Sony DSC-RX10 MK IV Officially Announced
- Yesterday (September 12, 2017) was another big day in the world of photography gear industry news announcements. The biggest announcement came from Apple (iPhone 8 and iPhone X both look amazing) but a few hours before Apple had their keynote Sony had an event of their own. The RX0 was the first announcement (I wrote up a quick article here) but the big news was the Sony DSC-RX10 MK IV superzoom camera. In this article I’ll talk about the history of the RX10 series, go over the headline specifications of the latest version and I’ll share my thoughts on the RX10 Mark IV (as well as if I’ll be ordering one for myself).
The History of the Cybershop DSC-RX10 Cameras
- The Sony DSC-RX10 series of cameras are all-in-one cameras with an incredible amount of zoom range. The first version of this series came in 2014 and it had a massive 8.3x optical zoom lens with a Zeiss designed 24mm – 200mm f2.8 lens (35mm equivalent). The 24mm (35mm equivalent) end of the zoom range was reasonably wide but getting out to 200mm at f2.8 was something a typical point-and-shoot camera couldn’t dream of doing optically. Also, the first RX10 had a 20mp sensor and could shoot up to 10 frames per second! That sure sounded like a great wildlife or sporting camera for non-professional shooters that really wanted to get in close to their subject. In addition to some awesome still photography specifications the original RX10 had some nice video features (including an external mic input and headphone output).
The follow-up cameras to that first RX10 came on a regular basis and in 2015 the MK II version arrived with a seriously upgraded optical viewfinder, 4K video, super high video frame rate (up to 960fps) and a much higher maximum shutter speed (1/32,000 sec compared to 1/3,200 sec). There wasn’t much in the MK II for still photographers but video shooters had a serious reason to jump in (or upgrade from the MK I).
When Sony announced the DSC-RX10 MK III in 2016 the camera didn’t change very much, internally, but it added one heck of an upgrade to the lens. Instead of 24mm to 200mm the newest version of the RX10 could reach all the way out to 600mm (35mm equivalent)! With a 20mp sensor and 14 frames per second shooting it was really putting up a challenge to the much larger (and more expensive) camera systems used by sports and wildlife photographers.
The RX10 series of cameras were a unique line that didn’t have the small size of a point and shoot, nor did they have the ability to change lenses (this is most noticeable when you want a wider shot than the 24mm (35mm equivalent) end of the zoom range was used. If I had to single out one area of the camera where it fell behind it was in sensor size. Sony reigns supreme when it comes to sensor technology – but there’s only so much light a 1″ sensor can capture. This means the RX cameras were not as good in lower light situations – but if you were a wildlife or sports shooter then light is rarely an issue.
While the newest member of the family will begin shipping soon, all three of the previous versions of the DSC-RX10 are still available. That means you can get an incredible deal on a camera with some serious zoom range and shooting speed. I’ll share some links at the bottom of this article.
Sony Announces the DSC-RX10 MK IV
With all of the recent camera announcements it was time for Sony to jump in the game with some announcements of their own. On September 12 Sony held a press event and I watched live as it was streamed on YouTube.
I’ve always thought the RX10 series of cameras had some seriously cool capabilities, but with the Mark IV version there are a number of headline grabbing features that instantly caught my eye. Here’s a look at the complete rundown of the specifications (with the most impressive highlighted in red):
- 20.1MP 1″ Exmor RS BSI CMOS Sensor | same as the MK III
- BIONZ X Image Processor & Front-End LSI | the MK III used the BIONZ X Image Processor w/o Front-End LSI
- Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* f/2.4-4 Zoom Lens | same as the MK III
- 24-600mm (35mm Equivalent) | same as the MKIII
- 2.36m-Dot OLED Tru-Finder EVF | same at the MK III
- 3.0″ 1.44m-Dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD | the MK III lacked a touch screen
- UHD 4K30 Video, Full HD 1080p at 960 fps | same as the MK III
- Fast Hybrid AF System with 315 Points | the MK III had 25 contrast detect focus points
- ISO 100 – 12800 (extended ISO 64 – 12800) | same as the MK III
- 24 fps Continuous Shooting up to 249 images | the MK III could shoot 14fps
- Built-In Wi-Fi and Bluetooth | the MK III only had Wi-Fi
As you can see from my highlighted specs I was most surprised to see the addition of a touchscreen, the killer hybrid auto-focus system and (especially) the super high speed shooting capability. 24 frames per second is an impressive number on it’s own – but being able to shoot for a solid TEN SECONDS is unbelievable! This is something I’ve only seen in Sony’s mirrorless flagship A9 (which tops out at 20 fps for 241 images) and it blows away Sony’s D-SLR flagship the A99 MK II (with it’s 42mp sensor the speed was “only” 12 fps for 54 frames). As you can see the 24fps up to 249 images (at 20pm) is seriously incredible.
