Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 at a glance:

  • 20.2-million-pixel CMOS sensor
  • 3in, 1.229-million-dot LCD screen
  • 28-100mm (effective) f/1.8-4.9 Carl Zeiss lens
  • ISO 125-6400 (extended to ISO 80-25,600)
  • Street price around £550

‘The best camera is the one you have on you’ is a phrase commonly repeated by many photographers. This is why those models that are small and light enough to be kept with you are so useful. Sony’s Cyber-shot RX100 is exactly this type of camera.

The issue with a pocket camera is just how much image quality, and control over exposure and depth of field, is compromised when compared to a larger camera, like a DSLR, because when it comes to sensors, bigger is usually better. Even the most notable compact cameras, such as the Canon PowerShot S100 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5, use compact-sized sensors, which are much smaller than – and therefore cannot compete with – those used in compact system cameras and DSLRs.

Those compact cameras that do include larger sensors – Canon’s PowerShot G1X and Fujifilm’s FinePix X100 come to mind – may be smaller than a DSLR, but are not truly pocket-sized. What is particularly impressive about the RX100, then, is that it combines a pocket-sized body and a 1in (13.2×8.8mm) sensor, which is virtually the same size as the sensor in the Nikon 1 CSC and approximately four times larger than the 1/2.3in (6.16×4.55mm) sensor in a standard compact. On paper at least, the RX100 appears to have struck the fine balance between size and quality.

Sony describes the RX100 as an ‘expert compact camera’ and its best Cyber-shot to date. Bold claims indeed, so is the camera worth its place at your side?

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