Sony RX100 Mark V in depth first look. Best pocket camera ever created?

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Sony RX100 Mark V in depth first look. Best pocket camera ever created?

By Steve Huff

Hey hey! As most of you know, yesterday Sony announced the new RX100 MK IV (in addition to the new A6500) and I was there in NYC to check these camera out in person, and I was able to take the RX100 V out and about for a bit to see what it is all about.

First off, I have been a fan of the RX100 series ever since the MKI, but while the new MKV looks the same, almost EXACTLY to the one that came before it, the MKIV, it is an entirely different animal. This is the most powerful pocket camera I have ever shot with and wow, it truly does pack a punch.

Streets of NYC with the RX100 V

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While the camera is not going to give you any kind of amazing IQ leap from the last Mark IV version, which was already fantastic, it will offer you a host of amazing benefits that we would have NEVER EVER dreamed possible just a few years ago. The body is the same size, same shape and apparently the same shell yet Sony packed in a slew of new video options and insane frame rate options that blew my mind as well as other members of the media who were on hand to check this camera out.

I shot with the camera, tested all new modes including the 24 FPS mode that fires away like a non stop machine gun, and the new enhanced slow motion features can now double the length of the recorded footage from the MKIV. We can go from 120FPS at full HD to 960 FPS for Super Slow Motion and this is the kind of tech that used to be reserved for expensive specialty cameras. Now we have it in our pocket.

The red’s pop with the RX100 V

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First, Let’s take a look at the new specs of the new RX100 V:

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The best bits have been put in BOLD…

20.1MP 1″ Exmor RS CMOS Sensor & BIONZ X Image Processor

Utilizing an advanced stacked structure with an integrated DRAM chip, the 20.1MP 1″ Exmor RS CMOS sensor of the RX100 V is able to deliver outstanding image quality at up to ISO 12800 with incredibly fast performance. This sensor stacks the pixel area, a high-speed signal processing circuit, and memory in order to increase data throughput by over five times and deliver features such as 40x super slow motion, an Anti-Distortion shutter, UHD 4K video, and more. This is also the first 1″ sensor to have focal-plane phase-detection AF points for faster, more precise focusing.

Belly Dancing at 24FPS

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This sensor is paired with the BIONZ X image processor and a newly developed front-end LSI that dramatically improves the speed and throughput of the entire imaging system, enabling continuous shooting with AF/AE at up to 24 fps.  An expanded buffer makes continuous shooting possible for longer bursts, up to 148 JPEGs or 71 raw files. The front-end LSI is also able to improve overall quality of the images, especially at higher sensitivities. Additionally, another advantage of this setup is raw output which provides outstanding color fidelity and image quality.

Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* Lens

Equivalent to a 24-70mm, the integrated Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens of the RX100 V will help users capture a wide range of subjects in a vast variety of situations. The wide angle to short telephoto range is a much loved option for professional photographers and it is further benefited by a fast maximum aperture range of f/1.8-2.8, improving performance in low-light conditions and enabling shallow depth-of-field effects.

In terms of optics, this lens uses a ten elements in nine group design, which features nine aspherical elements, including two advanced aspherical (AA) lenses. This helps to minimize chromatic aberrations and ensure sharp, clear images. The lens also uses Zeiss’ advanced T* anti-reflective coating to combat flare and ghosting for improved contrast and color. Furthermore, Optical SteadyShot image stabilization will help reduce the effects of camera shake while a built-in 3-stop neutral density (ND) filter is available to enable working in bright light with wider aperture settings.

A lovely day in NYC

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Fast Hybrid AF System with 315 Phase-Detection Points

The RX100 V is equipped with an on-sensor phase-detection AF system that will dramatically improve autofocus speed for both stills and video. The camera uses a hybrid system with 315 phase-detection points that provide about 65% frame coverage along with a contrast-detection system to provide fast, accurate focusing in a range of situations. The RX100 V is able to lock onto subjects quickly, in just 0.05 seconds, and it can use AF tracking when shooting at 24 fps.

