What camera should I buy? Why, the RX100 of course! by Allan Mcleod Roney


(From Steve: So I received this email the other day from Allan and really enjoyed the article and the photos. Allan has submitted a daily inspiration before that you can see HERE but this post really struck a chord with me as I get this question constantly! “What camera should I buy”. I was asked about 18 times last week and 11 out of those 18 times I said “Sony RX100”, and there are many reasons for this. First, price. At $500 it is a GREAT buy. Second, it is very versatile and does so much so right. THIRD, it shoots decent video. It fits in your pocket, looks nice, feels nice and does good even in lower light. For most who are looking for an every day camera..those who are not complete photo nerds and enthusiasts and those who want a great all around family or vacation or even semi serious camera, the RX100 is fantastic. Yes, the RX100 III is out any day now and you get even more but it also comes in at $300 more. Then you have the Stellar, which is a pimped out RX100 V1 for $2k. 😉 Any way you slice it, the RX100 is a great little camera and Allan’s shots below are some of my fave I have seen from this camera. Enjoy his article and be sure to visit his blog HERE or his Flickr HERE to see more from him!)


What camera should I buy? Why, the RX100 of course!

by Allan Mcleod Roney – His website is HERE

A question I receive regularly, and one I always give a dishonest answer to.

It’s not that it’s my intention to obfuscate. It’s just that the right answer is invariably the one the requestor doesn’t want to hear. A good example of this was one of the more recent “what camera should I buy” questions I received.

“Hi Al, I love your Flickr (always a good start), and I was wondering, should I get a Nikon DXXX or a Canon XXXD?”

“Well, what are you wanting to do with the new camera?”

“I’m wanting to shoot pictures of my pals on holiday, maybe take it hillwalking etc. And if I like that, maybe teach myself photography”

So usually at this point, I will go into my usual spiel about “well, you know, these cameras are ‘much of a muchness’, it’s really based on preferences”. Those preferences usually relate to functionalities of the type a novice really won’t understand. Essentially, they’re the same. This time, I thought I’d try giving them my honest answer;

“You know, there’s another option. Buy yourself a quality compact. Not one of those ‘useless after a hot day’ compacts, but one of the top quality ‘premium’ compacts”

“yeah, but I want a DSLR”

I could regale you of a myriad of people who have taken my advice to buy a Nikon or Canon DSLR, who subsequently had a honeymoon period with said camera, then left it on a shelf to gather dust. The problem is that DSLR’s are big cameras. They’re not made to keep on your person. They only tend to be taken anywhere when your primary motive is to take photos, and given that most times we leave the house is for reasons other than photography, it gets left on the shelf.

I suggest a compact for a very simple reason – it will go most places with you. You don’t need a reason to take it. You just stick it in a bag or pocket, and it’s there with you wherever you go. Of course there’s a natural counter argument that is “I have an 8MP phone”. Yes, you do. But it doesn’t have an optical zoom, it doesn’t quite have the picture quality if you’re ‘thinking of taking it seriously’, and you can’t take photos in less than ideal light.

So for the price of a cheap DSLR kit, you can get yourself a quality compact. My favourite (and most used) camera is my wee compact, a Sony RX100 (now available for about £300 or $500 US) – I’ve added photos below taken with this camera where I wouldn’t have got the shot if I had a DSLR – it simply would not have been on me at the time. You’ll take on your holidays, you’ll take it on your hill walks and if you’re serious about taking photos as a hobby, you’ll concentrate on the basics of light & composition with a camera that will serve you better that a DSLR will. And that’s my honest advice.

As always, click-through for larger pictures:




















  1. OK, I have a question for all you Sony Rx100 & Hasselblad Stellar people who say you carry your small camera everywhere with you. Do you carry it bare in your pocket or do you use a soft case, hard case to protect it in your pocket? How do you carry it?

    • I use the black zip-up nylon case that came with the camera. It then goes in my briefcase or coat pocket or my ONA Bowery when it’s in “man bag” mode. Even then there is room for a Pod beanbag to put the camera on when the light goes down or for a “selfie”.

