Sony RX10: A video journalists delight?

By site editor Dan Chung:

The RX10 in video configuration - proof that all news shooters need a floppy hat.
The RX10 in video configuration – proof that all news shooters need a floppy hat.

Most of the web chatter yesterday was about Sony’s new A7 and A7R full-frame cameras. These are small technological marvels but for me it may well be the RX10, launched at the same time, that is of more interest to video journalists.

Why? Because the RX10 has a number of features not seen together before now in a small camera. It has a built-in 3 f-stop ND filter, clean HDMI feed for outputting to a monitor or external recorder (via micro-HDMI socket), zebras (settable from 70% to 100%) and peaking for focus and exposure assist, a mic input and optional XLR audio jackpack, a headphone jack and an OLED electronic viewfinder.

Combine these with a 8.8-73.3mm (24-200mm equivalent) Zeiss branded Vario-Sonnar zoom lens that is a constant f2.8 aperture and you should get a great little video journalism tool. Better still the list price is a reasonable $1299.99 US.

The 1 inch sensor size that is only slightly smaller than Micro 4/3 cameras like the GH2 and larger than the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. With this sensor size the RX10 should have the equivalent depth-of-field look as a full-frame DSLR camera set at around f7.6 (according to Dpreview.com). While not exactly super shallow depth of field this is very similar to a professional camcorder like an EX1 or some ENG cameras.

This lens has another great feature – a clickless aperture adjustment option. Check out this video from Imaging Resource to see how it works:

Image quality has yet to be tested on the RX10 and I suspect it probably won’t beat a good camcorder like the EX1 or Canon XF105. Internal recording is 24Mbps AVCHD to SD card with an option for lighter MPEG-4 files too. If anything this should produce files that are at least as good as it’s sister camera the RX100II and if that is the case I can see many news shooters who work for web finding one of these in their camera bag.

For broadcast users it will be interesting to see how detailed an image the RX10 can produce when hooked up to an external recorder like the Atomos Ninja or AJA KiPro Mini.

On the downside this camera appears to be region locked – we need this clarified. Initial specs suggest there are seperate PAL and NTSC models with different frame rates. Why we can’t have a world camera in 2013 I have no idea! (Edit – Great news, Sony’s Kanta Yamamoto has been in touch to say that the RX10 is actually PAL/NTSC region switchable). Also the EVF is a 1.4 million dot OLED EVF, not the same as the higher resolution one in the A7 and A7R.

Manual focus in the lens appears to be a fly-by-wire affair like many recent small stills cameras.

AF is sensor based contrast detection and not phase-type has recently seen on the Canon 70D and the A7.

I’m hoping we can get our hands on one of these soon to see if it is as good in reality as it is on paper.

In the meantime here are some product videos from Sony:

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