In order to make operation seamless, the RX100 V benefits from reduced blackout for easier tracking when using the EVF or LCD. Furthermore, an AF-A mode is now available, which will allow the camera to automatically switch from AF-S and AF-C mode as the situation needs. Users can also display the phase-detection area to help users focus on their subject.

UHD 4K Video Recording

Able to record UHD 4K video at 30/24 fps for up to 5 minutes, the RX100 V is a pocket-sized powerhouse, delivering movies with exceptional clarity. By using a full pixel readout without binning, the camera collects about 1.7x the information needed for 4K output. This oversampling helps to increase clarity while reducing the impact of moire and jaggies. Fast Hybrid AF is available during movie shooting for ensuring accurate, fast tracking using phase-detection AF points. The camera also offers Sony’s advanced XAVC S format for recording a high bit rates up to 100 Mbps.

For advanced users, picture profiles and image controls are available, including the S-Log2 gamma that is able to help expand the dynamic range by recording a flat image. Gamma Display Assist helps users view a more natural image when shooting with S-Log2. Other options such as timecode, zebras, peaking, and more are present for making shooting and editing easier. When recording internally, users will record video with a 4:2:0 sampling at 8-bit, however, to even further improve image quality the RX100 V has clean HDMI output for use with an external recorder. This allows users to capture 4:2:2 uncompressed video and save in an edit-ready format.

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High Frame Rate and Slow Motion Shooting

Speed is a huge advantage of the RX100 V, and in video users will benefit from advanced High Frame Rate shooting and super slow motion. In Full HD, shooters will have access to a standard 120 fps setting that will enable outstanding slow motion when placed in an editing software. In addition to this, the camera also offers a dedicated HFR mode which will boost the cameras frame rate to up to 960 fps. Videographers will have the option of recording in Quality Priority and Shoot Time Priority modes for approximately twice as long with the RX100 V compared to its predecessor.

Body Design and Wi-Fi Connectivity

Pop-up 0.39″ XGA OLED electronic viewfinder offers a resolution of 2.36m dots for crisp, clear imagery. The EVF also uses a Zeiss T* coating to ensure clarity from corner to corner.

The rear 3.0″ Xtra Fine LCD screen can tilt upwards 180° and downwards 45° for shooting at different angles or for composing the perfect selfie. The screen sports a resolution of about 1.23m dots and WhiteMagic technology has been applied to the LCD’s design to increase effective brightness for easier viewing in bright lighting.

A manual control ring surrounds the lens and features a smooth, click-less design for quick and quiet changing of settings. The ring can be assigned to control a variety of features, at different values, such as zoom, aperture, and Picture Effects.

 

Other Camera Features

Anti-Distortion electronic shutter can enable completely silent shooting as well as the ability to work at shutter speeds as fast as 1/32000 second. This shutter also keeps rolling shutter effects to an absolute minimum and enables photographers to work in bright light with wider apertures.

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So the features look AMAZING, how does it shoot?

I have to admit, when I flew in to NYC for a surprise Sony announcement I assumed it would be for the camera I have been waiting for, the rumored A9 pro. But instead we had two updates and at first I yawned. Then when I saw the updates applied I was quite happy as they are pretty incredible ESPECIALLY for this size of camera.

When I was handed the RX100 V I thought “This looks exactly like the IV”. Then I went out and shot with it and realized it’s no Mark IV inside. The camera was as responsive and fast as I could have hoped for, it was NOT lacking in any way for AF, even in low light it was locking on but remember this guy now has a much improved AF system, with Phase detect and Contrast detect (see all sensor details above).

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Sony was touting the 24 FPS feature as a way to “capture the decisive moment” and that goes against everything I have believed in for shooting decisive moments. But my brain is wired to think “STREET SHOOTING” when I hear that term.  While I do not need or ever want 24 FPS to catch a street shot (only 1FPS please) some out there may find this approach more comforting for other types of shooting.

