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Sony DSC-RX0 Hands-On Review

Sony DSC-RX0 Hands-On Review - We've been shooting with the new Sony DSC-RX0, read our run-down of the features and performance of this unique action camera.

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Sony RX0 in Compact Cameras

Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Sony DSC RX0 (1)

The Sony DSC-RX0 is Sony’s premium compact action camera, and with a 1inch sensor, it offers one of the largest sensors available in this type of camera. The RX0 features a wide-angle Zeiss 24mm equivalent lens, shoots 15mp still images, records FullHD video to MicroSD cards, and 4K video to an external recorder (optional extra). The camera is waterproof to 10m underwater without any additional case and has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Sony DSC-RX0 Features

Sony DSC RX0 (5)

The Sony DSC-RX0 features a 20mp 1inch BSI CMOS sensor, which produces 15mp, 3:2 aspect ratio images. The lens is a wide-angle Zeiss Tessar T* 24mm equivalent (in 35mm equivalent terms), with a fixed aperture of f/4. On the back of the camera is a 1.5inch, 4:3 aspect screen with a resolution of 230K dots.

The ultra-compact size of the RX0, 10m waterproof rating, 2m shockproof and 200kg crushproof rating, means it can be used as an action camera mounted in precarious locations, for example, used on a drone, on a weather balloon, or on a car, and more. The RX0 Weighs 110g with battery and memory card, and measures 59.0x40.5x29.8mm.

Shooting modes available include: iAuto (intelligent Auto), iAuto+, Program, Manual, MR (Memory Recall), iAuto Video, P Video, Manual Video, and High Frame Rate Video.

Manual controls are available, although you can't change the aperture, as this is fixed at f/4. You can shoot raw and JPEG images. ISO125 to ISO12800 is available for stills and video, which extends to ISO25600 when using the multi-frame noise reduction option (JPEG only)  – this combines a number of shots to reduce noise levels. Manual focus is also available, with focus peaking.

Video is recorded at a resolution of FullHD, with frame rates of 25, 50 and 100fps available. If you want to record 4K video, then you’ll need to use an external recorder connected to the HDMI port. The dual video recording option becomes available when recording at 25fps, so that you can record both to an internal memory card, and an external recorder at the same time.

High Frame Rate (HFR) mode records high-speed video at 250, 500 or 1000fps, for 10x, 20x or 40x slow-motion playback. The higher the frame rate, the lower the resolution recorded by the camera, however, it is all scaled up and recorded as a 1920x1080 (FullHD) video. 

Sony RX0 (7)

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are built-in to let you control the camera from a smartphone or tablet. You can use multiple RX0 cameras, to shoot different angles, with the Sony Play Memories Mobile remote app letting you control up to 5 cameras at a time. Sony is developing a wireless and wired solution so that you can control more than 5 cameras.

The menus are similar to other Sony Alpha and Cyber-shot cameras, and you need quite good eye-sight to read the text on the small screen.

On the rear, next to the screen is a cover for the HDMI, MicroUSB, MicroSD (and M2) memory card slot, plus a microphone socket so that you can connect an external microphone. Underneath is a standard 1/4inch tripod socket, making it easy to use with any camera tripods and accessories.

The RX0 uses a Sony NP-BJ1 (700mAh) battery, and the camera can be used with an external battery charger/power source connected. The camera battery is charged using the MicroUSB connection. 

Sony has announced a range of RX0 accessories, due to be available in October: including a VCT-CGR1 cage (€300), MPK-HSR1 100m waterproof housing (€1000, supports 55mm filters), CPT-R1 Cable protector (€50), and due in November a Filter adapter kit VFA-305R1 with 30.5mm filter mount (€200). You'll also be able to purchase a spare lens protector, VF-SPR1 (€120). 

Key Features

  • 20mp 1inch BSI Stacked CMOS Sensor / 15mp images
  • 24mm (equivalent)  f/4 Zeiss Tessar T* Lens
  • 1.5inch Screen, 230K dot resolution
  • ISO125-ISO12800 (ISO25600 Multi-Frame)
  • FullHD video at 100/50/25fps
  • High-speed video at 250/500/1000fps
  • 4K video to external recorder
  • 16fps continuous shooting
  • Stereo mics built-in, microphone socket
  • Waterproof: 10m, Shockproof: 2m

Sony DSC-RX0 Handling

Sony RX0 (12)

On top is the power button and shutter release button. The shutter release button is also used to start and stop video recording when in the video mode. If you intend to use the camera as both stills and video camera, then having just one shutter button could be a little frustrating, as having a separate photo and video buttons would have made it quicker to switch between shooting stills and video. Switching between the shooting modes don't take too long, but is slower than having dedicated buttons for stills/video.

The main controls are on the back of the camera, with up/down, left/right buttons, plus a menu and OK/select button. The up button doubles as a display button, down can be used to enter playback, and right is a Fn button, when not in the menus. The camera body is made out of Duralumin, a toughened aluminium metal, which means it can withstand rough treatment, however, the screen is not scratch resistant, so some care needs to be taken to protect this. 

Sony RX0 (6)

It doesn’t take too long to get used to the controls on the camera, although the buttons are quite small, and the screen is also small, making text and icons potentially difficult to see if you have poor eyesight. 

Viewing angles for the screen are very good, and the screen is clear (despite the small size) with good colour saturation. Viewing the screen in bright sunlight can be a little difficult (as with most cameras). The screen is not a touch-screen.

Sony RX0 (8)

Pressing the Fn button brings up the Quick Functions menu overlay, which is where you can select the shooting mode, plus change a number of settings, including: ISO, Drive, Metering, Focus, White Balance (WB), Focus area, Creative Style (Contrast, Saturation, Sharpness), Shutter speed, Picture profile, Exposure compensation and Image Quality.

