Preview: We take a quick look at the Sony RX100V, the firm's latest premium compact camera.
Sony has enjoyed huge success with its premium range of RX100-series cameras, breaking the mould for high-end compact cameras when it launched the first version way back in 2012.
Since then, a one-inch sensor has become relatively commonplace for cameras aimed at the enthusiast end of the market.
The RX100 V is the latest in the series, and features some seriously impressive specs – especially for a camera of such miniature stature.
Inside the RX100 V is a one-inch 20.1-megapixel sensor, which is joined by a 2.9x optical zoom (24-70mm equivalent) lens. The aperture opens as wide as f/1.8 and narrows to f/2.8 when fully zoomed in. Sony boasts that the RX100 V has the world’s fastest autofocus for its category, at just 0.05 seconds.
At £999, uninitiated shoppoers will probably steer clear. But pros who don't want to compromise image quality while retaining portability will be very happy indeed.
There isn’t a huge difference between the look and feel of the RX100 V and the RX100 IV. The RX100 V is small and solid; its weighty feel giving away that this is a premium offering.
There’s no grip on the front of the camera, so you may want to consider having the hand strap attached to the device to safeguard against any accidental drops. On the rear of the camera sits a small, rubberised thumb rest.
All the buttons on the back of the camera are grouped together on the right-hand side to make using the camera easy with a single hand. There’s also a mode dial on the top of the camera, which you can reach with your thumb for quickly switching between the various modes on offer.
Since the camera is relatively small, there aren’t a huge number of buttons, but the selection available is enough to make all of them useful.
There’s a circular scrolling dial with built-in navigational keys. Each of the directional keys has its own function assigned to it by default. However, it is possible to change the function of these buttons in the main menu, so you can get the camera to work exactly how you want it.
The screen isn’t touch-sensitive, which is a shame, especially for changing the autofocus point. To do this you have to press the central button on the navigational pad and then use the directional keys to move to the point you need. It’s a little awkward.
For a compact camera like this, a touchscreen would have proved much easier to quickly get to the point you need. For now, however, you may want to consider setting a central point and focusing and recomposing for the best speed.
A very useful button on the rear of the camera is the Fn button. By default, this accesses the quick menu while in shooting mode. Here you’ll find shortcuts to commonly used settings, such as ISO and white balance. Further good news is that this menu is completely customisable to your preferred settings, again allowing you to use the camera exactly the way you like to.
Around the lens ring is a dial that you can use to change settings depending on your preference. Every shooting mode has a default setting option for the dial, but you can change it in the main menu if you wish.
Unlike most other cameras of this size and type, the RX100 V – like its two predecessors – manages to squeeze in a viewfinder. Not only that, but it retracts into the body when not in use.
To activate it, you push a switch on the side of the camera, after which you pull it out from its housing. It’s a two-step process that’s a little cumbersome, but the way that it hides out of the way when not in use is clever.
The viewfinder itself is quite small, but it offers a clear view, and is a good feature to have for times when the sun is very strong on the rear screen.
The rear screen tilts to face all the way forward. You’ll want to push the viewfinder back into the camera body before you face it forward otherwise it will obstruct your view of the screen.
In my limited time with the camera, I could see that autofocusing is very quick in a number of scenarios, only showing a little back and forth in difficult or low-light conditions.
As I haven’t yet had the chance to use the RX100 V for an extensive length of time, I can’t quite offer a full verdict on image quality. Based on my limited time, I’d say things are looking very good indeed, but you’ll have to wait until Trusted’s full review for a proper verdict.
Here are a few early sample images (click to enlarge):
It goes without saying that it’s hard to justify such a huge outlay on what is essentially a compact camera. Realistically, though, you need to shift your way of thinking when considering the cost.
Yes, this is a very expensive compact camera, but if it’s something you’ll use all the time, the investment could be worth it.
The RX100 V isn’t going to replace a DSLR, but if it means you get the shot in circumstances where you might not otherwise have bulky kit to hand, then it will be appreciated.
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First impressions of its performance are promising, and I’ll be putting it through its paces more rigorously as soon as possible, but it seems very unlikely to be a disappointment.
You’ll probably find that the price of the RX100 V drops a little in the coming months. It’s also worth considering the RX100 IV, which is an excellent camera but is available at a cheaper price now that its sibling has entered the market.