USER REPORT: Wedding Photography With The Sony RX10 By Jacob Glauninger

Wedding Photography With The Sony RX10 

By Jacob Glauninger

His website is HERE 

This is the first in a series of reviews I’ve been hoping to do. I’m a bit of a gear head amongst my peers, so unfortunately for me I go through a lot of gear. I’m not a big fan of technical reviews, there are plenty of MTF chart type reviews out there. They have their place, but I find they never really show me how my images will look in the field, so I’m going to try to stick to real world reviews. I’m also going to post edited images, because I always find my self curious what a camera is capable of, not what SOOC jpegs of flowers and bookshelves look like. I’m not gonna wow anyone with technical talk or pixel-peeping, I’ll leave that to the other reviewers. The question I am attempting to answer in this review is simply this: is the Sony RX10 a capable for shooting weddings?DSC-RX10_right_bgwh

To give a little background, I have been shooting with a Sony A7 over the past 6 months. I used to shoot weddings with two Canon 5Ds and and several L lenses, but a couple of years ago I briefly gave up the trade and sold all my gear. In turn, I switched over to mirrorless to satisfy my day to day photography wants. First was the Samsung nx100 and the Olympus XZ-1, and then I moved up to the canon EOS M when it went on fire sale. After my wife and I got married in November, I started shooting weddings together with my wife. I decided I should probably move up to something a little more serious than the EOS M. I tried the NEX-6 and hated it. Shortly after I picked up the A7, I loved it. However, the current lens selection does nothing for me, so I have been adapting vintage manual focus glass. Adapting old lenses is fun and all, but I’m getting really tired of manual focusing, especially at weddings.

Between wanting something as a backup camera with autofocus and being interested in cinematography, I landed on the Sony RX10. Whenever I purchase an item I like to test it really hard within the first 30 days. I’ve encountered a few lemons in the past so I always like to make sure everything is functional before the initial warranty expires. Fortunately, my wife and I had two weddings in one weekend, so I really got to push it to its limits.

Image Quality

First, lets cover something important – the RX10 uses a 1-inch sensor. Compared to your iPhone, it’s huge, but this isn’t by any means a full frame sensor. It’s not even an APS-C Sensor, heck it isn’t even a micro four thirds sensor. In the scheme of sensors in professional photography, this thing doesn’t even make it to the feather weights. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It just means you have to understand its limitations and characteristics. Namely, a lack of depth of field, which on the occasion I personally like. It’s really nice not having to stop down my lens to f8 to give my images some clarity. Being a 1 inch sensor, I think the 20mp they cram into it is more of a marketing ploy than anything else. I’d say it’s more realistically a 15mp sensor as far as usability is concerned. You might be able to squeeze 20mp out of this on the wide end at iso 125, but that’s about it. Anything else tends to fall apart really fast when you crop to 100%. I would have preferred that they scaled down the size and gave us smaller files.

Sharpness

On the widest end of the lens it is remarkably sharp except for the extreme corners which fall apart pretty fast. I got my camera used at Amazon Warehouse, so maybe this is just my camera, but I found anywhere else in the zoom range to be disappointing. If you are going to pixel peep, it’s just not sharp. But this is where the beauty of the 1 inch sensor comes into play. There is just so much clarity in the images that it somehow gives the impression it is sharp, when it really isn’t. There is also some noticeable fringing and halo-ing at the long end of some shots – kind of annoying but not terrible. Is the client going to notice any of this? Not likely.

Dynamic Range and ISO

Dynamic Range is pretty darn good for a compact. I was surprised how much detail I could recover from both my highlights and shadows. DXOMark gives it 12.6 stops of dynamic range so that easily puts it in the consumer DSLR range. ISO handling is probably one of this cameras biggest weaknesses. It’s pretty bad coming from a full frame camera, but coming from something like a Rebel or an NEX might not seem so bad. Fortunately the killer image stabilization and image clarity helps offset this by allowing you to shoot at lower ISO levels anyway. Overall I’d say it can manage in low light, but I wouldn’t rely on it unless I had to.

DSC00785

Bokeh And Depth Of Field

At the wide end you aren’t going to get much more background blur than you would on an iPhone. If you force it, you can find it, but typically you won’t find it unless you only like to take picture 1 inch from your subject. Moving down the range you gradually get more and more separation from your background (due to telephoto compression). At the far end you can definitely get a useful amount of background blur. Off the top of my head, I’d say you are getting about the equivalent of what you would get with a 35mm f2 on a full frame body (minus the telephoto compression and everything else that makes it different). It’s not a huge amount of separation, but you can get it if you need it. Unfortunately, when you do get it, it’s hideous. This is probably the number one killer for me, personally. Onion bokeh galore. It reminds me of all the vintage glass I’m trying to get away from. However, some people like that look. So if that floats your boat, more power to you. The depth of field is adequate for me, but creamy it is not.