    • I have a small Case Logic soft case that has a belt loop and I either carry it there or in an EDC bag. The extra pocket in the soft case also holds one spare battery and at a pinch I have just started carrying a 49mm polariser but this is a bit difficult to use.

  2. Really love these photographs, as well as the compositions I like the way you have processed the B&W of the girls on the bench. Perhaps difficult to tell on a screen but it looks great…. be great to see an actual print.

  3. I have made ​​a mistake, mine was not a response to Dwight Parker but it was a new comment.
    I apologize to Dwight Parker.

  4. I recently bought RX100 III after reading this article. I took it out for a walk yesterday and found a big problem: I could not find anywhere in the menu to disable operating sound. If it’s meant for street photo, then it’s a big problem. The clicking sound is loud enough for subjects to hear me! Not to mention shooting indoors, the entire cafe can hear me shooting! I would love to hear anyone who can shed light for me. I am hoping it’s just me being an idiot.

    • The II is just fine if you prefer the original lens.

      I own the RX100 II and currently am trying to decide whether or not to sell it to buy the new model with the EVF. I used my II all over Germany and Austria this spring and never had any issues. In fact, except for the lack shallow depth of field, the image quality was extremely close to what came out of the Canon 6D and 24-105L that I also brought. After a while on what I knew would be long days with a lot of walking I started leaving the Canon behind.

      The only thing I didn’t like about the RX100 II for heavy use was the lack of a viewfinder. The new model would fix that, but so would buying the add-on EVF, with a net cost about the same for the two options. That leaves the real question at whether I would prefer 24-70 and a faster maximum aperture at most focal lengths or 28-100.

      I’ll likely get the new one only because I tend to shoot mostly from 24-50mm.

    • After using Nikon (D300/D700) and Sony (NEX-7/A7r) now I use only Olympus.
      Two body OM-D E-M5, one OM-D E-M5 with 25mm F1.8 and another OM-D E-M5 with 75mm F1.8.
      No regrets for the past,for me small is beautiful.
      Image quality of the Olympus with its lens is sharp, beautiful with gorgeous color.

  5. Let’s be honest. It wouldn’t matter what camera this guy had in his hands. He knows how to take photographs. It merely happens to be the RX100. Secondly, let’s realize that there is some major – and well done – post-processing, which again has nothing to do with the RX100. Still, I do like my RX100.

  6. Just for a change, the Sony dealer here in Dubai is releasing an new camera at the same time as the rest of the universe. What’s more, they are giving away an original leather case to customers who pre-order and the price is about £500/$800 which is the same as B&H in the US and £200 cheaper than Amazon UK. Shocked and stunned. Of course I’ve pre-ordered

  7. Very nice photos. I totally agree with what you are saying and I recognize it from when I use my X100s. Not as small as the RX100 but quick, responsive and easy to bring.

  8. Really great photos !!! And I completely agree to your writing.
    Keep going on your good work !

  9. That does not make a whole lot of sense. Since you hardly use it (“…it mostly collects dust.”), it does not really matter what the resale value is, cut your losses and sell it before it goes down even lower in value.

  10. Sublime composition. Use of light, dramatic and excellent advice! I love seeing the Fibonacci curve in the staircase image. Thank you.


    These photos are beautifully composed, perfectly exposed, detailed, nice color.

    You need a very large DSLR to take such photos. Big DSLR’s make people into great photographers and turn out superior images. Canon and Nikon are the only real DSLR manufacturers, and the bigger the camera the better it must be.

    So clearly you shouldn’t recommend people use a small $500 camera. And from Sony?! Sony makes TV’s and Playstations. The salesman in Bestbuy says the Canikon DSX300-Mark17 is THE camera one can get for the best cat photos, and he must know his stuff or why would he be working the camera section?

    • By the way, of course I was just joking. 🙂 I have an RX100 M3 on order and very much looking forward to receiving it! Will be great to have such a capable camera that is so easy to take along.

