Considering that my first digital camera was a 2006 point-and-shoot Sony Cybershot DSC-W50 that maxed out at 6 megapixels, the RX100 Mark V from ten years later absolutely blew me away with its capabilities. The specs on this compact powerhouse are outrageous.
- 20-megapixel 1” CMOS Sensor
- 4K video w/ direct pixel readout
- Tilting rear screen that flips completely over the top so you can easily shoot selfies or vlogs
- 24mm-70mm equivalent f/1.8-2.8 zoom lens
I honestly don’t know what kind of Sony magic they used to cram this much technology into such a minuscule frame. It’s easy to slip into a front or back pocket, depending of course on your desired fit of denim. Being used to heftier cameras like the Canon 5d MK III or my beloved Sony a7s II, more often than not I feared the RX100 V would slip out of my hand. For my own peace of mind, I had to attach a wrist strap to serve as a safety net. It’s very similar to the way I often feel about handling micro-SD cards that are 64GB capacity or larger—a sort of "this is amazing and I hope I don’t break it" kind of feeling.
This is, of course, a personal preference, and my large clumsy hands simply aren’t used to handling such tiny modern marvels. The model that I was able to take out had a very helpful aftermarket grip attached. These grips don't come standard, but do greatly improve the ergonomics and operation in my opinion. Without the grip, the controls are still easily accessible to the nimble-fingered, with a comparatively large mode dial on top, thumbwheel on the backside, and a simple jog switch for zooming in and out with your shutter finger. This camera can effectively be operated with a single hand, apart from a lever on the left side that prompts the viewfinder to pop up.
Speaking of which—sluggish, pixelated viewfinders are a thing of the past. Over 786,000 pixels of bright clarity pop up in this magnified screen that’s smaller than my thumbnail. There’s no question of what’s in focus. In bright daylight or after sunset, it continued to surprise me and although some may prefer just using the large rear screen, I found using the viewfinder to be my preferred style of operating.
They even managed to stuff a pop-up flash into this camera. Not only does this little bit of separation between the lens and the flash cut down on red-eye mishaps, it also keeps the camera face clean.
In fact, that very clean design is one aspect which, while aesthetically wonderful, doesn’t necessarily jive with my operating style. Earlier, I mentioned my beloved a7SII, which has lots of buttons that can be programmed as custom functions with lots of options. While I’m not a manual-mode-only purist, I do like to have the option to quickly adjust my settings if need be, and I found it sort of off-putting to have to dive into Sony’s admittedly jumbled menu in order to make certain changes. If you’re the type who chooses settings and sticks to them for most of the remainder of the shoot, this won’t bother you at all.
The photos that come out of this camera are just as impressive as the modern design. The ability to shoot RAW and JPEG photos simultaneously with this 20-megapixel performer makes it a perfectly acceptable backup camera for professionals.
For a camera this size, the video capabilities are even more impressive to me. It's pretty easy to get a cinematic look with 4K-resolution video in 24 frames per second. The RX100 Mark IV and V can also film in Sony's S-Log 2 setting for more dynamic range in post production. If you want to shoot slow-motion, you have the capability to do that at 120fps in 1080p resolution. There's also a stunning high frame-rate mode that allows you to shoot bursts up to 960fps. That's 40x slow motion. Yeah—wow. There's a significant drop in resolution when you're filming with the high frame-rate, but the results are otherworldly. Imagine seeing each individual fwump of a honeybee's wings in flight.
The camera does come at a premium price that's quite higher than your everyday Cybershot. However, for that price, you get much of the functionality of Sony's high-end mirrorless cameras. If you're the kind of person who hates to skimp on quality, resolution, or capabilities, the newest iteration of the RX100 is absolutely the point-and-shoot that belongs in your pocket.
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