The battery is rated at 700mAh, which Sony says is capable of shooting 240 shots or recording 35 minutes of video. To extend this you can connect an external power source, such as a USB charger.

Sony RX0 (9)

Sony DSC-RX0 Performance

The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

 

Sony RX0 Sample Photos

The closest focus distance is 50cm which means that the camera struggles to take close-up photos of small objects. After shooting with cameras that feature some form of image stabilisation, it’s a little disappointing to find the RX0 doesn’t feature any form of image stabilisation, so you will need to keep an eye on the shutter speed to avoid image shake

Image quality is good, particularly at lower ISO speeds, where you can see excellent detail. Images are sharp into the corners of the frame, and there are very low levels of distortion, with the camera automatically correcting this in camera. As the ISO speed increases, detail is lost due to noise reduction. Thanks to the large sensor, images taken at high ISO speeds (up to ISO6400) are quite good, and still usable. Contrast can be lost when shooting into the sun, although the lens is quite resistant to flare.

Dynamic range is good on default settings when using the DRO (Dynamic Range Optimisation) setting. Using the HDR mode (which combines a number of shots automatically in-camera) can result in a slightly softer image, however, the additional dynamic range and colour saturation make images pop.

 

Video - The RX0 records FullHD video to a memory card, using XAVC S HD, AVCHD, MP4 compression formats. There are stereo microphones built-in to the camera. If you want to record 4K video, you’ll need to use an external recorder, such as an ATOMOS.

Pan Focus and Manual Focus (with focus peaking) are available in the video mode, but not auto-focus. When using Pan Focus it’s possible to switch to near focus (0.5-1m). The high-speed video modes don’t record sound. Video recording will benefit from the use of some form of stabilisation (whether that’s a tripod or gimbal), as the camera does not feature electronic image stabilisation. Watch additional videos on the ePHOTOzine YouTube Channel.

 

Value For Money

The Sony DSC-RX0 will be available for £800 towards the end of October 2017. It’s difficult to find an exact competitor to the RX0, as it’s the only action camera to feature a 1inch CMOS sensor.

Action cameras to compare it to include the GoPro Hero 5 (£380), and Nikon KeyMission 170 (£330), both record 4K video at 30fps, or the new GoPro Hero 6 ($499) which records 4K video at 60fps. They also offer electronic image stabilisation for FullHD video recording.

You could also look at the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 Mark IV (£699), with 4K video, f/1.8 lens, and 1inch sensor, the waterproof Olympus Tough TG-5 (£400), with 4K video, f/2 lens and waterproof body, or the SeaLife DC2000 ($699) underwater camera, with a 1inch sensor. Although none of these are as small as the RX0, the first two offer optical image stabilisation. 

Have a look at more action cameras in our Top 10 Action 360 / VR Cameras. You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Sony DSC-RX0 Initial Verdict

The current price of the RX0 means that it’s likely to appeal to people who don’t like the ultra-wide angle/fisheye effect of the normal action cameras. It’s a shame the lens doesn’t offer a brighter aperture, as f/4 is slower than most action cameras. The small size of the camera, considering the sensor size, is quite unique, however, the price is likely to make the expense difficult to justify for most people. The large sensor means low-light video should be better than most action cameras, however, the lack of image stabilisation could be a deal-breaker for some.

There will be some, particularly in the professional market, that find the ability to use an external power source, plus a 24mm equivalent lens, unique and an almost perfect solution, perhaps for in-car recording, or other places where size is crucial. However, the lack of internal 4K recording makes the competition more appealing for everyone else.

If you look at the RX0 as a premium stills camera, then you could think of it as miniature Fujifilm X100 / Fujifilm X70 alternatives, except without the external controls, and with a more electronic camera feel. Whichever way you look at it, the RX0 is a tough and unique camera that you can take anywhere, without having to worry about dropping it, or getting it wet. 

Sony DSC-RX0 Pros

  • Ultra compact camera with 1inch sensor
  • Standard tripod socket
  • USB charging/power
  • Shoots raw and JPEG
  • High-quality Zeiss lens
  • It’s really small
  • Waterproof/shockproof
  • DRO/HDR modes

Sony DSC-RX0 Cons

  • Doesn’t record 4K video internally
  • Does not feature image stabilisation
  • Close focus distance of 50cm
  • Short battery life (for video)
  • Price

Nb. We will be adding additional content to this review shortly. 

Sony RX0 Specifications

ManufacturerSony
Lens
Max Aperturef/4
35mm equivalent24mm
Optical Zoom0x
Image Sensor
Pixels15.3Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4800
Pixels (H)3200
Sensor TypeBack-lit CMOS (B.S.I.)
Sensor Size1inch
Sensor Size (width)13.2mm
Sensor Size (height)8.8mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
  • 4:3
  • 16:9
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor1.5in
Screen resolution230K dots
Touch ScreenNo
Focusing
Min Focus50cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Snap
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortestNo Data
Shutter speeds longestNo Data
Bulb modeNo Data
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Program Variable
Metering
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Centre Spot
ISO sensitivity125 - 25600
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
  • Underwater
Exposure Comp+/-3
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting16fps
Video
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 4K
Video FPSNo Data
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoNo
Other Features
Image StabilisationNo
Interface
HDMIYes
USBUSB 2
Wi-FiYes
Storage
Card Type
  • Micro SD
  • Micro SDHC
  • Memory Stick Micro (Sony M2)
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeNP-BJ1 700mAh
Battery Life (CIPA rating)240shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
Weight110g
Width59mm
Height40.5mm
Depth29.8mm

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