DSC00336

Macro

It does it. Closer on the wide end than you can probably physically get to your subject, and closer on the telephoto end than you are probably used to.

DSC01300-Edit

Build

I won’t talk too much about the build, that’s something you can and should feel for your self at the store. It’s light. Really light. Which is good. Feels a little cheap to me, but I’d rather it be light and feel a little cheap, than have to haul around a luxurious concrete block. Overall I can say it feel nice though. Maybe somewhere between the NEX-6 and the A7. The lens barrel feels really nice.

Controls and Handling

Controls and Handling is where this camera receives its second strike from me. The controls are a little fiddly…on second thought, they’re really fiddly. I don’t really have too many complaints about the layout. The menu is like anything else made by Sony in the last 6 months, and the button layout isn’t all that much different. I’m not crazy about the way Sony designs it’s layouts but I can live with it. My main complaints are little quarks here and there. First, it’s slow. Not so slow that it’s unusable, but slow enough to be annoying. Record times aren’t great, the zoom is really slow compared to anything with interchangeable lenses, and if you try zooming during the shot to review time, it will zoom into the reviewed image and not zoom the actual lens. This sets you back and can keep you from getting the shot. Next, I can’t get it set up like my A7, which is annoying. For those of you who don’t know, Sony allows for highly customizable buttons, but for some reason not completely customizable. For whatever reason, the closest I can get to my A7 is somehow still the opposite, so that continually throws me for a loop. The last notable quark I can think of (but I’m sure not the only one) is found it is really easy for my finger to bump the zoom. Since the zoom is an electronic zoom it’s also really not very accurate if you are trying to do precise focusing. Now, keep in mind these complaints are me nit-picking. Overall, I would say the handling on the RX10 is on par with anything else in its class, so don’t take this as it’s Achilles heel so to speak.

Price

As of writing this, they just dropped the price from a rather pricey $1300 to just below a more reasonable $1000. I picked mine up on amazon warehouse for $850 and since then I’ve seen them go as low as $750. $1300 was a bit of stretch for me, but $750 puts this camera easily in a fair price range.

Conclusion

Can you use this to shoot weddings? In short – a resounding yes. If you know and understand it’s limitations, it really does it all and at a great price too. It certainly won’t be for everybody, but I have to say I’m impressed with what this camera can do. Will I continue using it for weddings? As my main camera, absolutely not. As a second body (and a 4th or 5th to my wife’s cameras) – possibly. However, if I was forced to use this as my only camera, I wouldn’t be in the least bit nervous. In fact, if I was forced to choose one camera, and one lens for the rest of my life, this might just be my choice. Would I recommend it to others? Depends. If they were on a tight budget, just starting out, just want a well-rounded back up, etc., then yes. For someone who has an endless budget and demands only the best image quality, then probably not. The image quality is a compromise. In fact that’s all this camera is – one giant compromise between the best of all worlds (they call it a bridge camera).

The Elephant In The Room

The Panasonic FZ1000. I know. I just gave the RX10 a (mostly) rave review, but the new FZ1000 looks to be a mighty fine contender to the RX10. I can’t really give my recommendation on which one is better as it isn’t available yet, but it looks like the winner to me. From the samples I’ve seen, the image quality looks to be a bit better (and the bokeh, much better), it shoots 4k, extends all the way to 400mm and at a better price too. It has a few other improvements but it also looses somethings such as the built-in ND filter, constant f2.8 aperture, and weather sealing. However, either camera is exciting to me. If this is the start of a new trend in bridge cameras, I could see the bridge camera regaining some notable market share in the not too distant future.

Sample Images

All images below were adjusted in Adobe Lightroom with VSCO packs 01 and 02.

 

DSC01030

DSC00383

DSC00279

DSC00237

DSC00267

DSC00181

DSC00180

DSC00175

 

 

Related Post

41 Comments

  1. I think it’s worth doing a comparison of the RX10 and the FZ1000 on Image Resource’s “comparometer”. I set the cameras at ISO 1600 and there just was no comparison: the RX10 won hands down. So I’m prepared to sacrifice the extra 200mm length for the IQ and constant 2.8 aperture of the RX10 and will be getting one soon. I like what you say about the quality of the images – absolute sharpness is not everything.

