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For anyone interested in the SONY RX10 MK IV -- very long

Discussion in 'Other Systems' started by Jock Elliott, Jun 4, 2019.

  1. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott Mu-43 Veteran

    402
    Dec 13, 2015
    Troy, NY
    Jock Elliott
    This is a compilation of a couple of posts I made at Cameraderie.

    For years now, I’ve had a mad, passionate love affair with superzoom cameras. I argue that they are, quite simply, the most versatile cameras on the planet: they will deliver 20-something millimeter equivalent wide angle views when you need them and yet, without changing lenses, draw you close to the action with a long-reach telephoto when it would be impossible or foolish to zoom with your feet. And I have backed my opinion with action -- in addition to wildlife and sky photography, I have used superzooms professionally to cover events, and a number of my pix taken with superzooms have been published as part of paid writing assignments.

    My weapon of choice for a couple of years has been the Sony HX400V. I have been – and remain – well pleased with it, and would happily recommend it to anyone who needs a versatile all-in-one photographic tool. I came across the HX400V because of Stephen Ingraham, who runs the website point-and-shoot nature photography -- Point & Shoot Nature Photographer -- and he is also the author of a book with the same title -- Amazon.com: Point and Shoot Nature Photography (9781549762284): Stephen Ingraham: Books -- which I highly recommend. (Ingraham and I are acquaintances, and I have interviewed him for one of my projects, but I have no commercial connection with him and don’t get anything for recommending his stuff.) Ingraham had done a head-to-head comparison of three superzooms, and it seemed to me that the HX400V produced the best images, so I bought one and have loved it ever since.

    A while back, though, Ingraham acquired a Sony RX10 MkIII, enjoyed it thoroughly, and shot tens of thousands of images (literally) with it. When the RX10 MkIV was announced, he ordered one immediately and hasn’t looked back. Among the things he said about the MkIV is that it “makes shooting birds in flight almost embarrassingly easy.” Really? Seriously??! Embarrassingly easy?

    I’ve interviewed Ingraham, and he ran a newsletter about optics for birding for years, so he is not a man given easily to hyperbole. Still, I was happy with my HX400V and the idea of a $1700 superzoom was pinching my Scottish thrift genes pretty hard, so my wallet stayed in my pocket.

    This spring, though, the better half (aka spotter-in-chief) and I visited Peebles Island in Waterford, NY, to see if we could see the nesting eagles. We could. We got some interesting images, and were completing our circumnavigation of the island and sharing some of our eagle pix with folks we encountered. We were nearly off the island when we came upon another couple. “Want to see some pictures of the eagles?” I said, indicating the screen on the HX400V. “Oh, I’ve got that camera came the reply.” We swapped eagle stories, and he mentioned “I’ve got the big brother of that camera too.”

    A week later, we ran into them again, and he had the RX10 IV in his hands. He let me play with it, and I was immediately struck by the build quality and how fast the autofocus was. And that’s how I came to purchase the RX10 Mk IV.

    So, is it worth it? Is the RX10 IV worth more than three times the cost of the HX400V? My early judgement is that, yes, it is . . . in fact, easily worth it. The images it captures, IMHO, are just lovely.

    rx10-backyard-safari-028-jpg.jpg
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    • SONY DSC-RX10M4
    • ISO 125
    • 220mm
    • f/4
    • 1/250s


    rx10-backyard-safari-080-jpg.jpg
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    • SONY DSC-RX10M4
    • ISO 100
    • 168mm
    • f/4
    • 1/640s


    On the very first day I took the RX10 IV to Peebles Island (just the second day I owned it), I was able to capture nearly a dozen shots of eagles in flight that I don’t think I would have been able capture otherwise . . . and I was in single-shot mode!

    rx10-peebles-eagles-015-jpg.jpg
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    • SONY DSC-RX10M4
    • ISO 100
    • 220mm
    • f/4
    • 1/800s


    rx10-peebles-eagles-017-jpg.jpg
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    • SONY DSC-RX10M4
    • ISO 100
    • 220mm
    • f/4
    • 1/500s


    rx10-peebles-eagles-096-jpg.jpg
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    • SONY DSC-RX10M4
    • ISO 100
    • 146.8mm
    • f/5
    • 1/1000s


    rx10-peebles-eagles-102-001-jpg.jpg
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    • SONY DSC-RX10M4
    • ISO 100
    • 171.9mm
    • f/4.5
    • 1/1000s


    The only odd thing I have encountered is this very strange bokeh above the bird in the shot below. Whether this is an artifact of the “intelligent” digital zoom software onboard this camera, I don’t know, but it is an oddity that has me wondering.

    rx10-backyard-safari-111-001-jpg.jpg
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    • SONY DSC-RX10M4
    • ISO 160
    • 220mm
    • f/4
    • 1/250s


    The RX10 IV has astonishing capabilities: shutter speeds of up to 1/32,000th of a second, 24 frames per second stills, f/4 at 600mm e, video at nearly 1000 frames per second, blindingly fast autofocus, and the ability to shoot stills while shooting video. It has more tricks than a bridge tournament and even has a bit of moisture and dust protection. This is one camera that – as one bird photographer counseled in general advice to wannabee bird photographers – you should, every night, sit down with the camera and the manual, go through the manual page by page, and practice new operations so that you’ll know how to do them when you want them.

