Sony Cyber-shot RX100: Big sensor, big price

By Naomi Mackay,

Sony is targeting the high-end compact camera market with its latest release – the Cyber-shot RX100. This is the first time the company has produced a compact camera with a large sensor, which they say is the world’s first1 1.0-type 20.2 effective megapixel sensor.

Usually a big sensor means a bigger body and lens, but Sony has managed to keep its new baby little bigger than the Canon PowerShot 100, one of the best compacts on the market at the moment. The sensor cannot compete with those found in DSLRs, but it’s certainly at the top of the tree for compacts.

sony-cyber-shot-RX100

Looks-wise the camera is made out of aluminium and has a sleek design, and at its heart is the world’s first1 1.0-type Exmor CMOS sensor with a resolution of 20.2 effective megapixels. The sensor has an area that’s around four times larger than the 1/2.3-type imager in your average point-and-shoot snapper, which means it can capture far more light than small-sensor cameras. So you should get beautiful, detail packed images as well as Full HD movie clips with very low noise.

And what about the lens? Well that’s a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T lens with 3.6x optical zoom range. There is also a very large F1.8 maximum aperture, which lets in more light to complement the resolving power of the CMOS sensor.

The aluminium body looks sleek and stylish, and if you’re a DSLR user you’ll like the control ring that surrounds the lens body and lets you use fingertip adjustment for exposure, zoom, ‘Picture Effect’ and other functions. In fact for DSLR users, the RX100 makes a good, pocketable, second camera.

So that’s some of the technical stuff – let’s get down to what you really want – the pricetag. Here’s a clue – the camera is being plugged as “the professional’s compact camera”, so sit down now.

The camera will sell for around £579, which means it’s one of the most expensive fixed-lens cameras we’ve seen. You could, for instance, buy an entry-level DSLR or a compact interchangeable-lens snapper with a kit lens for the same price. But if you want power in a pocketable snapper, this sounds like the one to choose.

The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 will be available at the end of July 2012.