Italy. Nov 13th. In my hands I have a camera that can change the news/documentary filming industry forever: the Sony RX10 (available and shipping now). Now, before you raise your eyebrow, please take a moment to read what this camera offers:

-1 inch new sensor and new engine behind it
-”All data read out” from the sensor
-Build in ND filter (first in a bridge/VDSLR camera)
-Nice range of min/max focal length
-Constant fast aperture through the range (2.8)
-Min. focus distance of 3cm (in wide open focal length)
-Good OLED EVF and LCD screen
-Ability to connect Sony’s XLR-K1M (A professional audio accessory)
-Can monitor and control audio while recording
-Zebra
-Peaking
-Ability to zoom in for accurate focus while filming
-Good “auto focus” performance
-Clean HDMI output (8 bit, 4:2:2)
-Clear menu structure
-Extremely customizable “custom keys” feature! You can assign any button you need for very easy control

rx10With so many inventive features I was very excited to finally start shooting the little “custom made” mini doc you see above. My plan was to simulate a real news/documentary run&gun situation when mostly available light is what you have and filming time is very limited. After all, I believe that this camera is aimed for VJ’s (video journalists) and is NOT meant to replace the work/look with a large sensor camera in any way.

OK, enough with “words of wisdom”. How was the camera in the field?
Well, I am a little bit less excited now after working with it and watching the footage.

Here are my main concerns:
-The lens is very confusing. While it is really good with manual aperture it is really bad with zoom.
There is no real “manual zoom”. It is a “fly-by-wire” one.
You can only zoom with your hand on the lens when not in “manual focus mode” as the focus and zoom are using the same ring.
If you use your hand to zoom you will find yourself twisting the focus/zoom ring at least 3 times from end to end.
Now, if you are in manual focus mode, you can use the little rocker opposite the “on/off” switch for zooming. This rocker has a certain “zooming speed” when not filming. In the minute you press the “REC button” it slows down dramatically.

-OLED EVF, the one on the RX10 is less good in my opinion then the one found on the A7/A7r. Focusing is not always easy. For many of the run&gun wide angle situations filmed above I had to rely on the “auto focus” which is pretty good!.

-Another thing to consider is the ability to magnify (zoom in) before or while recording. Unfortunately it is only x4 which makes life a bit harder when searching for optimal focus.

-Low light capability of the camera is as expected from “less then APS-C” sensor size. The “Pizza scene” was all shot at ISO 1000 and the picture turns (in some shoot which I did not include) to very very soft even if in focus.

-Most important, picture quality. This camera DOES have strong aliasing and even worse, kind of micro blocking in “low light parts of the picture” or when it comes to “fine structure” like hair.

I wish Sony would have taken a “brave” decision and equipped all their current new cameras with a better codec.

Camera settings:
Creative style: Netural (All settings on 0 as recommended by Sony)
A small amount of brightness/contrast was added to some shots.

UPDATE:
I can confirm the following regarding Sony’s RX10 SteadyShot as stated by Sony’s technical marketing manager:

-Optical SteadyShot Active Mode: roll correction is achieved by crop-out of the picture.
-Optical SteadyShot Standard Mode: pitch and yaw correction are done only with optical stabiliser function, therefore no cropping.
-OFF: Neither optical nor electrical stabilisation is processed.

The resolution of Active Mode is a bit worse than the other 2.
Standard mode and OFF should be the same image quality.

 

Music: The music bed “Perfect day” by Holley Maher

A big thank you to Isabella and Enrico from en&is studio

Johnnie Behiri is a freelance documentary cameraman/editor/producer working mostly for the BBC and other respected broadcasters. He is also co-owner of cinema5d.com

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Reply
Chris Gibbs November 23, 2013

Lovely piece Johnnie – that put a big smile on my face, especially the ending, BRILLIANT and thoroughly enjoyable!

My question, did you feel somehow “freed-up” from all the usual camera trappings when using the RX-10 or was it too much a struggle (knowing what you wanted) to get the camera to comply?

