So I’ve added another camera to my collection. And I can hear you all now “What? Another one” and yes, it’s a fair question because I do have a few. But I didn’t have a good compact camera and there’s a few good reasons for wanting one any way…
Seriously… how many camera’s do you need?
Well, there’s a saying in the cycling world that the number of correct bicycles to own is n+1, where n is the amount of bicycles you currently own. For me it’s a bit the same with cameras I guess. But each camera serves it’s purpose (or at least so I tell myself).
But a compact camera? Is it any good?
From the first iteration -the Sony RX100- it’s been a favourite among photographers for the amount of options built in such a tiny package and a RAW-option. From there they’ve only added more whilst keeping the camera small. As a photographer I like to have as much control over my output as possible. That’s why I was attracted in (D)SLR’s in the first place and why I then choose Fujifilm as my mirrorless camera system. On the whole compact cameras don’t give that much control, but this one gives me enough and ticks off a few other requirements.
Ah ‘requirements’. So it’s not just another camera?
Well yes, I do have some demands and I’ve read the Internet up and down to see what was possible and what wasn’t. There are loads nd loads of compacts, but when you’ve got a strict list of demands, the list thins out quickly.
First of all I wanted a better camera on my cycling-rides then my iPhone, so for starters it had to be small. My Canon and Fujifilm systems are great camera’s with fantastic lenses, but small they are not. The bodies are big and add a lens to it (even a pancake-lens that I don’t even have and they’re still on the large and heavy side. The Sony is not alone though, there’s also a Canon G7. That and a Sony RX100 series that are both small compacts and have loads of options.
Although the Canon G7 has a bit more reach (to 100 where the Sony ‘only’ goes to 70), camera-size was key and I’m more interested in wide than tele for this camera so eventually I chose the Sony.
Besides size I also wanted a camera that would still give me RAW-output so I can tinker with the photos in my own way in Lightroom. Both the Canon and Sony offer this.
Depending on needs the Canon has an extra dial for over/under exposure, however another point was to keep it simple with this camera. While cycling I’d rather not have a million options setting the camera (if I do, I’ll put the X-Pro2 in a backpack) and also it would be nice to have a camera that my girlfriend can easily use. She can use the Fujifilm X-Pro2, but it’s always a bit of a hassle to switch it from my personal setting to more general ones and back again afterwards. With the Sony RX100 III photography is a lot simpler.
The Sony camera has a 1″ sensor, bigger that usual on a compact, though still much smaller then a mirrorless not to mention a full-frame Canon EOS 5DII. So the images do lack a bit as opposed to the Canon and Fujifilm, but my expectations are also different and I’m not bloody well going to go cycling with a Canon 5DII and a 24-70 2.8 lens in the backpocket of my cycling-jersey, am I? The 1″ sensor still allows for a bit more depth-of-field then a regular point-and-shoot, so will give good photos with a bit more feel.
So in a nutshell: a small camera that fits in the backpocket of my cycling-jersey, still has a 20mp 1″ censor, a 24-70mm Zeiss lens that has a 1.8 to 2.8 aperture, a built in viewfinder and a rotating LCD (handy for selfies that will be of far better quality then the iPhone versions) and all that in a camera that is easy to use so my girlfriend an also use it. That’s a deal!
And other options?
I’ve seriously considered the Fujifilm X100F, the latest in the Fujifilm X100 series. It’s probably a fantastic camera, but… it’s not an easy-use camera, has a fixed 23mm lens (fantastic as it is, it’s stuck at 23mm), has a huuuuuuuuge bodie compared to the Sony with far more weight and costs nearly twice as much as the Sony.
The Canon G7 II was a serious contender. It matches the Sony on nearly all points and even adds 30mm on the tele-end, still within the f/2.8 aperture. But it’s a bit bigger and heavier. And like I said: I’m not looking for a camera with incredible zoom (I’d have chosen a 30x zoom camera then), but a small compact. Looking at the size and weight, the Sony simply wins.
The RX100 series is availably in 5 flavours at the moment, starting from the original RX100, the M2, M3, M4 and M5. The mark 4 and 5 were out of the question as they’re way to expensive. From a cycling point of view, the original RX100 would probably be sufficient. Main upgrades from the mark2 were a backlighted sensor, a semi-flippable LCD and adding WiFi, but the mark3 has a much better lens, a fully flippable LCD and they’ve added an EVF. In camera that’s already really tiny! It’s a lot more expensive then the original one, but still within a range I find acceptable.
So I bought the Sony RX100 III and have taken it on a few cycling test-runs and it’s simply awesome. I hardly feel it in my jersey, the quality of the photos is top notch and operating it isn’t too hard. There is enough manual control when I want it and if I don’t, the camera does a swell job on it’s own.
I’ll take the camera with me to Barcelona soon and hope to get some breat shots there! Will keep you update on the progress.