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Sony RX100 Mk IV
Pocket Camera (2015-)

NEW: Sony RX100 Mk V

Sample Image Files   Intro   Specs   USA Version

Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

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Sony RX100 Mark IV

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100 Mark IV (20 MP midsize "one inch" sensor, 8.8-25.7mm f/1.8-2.8 lens (24-70mm eq.), 10.5 oz./298g, about $948). enlarge. I got mine at B&H; I'd also get it at Adorama or at Amazon.

This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Sony doesn't seal its boxes, so never buy at retail or any source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective, store demo, damaged, returned or used camera. My approved sources ship from remote automated warehouses where no salespeople or lookie-loos can ever get their greasy fingers on your new Sony or drop it before you do. Buy only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection, and save yourself from a very expensive mistake. Thanks for helping me help you! Ken.

 

Sony RX100 Mark IV

Top, Sony DSC-RX100 Mark IV. top.

 

Sony RX100 Mark IV

Back, Sony DSC-RX100 Mark IV. The LCD flips. bigger.

 

Sony RX100 Mark IV

Pop-up finder! enlarge.

 

August 2015    Sony Reviews   Zeiss   Nikon   Canon   Fuji   LEICA   All Reviews

NEW: Sony RX100 Mk V.

 

Sample Image Files   (more throughout the review)  top

Sample Image Files   Intro   Specs   USA Version

Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

Bahamas photos

NEW: Bahamas Gallery! See what the RX100 can do in a week in the Bahamas.

 

Lightning over resort at dusk

Lightning over resort at dusk, 14 July 2015. Sony RX100 Mk IV at 8.8mm, f/1.8 at 1 second at ISO 125, Perfectly Clear V2. bigger or Full-resolution or camera-original © file.

 

walkway at night

Walkway at night, 15 July 2015. Sony RX100 Mk IV at 8.8mm, f/1.8 at 15 seconds at ISO 125, Perfectly Clear V2. bigger or Full-resolution. This was easy; I forced ISO to 125 instead of leaving it at Auto ISO, and I rested the camera on a railing. These are walk-by shots; I left everything in Program mode and everything else in Auto as usual. What's blurry is moving; this is a 15-second time exposure.

 

Color at the beach

Red, White and Blue at the Beach, 14 July 2014. Sony RX100 Mk IV at 25.7mm, f/4.5 at 1/400 at Auto ISO 125, Perfectly Clear V2. bigger.

 

Katie on the Balustrade

Katie on the Balustrade, 14 July 2015. Sony RX100 Mk IV at 25.7mm, f/4 at 1/160 at Auto ISO 125, Perfectly Clear V2. bigger or Full-resolution.

 

Ornate Ceiling

Ornate ceiling, 14 July 2015. Sony RX100 Mk IV at 8.8mm, f/1.8 at 1/13 hand-held at Auto ISO 125, Perfectly Clear V2. What's nifty here is that I have Auto ISO programmed in my M1 memory setting to optimize itself for slow shutter speeds and low ISO, so in this case it sets 1/8 of a second, which is easily hand-held with stabilization, and can run at its low default of ISO 125 even indoors for ultra-sharp results. Wow! bigger or Full-resolution.

 

7-11 store on 7/11

7 to 11 Store, 7/11/2015. Sony RX100 Mk IV, f/4 at 1/200 at 8.8mm at Auto ISO 125, VIVID setting at +3 Saturation. bigger or Camera-original © file.

Van Halen plays the park

Van Halen plays Central Park, 10 July 2015. Sony RX100 Mk IV, f/3.5 at 1/80 at 22.2mm at Auto ISO 125, VIVID setting at +3 Saturation, Perfectly Clear V2. bigger or Camera-original © file.

 

Sony RX100 Mk IV at ISO 1,000

Pool at ISO 1,000, 10 July 2015. Sony RX100 Mk IV, f/1.8 at 1/8 hand-held at 8.8mm at Auto ISO 1,000, VIVID setting at +3 Saturation. Camera-original © file.

 

La Grande Vie en Pluie

La Grande Vie en Pluie ("Living Big in the Rain"), 15 July 2015. (Sony RX 100 IV at 25.2mm, f/4 at 1/160 at Auto ISO 125, Perfectly Clear V2.) bigger.

To get this look, I used significant burning and dodging in Photoshop with curves adjustment layer masks to darken the edges and sky, and another curves adjustment mask to warm the image.

 

Kids and shark

Kids check out the shark, 16 July 2015. (Sony RX100 Mk IV at 13.3mm, flash ON, f/2.8 at 1/125 at Auto ISO 200.) bigger.

This is from the JPG straight from the RX100 Mk IV. Fill-flash, colors and exposure are awesome right out of the camera!

 

Introduction         top

Sample Image Files   Intro   Specs   USA Version

Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear.

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

The Sony RX-100 Mk IV shoots super-fast, handles nearly perfectly and makes great looking photos. The RX100/4 works faster than just about any other camera and the pictures are always sharp and clear. This camera just gets out of the way by setting itself instantly and delivering fantastic pictures. There is no camera I'd rather carry around all day for shooting whatever comes my way. That's 99% of my review; the DSC-RX100 Mark IV is an absolutely superb camera.

The newer Sony RX100 Mk V is the same thing, with faster autofocus and frame rates. Considering that the Mk IV's autofocus and frame rates are also ultra fast, I wouldn't worry about it.