This looks perfect for journalism.

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Johnnie Behiri November 24, 2013

Dear Chris.

Surely feels “freed up”!. I think if you (or anybody else) align expectations it can serve as a good jounalistic working tool.

Thank you!

Johnnie

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Tim November 23, 2013

Once again, beautifully shot Johnnie.
Exciting camera especially with the optional XLR accessory and built in ND filters.
Thanks for the review!

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Johnnie Behiri November 24, 2013

Dear Tim.

Thanks for taking the time watching the video and commenting!

Johnnie

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Ted November 24, 2013

Johnnie,
I was trying my best to pixel peep as this was suppose to be a camera review but your storytelling and subject matter was more compelling! Beautifully made. And I think based on the results, the camera did not do too bad.

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Johnnie Behiri November 24, 2013

Dear Ted, thanks!

As I wrote above, I guess it is all about aligning expectations…Once you are OK with what the camera can do and understand its limitation I’m sure it can become a nice working tool.

Thank you!

Johnnie

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Asdrubal Briceno November 24, 2013

Hi Johnnie, ¿do you know how if the image quality of the Sony RX10 can be improved using an external recorder like the Atomos Ninja 2 scaling to 10 bits in 4:2:2 prores codec?

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Johnnie Behiri November 24, 2013

Hi Asdrubal.

I’ll check it in the next days.

Thanks

Johnnie

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Asdrubal Briceno November 24, 2013

Thank you Johnnie. I keep waiting for your tests results. Great research !

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ugo November 24, 2013

I hope to see a similar short made with a Panasonic g6 and the new 14-140 lens, seems to be a possible alternative.
Nice shot, anyway!

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Johnnie Behiri November 25, 2013

Hi Ugo.

Will do my best to put my hands on the camera.

Thanks.

Johnnie

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David Peterson November 28, 2013

Awesome, thanks! As I too am interested in the Panasonic G6 + 14-140mm zoom.

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Stu November 24, 2013

Thanks for a great shoot. How do you think low light and overall IQ would compare with a Nikon D7100? Trying to choose between the two.

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Johnnie Behiri November 25, 2013

Hi Stu.

Sorry. No experience with Nikon D7100.

Thanks.

Johnnie

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David Peterson November 28, 2013

I expect a Nikon D7100 would significantly beat the RX10.

As the D7100 sensor is based off the D5200 sensor, and this sensor has been found to be the best APC-S sensor out there! Matching up with even full frame cameras such as the 5DmkIII in low light video.

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Asdrubal Briceno November 24, 2013

Thank you Jhonnie, I keep waiting for your great news.

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Will Paladino November 24, 2013

I loved the story and way it was shot and told. Thanks Johnnie

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Johnnie Behiri November 25, 2013

Dear Will.

Thank you for your kind warm words!

Johnnie

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Artur Marinho November 24, 2013

lovely italian taste and charm! well done Johnnie, I´m trying to choose between D7100 Nikon or Sony RX10 to shoot ligther, casual small corporate pieces, any chance to compare them?

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Johnnie Behiri November 25, 2013

Hi Artur.

Thanks for watching the video!.

Sorry, no experience with the D7100. I was actually about to get the D5300 and test its video capability. Would this help?

Thanks!

Johnnie

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David Peterson November 28, 2013

It should do, as the D7100 and D5300/D5200 are more less the same (they all use the new Toshiba sensor, which has been found to be very very good indeed).

Except the D5300 has the new Expeed 4 processing engine, so it might do even better than the D5200/D7100 with the Expeed 3.

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Rishaar November 25, 2013

Very nice piece Johnnie !

The whole point of this camera is the full sensor read out, so there shouldn’t be any aliasing.

