Sony CyberShot DSC-HX60V Product Test
Since receiving our Sony Cybershot DSC-HX60V last, we have become less and less inclined to carry our heavy Sony DSLR and its lenses for general use.
The 30x optical zoom lens (and up to 60x digital zoom) on the 60V has allowed us to take printable images of birds in trees, etc., that we would have missed before, but it did not produce the depth of field necessary for other shots.
Planning a trip to New Zealand galvanised our interest in reviewing one of the new compact cameras that claim to produce images very similar to those of the DSLR. Because we have been very happy with Sony’s cameras and their service, we chose the Sony DSC-RX100M3
This enthusiast-level 21MP camera is a few grams heavier than the 60V, but its smaller dimensions mean it is truly pocket size. Its 1in CMOS sensor is a big step up from the earlier Cybershot sensors and the 24-70mm Zeiss lens is a revolutionary new design to improve performance in low light.
The retractable electronic viewfinder (which retracts completely into the camera when not in use) is the only one of its kind in a compact camera and has 100 per cent coverage. There is also a multi-angle LCD display. The available ISO range is 80-12,800 and the RX100M3 can shoot 10 frames per second. It also shoots high definition video and has a stereo microphone.
It is equipped with WiFi to enable wireless sharing of files, and to allow camera control via your smart phone. The trade-off for all this electronic gear fitted into such a small camera is that the optical zoom is only 2.9.
This 100x55x40mm camera weighs 290gm. The on/off button is in a less vulnerable position than the other Cybershots we have used, but the video shooting button is very easy to press when picking up or holding the camera. We have had a number of occasions where the camera would not take an image and the cause was that it was already recording video. The button on the control wheel is larger and more user friendly for our arthritic fingers.
The Function (Fn) allows convenient access to functions like ISO, white balance, flash and focal area and the Menu button accesses a large number of menus and sub-menus that seem daunting at first, but many items do not need to be accessed repeatedly after the camera is set up. You can choose to shoot in RAW, RAW +JPEG, or JPEG in a range of definitions. Dozens of choices including flash function, white balance and zoom can be made. As well as the 2.9 optical zoom, you can include up to 5.8 digital zoom (basically, cropping the image) as required.
A ring around the lens allows you to adjust aperture priority (between 2.8 and 11) and shutter priority. The ability to adjust depth of field in this way was once the realm of DSLR cameras only. It is great to be able to take 10 frames per second when required. The picture review button can be accessed even when the camera is turned off: handy for showing off that uncommon bird or animal you photographed.
We found the electronic viewfinder wonderful in bright sunny conditions when it is difficult to see detail on the LCD display, but being able to place the LCD screen at any angle meant that we did not need to use the viewfinder in most conditions.
We have a dedicated video camera so we haven’t investigated this function in any detail. If you are intending to use the RX100 for video you will need to use the PM Home software, but for processing the images we have set the camera to ‘mass storage’ in the menu. This enables you to download the images as from a flash drive: simply click and drag them on to your desktop. Transferring high definition images using the Wi-Fi function is very time consuming.
We had some very cloudy weather in New Zealand, and the RX100 images were noticeably sharper and brighter. The ability to take low-noise images in low light conditions without a flash is where this camera really shines.
This is the best compact camera we have ever seen or used, and one can only marvel at the technical advances that have facilitated all the features that have not been available in compact cameras before. While initially disappointed by the 2.9 optical zoom, we feel now that it is indeed a fair trade-off, and we have been happy with the results of digitally zooming some bird pics.
I think the DSLR will be spending more time in its bag.
The full article appears in Caravan World #555 September 2016. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!