Sony RX10 Mark IV review: Fastest focus in the East

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By Paisal Chuenprasaeng
The Nation

 

Built for professionals, the new Sony RX10 Mark IV captures perfect portraits and the wildest of sports

A digital camera with lightning-fast autofocus, the new RX10 Mark IV from Sony makes sure that even amateur shutterbugs can produce images of professional quality.

Among the highlighted features are a 0.03 second hybrid autofocus system with 25x optical zoom using a very bright and good-quality Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T lens, superfast 24 frames per second continuous shooting and a touch focus system.

This is the fourth incarnation of Sony’s renowned RX10, a camera that uses the Japanese giant’s 1.0-type (13.2mm x 8.8mm) Exmor RS CMOS sensor in 3:2 aspect ratio with 20.1 megapixel resolution.

The CMOS sensor is stacked with a DRAM chip, resulting in good performance, the capacity for 960fps super-slowmotion shooting and super-highspeed anti-distortion shutter of up to 1/32000 second The stacked sensor also provides 315-point focal-plane phase-detection autofocus for fast and precise tracking.

Also, thanks to the high-performance stacked sensor, the RX10M4 features rfast hybrid AF with 0.03sec autofocusing response. This AF system seamlessly integrates the superlative speed and tracking of focal-plane phase-detection AF plus the high accuracy of contrast-detection AF, and boosts the camera’s capabilities to focus, track and capture sharp, clear still images of subjects in all situations, even in the middle of fast, dynamic action.

Its 315 focal-plane phase-detection AF points cover about 65 per cent of the entire image area of the RX10 IV’s new image sensor. This makes AF coverage widespread and dense enough to quickly capture subjects, such as small or fast-moving ones that are otherwise difficult to focus on, throughout the image area.

With fast focusing system, fast continuous shooting speed and high-density Tracking AF technology, the RX10M4 is good for capturing sports. This technology allows your subject to remain in focus even in fast moving actions.

And the powerful combination of the Exmor RS 1.0-type image sensor and the BIONZ X image processing engine allows for continuous shooting with AF/AE tracking at up to approximately 24fps for up to 249 frames at a time, meaning you won’t miss any fastaction event.

Moreover, fast data readout from the Exmor RS image sensor helps reduces distortion when the subject is moving fast. And RX10M4’s anti-distortion electronic shutter achieves shutter speeds as fast as 1/32000 second.

You can achieve faster autofocusing by using some smart functions, such as Focus Range Limiter and Autofocuson mode. The Focus Range Limiter allows you to restrict focus to subjects that are 3m or further away. The AFON setting lets you trip the shutter without the lengthier half-press focus sequence. There is also AFA mode which automatically switches between AFS (Single AF) and AFC (Continuous AF) modes, according to changes in subject motion.

Another handy function is the ability to customise a button by assigning it to a frequently used focus area setting, then instantly recall that setting whenever you like. This can be handy if an ideal focus point frequently changes, for example, between strokes in a tennis match. Focus point as well as focus area can be set as desired for optimal focus performance for the scene being photographed.

The RX10M4 is an ideal travel companion as it comes with 24600mm equivalent extra-wideangle-to-ultra-telephoto range plus macro capability.

The camera uses AA (advanced aspherical) and ED (Extralow Dispersion) glass elements, Zeiss T Coating, and large f/2.44 aperture. These help the camera to provide high optical performance for high resolution and beautiful bokeh.

And with a silent shooting function, the camera is also good for capturing wildlife. When close to animals as well as in other noise-sensitive situations, you can shoot in silence, even during continuous shooting, by muting the camera’s shutter sound with a couple of simple settings.

The RX10M4 comes with effective optical image stabilisation technology, which is very handy for lowlight shots or ultra-telephoto picture at 600mm equivalent focal length. Normally, at this telephoto focal length, you will need to support your camera with a tripod or monopod but with this Sony, you achieve sharp and clear photos at 600mm focal length in handheld shooting.

The RX10M4 comes with Zoom Assist function that is very handy when you are shooting telephoto images. When you lose track of a moving subject while framing in ultratelephoto shooting, you can press and hold down the C (custom) button to which Zoom Assist is assigned to trigger Zoom Assist function’s automatic zoomout.

Then, you find and frame up the subject again, then release the button, and the camera automatically zooms back in to the original focal length, so you can resume shooting. This is very handy because at ultrazoom length, we often lose the subject.

The RX10M4 has peaking function accuracy, emphasising contours of the focused region in a specified colour when shooting in manual focus or direct manual focus. This feature has been improved in this latest model to make intricate focusing during macro shooting, even easier.

The RX10M4 is well designed with triple rings for you to manually manipulate focus and other settings as you look through the viewfinder to achieve precise settings.

And it comes with Touch Pad function that allows you to shift focus simply by sliding your finger across the LCD screen from one area to another, while you look at the viewfinder. Whether you make the shift according to finger motion distance (relative position) or the area of the frame that you touch on the screen (absolute position), shifting is smooth and easy.

It also has Touch Focus that allows you to simply touch the LCD at the point of the image on which you want to focus.

The RX10M4’s LCD monitor that can tilt up to approximately 109 degrees upwards and 41 degrees  downwards, making shots even easier to monitor from various positions while recording. The monitor has 1440Kdot resolution that surpasses that of its predecessor.

And when you use a viewfinder in other shooting situations, a display panel on top of the camera makes it easy to check key settings at a glance.

In a nod to the nature photographer, the RX10M4 comes with dust-resistant, moisture-resistant sealant and operating parts built in such a way as to allow the camera to withstand rigorous shoots outdoors in rugged environments and under rainy, dusty, humid, and other difficult conditions.

Like all modern cameras, the RX10M4 has Bluetooth function and can be paired with the PlayMemories Mobile app installed on a compatible mobile phone or tablet device to acquire location data, record these on still images, and correct camera date/time and location settings.

The camera also has builtin Wi-Fi function with one-touch remote/one-touch sharing function. Just install a PlayMemories Mobile app to your NFC-enabled Android device, then touch the device to the camera’s NFC mark to connect them. Then you can use the device as a remote and can share captured photos and videos to your social networks.

I found that the camera was easy to operate. Program Auto, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual Exposure modes are best for advanced shooters but the two auto modes, Intelligent Auto and Superior Auto, were good enough for me to capture beautiful shots. In the Intelligent Auto mode, the camera shoots with automatic scene recognition while in the Superior Auto, the camera may shoot multiple images and create a composite image for images of dark or backlit scenes.

Or you may select the scene on your own by turning the mode dial to Scene Selection and then choosing one of the available scenes from a list that includes Portrait, Sports Action, Macro, Landscape, Sunset, Night Scene, and Handheld Twilight.

I was able to capture beautiful portraits during the test and the landscape shots were also vivid  especially when I used the Creative Style.

 

The Nation
Republished with permission from The Nation
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