  2. I GUESS IT IS JUST A MATTER OF OPINION AND PERSPECTIVE AS IT REGARDS AS TO WHAT TYPE OF EQUIPMENT IS CONSIDERED PROFESSIONAL. CARTIER BRESSON SHOT ALWAYS IN BLACK AND WHITE, USED 50 MM LENSES AND CAMERAS THAT COMPARED TO TODAY’S TECHNOLGY WERE SOMEWHAT INFERIOR AND YET, HE IS CONSIDERED A MASTER. I SAW THIS CHINESE PHOTOGRAPHER TAKE STUNNING MODEL SHOTS WITH AN IPHONE 2. ALTHOUGH SOME FEATURES IN TODAY’S CAMERAS MAKE IT MUCH EASIER TO SHOOT, IT IS STILL UP TO THE PHOTOGHRAPHER TO GET THE SHOT. IN THE OLD DAYS YOU ONLY HAD A FEW CHANCES AT GETTING THE SHOT RIGHT WITHOUT “CHIMPING” AND THERE WAS NO PHOTOSHOP OR L5 TO COVER YOUR SCREW UPS. IMO IF THERE WERE NOT EDITING SOFTWARE, THERE WOULD BE LESS “PHOTOGRAPHERS” OUT THERE. AGAIN THIS IS JUST AN OBSERVATION.

  3. I am not commenting on the compositional qualities here. But all of them are much less sharp than the camera is capable if things are right. Either it is technique or a really bad sample.

    • Yeah, I mentioned in the sharpness section that I think I may have gotten a bad copy. I purchased it from Amazon Warehouse, which I’m guessing contains some of the worse sample variations out there. I’ve shot with plenty of sharp glass and soft glass alike, so I know what to expect. No matter what i did it just wasn’t sharp on the telephoto end.

  4. I like what you’ve done here Jacob–you clearly have a great eye!

    Thanks for sharing, and congratulations.

    Best regards,
    Mark

  5. I actually think VSCO has a few presets that are fine starting points. Like the Fuji 100- and Kodak… something 160-. I usually drop the grain though. It’s pretty invasive viewed on large screens. Ayway, as a fellow wedding tog I think you did a fine job under the circumstances. And scratch that. You did a fine job period.

    PP style is something people can argue about, but it doesn’t matter really. To everyone their own. If the couple is happy, some dudes in the internets don’t matter. They certainly don’t don’t bring the food to your table.

    You mentioned using A7 for wedding work somwhere in your site. Is it any good? I’ve cut back on all the small cameras and right now I only use DSLR:s. They can do the job always, and battery life is insane. So are the lenses. I loathe manual focus anything. Is it really mandatory buying into the A7? I know theres the FE55 and 24-70. Besides that it seems so… limited.

    • Thanks!

      It’s a two edged sword. It’s a fine little camera. As a camera i’d say it’s on a level playing field with the 5D mk III and the 6D. Can’t really speak for Nikon, but I’m sure its not much different. It has it’s pros and cons, so it’s certainly a different camera. But, I never miss shooting my 5D and I always loath the bulk when I have to shoot with my wife’s 5D. The Dynamic Range is killer at base ISO and haven’t had any problems with battery life, however I’m using MF only lenses so that’s saving a good chunk of life on the battery.

      That being said…I’m getting really tired of the user experience as far lenses. Depending how you look at it, it can be limited, or incredibly versatile. You can adapt pretty much any lens ever made to the camera, so in terms of optics your choices are endless. However, if you want AF lenses you’re pretty much up a creek. Sony’s lenses are outrageously overpriced, and in my opinion, they have a horrible selection anyway. None of Sony’s FE lenses are remotely appealing to me. Too expensive, too slow, and/or too short. I’ve gotten really proficient at manual focus and have acquired a huge selection of legacy lenses for super cheap…but it’s just not the same to me. I don’t enjoy the experience. I enjoy having AF. I’m toying the idea of getting the LA-EA4, but I’m having a hard time justifying spending additional money to adapt bulky lenses that don’t belong on my camera in the first place.

      Furthermore, I recently got the mitakon 50mm f0.95 which came damaged. The seller won’t refund shipping, so this just adds to the headache. It’s shame, in my mind, that I’ve resorted to a 1″ sensor as my outlet for Autofocus.

      That’s my 2 cents anyway. It’s a true love/hate relationship for me.