Set the zoom ring option, and for the first time in a pocket camera you get smooth, continuous zoom with the big ring at the base of the lens instead of only several preset zoom steps with the little lever around the shutter button. Do this, and you can shoot it like a real camera: zoom with your left hand and fire with your right. The RX100 figures out focus areas automatically with immediate tracking facial recognition; you don't have to twiddle with selecting AF areas.

The snaps above and throughout this review are what came out of the camera as JPGs with no fancy editing or color tweaking. I'm astounded at what I get by simply pointing and shooting. I see the picture in my mind's eye, and my RX100 Mk 4 silently and immediately just captures it. These samples are what the camera chokes out on its own in its automatic modes; I didn't have to tweak the colors or exposure later.

Also fantastic is how fast everything works. There is no waiting; everything just goes, and goes fast. Turn-on, autofocus and everything are immediate. It wakes up, focusses and shoots as fast as an iPhone, and this Sony can motor along silently at 16 frames per second for still photos!

How fast is it? It's faster in actual use than any of Sony's mirrorless or DSLR cameras! The small sensor and lens means that it doesn't have to move as far to focus, and thus Sony has gotten so smart that this tiny camera tracks action and focuses faster than their larger cameras. Whoo hoo!

Its pop-up finder makes it fast and easy to shoot in any light, and exposure and white balance are also perfect for each and every shot — better than any DSLR!

While its sensor is much smaller than a DSLR's, its sensor is larger than most other point & shoot cameras, so it usually performs better, especially in low light.

It shoots in any light, and given enough light, colors pop when turned up in the Vivid with +3 Saturation settings.

Fill-flash from the tiny built-in flash, with a 1/800 sync speed, also works perfectly, which is much better than most pocket cameras.

Its lens has to motor out and then back in after every photo. These complex and delicate lenses eventually break or get jammed, but people usually replace these cameras about the same time the warranty expires for the next model. The lens has a concave front element.

Once the lens motors into position, it shoots essentially silently.

It is made in China and charges via USB.

Auto ISO works great; it's easy to set the minimum and maximum ISOs as well as the minimum shutter speeds. Better, it's just as easy to program the slowest speed to vary with focal length, and we have several options to shift it (all automatically) from there. Auto ISO also saves and recalls with the Memory Recall modes.

Digital zoom works great. Especially if you shoot at the lower resolutions as I do for most general shooting, the Digital Zoom modes are smart enough to shoot at higher resolutions as you zoom, so digital zoom stay just as sharp as optical zoom!

Dolphins jumping

Dolphins jumping, 17 July 2015. This is at the lagoon where people get to play with the dolphins. I was very far away. (Sony RX100 Mk IV at 25.7mm with quite a bit of digital zoom, f/4 at 1/125 at Auto ISO 125, Perfectly Clear V2.) As you can see, digital zoom works great at any reasonable print size or online use. bigger.

Images look great; whites are always neutral and super-clean:

Bahamas Logo Store, Nassau, Bahamas

Bahamas Logo Store, Nassau, Bahamas, 17 July 2015. (Sony RX 100 IV at 20.2mm, f/5.6 at 1/800 at Auto ISO 125, Perfectly Clear V2.) bigger.

The electronic viewfinder is always at the perfect brightness from night to direct sunlight.

My RX100 Mk IV shoots instantly, fast enough even for drive-by-shooting, and my pictures look fantastic as-shot with no tweaking needed. This is what a camera is supposed to be; I can't help but love this Sony to death!

 

Missing

No touch screen.

No GPS.

 

Specifications         top

Sample Image Files   Intro   Specs   USA Version

Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

 

Lens

8.8 ~ 25.7mm (24-70mm equiv.).

 

Maximum aperture

Actual focal length

35mm equivalent
Maximum aperture
8.8mm
24mm
f/1.8
9.2mm
25mm
f/2
9.5 ~ 9.9mm
26 ~ 27mm
f/2.2
10.2 ~ 11.7mm
28 ~ 32mm
f/2.5
11.7mm and longer
32mm and longer
f/2.8

 

10 elements in 9 groups. Concave front surface, claimed 9 aspherical.

Only stops down to f/11 because diffraction would make the images very blurry on its tiny sensor.

Close focus: 2" (5 cm) at wide; 12" (30 cm) at tele.

 

Image Sensor

20MP.

8.8 x 13.2mm, deceptively marketed as "one inch," which it is not. This "one inch sensor" is much smaller than a DSLR sensor, but bigger than a cell phone camera's sensor. Therefore its technical image quality falls somewhere in between the two.

5,472 x 3,648 pixels native.

ISO 125-12,800. (as low as ISO 80 in a trick mode).

3:2 aspect ratio, the wrong one. It should be 3:4, but sadly uses the too-long and too-short 3:2 (1.5:1) ratio of DSLRs. This means that just like DSLRs there's often wasted image area on the sides that gets cropped off and thrown away. If it was the correct 3:4 ratio then it would make the best use of the lens and image area.

 

Audio Sensor

Stereo microphone built in.

 

Formats

Still

JPG and/or raw.

 

Video

AVCHD, MP4, XAVC S.

It runs at 1,000 progressively-scanned frames per second at some resolutions; these aren't misprints.

3,840 x 2,160: 29.94p, 25p, 23.97p.

1,920 x 1,080: 1,000p, 960p, 500p, 480p, 250p, 240p, 59.94p, 50p, 29.97ps, 25p, 23.97p, 59.94i, 50i.

