More than a year after the introduction of the RX100 VI (tested in Focus 10-2018), Sony already presented another model of this compact camera with a relatively large 1-inch sensor. What’s new, and is it worth the upgrade?
Click on the camera for specifications, prices and test results.
SONY RX100 VII TEST RESULTS:
Sony praises the RX100 VII as the ideal camera for vloggers: they can film themselves as they walk around.
SMALL BUT POWERFUL
BUILD AND OPERATION
At first glance, the RX100 VII doesn’t seem to bring much new. Like its predecessor, the RX100 VII has an extending zoom lens with a range (converted to full-frame) of 24-200 mm and a variable largest aperture from F2.8 at wide angle to F4.5 at telephoto. And just like the Mark VI, it has an image sensor with 20 megapixels in 1-inch format. Such a sensor is larger than the sensor in a conventional compact camera and certainly in a smartphone, which improves the image quality.
But appearances can be deceiving: the novelty is on the inside. The sensor in the RX100 VII has a modified design, which is based on that of the A9 system camera. It is a “stacked CMOS sensor,” which means that the sensor has built-in memory modules. As a result, the sensor can be read out much faster than a normal CMOS sensor. Thanks to this sensor architecture, the RX100 VII reaches a series speed of 20 shots per second in full resolution without the image in the electronic viewfinder going dark between shots. That’s unprecedented for a compact camera.
The autofocus system was also upgraded. The sensor features 357 phase-detection autofocus points and 425 contrast-detection autofocus points. The camera can perform up to 60 AF calculations per second, and it uses the latest Sony algorithms to focus on eyes (real-time Eye AF) and moving subjects (real-time tracking AF).
In practice, this ensures very fast and very accurate focusing. All you have to do is make sure that the focus point is on the desired person or subject when you start shooting. The camera does the rest. A note: the real-time tracking AF works well in itself, but it is not immediately clear in the camera menu how to set it up. You need to use one of the Tracking AF options, which are at the very bottom of the AF options.
The improved autofocus system also works when filming. The RX100 VII can do that in 4K resolution. Thanks to the fast sensor, a new form of image stabilization is available. In this Active Mode Steady Shot, the optical image stabilization in the lens is combined with digital image stabilization. Instead of the full sensor, a light crop is used, which moves to compensate for camera movement, and the RX100 VII allows you to make stable film recordings while you are running, for example.
Sony praises the camera as being ideal for vloggers: they can film themselves while walking around. The fold-out screen ensures that they can see themselves in the picture. New to the RX100 VII is a microphone jack, so you can record audio in good quality. To mount an external microphone, a bracket is required, because the camera does not have a flash shoe.
The slow-motion capabilities of the RX100 VII are as impressive as those of its predecessor: you can film at 250, 500 or 1000 frames per second for a 40x slow-motion effect. There are also the same disadvantages: at the higher frame rates, the camera films in a lower resolution, which is then ‘inflated’ to Full HD. That means you don’t get the best image quality. In addition, you need to fix the exposure and focus before the start of the shoot, and it takes quite a long time after each shoot (of up to a few seconds) for the slow-motion film to be written to the memory card. Filming in slow motion also puts quite a load on the battery. But it’s still fascinating to watch flames, fireworks or a splashing water balloon in slow motion, for example.
So we have a camera with faster autofocus and 20 shots per second without blackout, but what about the image quality of those shots? In that respect, there are few differences with the RX100 VI. The combination of lens, sensor and image processing in the camera ensures shots with a lot of detail and a good balance between sharpness and noise reduction. The color reproduction is good, with realistic skin tones and accurate colors. The sensitivity is quite usable up to ISO 1600; at higher sensitivities, the sharpness decreases and the colors are less saturated. I did not see any vignetting on jpeg recordings: presumably it is already corrected in the camera (the RAW files were not yet recognized at the time of my test).
|Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VII|
|sensor||1-inch 20 mp Stacked CMOS|
|video||3840 x 2160 25p|
|ISO||auto, 100-12.800 (exp. to 64-25.600)|
|max. serie speed||20 fps C-AF|
|battery capacity||260 shots (with LCD screen)/240 (with viewfinder)|
|dimensions||102 x 58 x 43 mm|
|weight (incl. battery)||300 gr|
|list price||€ 1300.00|
|Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VII|
CONCLUSION: SONY RX100 VII REVIEW
Those who don’t need 20 fps can also look at one of the older RX100 models.
The RX100 series has always been the flagship of Sony’s compact cameras, and that is no different with model VII. This camera has gotten sensor and autofocus technology from Sony’s most powerful full-frame cameras. Do you need 20 frames per second with continuous AF in a compact camera? Perhaps not – and it remains a challenge to track fast movement through the small electronic viewfinder of a compact camera, however good the viewfinder of the RX100 VII is. The RX100 VII is primarily a strong statement from Sony, which is very proud of the sensor technology and new AF algorithms it has developed. The price for all that good stuff is at the same high level: 1,300 euros for a compact camera is still a lot to swallow. Those who don’t need 20 fps can also look at one of the older RX100 models, all of which are still available but at a considerably lower price.