Some people mentioned on DVXusers and NFS that the aliasing and moire was due to the Electronic IS, which is a software based stabilisation.
Apparently, when turned off (there is still an optical IS available) everything is super crisp:
http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?depth=1&hl=en&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=de&tl=en&u=http://www.slashcam.de/artikel/Test/Sony-DSC-RX10—Der-Camcorder-Killer–Aus-dem-Messlabor.html&usg=ALkJrhgzT5w-op5jj1Vav_doj2oVh5L5DQ#Aus_d

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Johnnie Behiri November 25, 2013

Hi Rishaar.

I am trying to verify with Sony engineering if IS has anything to do with picture quality.

Thanks!

Johnnie

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Rishaar November 25, 2013

Thank you Johnnie!
I hope they will be able to communicate on that matter.
Anyway, can’t say enough how good that mini-doc was ;)

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Johnnie Behiri November 26, 2013

Dear Rishaar

I can confirm the following regarding Sony’s RX10 SteadyShot as stated by Sony’s technical marketing manager:

-Optical SteadyShot Active Mode: roll correction is achieved by crop-out of the picture.

-Optical SteadyShot Standard Mode: pitch and yaw correction are done only with optical stabiliser function, therefore no cropping.

-OFF: Neither optical nor electrical stabilisation is processed.
The resolution of Active Mode is a bit worse than the other 2.

Standard mode and OFF should be the same image quality.

Thank you!

Johnnie

Reply
Luke November 26, 2013

Hi Johnnie!

Would you be able to tell us if you shot in Optical Steadyshot Active or Standard mode? It seems pretty sharp already… Also, if you shot in Active mode, would you be able to make a comparison test to show the difference?

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Johnnie Behiri November 28, 2013

Hi Luke.

I shot in Active mode.

Sorry. Camera is gone already so I will not be able to make any comparison.

Thanks!

Johnnie

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Rishaar November 28, 2013

Thank you so much for taking the time to check and answer ;) Really appreciate!

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Johnnie Behiri November 28, 2013

We are all in the same boat. No need to thank…:)

Johnnie

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Martijn Schroevers November 25, 2013

Thank you for this nice little film Johnnie. The RX10 dissapoints however. It looks very videoish. Based on this footage I would never buy one.

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Johnnie Behiri November 26, 2013

Hi Martijn

Thanks for your comment.
Indeed the RX10 looks videoish but I don’t think it was ever intended to have a “filmic look” camera.

One request I have.
Please don’t make a decision if to buy or not to buy that camera based on my review and footage. If you have a chance to test it for yourself, please try it. Might be that you will like it a lot…

Thank you!

Johnnie

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Daniel November 25, 2013

Dear Johnnie thank you for the test. It would really be nice if you can review the Nikon d5300. I have a D7100 and it has really really nice video, with high resolution, Dynamic range and no moire/aliasing. It is even better with a Ninja to record the uncompressed hdmi output. Its only problem is the fix pattern noise. From some sample video I have seen it seems that it is gone in the D5300 and the low light seems very very good. Nikon has also added 60p for slowmotion in the D5300. Until now not too much review I would really be glad if someone like you would do it.

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Johnnie Behiri November 26, 2013

Dear Daniel.

Indeed a Nikon D5300 is planned.

Thank you!

Johnnie

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Paul November 26, 2013

Just curious, was the video recorded with the in camera mic or did you have a external mic? If so, what kind?

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Johnnie Behiri November 26, 2013

Hi Paul.

The video was recorded partly with the camera build in mic, partly with the camera add on mic, the XLR K1M and partly with the Sennheiser G2 wireless system connected to the XLR K1M.

Thank you!

Johnnie

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Maik November 26, 2013

Hi, great Movie. Here is no moire to see!
Better than most DSLR’s.
The internal micro is very good, little noise.

The scene in the pizzeria.
Why do you say with iso 1000 you get a bad quality? Want to be a good video, turn on the lights.
I would never shoot with ISO 1000. Because so pretty much any camera cuts off badly!

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Johnnie Behiri November 27, 2013

Hi Maik, thank you!