1,824 x 1,026p: 1,000p, 500p, 250p, 240p, 480p, 960p.

1,676 x 566p: 1,000p, 960p, 500p, 480p, 250p, 240p.

1,280 x 720: 29.97p, 25p.

 

Audio

AAC LC, AC3, Dolby Digital 2 channel, Linear Stereo PCM.

 

Finder

-4 to +3 diopters.

 

Shutter

Mechanical

1/2,000 to 30 seconds in all modes except AUTO, whose maximum time is 4 seconds.

 

Electronic

1/32,000 to 30 seconds in all modes except AUTO, whose maximum time is 4 seconds.

 

Storage

SD, SDHC and SDXC.

Various Sony Memory Stick formats.

 

LCD

Sony RX100 Mark IV

Sony DSC-RX100 Mark IV folding screen. The LCD flips. bigger.

3".

Swivels up and down, but not left and right.

Anti-reflection coated.

1,288,800 dots.

 

Connection

Micro USB 2.0.

Micro D HDMI.

 

WiFi

802.11b/g/n.

 

Environment

Operating: 0 ~ 40º C (32 ~ 104º F).

Storage: -20 ~ +60º C (-4 ~ +140º F).

 

Power

NP-BX1 Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery.

3.6 V, 1,240 mAh.

Charges via USB. If you have no USB source, Sony includes a model AC-UB10 AC -> USB adapter.

 

Quality

Sony RX100 Mk IV folding screen

Bottom, Sony DCS-RX100M4 bigger.

Made in China.

 

Size

4.0 x 2.4 x 1.6 inches WHD.

101.6 x 61.0 x 40.6 millimeters WHD.

 

Weight

10.51 oz. (298g) with battery and card.

 

Price

$949, July 2015.

Sony RX100 Mk IV box

Sony RX100 Mk IV box. bigger.

 

Sony RX100 Mk IV box

Sony RX100 Mk IV box back. bigger.

 

Getting a Legal USA Version (for USA only)

Sample Image Files   Intro   Specs   USA Version

Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

 

Sony RX100 Mk IV USA box end

USA Sony RX100 IV box end showing "UC2." bigger.

In the USA, be sure your box has a "UC2" shown near the bar codes.

If the letters are different, you got ripped off with a gray market version from another country. This is why I never buy anyplace other than from my personally approved sources. You just can't take the chance of buying elsewhere, especially at any retail store, because non-USA versions have no warranty in the USA, and you won't even be able to get firmware or service for it — even if you're willing to pay out-of-pocket for it when you need it!

Always be sure to check your box while you can still return it, or just don't buy from unapproved sources, so you'll be able to have your camera serviced and get free updated firmware as needed.

The legal USA version also has a warranty card from Sony USA:

Sony USA warrenty

USA Sony RX100 IV warranty card. bigger.

If there's a question, you can call the number on the card to confirm your serial number, or just get yours from the same places I do so you don't need to worry.

 

Performance         top

Sample Image Files   Intro   Specs   USA Version

Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

 

Overall

See my Bahamas Gallery, and know that I made this easily snapping away in Program mode.

I get snaps this great, with nearly no effort. That's what makes this the world's best pocket camera.

 

Finder

The finder is what makes this pocket camera a real camera, too.

The finder pops-up from the body. The camera turns on and off as you pop the finder up and down. You can change this in a menu if you don't want it to turn off when you push in the finder.

The electronic finder is magnificent, except that it keeps getting knocked out of focus and it can fall apart if you pull it too hard.

It usually gets pushed-in a little and demands you fiddle with its focus lever, unless you go through a two-stage process to pop it back in after shooting, and then go through another two-stage process to unfold it every time you want to take a picture.

I've found it's best to leave it up and always pull it back every time I put it to my eye.

The electronic finder really does automatically adjust itself so that it's always at the perfect brightness, never too bright and never too dim, regardless of the ambient lighting. It never gets fooled.

You can set the menus and everything through the finder.

The electronic level option works extrelemy well; it makes it easy to get straight shots.

 

Autofocus

Autofocus is fast and sure, even in dim light with the annoying AF illuminator turned off.

Face recognition works while shooting; it finds faces and focuses on them all by itself - and it's always right!

The AF-C (continuous) autofocus mode works great. It finds and tracks faces, and it always gets perfect focus.

The weird thing about continuous AF is that the image in the viewfinder continuously oscillates in and out of focus twice a second as you're viewing, and somehow every photo is magically in focus. It will track faces all over the finder as they move. Bravo!

 

Exposure & Auto White Balance

Kids and shark

Kids in shark tube, 16 July 2015. (Sony RX100 Mk IV at 9.1mm, f/4 at 1/640 at Auto ISO 125, Perfectly Clear V2.) bigger.

Exposure and auto white balance are perfect!

The only camera with exposure and auto white balance as consistently perfect is an iPhone.

This says a lot; the Mk IV never gets fooled so I never have to retake photos. Even under screwy light, it always looks great at its default settings.

 

Color & Tone

The Sony's images are optimized for places and things; people pictures are OK but skin tones aren't as magnificent as they are on a DSLR or a Fuji.

Palm, 10 July 2015

Flower, 10 July 2015. Sony RX100 Mk IV, f/4 at 1/125 at 8.8mm at Auto ISO 125. Camera-original © file.