    It’s bigger than the HX400V (but roughly the same size as a DSLR with a medium tele zoom) and heavier – by about a pound.

    rx10-iv-snip-jpg.jpg
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    rx10-iv-snip2-jpg.jpg
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    My overall impression is that the RX10 MkIV is a “professional quality” superzoom, and, so far, I am very pleased.

    This guy does a good job of setting up the "optical problem."



    And this video, shot with the RX10 IV, is just mind-blowing.



    Cheers, Jock

    Progress report.

    There is a great deal to like about the Sony RX10 IV. The autofocus is the best I’ve ever experienced; the Zeiss optics are superb; the fit and finish are excellent; it shoots both stills and video; the one-inch sensor is a serious step up from the small superzoom sensors I had been using; it packs a whole lot of goodies into a package that is no bigger than a medium-sized DSLR with a medium telezoom, and it weighs just 2.5 pounds.

    At the same time, the Sony RX10 IV is a camera of almost astonishing complexity. Sony’s Advanced Manual for the camera is just shy of 600 pages long. For shooting stills, I found Stephen Ingraham’s recipes for general wildlife, birds in flight, and scenic photography a useful shortcut, and they can be found here: Sony RX10iv for Point and Shoot Nature Photography Guide

    Operationally, the RX10 IV makes me happy. I like the big, chunky grip with its textured, rubbery surface. With the EVF (very nice) pressed to my eyeglasses, and my left hand under the lens barrel, I find I can hold the Mk IV pretty steady for both stills and video. I also like that there are no knobs or buttons that can be easily moved as I pull the camera out of its shoulder bag.

    The implementation of manual focus is particularly slick. As there should be, there is a ring on the lens barrel for manual focus. With the focus switch selected to DMF/MF, if you rotate the ring, it manually focuses at normal view. If you press the shutter button halfway down, autofocus works normally, but if you also rotate the focus ring, the view is magnified for critical focus.

    The MK IV offers a lot of video options, including both microphone and headphone plugins, as well as a tournament selection of various settings, and I have explored almost none of them. For the video below, I simply pressed the video button to record, and the camera did a creditable job of autofocusing as needed.

    Here's a video sample:



    (With the exception of the last shot, in which I obviously twitched, I think that is a reasonable job of shooting handheld video)

    The camera also offers HFR – high frame rate – which translated into English means a native slo-mo mode at 10x, 20x or 40x slow motion. I used the native slo-mo in the video above. One of the tricks that I haven’t used yet but promises to be extremely useful is the ability to capture slo-mo with a “look-back” function by specifying an end point.

    Here’s what I mean: let’s suppose you want to capture an event in glorious slo-mo, like your daughter flipping off the high diving board, or Tom shoving a cream pie in Tony’s face. You put the RX10 IV in slo-mo mode, specify end point, and keep the camera pointed at the subject. As soon as the event happens, you punch the video button, and the camera captures THE PREVIOUS SEVEN SECONDS. It’s like having a time machine, and I can imagine it would be very helpful for all kinds of video applications. The RX10 IV can also shoot lower-resolution stills while shooting video.

    So far, I have found only one potential “gotcha” in the operation of the RX10 IV. There is a focus limiter switch on the lens barrel that allows you to switch between full and 3 meters-infinity. The second setting speeds autofocus at a distance.

    I shot a friend’s flower arrangement, and it had a dreamy, painterly look to it . . . I had left the focus switch in the 3 meters/infinity position and was shooting close.

    Perhaps the biggest endorsement of the RX10 IV comes from … of all sources … the better half (aka the spotter-in-chief). We were talking with folks about shooting the eagles on Peebles Island when I caught my bride bragging about how good the new camera is! (And she knows full well how expensive it was.)

    Cheers, Jock
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 4, 2019
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  2. mumu

    mumu Mu-43 Veteran

    205
    Jan 16, 2012
    It's an intriguing camera, for sure. I briefly considered one when I was in search of a long telezoom but ended up with the 100-400 instead. I expect that I'll end up with a hybrid/bridge camera one day when I no longer wish to carry an interchangeable lens camera system.
     
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
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