  12. As a camera shop employee (the one who is supposed to pushing bigger is better) i fully agree. Spoilt for choice we are, with mirrorless, super compacts, and just good compacts. In the “old” days, with nothing decent between SLR and basic compacts, the argument was mute, but now there is no excuse not to look around. My favourite is the Stylus 1 that gets close to being the perfect fulcrum camera.

  13. I visited the local Sony shop at the weekend, and was taking my time to have a good look at the new RX100III. A young couple came into the shop with an older man, who was giving them advice on which camera to buy. He took one look at the RX100 and dismissed it in an instant, saying “you don’t want one of those overpriced toys”. I would certainly have caused trouble by interfering, so I just paid my 500 dirham deposit, thanked the assistant and left quietly. Your photos just go to show how wrong he was.

  14. Totally agree spot on. My wife who is a contented Nikon D5200 user, her favorite lug around lens is the 55-300- she can’t live without background isolation, now carries her Sony RX 100 II instead to the Nikon gear.

  15. Really great pictures but if I had to suggest one camera for someone to buy it would be Olympus OMD EM10. Quality AND versatility ( get the lens you want rather than what comes in the box), compact enough and for not much money. A steal!

  16. You happen to be a very talented photographer and your choice of camera has allowed you the to capture such images that otherwise you might have missed .- excellent point – and proven beyond doubt by such stunning images ! What do you folks thing of the idea of always carrying a camera ? I know serious photographers say you should but I for one must be a bit “mission specific” and only go out “doing photography” cannot do it if not in the mood so carrying compact camera would not work for me -anybody else like me?

    PS some very nice subtle and skillful post processing done here as well what can I say -WOW
    Best Wishes

  17. Beautiful photos. It’s the photographer that makes the photos. Not all the time the camera.

  18. Great images. Could they have been taken with (almost) any camera? Yes, given the proficiency of this photographer, a lot of cameras can do that.

    But this camera lacks a viewfinder.

    • RX100 Mark III has a viewfinder built-in, and the Mark II can use an accessory EVF.

  19. From 2000 – 2012 I “borrowed” digital camera gear (everything from early Fuji, Sony, Canon P&S’s to the first Canon DSLRs and later full frame Canons & Nikons, tons of “pro” glass, and few 4/3 systems and a couple of Fuji X100’s too. In all, I’m certain it comes close to $200K. Sold it all, probably at a 30% loss. In 2012 I got the Sony RX100. That and an iPhone is all I have now. The RX100 is more than capable for everything I use a camera for.

  20. It is not the camera it is the photographer.

    As a photo editor said to me: either one consistently sees or one does not.

  21. Great Pictures… its not the arrow, its the indian. A great photographer will always deliver great photo regardless of type of camera he is using.

  22. Really, really great images. It doesn’t matter whether they were taken with an iPhone, RX100 or a DSLR, they stand out. Well done and nicely processed. (Something else I tell people when they ask about cameras is that a lot of the “look” they are after happens in post processing.)

  23. My problem with the rx100 is the lack of an affordable EVF, and first and foremost, its lack of responsiveness. I carry an A7 as well – small and lightweight too – and my god, what a difference. Also: I will prefer my Olympus Pen anytime over the RX100 although its menus are crappy but the camera is so much faster in terms of responsiveness to any button being pushed – especially the on/off button.

  24. Why should the comparison be only among new cameras at full sticker price?

    Why not a used camera at an outstanding price compared to new? Any number of recent DSLRs and lenses can blow away a very nice but very pricey new compact camera like the Sony.

    More: there are any number of new compacts that can deliver superb results for much less than half the price of the Sony: The Canon s100, the Nikon P330, the Fuji XF1, the Panasonic LF-1 etc etc

    If someone does not really know what they want photographically, they last thing I’m going to tell someone I really care about is to drop $500-800 on a compact fixed lens camera.