Color and Tone are the most important things that make up image quality, and colors, highlights and shadows look great with this Sony.

Auto White Balance also works great in every condition I tried it.

Highlights are especially well controlled. Look at the 7-11 snap at the Sample Images and notice how the red LEDs in the widow are actually red in their centers. Digital cameras didn't used to be able to do this; they overloaded and washed-out to white when shooting directly into sources of colored light. This is as good as film; the highlights are much more resilient to being overloaded and losing their saturation or changing hue.

 

Palm, 10 July 2015

Plant, 10 July 2015. Sony RX100 Mk IV, f/4 at 1/160 at 10.5mm at Auto ISO 125, VIVID setting at +3 Saturation. Camera-original © file.

 

Low Light & High ISOs

I get very usable pictures at crazy-high ISOs. It's easy to shoot hand-held in available darkness.

If you want to count pixels, subtle details are smudged-over by noise reduction at super-high ISOs, as in all cameras. (Noise reduction removes subtle details along with the noise, that's how it works.)

The RX100 M4 has a small sensor as serious cameras go, but a big one as pocket camera cameras go, so it works in the dark, but its images are victims of the severe in-camera noise reduction typical for all cameras used to keep noise manageable at insane ISOs.

Its Auto ISO programming opts for extremely high ISOs in dim light, which is great because they look wonderful.

You'll see it looks pretty good to ISO 4,000, which is spectacular, and by ISO 8,000 it looks pretty cartoonish from all the noise reduction — but still a very usable image.

 

ISO 1,000

Atlantis Bahamas Resort at dusk

Atlantis Bahamas Resort at Dusk, 21 July 2015. Sony RX100 Mk IV, f/2.8 at 1/13 hand-held at 18.1mm at Auto ISO 1,000, Perfectly Clear V2. Camera-original © file.

ISO 1,600

Pizzas at the buffet

Pizzas at the buffet, 14 July 2015. (Sony RX 100 IV at 10.7mm, f/2.5 at 1/125 at Auto ISO 1,600, Perfectly Clear V2.) bigger or Camera-original © file.

 

ISO 3,200

Atlantis Resort by Moonlight, Bahamas

Atlantis Bahamas Resort by Moonlight, 15 July 2015. Sony RX100 Mk IV, f/1.8 at 1/8 hand-held at 8.8mm at Auto ISO 3,200, Perfectly Clear V2. Camera-original © file.

 

Kids check out the chocolate fountain

Kids check out the chocolate fountain, 14 July 2015. (Sony RX 100 IV at 10.7mm, f/2.5 at 1/125 at Auto ISO 3,200, Perfectly Clear V2.)

 

ISO 4,000

Ryan and Mr. Turtle play on his MacBook Air.

Ryan and Mr. Turtle play on his MacBook Air, 09 July 2015. Sony RX100 Mk IV, f/2.8 at 1/40 at 11.8mm at Auto ISO 4,000, Perfectly Clear V2. bigger or Camera-original © file.

 

Mayan Temple, ISO 4,000

Mayan Temple at Dusk, 21 July 2015. Sony RX100 Mk IV, f/2.8 at 1/13 hand-held at 18.3mm at Auto ISO 4,000, Perfectly Clear V2. Camera-original © file.

 

ISO 8,000

Mayan Temple at dusk

Mayan Temple at Dusk, 21 July 2015. Sony RX100 Mk IV, f/2.8 at 1/20 hand-held at 23.9mm at Auto ISO 8,000, Perfectly Clear V2. Camera-original © file.

At ISO 8,000 and above the images start looking like paint-by-number paintings. Noise reduction does this to try to fight the noise from its small sensor. This also removes wrinkles from peoples' faces whether you want it to or not.

 

ISO 12,800

Katie and Aiden

Katie and Aiden, 11 July 2015. (Sony RX100 Mk IV, f/1.8 at 1/80 at 8.8mm at Auto ISO 12,800, Perfectly Clear V2.) Camera-original © 5MP SMALL JPG file.

 

Kids and the caldron

Kids and the caldron, 14 July 2015. (Sony RX100 Mk IV at 8.8mm, f/1.8 at 1/125 at Auto ISO 12,800.) bigger.

 

Image Stabilization

It's trivial for me to hand-hold at the SLOWER auto shutter sped setting of Auto ISO, which is 1/8 at wide and 1/20 at tele.

Here's one of zillions of sharp shots at the tele setting hand-held at 1/20 (not much is in focus; you're seeing limited depth of field more than blur):

Airliner at the gate at night

Ganapati, 18 July 2015. (Sony RX100 Mk IV at 25.4mm, f/2.8 at 1/20 hand-held at Auto ISO 320, Perfectly Clear V2.) Full-resolution © file.

 

Sharpness

Mayan Temple surrounded by palm trees

Mayan Temple surrounded by Palm Trees, 16 July 2015. Sony RX100 Mk IV, f/3.5 at 1/80 at 21.6mm at Auto ISO 125, VIVID setting at +3 Saturation as for all my photos of things, Perfectly Clear. Full-resolution. bigger or Full-resolution.

The lens is super-sharp; no news here.

Better, the sensor and electronics do a better-than-average job of sharpening the JPG images as-shot.

It's certainly sharper than most of Sony's DSLR lenses, which are pretty bad!