Action, sports, and anytime the action is moving so fast, it would be nearly impossible to catch with one perfectly timed shot. For these situations, the 24FPS feature could be a life saver, or a way to get a truly amazing once in a lifetime shot. You may have heard the term “Spray and Pray”, well this takes it to an all new level.

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While I would probably rarely use that 24 FPS feature, I could see it coming in handy every now and again. But man, when you set it to continuous HI and fire away, it is quite the sound to hear. What I find really impressive is that even at 24 FPS you have full AF/AE going on, so the camera is not just locking on the 1st frame, it is keeping focus through the shooting process. Crazy.

Making Pizzas with Friends 

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I started to realize it more and more, this new RX100 V is not only a pocket rocket, but this pocket rocket is now on some serious turbo rocket fuel. It’s amazing what this camera can do, and it does what it does very well. I had ZERO issues, NO lag, no problems. Battery life? In my 8 hours with the camera I had taken hundreds of shots, and still had a tiny but of juice left, and battery life seemed slightly better than the MKIV.

The EVF was fantastic, the LCD fantastic, the fact that if you shoot at 24 FPS you can at anytime press play and review your image instantly, with no lag or wait. The buffer is so large, there are simply no lags or delays.

 There is nothing NOT to like about this one, and while it lacks only in Dynamic Range, Super high ISO capability, and shallow DOF (compared to full frame and APS-C)  it offers so much more than larger cameras in regards to size, portability, ease of use, speed, and response. The IQ is not lacking and it fits in a pocket, a front pocket. What is not to like?

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There is NOTHING like this camera on the market right now, NOTHING. Sony has zero competitors in the pocket camera market that can come close to the RX100 V. That is simply fact, and if anyone says there is a competitor to this, then show me. Also, this is not in any way a point and shoot camera. While you CAN use it as one, there are so many options for enthusiasts and pros and tech geeks that it is sort of like a mini pro pocket camera.

In these days of the Smart Phone camera, the RX100V shows what a real pocket camera is capable of. I even for a few moments had an idea to personally ONLY shoot with a RX100V for 3 months. No big cameras, no shallow DOF, no ISO 100k…just a camera in my pocket taken everywhere, with the ability to document life with images, video, super slow motion video and a myriad of photo styles.

HOW ABOUT ISO? 

With the 1″ sensor inside the RX100 V not being a low light monster, we can not expect the kind of low light performance that we get from a larger sensor camera. Physics is Physics. Larger sensors have more surface area, which means these larger areas will collect more light. Small sensors, packed with millions of pixels (20 million here) tend to capture less light, so we do not get the clean smooth ISO 10,000 kind of vibe we get from a big fat juicy DSLR like a Canon 5D IV.

BUT, take a look at this ISO 6400 and 12,800 from the RX100 V. This is a simple JPEG, out of camera, with all defaults on.

Must click these to see larger and full 100% crop!

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Imagine 5 years ago what we had in a pocket camera. Technology has come a long long way, and as I have said so many times, Sony is one of those leading the way for new tech and pushing limits of camera tech. What I like about this camera is the fact that anyone can pick it up and use it without knowing anything about it. It’s as easy as a camera gets in Auto mode. But for those who want more and more and more and more, this RX100 V offers them just that, MORE.

It’s a camera you can grow with, learn with, and if you are already experienced a camera you can truly exploit to its fullest potential.

For a pocket camera, it doesn’t get any better.

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SUPER SLOW MOTION VIDEO

With the Mark V, Sony gave us more options for those who want to shoot Super Slow Motion video. We can go from 120fps at full HD to 960FPS at a reduced quality. I tested it a little bit and to me, the Super Slow Motion is a kick ass cool feature though I would use it sparingly. Still, it could add a nice effect to an otherwise ordinary video production. Take a look at a few samples:

So again, to have this little camera offer great IQ, amazing speed, amazing response, a nice pop up EVF, 4k and Super Slow Motion Video options, Swivel LCD and that 24FPS crazy mode it is quite the feat.

HOW MUCH AND WHERE TO BUY?

The RX100 comes in at $1000, and will be shipping end of October 2016. You can pre-order it starting October 10th 2016 at B&H Photo using the direct link HERE. 