    • Hi Ronin.
      I believe you have a very good point if you are advising someone that doesn’t know/understand much about photography.
      As we are reading a “photography” based page though I think the current reader base (not the ones asking which camera to buy) knows enough about the pros and cons.
      When someone asks what camera to buy, in many instances they are thinking they need a DSLR to get a good picture.
      I’ll stick my neck out here and state the following:
      1. Most people here know that most photos from those asking advice don’t go anywhere other than home albums and the web.
      2. Many users would be hard pressed to tell the difference between an RX100 and DSLR (last DSLR I owned was a Canon 10D at a great 6.3 MP). I have a 75cm x 100 cm pic from the 10D which is very acceptable as a wall hanging and I’ll guarantee the RX100 will do at least as good.
      When people comment on liking a photo I’ve never heard someone say “yeah nice photo but the anti aliasing artifacts meant you should have used a better camera”. They probably don’t even know why they like a photo and even at half resolution and lower DR it would still be a great pic because of the composition. (I therefore have to disagree with the poster above re dynamic range. Firstly you are looking at a digital image and not print and secondly, as many posters have already said, the images are of interest because of their artistic content.

      Nowadays I mainly use a camera for travel and I can tell you its VERY different lugging a DSLR with 50mm prime and 17/40 around your tourist destinations compared to an RX100. Even getting the DSL gear safely to and from the destination is a pain.
      Apart from the heft, sometimes one just does not want to look like a tourist and nothing screams tourist more than a DSLR hanging around your neck. Also the RX100 can be with you always. I have just returned from a trip where we ended up having dinner in a “wine cellar” that produced great pics with a RX100. They were infinitely better than the DSLR because, if I owned one, I would not have had it with me.

      I’ve now gone from DSLR to MFT to compact (RX100) as my main cameras.

      DSLRs certainly have their places and they are brilliant tools but sometimes people need to look at what they are doing and look for that interesting aspect. While I don’t feel the need to use facebook/instagram et al they sometimes have very interesting compositions because someone with more talent than me took the photo with a phone cam or whatever.

      Sorry for the rambling but to get back to your point, if a compact will do the job I agree fully with the lower entry cost. I still have a Fuji Fd31 (6MP) with produces very acceptable A4 prints.
      I think most people entering photography would enjoy the journey up to a DSLR if they eventually thought they needed one but I think that pocketable compacts are a great entry point and are even better than the small MFTs because of smaller size and MFT kit lens quality.

      I realize my viewpoint is specific to my needs but these are my thoughts FWIW.

  25. Beside a Leica M240 I own also the RX100. My wife loves this little thing! In the mean time 3 friends have bought this Kamera following my advise.

  26. Every single picture in this set is fantastic, congratulations Allan!
    And I suscribe to your words one by one, not necessarily on this specific model, but on the many benefits of having a small, compact camera that you can carry along with you in your handbag wherever you go. In my case, that camera is the Lumix GM1; I wrote a post with many images about this same topic in my blog: http://gonzalobroto.blogspot.com/2014/05/born-by-chance-handbag-photography.html

  27. I hate to tell you, Sony and Panasonic (yes, the clock radio and microwave guys) are the most innovative companies making cameras these days.

    And besides. Sony bought Minolta… thats where their camera division came from.

  28. Great choice, but looking at your photos, I think you can make a great photo with any camera.

  29. Great handy little camera and the images are delightful.
    I too get asked what camera to buy quite often and recommend this one a lot.

  30. Your photos show what the Sony RX100 can do when it’s in the hands of a photographer who knows what he doing. And you most certainly do.

  31. I bought my rx100 after reading Steve’s review and i have to say I’ve never been happier with a purchase. Amazing little compact. Lovely images with the article I must say…

  32. Very nice pictures! I wouldn’t buy an RX100 though – I’d rather go for the Olympus or Fuji, more pleasing colour amongst a few other advantages and they don’t make Playstations and clock radios.

  33. Very nice images, I really like you composition.

    Having said that, in my opinion most of them would probably be noticably better if they came from a higher end camera with more dynamic range. So while the RX100 is great – more expensive an larger cameras still have a justification 🙂

    • No they wouldn’t. It’s the photographer and not the camera. Of course if you’re older, doctors recommend doing weights, so DSLR’s do have an advantage still…

    • I think you are wrong because you are analyzing technically the photographs and not the artistic intention behind. They’re clearly thought to play with deep shadows and intense highlights, and surely in postproduction he has reduced the natural dynamic range of the camera to get that mood. Better technically is not always better artistically, if not 6×9 medium format shooters wouldn’t tolerate no one photo of today.