Palm, 10 July 2015

Palm, 10 July 2015. Sony RX100 Mk IV, flash ON, f/4 at 1/250 at 12.8mm at Auto ISO 125, VIVID setting at +3 Saturation, Perfectly Clear V2. Full-resolution.

 

Bokeh

Bokeh is iffy at the wide end, and smooth at the long end. As a small-sensored camera, it never gets anywhere near as soft as with a DSLR.

Its sensor is one-third the size of a DSLR in each linear dimension, thus its actual focal lengths are one-third for the same angles-of-view, which leads to much deeper depths of field.

Sony RX100 Mk IV Bokeh, 10 July 2015

At 8.8mm at f/1.8 at 1/2,000 at Auto ISO 125, 10 July 2015. Camera-original © file.

 

Sony RX100 Mk IV Bokeh, 10 July 2015

At 25.6mm at f/2.8 at 1/1,000 at Auto ISO 125, 10 July 2015. Camera-original © file.

 

Distortion

Wall in the Bahamas

Wall, Nassau, Bahamas, 18 July 2015. Sony RX100 Mk IV, f/5 at 1/800 at 25.7mm at Auto ISO 125, VIVID setting at +3 Saturation, Perfectly Clear V2. bigger.

Surprise: there is NO visible distortion at any setting!

At least at infinity where I tested it, Sony is obviously doing internal automatic correction so that my JPGs are all perfect as shot. Bravo!

If you really need to split pixels, use these correction factors in Photoshop's lens distortion filter to improve it even further:

Actual focal length

35mm equivalent
Correction factor
8.8mm
24mm
-0.50
10.1mm
28mm
+0.50
12.6mm
35mm
±0.00
18.9mm
50mm
+0.20
25.6mm
70mm
+0.20

 

Macro

Like most point-and-shoots, macro gets very close at the wide end, and somewhat close at the tele end.

Both these are at the close-focus limit at the wide end.

Rolex Submariner, 10 July 2015

Genuine Rolex Submariner at close-focus, 10 July 2015. Sony RX100 Mk IV, f/4 at 1/125 at 8.8mm at Auto ISO 125. Notice how the very wide angle setting distorts the watch to look bigger than my wrist!

 

Sunstars

sunstar in tree

Sunstar in tree, 11 July 2015. Sony RX100 Mk IV, f/11at 1/60 at 23.9mm at Auto ISO 125, VIVID setting at +3 Saturation, Perfectly Clear V2. Camera-original © file.

It makes very little in the way of sunstars. They are soft due to rounded blades; this is the best for which you can hope.

 

Shutter

Waterfall

Waterfall, 17 July 2015. Sony RX100 Mk IV at 25.7mm, f/6.3 at 1/25 hand-held at Auto ISO 125, Perfectly Clear V2. Stabilization is swell for hand-holding at 1/25 at 70mm equivalent zoom for walk-by running waterfall shots. bigger or Full-resolution.

The shutter is nearly silent, and the electronic shutter is silent. The only person who will hear it is you.

 

Ergonomics

The RX100 takes several days to get set properly, and once set, works extremely well.

My Sony RX100 IV is terribly hard to setup and configure due to the world's-worst menu system loaded with more garbage than a hoarder's garage, and there are too many clicks needed to swap from one memory setting to the next. It needs its M1, M2 and M3 settings on its top dial. Maybe in the Mk V, but for now I still miss photos trying to scramble from one to the other, or Heaven forbid if I need to change even the simplest setting not preloaded by me into the twelve Fn locations.

However, once my Mk IV is set (which it usually is), it shoots faster and better than anything anywhere near it's own size and weight. It outdoes most DSLRs for speed of shooting and ability to read light, focus and exposure by itself, and the images look great so long as I'm not pushing it too hard compared to a DSLR.

Once set, the Memory Recall modes let me reset my RX100 quickly to whatever I need. I which it took fewer clicks to get from one memory to the other, but even though it takes a few clicks it's still faster than having to reset all the individual adjustments I'd otherwise have to set. It also takes some practice not to erase the memories in the process of recalling them.

Sony RX100 Mk IV rear screen showing the programmable items I chose to put there. Roll mouse over for stunning revelation.

The worst thing about Sony still cameras is that they have the worst user interface in the industry. Someone has to, and right now that's Sony.

It has the same graphics and general operation for the menus and settings as Sony's larger DSLRs.

Sonys suffer from "feature fog" where what you need is hidden along with all the junk features that get in the way. Everything in the menus and what you see on screen when shooting is like a hoarder's house. It's all there, but only the hoarder has any idea how to find anything. Sony needs to go in and clean it up so it makes sense.

After a day or so you learn to see past the fluff, but Sony really needs to work with some real photographers (not bloggers, fauxtographers or talkers, but guys who shoot all day for a living) and completely replace their user interface and menu structure.

If you already know Sony, then you're set; the RX100 M4 is the same as the rest.

There are no real strap lugs, just little holes for tiny threaded wrist straps.

Sony RX100 Mk IV rear LCD

"ISO A SS" is short for "Automatic ISO Minimum Shutter Speed." You have to love the Japanese! In this case, I set it to 1/125 for my people shots.

 

Flash

There are no external flash connections. The tiny pop-up flash is all you have, and it works GREAT!

Exposure is usually perfect, although it can take a while to recycle if it has to fire at full power. This is extraordinary; few if any pocket cameras get flash exposure right, much less perfect, as does the Mark IV.

Slide a lever on the top and it pops right up, and push it back in to turn it off. Perfect!

