Sony Cyber-shot RX100 Camera Mini Review + Sample Photos

When you first hear the $649 price tag for the Sony Cyber-shot RX100, $649 might seem over the top for a compact digicam. After all, for $649 you can get an entry level DSLR, or a neat interchangeable lens camera like the NEX-5N. But the Sony RX100 shouldn’t be confused with your average compact digital camera, instead this is a compact camera that is in league with an entry level DSLR, and even the NEX-7.

The Specs:
20.2 megapixels, large 1″ Exmor CMOS sensor, F1.8 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens with control ring, 3.6x zoom, P/A/S/M modes, JPEG and RAW image capture, Full HD 1080/60p video with manual control.

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I own both a Sony NEX-5N and a NEX-7. Before being won over by the NEX series, I owned a myriad of Canon and Nikon DSLRs. With that said, I’m hardly a professional photographer, but I am someone who values getting the best photos possible out of my camera, without breaking my back – or my brains.

So why is the RX100 my latest favorite? I wouldn’t trade in the NEX-7 for the world, but while the NEX-7 is a lot smaller than your typical DSLR, it’s still got significant heft. That is where the RX100 comes in, it offers amazing picture quality and features, but in a compact and lightweight body. And yet despite its diminutive proportions, it doesn’t feel chintzy like so many compact cameras do, nor does it look like some teeny-bopper would be touting it around (our apologies to any teeny-boppers we may have just offended).

Gallery: Sample Photos Taken with the Sony RX100

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So who is the Sony RX100 suitable for? This is the ultimate compact for a DSLR user with money to burn, for when they aren’t in the mood to lug around their hefty DSLR.

Who it’s not for? First of all, don’t mistake this for a serious DSLR replacement. If being able to switch out the lens is important to you, than obviously the RX100 will fall short. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a serious step up from a compact camera, and you are ready to take things to the next level – then go for the NEX-5N instead. For nearly the same price, the NEX-5N is best for the consumer who is moving up from a compact point and shoot, but is still learning, and doesn’t want a bulky DSLR.

With all of that being said, we’ll get right to the point. Whether you’re an amateur, or a pro, the RX100 doesn’t disappoint. You’re going to take seriously beautiful photos with this compact that would impress even professional photographers. The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 is available for $648 at Amazon.

The Good: Pretty much the best compact digicam ever (at least under $1k), Carl Zeiss optics, handsome retro-tastic design and great build-quality, excellent photo and video chops

The Bad: Pricey, battery life could be better, we had an “incident” where the humid weather created condensation in the lens and temporarily resulted in blurry photos, no interchangeable lens system


  1. I just bought this camera 2 days ago but now the guilt of the price tag is eating me up. I’m almost close to returning it for the HX30V which is a lot of steps lower. I’m not a photographer by hobby and am going on a trip to India in 2 weeks. I wanted something that mainly defocuses the background and has a good manual setting. I took some pictures of colleagues when we went out to lunch today in Superior Auto but it DID NOT defocus the background. I was kind of shocked because thats what I mainly want to use it for. Not sure what I was doing wrong or how close to the subject I needed to be for the effect to kick in. We were seating on a large round table and the place had soft lighting but the people in the background did not defocus….

  2. Try using portraits from the scene selection, and do NOT zoom in. You can crop afterwards. If you zoom, you lose the fast 1.8 aperture, which is responsible for that blur effect.
    If that doesn’t work, then try aperture priority mode, and set aperture to 1.8.

  3. Hi Adam! Thanks so much I’ll deff try that. One more question. When I’m taking shots of People and Faces, what should be my f value and approx distance to get those professional looking close up shots(background defocus etc). Also, would that work in zoom? Thirdly, Would manual focus help me achieve what scene selection cannot? Okay too many questions:)

  4. what!? shooting portraits with the wide angle so that you can shoot with the lens wide open at F1.8!? _O_

    background defocuses is way more pronounce with longer focal length and the distance between the camera, your subject and the background…

    stand back for 3 feet and zoom back in, be the lens at F4 or so, you’ll have your nice professional looking defocuses background…

    spend some time to learn your basic photography techniques to get the more out of your camera, the machine can only shoot as well as you do… 🙂

  5. If you don’t mind me joining the conversation, let me summarize what factors add up for a defocused background (of course, some of them might conflict with your esthetic intentions, but we’re just talking focus/defocus here):

    – The closer you are to your subject…
    – The farthest away the background is from the subject…
    – The lower the f value (1.8)…
    – The higher the focal length (more zoom)…

    … the more blurry/defocused the background will appear in the picture. [note: f/ value and focal length go in opposite directions, so you have to choose one over another or find a good balance – generally speaking, I think focal length has more weight than pure f value in getting a blurry background, but then again, you should test for yourself for the best combination.]

    Also, bear in mind that the sensor is another factor (the bigger it is, the more easily you get blurry backgrounds). The RX100 has a larger than usual sensor for a compact, but still is no dSLR.

    Lastly, manual focus might come in handy if autofocus is not working as it should. I mean, it does the same job, but manually – other than that, there’s no “magic” about it.

  6. @facebook-721123672:disqus @346ac8c77800553363354abb9f1d31c2:disqus Thanks for all the feedback guys.

    So today I’m going to try what you all suggested.
    The superior autofocus in the RX-100 is mindblowing. It defocuses the background automatically. This brings me to my next question of why someone would use manual focus and what IS manual focus (sorry I’m a photography noob:P)

  7. Autofocus: focus automatically.
    Manual focus: you must turn a ring to focus manually, visually checking the result until you’re happy with the chosen focus (the RX100 also has peaking focus which is some kind of added visual help for focusing).

    Why focus manually, if autofocus is faster and (usually) more precise? Well, honestly most of the time, I see no reason for using manual focus, although I guess it is somehow a pleasant exercise of nostalgia (autofocus has not always been around nor been as precise and fast as it is today). Manual focus also might help in circumstances where autofocus is fooled by a tricky texture or scene (focusing through a glass, for instance – maybe you want to focus behind the glass and the camera wants to focus on the glass itself, or just the other way around).

    I hope it help. Regards (I didn’t answer before because I thought new comments appeared below, not above, so I did not see this one until today).

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