      • Don’t get me wrong, I understand he is playing with contrasts and I think it is very well done. I agree those are better pictures than many which have been published on this side and taken with more expensive cameras. And I realise the size/price need to be taken into account.

        So I am definitely not suggesting pictures would have been better using a full frame sensor to push the shadow/highlight recovery slides to use all the dynamic range and make the picture HDRish 🙂

        However if I look at the first image, I think a better sensor/lens would have given deeper blacks for more impact, gotten rid of the funny artefacts in the trees (some people might like them, I don’t really), and given a better transition better the bright background light and the shape of the trees. To me these points would have improved the aesthetics of the picture – but hey, to each their own.

        Again, great camera and photographer. And agreed to produce great images, technique and artistic skills are more important than having a top of the line camera.
        But honestly, don’t you think most readers here are just having fun saying it is only about the photographer and the RX100 is all you need? I feel most of the audience will go back to their micro 4/3, APS-C or Full Frame after reading this 😉 (some of us should indeed spend more time practicing rather than buying gear, but the ones who have Allan’s skills or better will actually be able to produce better images I think)

        • problem is, you miss the whole point of his post and that is he wouldn’t have been able to get these photographs with a better camera because he wouldn’t have had it with him. he got these photos because the rx100 is so small he is able to carry it everywhere.

  34. Thanks. Very helpful. I’ve been thinking of an upgrade for my much-loved D-Lux 4 for a while. I’d like to save the $300, but the EVF on the III is likely to clinch the issue.

  35. Great post! I agree 100%! I own a rx100m2 and have it up for sale in the buy/sell forum. Why? Because I love it so much that I am eagerly awaiting the rx100m3. I bring my rx100 with me every time I go to New York City and I always get shots that I would not have taken if I had lugged my dslr with me. It is one of the best camera purchases I have ever made and I cannot wait until the mark 3 is out!

  36. Totally kicka$$ photos.

    You have written, more clearly and eloquently, what I have told many friends over the the last two years I have owned my RX-100. The RX-100 is the best photo equipment purchase I have ever made. Its pocket-ability and unobtrusiveness has allowed me to take many pictures I would never have made before. I rarely bother with my DSLR any more.

  37. By far, this is some of the best work I’ve seen in a long time.

    My favorite is the photo of three girls sitting on the curb. There are four stories going on (one girl is bored/frustrated, one is tired and the third is occupied with her phone). The fourth story is the two people standing behind them. This is an exceptionally well crafted photo.

  38. It’s a wonderfully useful camera. The raw files are nice and respond nicely to some light work in ACR. I’m also fond of the rich b&w and high contrast mono modes because, for once, they give good results. And Steve’s right, the video quality is excellent. Good set of pictures, thank you for sharing.

  39. Great post and shots. I concur – the RX100 is a very fun, and capable camera!!

    I have a short blog post on it as well (http://marsweekly.wordpress.com/2014/05/17/the-fun-one/) and a few images… though none as nice as yours, Allan!

    Although very, very happy with the RX100 I am looking forward to the MarkIII and being able to shoot at 24mm. The RX100 is already one of my most used cameras but the extra wide-angle will mean I’ll be shooting with a compact even more.

    Again – great post and love your images!!!

    • No view finder is what leaves me uninspired with mine honestly… it mostly collects dust.. for whatever reason I feel disconnected by looking through a screen rather then a VF. The resale value of the RX100 MKI isn’t for me worth selling to get the MKIII.

  40. awesome shots. this is really a daily inspiration. and I couldn’t agree more on the x100, although I now recommend the x100ii because of the swivel screen (but that is because most guys who ask me are parents (or about to become parents, and the swivel screen makes your life so much easier when shooting kids from their level).

  41. Some of the best images I’ve seen recently. Strong argument against unnecessary gear acquisition

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