Ryan on Noni's computer

Ryan on Noni's computer, 11 July 2015. Sony RX100 Mk IV, flash ON, f/1.8 at 1/125 at 8.8mm at Auto ISO 200, Perfectly Clear V2. bigger.

It balances extremely well for fill-flash during the day indoors and outdoors. With its 1/800 sync speed the tiny flash usually works well even in direct sunlight.

Recycling is slow outdoors where it has to fire at full power each time; you'll have to wait and plan your shots carefully.

Sadly the RX100-4 locks-up as the flash is recycling, meaning if the flash fires at full power, you're dead in the water for several long seconds until it's ready to fire again. The RX100M4 isn't smart enough to let you shoot without flash while it recharges; instead it locks-up the entire camera and won't shoot.

There can be a shadow cast from the lens if you're close and zoomed wide.

The flash isn't good at night. At night, the flash overpowers the ambient light and images have very black backgrounds:

Ryan at dinner, 15 July 2015.

Ryan at dinner, 15 July 2015. Sony RX100 Mk IV, flash ON, f/2.8 at 1/100 at 12.1mm at Auto ISO 320.

No worries, turn off the flash at night and it works great:

Ryan at dinner, 15 July 2015.

Ryan at dinner, 15 July 2015. Sony RX100 Mk IV, no flash, f/2.8 at 1/125 at 12.1mm at Auto ISO 12,800, Perfectly Clear V2. bigger.

 

Katie and Ryan at their last day at the pool

Katie and Ryan at their last day at the pool, 21 July 2015. (Sony RX 100 IV at 17.5mm, flash ON, f/4 at 1/800 at Auto ISO 125, Perfectly Clear V2.) bigger.

Note how the tiny flash works great outdoors at reasonable distances because of the super-high 1/800 flash sync.

 

Panoramas

Panoramic photo of Atlantis Resort Bufet, Bahamas, 15 July 2015.

Panoramic photo of Atlantis Resort Buffet, Nassau, Bahamas, 15 July 2015. Sony RX100 Mk IV, f/1.8 at 1/500 at 8.8mm at Auto ISO 6,400, Perfectly Clear V2. bigger.

They don't work well in the dark; I had to lighten this indoor shot with Perfectly Clear V2; you'll see that the Sony tries to shoot at 1/500 to lower panning blur.

Panoramas are good, but not as good as from iPhones.

The Sony panoramas have lower resolution, require a lot of mechanical shutter clicking, don't stitch themselves together as well, and work only in fixed widths (angles). If you don't move exactly as Sony wants you to, you get dark gray on the side of your image:

Panoramic photo of Atlantis resort, Bahamas

Bad panoramic shot: The RX100 gave up before I panned as far as it wanted me to, and simply recorded gray where it should have continued to record a panorama.

 

Playback

The image rotates with the camera on playback, just like an iPhone; hooray!

One thing that doesn't work is if you zoom into a vertical shot: it will change rotation to the wrong way if you're holding the camera vertically! I presume Sony may fix this with time.

 

LCD

The screen can tilt up or down, but cannot swing left or right.

The LCD is anti-reflection coated.

 

Power

Battery life is swell. I make 250 to 550 shots in a day, and even with an off-brand battery the meter still reads roughly half full. (look out; when the meter says half full it usually means soon dead.)

It charges in the camera via USB. The power button has a tiny, dim amber LED to indicate charging, which turns off when done. It's green when turned on.

Since it charges via USB, it's easy to charge it from anything from a PC, wall plug, USB power stick, solar panel or rental-car USB jack. USB is everywhere!

Full charge time is rated 4 hours.

The battery arrived mostly charged.

There is a simple battery-charge icon, but no percentage indicator.

Considering that Sony has been an innovator in batteries for many decades and pretty much invented the first percentage gauge for lithium batteries, it's weird that this camera's battery gauge is so primitive. There's no percentage indicator and the basic bar graph seems just to be a voltage meter that varies with load.

 

Clock Accuracy

Every sample will be different, but mine is poor.

My sample gains 2 seconds per day, or 30 seconds per month, which is fair to poor. I have mechanical watches that keep better time than this.

The reason this is important is that when you shoot multiple cameras on a job, combine them into the same folder and then sort by create date so you can see all the things shot at the same time; you lose synchronization between cameras.

 

Data

JPGs are coded efficiently, but otherwise data is handled poorly.

Cards are not formatted properly. They are formatted as "NO NAME," not as SONY_RX or similar.

New cards require you to let the camera diddle around creating a "picture registry" in the card.

It takes a long time to format a card.

Vertical shots are not really rotated; they are merely flagged hoping that your software will recognize the flag and rotate it.

The automatically-selected ISO in Auto ISO reads perfectly in Phase One Media Pro.

It's easy to set it to make a new folder automatically for each day.

I set my RX100 to add my copyright information to each file.

Cards are loaded with junk folders making it more complex to find the file in which your images lie to download them. Worse, videos are hidden in a different folder, so I actually forgot to download them at times!

Video files paradoxically are named MAHxxxxx.MP4 and have a ghost .THM file along with them.

Video files are hidden in the NO NAME > MP_ROOT > 100ANV01 folder. Good luck!

 

Durability

The RX100 IV is made in China for light duty. Consider it as an expendable, replacing it after a year of hard pro shooting with the next version — after which you'll have racked up enough great photos to pay for this little toy ten times over.