      I wish canon (even though I’ve grown to despise them) would man up and make a full frame (or maybe even just a really good crop sensor) mirrorless camera so I could use all my wife’s lenses and not be doubling up on all our gear.

      • Maybe, if you want to use the EF lenses that your wife already has, then you could find the ideal solution in the A6000 (or similar) plus the new version of the Metabones Speedbooster which AFAIK preserves AF. I have not ever used one of these but the new version is suppose to be to be much improved over the original. I never bought the original one precisely because of the fact that some lenses got soft in the corners. Just an idea…

        Of course there is this caveat: ask ten photographers on what equipment you should buy and you’ll get eleven different answers.

        • I looked into that, but everything I read pointed to the AF still being terribly slow and unreliable.

          And haha…ain’t that the truth? At least the nice thing right now is that it is hard to buy a bad camera. In reality there are so many good choices out there.

          • I have the LA-EA4. It works fine, although you have only 9 AF points in the central area. But I have been really happy with the Minolta 85mm 1.4 (550 USD) and the Minolta 100-200 f4.5 (30 USD). I also got a Minolta 24-105 f3.5-4.5 for 80 USD that is nice for people, has some old photo rendering. I wish Sony would put out a 24-105 or 24-135 f 4 or at least 3.5 / 4.5 for E mount at a reasonable, not overpriced price. I used to shoot Nikon, I switched. But I have some of your reservations about Sony lenses (the biggest gripe is the 16-70 for the A6000, I paid 700 grey market, but it is not sharp halfway between the center and the corners.

  6. Jacob, incredible shots. If you like using the RX10, more power to you. Despite having ‘pro’ gear’, I’ve done ten weddings and events with a bridge camera. More significantly, Magnum photographer Alex Majoli shot the Iraq war and a presidential election for Newsweek with a 5mp point and shoot — and won every major international photography award using that camera. The excellence of your photos here indicate pretty well that you could shoot a wedding with pretty much any camera you chose and get great results. For those of us here who still feel that only ‘professional’ cameras will do, keep in mind that the greatest photos in history were taken with cameras that had only manual focus and lacked the shooting speed of today’s cameras.

  7. The first photo is astounding! And I think that exposure on the ring photo could be brought up a little.

    I agree with your conclusion: it wouldn’t be my first choice either but it is definitely good enough for weddings and similar events. I’m not sure why wedding photos need to be super clean and super sharp? It’s just one aesthetic among several valid ones.

    “Namely, a lack of depth of field”

    You mean, “too much”. 😉

    “DXOMark gives it 12.6 stops of dynamic range so that easily puts it in the consumer DSLR range.”

    About the same for the Canon FF bodies. Mind you they would have better performance at high ISO, so there is still sound logic in using them (even though I have never liked, bought or professionally used Canon DSLRs).

    • Yeah, you are right. My laptop monitor really needs to be calibrated. It’s on my to-do-list somewhere….

      When I get to work, I found all the images I edited on my laptop the night before, look really dark on my work monitor.

      I wish all monitors could display things the same, but alas, this is not so.

      And I agree…I found the only people who care about sharpness – are photographers.

      • Hi Jacob,

        I recognize that problem. I work with a four year old Thinkpad W510, calibrated, which has a very good 15″ backlit screen.The backlit thing means that people viewing my images on other screens usually find them a bit dark. I try to compensate for that, but just a little…

        That Thinkpad is crashing about ten minutes into editing images in LR, so it’s about to be replaced by a 15″ MacBook Pro with appropriate memory increase, probably to be accompanied by an Eizo 24″ separate screen.

  8. You have a good eye for composition – but the colors are really …scary. VSCO is an enemy, not a friend. A wedding should not look like some scenes from a horror movie. This is my opinion, and I know a lot of people like VSCO. I think it’s all wrong. And I guess a site like this is a good place to voice different opinions.

        • It’s all just a matter of trend and taste. During the 80s in the uk, the trend was for soft-focus misty-eyed wedding photography. More recently, it has been the photojournalist style that has been more popular. Maybe the next trend will be for a retro instagram style. At the end of the day, the client gets what the client wants and that is as it should be.

          • If you go for the Instagram look (and who am I to criticize that choice) it doesn’t really matter what camera you use.

            So again, a slighty misguided article “proving” something we already knew (once you go the preset, filter, “filmlook” way, it doesn’t matter what camera you use), but fortunately accompanied by nice images.

