Review – Sony RX100 V

Introduction

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The RX100 series are well known for its 1 inch image sensor, high quality fixed Zeiss zoom lens, and numerous features packed in a well built compact body since it was first introduced in 2012. In 2016, the fifth generation RX100V was being introduced with incredible AF and buffer size, and some improvement over the predecessors. Let’s have a look at it now!

Camera Features

  • 1 inch 20MP BSI CMOS sensor
  • F 1.8 – F 2.8 24mm – 70mm equivalent zoom lens
  • High Speed LSI chip
  • Optical Steady Shot (OSS)
  • 24 fps continuous shooting with AF/AE tracking
  • 315 phase detection AF points with 25 contrast detection AF points
  • 0.05 second AF lock-on speed
  • 1/2000 second mechanical shutter, and upto 1/32000 second electronic shutter
  • Silent Shutter
  • Built-in 3 stops ND filter
  • Zeiss T* Coating 2.3m OLED pop up EVF
  • 180 degree tiltable 3.0 inches LCD screen
  • Eye-AF in AF-C mode (continuous autofocusing)
  • Dual Recording (capture 17 MP still image while doing video recording)
  • XVACS or AVCHD 4K video recording (limited to 5 minutes)
  • Double length of HFR (high frame rate at 1000 fps, 40x slow motion at 25fps playback rate) recording (8 seconds compare to RX100 IV’s 4 seconds)

Body and Design

Visually, the RX100V does not have any different than its predecessor RX100 IV.

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The micro USB port and one micro HDMI port are still at the right of the camera;

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NFC point and the EVF trigger at the left; ‘

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A 3 inches LCD and same layout of buttons at the back;

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On/off button, flash trigger button, shutter button and zoom trigger, and the mode dial at the top.

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RX100 V still features the same 2.36m Zeiss T* coating pop up EVF as seen on the RX100 IV.

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Yes, same EVF. You still have to manually pull out the EVF (follow the white arrow indicator) when you pop it up, and push it back manually before you can push the EVF back into the camera body. It is a bit disappointed that the RX100 V still does not have the same auto-popup mechanisim as we had seen on the RX1R II. In RX100V menu, you have the option to choose to keep the camera on when you push the EVF back to RX100V body.

The control ring in front of the camera can be customized into selected functions e.g. standard, exposure compensation, ISO, white balance, creative style, picture effect, zoom, shutter speed, aperture, or not set. The control ring is smooth, I set it to standard mode as I like how the RX100V smartly choose the function to be controlled according to the shooting mode you’re using now.

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The 3 inches LCD can be flipped upward 180 degrees and downward 45 degrees, but it still lacked of touch screen feature.

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The Sony RX100 V controls and buttons layout, and the body design are same as its predecessor RX100 IV. It is compact, lightweight without sacrified the premium body build and feel. The ergonomic of RX100V is same as it predecessors – slippery, an additional grip accessory like the Sony AG-R2 or any 3rd party grip accessory could greatly improved the handling of the camera.

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Camera Performance

ISO Performance

The RX100V base ISO starts from ISO 125 to ISO 12800, and it can be further extended to ISO 80. ISO 25600 is possible if you use the multi-frame noise reduction and willing to shoot JPEG only.

The auto ISO setting allows you to set the range from ISO 125 to ISO 12800, and the auto minimum shutter speed is available at either ‘slower’, ‘slow’, ‘standard’, ‘fast’, or ‘faster’. For example you shoot at 70mm, you will get ‘1/20’, ‘1/40’, ‘1/80’, ‘1/160’, and ‘1/200’ respectively.

ISO (JPEG) 

ISO (RAW)

The outputs from ISO 80 to ISO 1600 are clean and clear, ISO 3200 is getting more noises but the result is still acceptable for small printout. Significant color noises and loss of details spotted at ISO 6400 and ISO 12800 but it isn’t that bad for an 1 inch sensor.

Let’s check out some real life samples with high ISO.

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And give the ISO 12800 a try!

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The high ISO shots results were quite impressive, and don’t forget that they were captured by an 1 inch sensor. When shooting with RX100V, I was quite comfortable to left the maximum ISO at ISO 6400 but the  ISO 12800 is the very last option I will look for.

AF Performance

RX100V is the first compact camera with the phase detection AF among its compact camera competitors. It offers 315 phase detection AF points that covers 65% of the image sensor, and the 25 contrast detection AF points.

There are 5 focusing modes available – AF-S (single AF), AF-C (continuous AF), AF-A (automatic AF), DMF (direct manual focus), and MF (manual focus). AF-A is an automatic mode that switch between AF-S and AF-C according to subject you are shooting at. DMF allows you to focus using AF first and then manually fine tune the focusing.

Thanks to the newly developed LSI in RX100V, you can shoot at 24 fps up to 150 jpeg before the camera slowing down! I picked every 11th frame from the burst shoot, that means there are 9 more shots in between (about 50 shots in total), and all of them were in-focused.

Well, tracking slow moving bus seems to be an easy task for the RX100V, let’s give it some challenges!

I tested the RX100V in the rubgy match, it was a night match, I fixed the settings at 1/125 second at F 2.8 at 70mm, with auto ISO. All the shots were posted as cropped shots as below.

The RX100V didn’t nail all the shots this time, there were about 40 shots out of 54 shots that the guy was in-focused but the results were still quite impressive for such a compact camera.