The corners of mine quickly wore from black to silver with use.

The pop-up finder is cheesy; I had the rear section pull out once. Therefore I'm always checking that it's still on, and have to keep pulling it out to keep it in focus. Pull too hard, and it pulls apart.

 

Compared         top

Sample Image Files   Intro   Specs   USA Version

Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

 

Versus the Sony RX100 Mark V

The newer Sony RX100 Mk V is the same thing, with faster autofocus and frame rates. Considering that the Mk IV's autofocus and frame rates are also ultra fast, I wouldn't worry about it.

They have the same lens, resolution, size, weight and everything else.

The Mk V's frame rate is 24 FPS, and the Mk IV's is 16 FPS; either of which is more than I'd ever need in a pocket camera.

 

Versus the Sony RX100 Mark III

The only real difference between the Mark IV and Mark III is $200.

This Mark IV adds only minor tweaks to the perfectly good RX100 Mk III.

Some of the tweaks are:

4k video added.

16 FPS, up from 10 FPS, in still shooting.

Slightly sharper electronic finder with more pixels.

Insanely high video frame rates for slo-mo, but these are sometimes at lower resolution.

The image sensor is slightly different.

The Mark IV lets you set it so it doesn't turn off when the finder is pushed-in, if you so desire.

 

Versus the Fujifilm X-T10 and 16-55mm f/2.8

The tiny Sony RX100 Mk IV is much better than my X-T10 and 16-55/2.8 combo!

The Sony images just look better: they are in better focus, and their exposure and color are better.

While they do the same thing on paper and the much larger sensor of the X-T10 gives a huge advantage in the lab at high ISOs, my RX100/4 shoots much faster, the pictures look much better, and the RX100 costs half as much and weighs much, much less! The RX100 is a dream to carry everywhere, while the X-T10/16-55/2.8 combo is an albatross.

My X-T10 / 16-55/2.8 combo doesn't work as well, with slower focus, less accurate metering, and less vivid images for photos of places and things. All my RX100 shots have perfect exposure with no fiddling, while my X-T10 shots just aren't as good.

The RX100 has memory ability to recall the complex combinations of settings I need for the different kinds of subjects I shoot. The X-T10 has some "preset memory" ability, but those memory banks do not save or recall what I need.

Sure, at ISO 12,800 the Fuji has a little more detail, but who cares if it's not in perfect focus? The Sony has the edge on sharpness in real life because its small sensor uses shorter lenses (3x crop factor) which have much deeper depths of field. The Sony does a great job of making great pictures with the noisy data that comes off the sensor; I have no problem publishing its ISO 12,800 shots.

Oddly Auto ISO in the Sony lets it go to ISO 12,800, while Auto ISO in the Fuji only goes to ISO 6,400, so shooting outdoors at night this weekend I had to set the Fuji manually to 12,800. It really slows down my shooting when I have to stop and reset the ISO depending on the direction I'm pointing my camera.

The Sony has the ability to make highly saturated images, while the softer pallet hard-burned into the Fuji line I only like for people pictures. For thing pictures, I have to goose-up the saturation from my Fuji images later. Fuji's "Velvia" simulation modes are poor, while Sony's Vivid and +3 saturation settings look great.

The Sony handles, focuses, sets and shoots so much faster than the clumsy Fuji. The Sony has much better fill-flash performance, especially because the Sony syncs at 1/800 and the Fuji only at 1/180, so the Sony has much more range in daylight. (Of course the X100T syncs at 1/2,000, but that's a very different camera.)

Sure, the X-T10/16-55 is a "better camera" because it's big and expensive, yet the Sony pocket camera is easier to carry and use and takes better pictures. The X-T10 is great if you want to use other lenses with it, but if you do, I always suggest stepping up to a real DSLR instead.

 

Versus the Fujifilm X100T

The Fuji X100T continues to reign as the world's best digital camera, period. It's a tougher, better made camera with a much larger sensor and a faster lens.

The Sony RX100 is a pocket camera with a small ("one inch," 3x crop factor) sensor and not as good in low light, while the X100T is a serious camera with a full-sized 1.5x cropped DSLR sensor with four times the sensor area of the Sony.

The Sony RX100 is lightweight Chinese-made pocket camera for casual use, while the MADE-IN-JAPAN Fuji X100T is a very serious piece of photographic iron — that's also super small.

The X100T has a faster fixed f/2 lens. The Sony only has a "sucker" f/1.8 aperture. It's only f/1.8 at its very widest setting; every other zoom setting is slower. It's f/2.8 at every setting from 11.7mm (32mm eq.) and longer, which is almost all of its range. Sony's f/1.8 number is only to fool the suckers; at 35mm equivalent, the Fuji is f/2 while the RX100 Mk IV is only f/2.8!

 

Usage         top

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Carrying

It has no real strap lugs. It has two little niplets, one on each side, that accept the threads from a wrist strap.

It comes with two niplet adapters. Each has a thread loop that can wrap throgh each camera niplet, and the other side of each is connected to a metal cutout for a flat strap. Therefore with the two included niplet adapters you can attach the RX100 IV to a regular webbed strap, just like a Canon DSLR.

I use an American-made Op/Tech sling strap ($12) that connects to one niplet. It lets me carry my RX100 around my neck and shoulder for instant use.

If I need a little belt case — or a case to protect the RX100 when I throw it in my luggage — I use the Pearstone Onyx 230 ($11). I let the Op/Tech sling strap hang out of the case.