MY EARLY THOUGHTS

While this is more of an extended first look than a review, I have used and owned the RX100, RX100 III and RX100 IV. I know the camera well, and I know this model, the MKV offers more than it ever has. It’s a no brainer to anyone looking for a small hot rod camera that can do almost anything you need. If we had this camera 5-6 years ago the photo world would have thought it came from an Alien plant. Today, while many small cameras like this are going away, Sony decided to keep innovating on the platform and they truly created yet another rock solid winner in the RX100 V.

 

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47 thoughts on “Sony RX100 Mark V in depth first look. Best pocket camera ever created?

  1. I really wanted to love this camera so I’ve purchased and sold two of them. For me, the IQ isn’t that much better than the iPhones that I’ve owned and always have. I currently own the 7plus and the portrait mode blows me away when the lighting is right of course. Yes, you can get some very amazing images out of any one of the RX 100 cameras but the iPhone kills it in the convenience category and runs a close second in the IQ dept. IMO. With the right lighting of course because the iPhone stinks in poor lighting. Also, I could never get my brain to figure out how to use the slow motion on this thing either, once again the iPhone wins (for me).
    Thanks for this awesome site Steve!!!

  2. Hey Steve.
    My em5ii and 12-40 pro lens are getting a bit bulky for me and I was looking closely at the rx100 V.

    Would there be any noticeable difference in IQ at reasonable ISOs? I thought a cheaper solution could be to try the lumix 12-32/pancake on my current camera.

    Cheers

    1. Do you have to have a zoom? I would suggest any of the f/1.8 primes as why will be tiny and they are fantastic. If you want a zoom, the small pancake zoom will make it smaller though the quality of that lens is not up to the level of what you may be used to. The RX100V wouldn’t be either really due to the 1″ sensor but all depends on what you like to shoot, and if you want any kind of shallow DOF from time to time.

  3. Although the RX100 has the features, its ergonomics are a disaster. You can’t even hold the camera properly without a stick-on grip. How long are the dinky little flash and pop-up EVF going to last if you don’t babysit your camera? I looked at the XR100V vs an X70 and the X70 was the obvious choice for ergonomics and durability. So far I’m delighted with the X70. I miss stabilisation, but not any features as such.

  4. I haved owned the MKV for a day. Sensational. I moved up from the MKIII (it goes to my buddy as a trade for the MKI I gave hin. The MKI goes to a lady who will put it to good use).

    Fast focus, huge buffer, 24 fps (my $6500 D5 only does 12fps) as well as superior video. and a very accomplished P&S. Small enough to wear on my belt and have with me all the time. The RX100s are the ultimate teavel cameras. I took two APS C bodies and my MKIII to Europe. Soon left the APS C ca,eras in the hotel.

  5. I’m waiting for a APS-C version with a price that is truly pocketable. There must be some reason for Fuji’s X70 and X100 and Ricoh’s GR. I believe Sony can do smaller and better. Maybe a fast 28 mm or 35 – or even 50mm would be very nice.

  6. I currently use a RX100-4 to shoot in large petroleum tanks and other industrial equipment. I like it because it has an EVF (which is necessary on docks because of bright light). I also have the RX100-2 with no EVF and while it doesn’t have all the features and capability, I actually get more technical keepers with this earlier model. I can’t explain why and I use the exact same settings. I don’t use most of the features on either camera but my point is that if you have an older model and don’t need EVF, the first 2 models are still excellent camera.

  7. I have the RX100 Mark IV and I’m blown away by it’s capabilities. It shoots so fast that I have to be careful not to create more work for myself in post. I really can’t imagine needing anything faster. The V sounds like it has a much better AF which would be welcomed in my book but otherwise the IV is an impressive camera, if I didn’t have it I’d buy the V in a heart beat. Great pictures Steve!! These little RX cameras are really amazing!!

