhere.
One big advantage is safety: if you travel to places that are not 100% safe, any potential robber would mistake it with a cheap $200 camera. More importantly, you will nevr have to leave this camera in a hotel room, on the trunk of your car, or will have to carry a big backpack with camera and accessories.
Why this is size so important? You miss 100% of the shots you can’t take because you cannot bring your camera. Because this is a camera you will carry anywhere. There have been many business trips, weekend opportunities and just in the moment photo opportunities where it was not practical or safe to bring my big DSLR. That is no longer a problem with a portable camera like this that gives me all the quality and control I need as an experienced photographer.
The only downside to size it that it looks pretty ridiculous to have this camera mounted on a tripd (as I did last night taking skyline shots at dusk) and that you don’t have the ‘professional’ look of sdomeone carrying a large camera with a big lens, which sometimes is useful getting access to normally unavailable areas for tourists.
Sony has been improving the quality of its digital cameras steadily for the last few years. In February of 2011 I got a HX5V which was quite impressive, and delivered quality images even when compared with a DSLR except for low-light and other tricky situations. I traded it for a Canon PowerShot S95 which was a step ahead but still suffered from high noise levels in low light settings.
What makes this camera unique is a 1” CMOS sensor. It is the only camera in this class or in similar size with a sensor this big. The law of physics is very simple: larger sensor, higher quality and lower noise. Sure you could get a NEX-5 with an even bigger sensor for slightly better quality but you would be stuck with a much, much larger camera, especially because of the size of the lens, and a much higher price.
Combined with a minimum aperture of f/1.8, Carl Zeiss optics and a lot of cool features from Sony such as the Auto HDR and very cool camera effects, it is an amazing camera. After a week of playing with it I am wondering why would the average person need anything more than this camera.
Last, I really love the on-screen information (and the quality of the display), especially the level indicator that helps you shoot straight pictures.
EASE OF USE
Don’t let the power scare you away from this camera. As most point and shoot cameras, this one has an ‘auto’ mode that is usually quite good at getting the right settings for each shot. If you ar enot an expert, you will feel at home with the Sony RX100 camera having used any pocket digital camera, and you will enjoy the high quality it delivers.
I found the menus to be intuitive, the camera feels solid and built with high quality materials.
AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT
Processing speed takes a few seconds, but given the quality of the effects I would be surprised if they took significantly less time. Still, often you have to wait a second or two after a shot if you use advanced in-camera processing such as HDR.
The 3.6 Zoom goes to 105mm I think, which is fine for most situations but could be nice to have a 200mm 9equivalent) zoom. I know adding such a zoom would require a larger lens so I rather keep the portability as is. Further, with 20 megapixels, you can zoom in to your photos easily in post production.
Overall, if you are an experienced hobbyist or a semi-professional photographer looking for a camera to