If you are in the same mood as me when I felt the need to buy a small compact camera as a backup to my main dslr that is, getting crazy in between hundreds of reviews and different opinions…well, maybe this page will confuse you a little bit more or…maybe not. Let’s see!
Mainly, why do I need a compact camera?
Personally, I felt the need for a compact camera just after having booked my last trip to Kenya. In the last travels I did, sometimes I felt a bit uncomfortable in having with me a big dslr maybe with a white big lens, ending up in a couple of kg hangin’ from my neck. I normally have it in the backpack when I’m moving from place to place but it even depends by the places… I did some good shot while being a passenger in cars, motorcycles and, even, horses!
Sometimes, I just walked into neighborhoods where people simply doesn’t like to be photographed or they see it as another way to get paid and, beyond that, you will loose that “natural moment”. In some country, when people see you with a big camera and maybe a big lense, they think you are a photo reporter paid to be there so they want their part of the job..
Other times, is not recommended to take with you an expensive and flashy camera if you don’t want to get robbed or assaulted such in big cities at night when you walk around with no clue about exactly where you are.
So actually, why did I need a compact camera? In this trip to Kenya, I decided to stop for two days in Nairobi, the capital. I’ve been here two years ago and it’s a pretty busy city, sometimes messy, with many people around form differents social backgrounds. As any big city, pickpockets and thieves are a daily occurrence and if you don’t really know where are you going, it is better to pay someone to drive you around and have a walk togheter (you can ask to your hotel, they certainly have someone that for a small amount of money can escorts you in the city. I got asked 30€ for about 4 hours).
It’s not actually the stop in Nairobi the reason why I wanted to buy this camera, but the last day of my stay I have the plan to walk into the Kibera slum, the largest urban slum of Africa, to see the situation with my eyes and mainly to meet a guy that is part of an association which is trying to save kids from drugs and streets with the help of dance, music and…photography! I don’t wanna look as a photo reporter and don’t wanna bring my big camera there now, I just prefer to be a “standard tourist” taking some photos with a small black compact camera that I can put in the pockets if I see that is not well regarded. The tilt screen can even help me out to frame the shot more easily.
Finally, with the incredible level technology has reached in the last years, if you like to take photos and many times you have lost the moment just because you left the dslr at home…well, this is the time to get one!
Lasts smartphones have great cameras, why don’t I use mine?
True, that’s a good ask, they can shot nice pics but…:
- I don’t wanna run out of battery soon on my smartphone..
- I don’t wanna break it or have it stolen in some place where I certainly need a connection with the rest of the world..
- to this day, iPhone X has a 12mpx camera with an aperture of f1.8 (f2.4 at 2x). For a compact camera, like the Sony RX100 mark V, it’s easy to have 20mpx.
- both can handle a fast photo burst (iPhone X seems to be at 10fps, RX100 at 24fps) but the control over the image is totally different. Yes, you can get nice apps that permit you to have control over the exposure as in manual mode but it will never be the same that with a real camera.
- cameras have the tripod screw on the bottom and you can place it anyway on a flat surface and it stays; smartphones not.
- price: actually a top level smartphone costs more so if you don’t have one and you like photography, get rather a compact camera.
Why the Sony RX100 mark V?
There are plenty of reviews on the web and youtube with many comparisons in between same level compact cameras such as Sony RX100 mark V, Canon G7X, Panasonic LX10/15, Fujifilm X70, Ricoh GR II..
I was thinking about going for a Canon to keep the same brand of my 7D that I’m really happy with but, I decided to opt for sony for these reasons:
- Pixels: 20.1 effective like Panasonic and Canon (Ricoh and Fujifilm about 16)
- A good optical image stabilization (Ricoh hasn’t)
- A great Carl Zeiss lens, with a range of 8.8-25.7mm (35 mm equivalent: 24-70mm) f1.8-2.8 (Ricoh and Fujifilm have fixed lenses)
- A crazy fast autofocus: by combining phase detection and contrast detection autofocus, Sony has been able to minimize autofocus time to as little as 0.05 seconds. There are 315 autofocus points within the system which covers an impressive 65 percent of the sensor’s surface.