  8. Sony is a camera company? $1000 for a pocket camera? CRAZY….. I am still laughing that they already replaced the A6300 in 8 months and Fony fan boys think its not…………….hahahahahahahahahaha . Once again how much does Sony pay you again to advertise their products?

    1. Sony bought Minolta camera tech when that company stopped making cameras and most of their designs and technology for cameras stem from that ( and the lenses that Zeiss design for them). Sony was always an audio company and that’s still what they do best.
      Having said that, SOME of the Sony cameras are good and if you want something tiny that does a lot in your pocket, this will be your dream camera. It isn’t the best pocket camera ever created as Steve suggested it could be. The Ricoh GR series has much better tactile design by far and feels much more like a real photographer’s camera. It’s not all about features and specs. The Sony RX100 series suffer from slippery body design ‘ and I even have small hands) which make you feel like you are trying to take pictures with a bar of soap.I don’t doubt it is capable of great shooting possibilities but comfortable grip and ease of operation without fussy digital menus will make a best camera.

  9. Hi Steve, thanks for the great review. I can’t wait for you to get your hands on the 6500, I wanna hear what you think before I make the plunge. It looks like what I’ve been waiting for. Anyway, the Mark V looks like awesome for street photography ,keep up the good work!

  10. I cant belive they left put a touchscreen. Thats a dealbreaker. Also unlike What Steve writes there is stiff competition in the 1 inch segment. Take a look at the nikon dl, lumix lx10, canon g7xm2.

  11. Not having a touch screen is ridiculous on this type of camera. Hello Sony its 2016 already! And the price??? Do they anticipate selling one of them to cover their costs? As to there being no competition – erm hello? Panasonic LX 10 anyone? Way cheaper and has a touchscreen. Who needs 24 fps? I’d trade that for a touchscreen any day.

  12. Don’t care for the camera cuz it’s going to be relevant for a few months before the next wow thing.
    Tough sell at $1k because who is going to bother with this when they already have an ifone 7 in their pocket? The ifones have had that super slo mo feature for a while now.

    But i do care for that belly dancer mid riff shot. that is freakin great. almost has a ‘chrome like look to it. well done.

    1. Dont just say that this is going to be replaced by the next wow thing without thinking what the next wow thing would be..please do me a favour and think out loud with me for a while..what are the specs of a great camera..good image quality, evf, shutter speed, manual controls, AF tracking..the RX100 generation started with a couple of these..good IQ and manual controls..then added an EVF..then shutter speed and 4k..now AF tracking with PDAF..I dont see anything left out for the imagination..so yes this will be the best pocket a good camera for some time..don’t say its going to be replaced by the next wow thing..a wow thing i dont have any idea about..

      1. “Why”? Why the anger? Comments police? No critical comments allowed in your universe? Have a look (if you can spare the time) at Huss’s contributions to this site, and you might want to think again.

  13. These articles confuse newbie wannabe photographers– seems like the cameras are all excellent. Mr huff and fellow forum members: should I( use camera primarily for travel pics)upgrade from my panasonic gx7 to the Olympus pen f or this tiny new Sony?

  14. I can’t believe they are on the mkV already, I am half worried by the time I have typed this the mkVI will be out. Nice camera, but aren’t they all nowadays?

    1. If it takes you 17 months to write a comment, yes, you should be worried that the next model will come out before you finished your comment.

      … however, if that’s the case, you have much more serious issues to worry about, than this camera!

      (RX100 IV was announced Jun 10, 2015)

  15. Thanks for the info and images, Steve. Nicely done as usual.

    I have the RX100 M3. I don’t use it much, as my Olympus OMD is my main kit and with a fast prime it’s pretty small and light. But I do love what Sony does with the RX series. I might consider an upgrade to this M5, as it does have features my OMD doesn’t. Depends on how much I can get for my M3 I suppose. Still a great camera in its own right.

  16. Instead of 20.1mp, if they had gone with 12-16Mp that might have improved iso. I really wish they had done that especially if this is targeted to advance users who know mp is not the final thing. I had the first and third versions of this camera and other than High iso and uSeability there is nothing that I would like to change. Steve, is the lens design different in this then? Looks like it.

