When it comes to choosing a pocket-sized compact to take with me on my travels for when a DSLR or full-frame mirrorless is just impractical or too intrusive, my top two contenders usually come from Sony’s RX100 or Ricoh’s GR lines. It’s not really an apples-to-apples comparison since they’re quite different in their feature sets and approaches. The cameras in the RX100 line cram in a lot more bells and whistles—things like zooms and tilting screens and boundary-pushing speed.
But one of the impressive things about the RX100 line is that those bell and whistles don’t come at the expense of image quality or usability. I’ve used several models in the series over the years, and they’ve always been excellent little cameras.
The latest model is the RX100 VII (also sometimes listed as DSC-RX100M7). I’ve been out shooting with it quite a lot lately to put it through its paces. I’ll post a detailed review separately, but in the hope it might be useful to readers trying to make their own decisions on which camera to get, below are some photos I’ve taken with it. I’ve also posted some high-ISO examples and a quick guide to its panorama features.
But first, here are some of the highlight features that have stood out for me when shooting photos with the RX100 VII:
Excellent Image Quality. Starting with the most important consideration for me, the image quality that’s coming out of the RX100 VII is excellent. I always approach small-sensor cameras like this with some trepidation, but there’s good reason why Sony is leading the pack when it comes to sensors. The images coming out of this rival or beat those coming out of some current cameras with larger APS-C sensors. Sony has sensibly limited the ISO range available to a still-respectable 12800, so you can be pretty confident of not getting some nasty surprises when you get the images home to your computer display.
20MP images. The full-size images that come out measure 5472 by 3648 pixels (you can also choose different aspect ratios for JPG output).
24-200mm Optical Zoom. A more expansive zoom has been one of the additions of the last couple of models in the RX100 range. When you factor in the small 1.0″ sensor and convert the focal lengths to what the equivalents would be on a full-frame (or 35mm) camera, they come out to 24-200mm. That’s the optical zoom range—the one with the highest quality and the one I use most of the time.
But like some other recent compacts, like the recent HX99, there are digital zoom ranges beyond that. I’ve written in more detail on those, and posted some examples, in a page specifically on the zoom range of the RX100 VII. None of the images below are using the digital zooms—only the optical zoom.
Fast. What I’m referring to here is speed of operation, not lens apertures.
Particularly with the larger a9 series cameras, Sony has really been forging ahead with camera speed, and some aspects of that are now filtering down into other cameras in Sony’s range. It’s really showing on the RX100 VII, with unusually fast autofocus. And I also found the tracking to be unusually good—something that leaves something to be desired on many other cameras.
There were other aspects of speed that I’ve liked about this camera. It has very fast burst shooting—up to 20 frames per second—and while the mechanical shutter is limited to a fairly slow 1/2000 sec, the electronic shutter can fire down to 1/32000 second. You obviously need a lot of light or a very high ISO—or both—but it opens up some fun and interesting creative possibilities.
Sony RX100 VII Image Samples
Here’s a sampling of photos I’ve taken with the RX100 VII under various conditions. Hopefully this gives a sense of how to performs in real-world shooting.
Some of these were taken in JPG-only mode. Most were shot in RAW and processed in Lightroom.