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Sony Cyber-shot RX100 IV: Sony puts a premium on their premium compact camera

By Liu Hongzuo - 25 Aug 2015
Launch SRP: S$1399

Performance Test, Conclusion

Performance test

It should come as no surprise that the Sony RX100 IV pulls through again with great shots in a tiny package.

Photos are sharp and accurate, with little to complain about. Color is accurate; and detail remains very consistent throughout all ISO levels, with little detail loss even up to ISO 1,600, and very usable photos for online use at ISO 12,800.

We used a test scene for shooting and Photoshop Elements 7.0 to check the white balance and the sharpness of the images. These photos are not edited or modified in terms of appearance.

Sony RX100 IV, ISO 100, f/4.0, 1/3 seconds exposure, focal length 15mm (42mm for 35mm equivalent), no flash.

ISO 400.

ISO 800, and image quality is still going strong for the RX100 IV.

Blurring starts at ISO 1600 and the detail loss is quite negligible – it only gives way at ISO 3200, where sharpening in post cannot salvage the finer lines or minute words on signage and labels. 

ISO 1600. Quality of text in the image such as labels begin to lose detail.

100% zoom into said text at ISO 1600. While not exactly sharp, you can still tell that this bottle's drink is made from carbonated water and some form of juice concentrate.

100% zoom into said text at ISO 3200. At this setting, the ingredient details are barely legible.

ISO 6400. Noise is noticeable, but the image holds up fine nonetheless.

ISO 12,800. Noise is expected, but you can still make out the small text found on the vodka bottle. Quite impressive for a 1-inch sensor.

100% zoom into said text at ISO 12,800. Five-figure ISO setting on a 1-inch sensor, and you can still tell it's lemon flavored vodka bottled in Sweden. Pretty neat.

Sample Images

These photos were taken using the Sony RX100 IV. The photos have not been post-processed and are copyright to SPH Magazines. They are provided for your reference only and we ask that you do not reproduce them elsewhere. Click for the full-resolution images.

24mm, f 2.8, 1/640s, ISO 800

44mm, f 9.0, 1/160s, ISO 800.

100% zoom of the above photo.

33mm, f 2.8, 1/15s, ISO 800.

100% zoom of the above photo, for the details on the building.

24mm, f 1.8, 1/15s, ISO 800, street lighting.

24mm, f 1.8, 1/320s, ISO 6400.

100% zoom of above photo, for the details on the building.

52mm, f 9.0, 1/13s, ISO 6400.

 

Conclusion

If you want the best premium compact camera in the world today, it's hard to beat the Sony RX100 IV. This is a camera that produces high-quality stills with a large 1" sensor, with leading-edge features like high-speed shooting and high frame-rate video. It gives most people an easy way to get great pictures, while offering the experienced user full manual controls to fine-tune exposure settings.

Those who already own a previous edition of an RX100 might think twice before upgrading. Even with all the new features, we still find S$1,399 for a high-end compact tough to stomach. What first started out as an attractive premium compact just shy of a thousand bucks is no longer true, even with the wonderful under-the-hood upgrades taken into consideration.

Consider also that with the higher price tag, you'd think Sony would at least pack an external charger or extra USB with the camera, especially since the battery life took a hit. But no - all you get is a single USB cable.

The strongest alternative to the Sony RX100 IV might, in fact, not be a competitor's camera, but the previous model, the Sony RX100 III. If you don't fancy the high-speed photo shooting or slow-motion video features, the RX100 III might be looking pretty attractive now, especially since it should be going for less than the S$1,199 it launched at late last year. The RX100 III's battery life is also rated for a longer 320 shots per charge, instead of the RX100 IV's 280 shots.

9.0
  • Performance 9.5
  • Design 9
  • Features 9
  • User-Friendliness 8.5
  • Value 8.5
The Good
Exciting video features
Faster shutter speed options
All-around a great premium compact
The Bad
The price just keeps going up and up
Battery life is lower than previous model
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