  17. smaller sensor, less light?
    how that works, please explane.
    can you buy special smallsensor lightmeters for them?

    1. Dear Theo,

      Compare a 20 megapixel 1″ sensor (..like the one in this pocket-sized Sony..) with a similar 20 megapixel sensor in a “full-frame” (36mm x 24mm) much-larger-area sensor, like one of the Sony A7 series.

      There are 20 million “photosites” (the little pixels which pick up light) in the RX100, and 20 million in the A7 “full-frame” camera. Both the same number of pixels.

      BUT because the 1″ sensor is very much smaller than the “full-frame” sensor, each of the 20 million tiny photosites in the 1″ sensor is very much smaller than each of the 20 million photosites in the Full-frame sensor.

      So each of the larger photosites in an A7 series camera catches more light at any moment (..let’s say in 1/1000th of a second..) than each of the very tiny photosites in the RX100 1″ sensor.

      A larger-sensor “full-frame” 20 megapixel camera (..like a larger bucket, which can catch more water in a sudden shower than can a smaller bucket..) can catch more light, in, say, dim surroundings, than the tiny 20 RX100 megapixel sensor which has very tiny photo sites.

      So a bigger “full-frame” sensor is better at high ISO settings – in dim light – than the much smaller sensor of the RX100 (whatever version).

      In bright and average sunlight the RX100 is terrific; in very dim light a full-frame sensor gives less ‘speckled’ or ‘grainy’ results, as each of its photosites is bigger, and gathers more light.

      You’d use the same light meter to measure light for both of them, but the larger-sensor camera will give a ‘cleaner’, less mottled, or less speckled, result.

  18. It’s really a shame, that the V hasen’t a touchscreen. That’ a must have if it should replace a mobile phone. And I didn’t start to complaint about the zoom range…

  19. Naw, not best pocket camera ever. Just another camera that will be outdated in 8 months like most these days. Ie “sony”
    Why dont they (all camera makers) give it some time (maybe like canon) and give people a camera that we all want. Just have patience. Companies, especially sony, are bad for a new release with a couple minor updates every other month. Everything is disposable these days. I shot film for a long time and all you needed was a good lens now and then. Image quality hasn’t improved much over the last few years, just give us a camera that isnt disposable and we’d all be happy. Build it like leica builds a good lens. Ups in price over the years instead of depreciation after 6 months.

  20. You make an excellent point: smartphones are forcing manufacturers to offer seriously high performance if they want to sell dedicated cameras. I think Sony is at least several steps ahead of phones.

    I think that cameras like this are going to replace DSLRs for a lot of press photographers. But some people can’t handle this rapid pace in progress so I suspect that a lot of people will scoff at using such a small camera for ‘important’ or ‘serious’ jobs.

    Now, imagine the next version of the RX10. Unlike the other manufacturers of DSLRs, Sony (just like Apple) is not afraid to cannibalise itself.

  21. a rookie question: does this sony rx100 take as a good a pics as the new olympus pen f ????
    i could be wrong but don’t they have similar sensor size?

  22. To me, that picture titled Belly Dancing at 24FPS is sensational!! Not for what the camera is but for what you did!!!!

    1. “This is also the first 1″ sensor to have focal-plane phase-detection AF points for faster, more precise focusing.”

      So……think hard.

  23. Steve,
    What do you think about the fact that there is still no touch screen? A big criticism from other reviewers.

  24. Sony raised the price in Europe. He’ll no a compact is worth that much. U can get a Panasonic gm5 now for about 300 in some places in Europe, with a lens. Ad 200 and for 500 u get a mini dslr with 24-60 and a 40mm 1.7…. 500 left to buy some yummy m4/3 lenses…

    Or just paid up a canon g7x for less than half of what this new Sony costs….

      1. I bought the Rx100 mk1 brand new in 2012 for £500, this latest version is DOUBLE the mk1 launch price! At this current rate of price hikes for successive models, the mk10 version will cost £1499, and the mk15 version will cost £1999!

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