The second biggest addition, in my opinion, is that tilting touch screen. While it is arguable if the touch screen will benefit still photographers there’s no question it will be a HUGE plus to video shooters who want to quickly change their focus point in the frame (rack focus). This isn’t the first Sony camera to include a touch screen (the awesome A6500 has one) but it’s great so see it added to the RX10 line. This is another reason for serious video shooters to consider the Sony DSC-RX10 MK IV for a backup or B-Roll camera. Amateurs who want to step into a seriously capable 4K UHD camera (especially if they’ve been using a 2K HD video camera) now have an option for under $2,000 with an unbelievable amount of zoom range.
Of course that awesome Zeiss designed 24mm to 600mm (35mm equivalent) lens is an awesome amount of reach. With a zoom that long you are pretty much guaranteed to get the decisive moment of action. Just be sure to buy some seriously large capacity (and fast) memory cards.
Sony has added a very handy focus limiter switch on the side of the lens that prevents the focus system from going way too far before coming back to focus on a closer subject.
The connections haven’t changed since the first RX10 and that’s not a bad thing. It still has a microphone input, headphone output, USC connection (for a wired remote and in camera charging) and a micro HDMI connection that can output a clean 4K at 4:2:2 color depth for hooking up an external recorder and really getting some serious video captures.
At this point in a new camera announcement I share if the new camera is something I’d order for myself. There’s no doubt the camera’s incredible reach and speed really sound incredible and for my 4K video workflow it’s a camera I’ll seriously consider – especially for my wildlife and zoo photos – especially when I consider how far I walk when I’m at the National Zoo and how light the RX10 cameras are compared to my fill size cameras.
Where it falls short (for me) is on the wide end of the zoom range. The RX10 cameras could never be a good fit for my travel work because I prefer to shoot much wider than 24mm (35mm equivalent). I also can’t understand why Sony keeps leaving a front dial off of any their cameras (I HATE this in the A6000 series of cameras). I can overlook not having a front control dial but of the lack of a real wide angle lens means it would be a decent backup camera to my A6000 or my a6300 – but if I’m traveling it would probably stay in my camera bag at the hotel.
Overall I was really impressed with what Sony has done in a camera costing less than $2,000. There are a lot of people who may be interested in getting pictures at their local zoo, for example, but have no interest in buying a super fast DSLR camera (starting at $1500) along with a 300mm lens with a 2x teleconvertor (which can easily top $8,000). Even a really good zoom lens that can get to 400mm will set you back more than $2,500. While the combination of a good mirrorless camera (like the Sony a6300) and a killer 100mm – 400mm lens will get you better image quality it will cost you $3,500 (and you won’t get the 24fps for 249 shots of the DSC RX10 MK IV). If absolute image quality is your thing then you probably want to skip the superzoom and go for an interchangeable lens camera. But if you’re thinking about stepping up and giving long lens photography a try to see if you like it then give the the Sony DSC-RX10 MK IV a look.
Price and Availability
The Sony DSC-RX10 MK IV will sell for $1,698.00 and can be preordered starting on September 14.
Sony will start shipping the DSC-RX10 MK IV in October, 2017
Good Deals on Earlier models of the Sony DSC-RX10
The original RX10 (24mm to 200mm lens and no 4K video) is still available for $798.
The DSC-RX10 MK II (adds 4K video) is still available for $1,098.
The DSC-RX10 MK III (adds 24-600mm lens) is still available for $1,504.98.
Note: All the images used in this blog were provided by Sony, USA
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