 

Power

For vacation use, I always had enough charge for the day on one battery. It's always a good idea to carry a spare, charged NP-BX1 battery.

In fact, even with a 3rd-party Watson-brand battery I always had more than enough power. This battery comes in a little plastic case, so it's safe to carry everywhere in your pocket. It's rated a little less than the Sony battery but half the price. I couldn't wear one out even with a full day of shooting.

I brought a Watson-brand charger because it also has a USB socket. I can charge one battery in the Watson charger, and charge the other one in the camera with a USB cable plugged into the side of the charger! This uses only one power outlet to charge both at the same time, which may be the only outlet you get when traveling with your family in one motel room.

Better, the Watson charger comes as a kit with a battery for $5 less than buying them separately.

 

Lens Ring and Zooming

At its default, the ring at the base of the lens changes exposure combinations in Program mode.

The zoom lever at the shutter button only motors the lens to fixed zoom settings. I instead program the ring around the lens to zoom it, and now and it zooms essentially continuously.

Don't set this ring to exposure compensation because it's always getting knocked. I had my ring first set to compensation, and it was always moving by itself and malexposing my pictures.

 

Memories

Here's how and why I set my memories.

Each memory also recalls your zoom setting, so I set mine about midway between tele and wide so I'm at a normal setting at first.

Memory Setting
MR1
MR2
MR3
Subject
Places & Things
People
Sports & Action
Resolution
High
low*
low*
Color Saturation
extreme
moderate
moderate
Auto ISO minimum speed
Vary automatically with zoom setting; typically 1/8 at wide and 1/30 at tele
1/125 to freeze people
1/250 or 1/500 to freeze action
AF mode
AF-S
AF-C
AF-C
Advance mode
Single Shooting
Single Shooting
Continuous Shooting

* With modern cameras, low is about 5-6 MP, which is more than enough for anything and increases my workflow speed and throughput.

When you change anything after you've recalled a memory setting, it stays chenged until you recall another setting. Turning the RX100 IV off and on won't reset the recalled memory setting.

 

Hints

Sony's menu system is poor, so you'll wind up erasing and resetting these by accident for a while until you discover that SELECT REGISTER really means ERASE MEMORY.

If you're trying to recall a setting, only press things that say RECALL MEMORY. Be sure it says RECALL, or you'll erase your carefully set settings in one click.

 

Programming the Fn menu

Sony RX100 Mk IV LCD screen

You can program which items appear in the 12 boxes above. Sony's menu system is so awful that I've long forgotten how I did it or what they called them (try looking in the Gear 5 menus), but when you do find this option, you can set the function of each of these 12 spots.

Now when you tap the rear Fn button, this appears and you can set these functions quickly.

 

ND Filter

When left at its default of AUTO, the ND filter kicks in in daylight, and you're suddenly shooting at f/4 at 1/125 when you could be at f/5.6 at 1/500.

This was driving me nuts until I realized that it was doing this. I suggest setting the ND filter to OFF instead of leaving it on Auto.

 

Displays

Press the rear DISP button while either the rear LCD or the finder are active to select among their various display options.

The LCD and finder may be set to different kinds of displays, and each remembers your setting as you use the other.

 

Playback

Just hold the PLAY button for a few seconds and it will wake directly in play mode without needing to erect the lens.

 

Video Files

Video files are hidden in the NO NAME > MP_ROOT > 100ANV01 folder.

Be sure to make a point of looking there for every download, otherwise you may erase your card before you get your video files, since they are in a completely different place from your pictures!

 

Recommendations         top

Sample Image Files   Intro   Specs   USA Version

Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

I review loads of cameras. The RX100 IV stands out from all the rest because of how many great pictures I can make with it in such a short period of time, and how easy it is to do this.

Unlike many more expensive cameras, every shot from my RX100M4 is perfectly exposed, sharp and has great color — something that usually requires several fiddly attempts to get right with my LEICAs and DSLRs.

The RX100 Mk IV is a fantastic point-and-shoot camera that quickly and easily makes great photos in any light, and its larger sensor gives sharper, cleaner images than cell phones or most other pocket cameras.

Better than most cameras, no one takes a point-and-shoot seriously. If you need to photograph sensitive people, things or locations, people are paranoid of cell phone cameras and DSLRs, but with this little gem, no one will notice. You'll get pro shots and no one will be the wiser.

If you think you want one, get one. This is a very popular camera for very good reasons.

If you find my work and samples here helpful, my biggest source of support for this free website is when you use these links to get yours at B&H as I did, or at Adorama or at Amazon.

When you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live, it helps me keep adding to this free website — but I receive nothing for these efforts if you take the chance of buying elsewhere. Sony doesn't seal its boxes so you have no idea if you're actually getting a used product if you risk buying at retail. Never buy at retail.

 

More Information         top

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Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

 

Sony's RX100 Mk IV User Manual.

 

Help me help you         top

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The biggest help is when you use any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It costs you nothing, and is this site's, and thus my family's, biggest source of support. These places have the best prices and service, which is why I've used them since before this website existed. I recommend them all personally.

If you find this page as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you may have had to take, feel free to help me continue helping everyone.

If you've gotten your gear through one of my links or helped otherwise, you're family. It's great people like you who allow me to keep adding to this site full-time. Thanks!

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Thanks for reading!

 

 

Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

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09 July 2015