RX100M2 Test Drive

DSC00074As a present to myself, I recently got an RX100M2. I wanted a compact camera for social casual use but with near-DSLR quality. I have to say that the accolades for this little pocket marvel are well founded. It’s not quite as good as an APS-C sized sensor camera but in many circumstances its performance is close enough to not care. The old adage, that a camera with you is infinitely better than one you don’t, holds here. There’s little excuse not to have the RX100M2 with you at all times.

I am still getting to grips (literally) with the camera, there’s a bit to learn about how to obtain the optimum performance from it. But from preliminary testing, I am very happy about the focusing (makes street photography quite feasible), the low light performance (very decent for such a small camera), the controls (fairly customizable), and the image output.


As others have pointed out, the camera can be a bit slippery to hold one-handed so I hope to get an AG-R1 grip as soon as possible. The highlight headroom (DR 12.4bits according to DXOMark) is a little bit lower than I am used to on the NEX-7 (DR 13.4bits) but it could also be due to the different metering of the RX100M2 favouring a more generous exposure. I shall have to do some simultaneous tests to confirm.

DSC00195I’m also getting to know how the zoom lens performs at different focal lengths and apertures. With a 1″ sensor, it is important not to stop down too much as diffraction can soften the image. Compared with an APS-C sized sensor camera, the depth of field is also greater for a similar angle of view and aperture, so I have to recalibrate my instinctive default settings.

DSC00126It’s still early days yet but I can see the RX100M2 being a faithful companion for years to come. It may have cost a bit, especially compared with other nominally positioned camera, but the combination of a fairly large sensor in such a compact body together with a useful zoom lens is still unique in the compact camera market (RX100 notwithstanding). The responsiveness of the AF, the control customization, flip-out LCD, hotshoe, and RAW files makes it a very versatile instrument. It is truly a photographer’s compact camera, I’d be happy to use it in a studio, on the street, at a dinner party, or walking the dog (if I had a dog).

Thoughts on the A3000

Sony A3000

I’ll think this will do well. Capability-wise, it is probably not more than a NEX-3 level body with the addition of a viewfinder and hotshoe with a new 20MP sensor. The lack of controls and eye switch, the low resolution LCD, and the build screams entry-level. However at the price point at which it sits (introductory price is lower than that of the NEX-3N in the UK), I don’t think it will be a problem. Seen through the lens of the prospective market, the specifications and design are appropriate.

Considering that I see lots of people using liveview and the dirty diaper stance with conventional SLRs for taking everyday photos (defeats the whole purpose of having an SLR with its phase-detect AF), I doubt that most people will actually be using the EVF on the A3000. The Canon 70D will be perfect for these people.

The market demographic to which the A3000 will appeal are people who like the whole DSLR look, but will use the camera just like any other point and shoot. If I hand my DSLR to a non-photographer, often they look confused when the back LCD is blank. I have to point to the viewfinder and encourage them to put it to their eye.

But my interpretation of the continued strength of the DLSR market, especially the low end against the onslaught of mirrorless cameras, is that they are about image, not image quality. Having a Canon or Nikon DSLR, even if it a100D or D3200, is a statement about the photographic pretensions of the user irrespective of whether they know how to use it or not. A NEX, NX, or even micro 4/3rd camera would be eminently more practical for the majority of low end DSLR users but having a DSLR-shaped lump around their neck is preferable because it looks more professional.

In this context, I think the A3000 will be reasonably successful. It looks like little more than a rehoused NEX-3N with updated sensor so hopefully the manufacturing costs will be low. The 18-55mm kit lens is actually quite reasonable as a kit lens and balances the rest of the body better than would the 16-50mm PZ lens. The simplified and contextual interface will be natural to someone coming up from a P&S camera. And the size is small enough to be a noticeable improvement on a DSLR but still has the shape and enough bulk to project the right impression.

I am curious about the new 20MP sensor, rumour has that it is not the same as on the A58. Tests may reveal any signficant differences (SLT notwithstanding). Hopefully there will be sensitivity and dynamics range improvements that will bode well for upcoming higher range models.