            The photographer we hired for our wedding two years ago was instructed to make “informal” images, and was reasonably successful at that. She used a 5DII with two zooms and fortunately a minimum of (fill-in) flash. The quality in a technical sense was allright (not excellent, just allright), some moments were captured, some weren’t.

            One assumes a professional photographer manages to achieve the requisite minimum of technical proficiency, so you don’t bother about that. Whether he or she manages to catch those special moments for the most important day of your life will always remain to be proven.

  9. Dear jacob, you shouldn`t use these film presets.
    The gamma treatment looks only good on very contrasty monitors.
    this means -> it looks bad in almost any situation ; )

    you can have the same effect of the presets without the artefacts when you spread the curve a little bit.
    raise the whites and lower the dark parts. additional you can trim the colorslider of the white balance a little bit in the green direction and lower the luminosity of the blues a little bit.

    voila

    greetings
    michael from vienna

  10. Nicely written review! I appreciate the time it took to put this review together. I looked at this camera at the beginning of this year… the body is very light and the ergonomics are excellent. Ultimately I passed on this camera… I could live with the images from the 1-inch sensor because I figured I could get reasonable sharpness from the center 2/3 of the image (and I agree with you… Sony should have stopped at 12-16 MPs for better sharpness). What killed this camera for me was the terrible speed performance of the zoom. Very few fly-by-wire zooms seem to be responsive enough for frustration free shooting. Maybe the recent price drop and 4K firmware update portend an RX10 M2 on the horizon.

  11. Nice pictures but made me chuckle when you refer to it as a compact.
    Compact it is definitely not. I would call an olympus em10 with any zoom lens a compact instead.

  12. I’m really impressed. Some wonderful images there. It’s true, the sharpness seems to be lacking but the images have a really nice character. Thanks for sharing!

  13. You’re paying for the skill of the photographer and the results, not the type of camera they use. The first wedding I saw shot digitally was back in the day with a canon d60. The results were fantastic. The rx10 is MORE than capable of shooting a wedding when in the right hands as is clearly demonstrated here. Let’s face it, a highly skilled professional will get good results out of pretty much anything. Too many people see the camera as the most important link in the chain; the human is.

    • Your comment summarizes exactly what my thoughts were as I looked at the photos earlier today. I could only think “man, I need to work on my photography skills… I have the equipment, but definitely not the expertise…”

    • Ask yourself this question: would you rather Ming Thein (or jacob for that matter) shoot your wedding with an rx10 or a keen amateur with a 5d mkiii with L glass? My money would be with the pro every day of the week. Crucially they understand and work with (not against) the limitations of any camera. Amateurs generally shoot in the same way whatever the camera and many think that having the latest toy hanging round their necks will transform them into a pro quality photographer. It can help you to get there but having expensive golf clubs doesn’t make you a major winner!

  14. I don’t know…IQ is not up to standard. I don’t think I’d want a photographer using the RX10 in such important events, especially with the fierce competition we’ve got today. A Canon 6D, for example, would be much more welcome.

    • In fairness, the author stated this wouldn’t be his first choice, but in the event that your main gear gets stolen from your car on the way to a ceremony etc, and its all you had, it can at least produce some usable shots.

      • A 6D isn’t price competitive with the RX10.

        I would of course prefer my wedding photographer to use top of the line equipment, however a lot of clients don’t have more than a $1000 to spend on on a wedding photographer. In the right hands, I would prefer the RX10 over a Rebel + kit lens any day.

        • i really don’t care what equipment the photographer uses, as long he will deliver the pictures i expect. That’s why i prefer portfolio above Equipment.

        • “I would of course prefer my wedding photographer to use top of the line equipment…”

          The response to that, of course, would be: define the line. And where is its top? And which cameras / brands fit that definition?

          You don’t ask your carpenter what sort of hammer and saw he uses, nor your mechanic what brand of spanner.

    • The (wedding) pictures are nice but the camera is not capable of shooting weddings? That is a contradiction in my books Roy Kin.

    • why? because the lack of DOF? To much noise @ high iso? Maybe they like it. You don’t know.
      Maybe you don’t want to use it because your own expensive gear will become useless?

      It’s not that it delivers poor images, the man behind the camera is responsible for that.

  15. You say “..and being interested in cinematography..” Note that Sony have just provided a firmware update for the RX10 which now lets it offer the same XAVC-S hi-bit-rate video capability as the A7S (with SDXC Class 10 cards).

    The firmware update is available from Sony here: http://tinyurl.com/mnr9mdm

Comments are closed.