If you did pay attention to the ISO values at the bottom left, you will realize that the ISO was keep changing! This is one of the main differences between the RX100IV and RX100V – The Sony RX100V not only simply increase the continuous shooting speed from 16fps to 24fps, it is also capable to perform auto-focus and auto-exposure for all the 24 frames individually where the RX100 IV fix the focus and exposure settings at its first frame and apply the same AF and AE to all the remaing 15 frames.

The RX100V is very responsive for images playback, even after a series of burst shots. There is an buffer indicator at the top left to show that the number of images to be written into the memory card.

Some more shots to show off the RX100V AF and continuous shooting capability.

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The AF locked on the subject pretty fast, tracking is accurate but not 100%, and the 70 mm focal length is really limited to match the capability of RX100V AF. I was standing pretty close to the field and I had to crop a lot to get the shots above.

Optical Steady Shot (OSS)

The RX100V comes with the optical steady shot to reduce the camera shake effect. The OSS seems effectively provided 3 steps faster shutter speed when shooting at 70mm at 1/10 second.

Without OSS

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With OSS

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Dynamic Range

DXO mark rated the RX100V dynamic range as 12.4 EV, how does it look like in real life?

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The dynamic range from Sony RX100V raw files are really impressive, especially for an 1 inch sensor camera. The shots above were captured in RAW and adjusted with highlight and shadow, some sharpening, contrast, saturation, and color tone in Capture One Pro 10.

Shooting Experiences

I love the small and compact size of RX100V with the flexibility to customize the buttons. The built-in pop-up EVF is brilliant when using the RX100V under strong sunlight; the AF is fast and accurate, it gives me the confident that my shots will always in-focused; with good lighting, the image quality is comparable to the APS-C camera; at night, the high ISO performance does not shy at all, for small printout like 4R photo or web sharing, you can get decent result at ISO 3200 or even at ISO 6400. The 4K video recording and 40x slow motion video recording are the highlight of the RX100V too but you have to look for other websites for the video recording part review as I am a still photographer and not really interested in video recording.

There was a Bangkok Artbox night market in Singapore recently. From the shot below, you can see that it was pretty crowded and I was carrying the RX100V in the night market.

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The compact form of RX100V, powerful fast AF, and high ISO capability gave me the flexibility to compose and take the shots with one hand while drinking a bottle of ice beer using another hand (oops~)

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The large aperture of F1.8 at 24mm or F 2.8 at 70mm also gives the close up shots some nice bokeh as well eventhough it is only an 1 inch sensor.

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Taking food photos in cafe, restaurant, or even dark environment like bar with RX100V are pretty handy and convenience.

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RX100V smallest aperture is opened at F11. There is no issue to get some nice star-shape light shots.

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With the 3 stops built-in ND filter helps, the RX100V manage to capture some nice slightly longer exposure shots during daytime (like 1 to 2 seconds before everything overexposed).

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The RX100V comes with the embedded smart remote app that allows you to use the PlayMemories app in your smartphone to control the RX100V. You can control your RX100V for its aperture, shutter speed, ISO, exposure compensation, and even the touch to focus from your smartphone!

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If you are using Android phone with NFC, simply tap your phone at RX100V NFC point to start the Smart Remote app. If you are using iphone, you have to manually open the Smart Remote app in RX100V, and use your iphone to scan the QR code in the Smart Remote app before you can use it.

I am really impressed by the image quality and AF performance of Sony RX100V but there are some functionalities can be further improved.

Firstly, the AF behavior that not optimized for recomposed selfie. When you flip the screen into selfie mode and press the shutter button, the AF will lock the focus on the subject regardless of your selected camera AF mode (even AF-C) and start the timer countdown, it works perfectly if you already position your camera steadily and press the shutter button. However, if you use a selfie stick, you most likely will press the shutter button and recompose the frame, then be expected out-of-focus selfie shots. I wish that the RX100V can continue to track the faces during the selfie timer countdown, or the shutter can be triggered via a palm detection.

Second, there is still no touchscreen on the RX100V. If you prefer to manually select the focus point frequently, you would appreciate to do that using a touchscreen with a simple tap. On RX100V, you have to customize the C button to ‘Focus Area’ first, then press it to enter the focus area selection, then select the flexible focus mode, and then use the rear control wheel to change the focus point.

Third, the longest 70mm focal length. It isn’t really a fault, the focal length from 24mm to 70mm basically covers the needs of daily shooting but the powerful AF made me desire for longer focal length (and that is why the RX10 series exists!). Besides of that, I also wish that the EVF can use the same mechanism as what we had seen in the Sony RX1R II.

One issue that not only happen to RX100V but also happen in other Sony cameras is the ‘partially unlocked’ embedded Smart Remote app. The default embedded Smart Remote app is not fully unlocked, you need a one time setup to update the app through Sony PlayMemories website to unlock all the features, like the touch to focus.

Last but not least, the RX100V battery life is rated at 220 shots using LCD, it is worse than its predecessor RX100 IV’s 280 shots. Use powerbank to power your RX100V is a workaround but a longer lasting battery is still a better solution.

Some more shots before the review ended!

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There is no perfect camera, so does the RX100V. I enjoyed shooting with Sony RX100V. It is a compact body packed with tons of features and capable to output stunning results. Of course, the RX100V will not replace your professional full frame gears or even rival any APS-C camera but it is definitely a great travel camera.

The Sony RX100V is available at SGD 1,499. The price tag is high but you will get a powerful compact camera with stunning output results as return.

That’s all for the Sony RX100V review. Hope you enjoyed the review and happy shooting!

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