- A really nice quality at high ISO (125-12800)
- Photo burst/buffer: up to 24 fps at 20.1 MP for up to 148 frames in JPEG Format and up to 24 fps for up to 71 frames in Raw (Canon does 8 fps for about 46 frames and Panasonic 9 fps for about 14 frames)
- Video 4k resolution: both Sony and Panasonic record in 4k, others not.
- Slow motion: Sony has an impressive 960 fps at 1920x1080p when the others are limited to 60fps (shooting at 960 can record only 5 seconds and the quality decrease. But you can get amazing video at 240fps!)
- Electronic viewfinder: covering 100% like Canon and Fujifilm
- Connectivity: built-in wifi and gps (others doesn’t have gps)
- Dimensions: Sony is the lighter, weighting just 299gr and the smaller, measuring just 101.6 x 58.1 x 41mm (nearly a pack of cigarette)
Why not a bridge or a mirrorless?
I thought even about buying a mirrorless and I actually went to a shop to “feel it” in my hand but I went back with my original ask in mind: “why do I need a compact camera?”. And the answer was still: because I want it as a backup, I want it as small and light as possible, I want it “point and shoot”. Buying a mirrorless if you already have a good dslr camera fully equiped is like having 2 motorcycle in the garage: at the end of the game, you just use one.
Does the Sony RX100 V has some “bad side”?
I don’t think a -perfect- machine exists and it will never do. What I don’t properly like of it is:
- Adobe Lightroom has no clue about Sony .arw RAW format.. luckly after a couple of days I solved
- I have chosen it for this reason but…it is really small.. if you have big hands and fingers, I suggest you to try it first.
- It is not tropicalized (no environmental sealing) so…care about water, sands etc..
- Battery is limited to about 220 shots
- I would have preferred more tele, maybe to 105mm, to play more with the DoF
- No UHS-II support and slow card write speeds means potentially lengthy waits for the buffer to clear
- No touch screen (not a big deal for me)
Where to get it at good price?
Amazon sells it for about $950 US dollars (in europe about 940€) but you can find really nice offers on internet. I bought mine from a serious UK reseller on ebay for 730€.
Some “simple sample”..?
Here a couple of “point and shoot” shot without setting up a testing stage or thinking to much about; as close as possible to a “standard” use.
What accessories do I need for the use I do of it?
Well, in between -mandatory- ones and others useful, I suggest you:
- first of all: batteries! With a capacity of only about 220 shots, you can’t stay without extra batteries. You can go for the original ones or you can see what the market offers. Actually, I went for a kit that includes two batteries (1600mAh instead of 1240 of the originals) and a double charger
- a fast SD with a big capacity to don’t get short filming at 4k or “abusing” of the photo burst at 24fps.. I bought a Sandisk Extreme Pro 64Gb. There are some fastest ones but then the camera is not able to write at that speed anyway
- a Sony camera grip that you can stick to the body. I really suggest it because the camera is so small an slippery that is hard to use it without.
- a screen protector: the 3″ LED monitoro it scratch only looking at it
- a tiny and compact camera bag to be linked to the belt when you don’t need it
- a 2.0 micro-HDMI to HDMI cable to link the camera to a 4k television and see your videos. I tryed to link the macbook (a top level) via hdmi to the television with the impossibility to see it fluid. Same via usb and whatever else.
- a small Gorillapod ultra portable for low light/night shots (only 25cm height)
- a 3-axis stabilizer such as the Zhiyun Smooth-Q, an economic stabilizer that works really good and can handle a light camera like the Sony RX100 mark V
How am I able to use the Sony RX100 mark V with the Zhiyun Smooth-Q 3-axis stabilizer?
Coming soon in a new article