There was no way to “turn more light” in the pizzeria. (and I do work on high ISO settings at times). With this camera it is unfortunately not so good as the image gets very soft.

Thanks!

Johnnie

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tom November 27, 2013

Nice review ad great documentary . For a “bridge” camera, it’s video capability is quite impressive.

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Johnnie Behiri November 28, 2013

Thank you Tom!

Johnnie

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Stu November 29, 2013

Can’t wait for the D5300 video, I’m really curious to see how it does in low light in the hands of a video pro, as opposed to a photographer.

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Quobetah November 30, 2013

Pretty Amazing image quality from the RX10 when externally recorded! http://vimeo.com/m/80647773

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Johnnie Behiri November 30, 2013

Thanks for sharing!

Johnnie

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jimagine December 1, 2013

Definitely don’t agree that this camera is somehow more “videoish” or that it wasn’t meant to look “filmic”. It looked like video in scenes that were shot like video. And the question regarding the poor lighting at the pizzeria was legitimate – we always carry a small LED kit on all docs that can light just such a scene in 5 minutes. With good WB and some reasonable ratios that scene didn’t need to be red/orange and shot soft at 1000 ISO. It’s clearly not a low light camera. An Alexa would have looked just as bad in that unlit, unbalanced scene.

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Johnnie Behiri December 2, 2013

Dear jimagine.
Thank you for taking the time watching the video and commenting.

I guess your comment is coming after testing the RX10 and achieving somewhat “cinematic results” with it.

This camera will do fine as a “news shooter camera”. The sensor size and picture profile characteristics are preventing it from being what it never meant to be “a cinematic camera”…. :)

Regarding adding a LED light to the “filming situation”. The owner of the restaurant was not comfortable with me adding one, which gave me a great opportunity to test the camera in “low light indoor situation”.
Again, this camera might be very an important working tool for VGs (video journalists) who will find themselves in unexpected filming situations. As such, I’m standing behind my test.

Thank you!

Johnnie

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Skip Hunt December 3, 2013

I completely agree with your assessment that this camera would be fantastic for video journalists, but not so much for cinematic use. Great video by the way!

I think for my budget and wanting very good low light, good stills, 60p, and no cumbersome raw/prores workflow… and since I already own Nikon glass… the D5300 will perform nicely.

Based on this review of the RX10, I’m VERY much looking forward to you opinion of the D5300.

Also considering the GH3, but I don’t think the stills and low light performance will satisfy.

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Johnnie Behiri December 8, 2013

Thanks Skip for taking the time watching the video and commenting!.

Realistically the D5300 review will be published during early next year.

Thank you!

Johnnie

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Pak December 3, 2013

Great video and story!!

How would you compare it against Sony A7 for video? Do you think A7 could get more filmic/cinematic results?

When are you releasing the video with Sony A7 and Ninja Atomos?

Thank you

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Johnnie Behiri December 8, 2013

Thank you Pak and sorry for my late response.

The A7 can have a more “cinematic results” (mostly due to its much larger sensor).

I’ve decided to skip the A7 Ninja video. After testing I can say that the footage as less artificers (better recording format) but moire and aliasing are obviously still there (those have nothing to do with recording format).

One more thing to remember. The true beauty of the new Sony full frames cameras are their small size. Adding a Ninja to it will defeat its purpose… (I’m talking run&gun here)

Thank you!

Johnnie

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Pak December 12, 2013

Thank you Johnie.

Just wanted to compare the result of the codec and the HDMI direct output. Would like to know if Sony could fix the codec by updating the firmware or just record in a proRes format if they wanted.

Besides less artificers, do you see more dynamic range with ninja?

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Johnnie Behiri December 13, 2013

Hi Pak.

Sony will not fix the codec with this model. Also, recording to ProRes will not happen.

There will be no “more dynamic range” when recording with the Ninja but you will be able to “stress the codec” while editing and colour grading.

Thank you!

Johnnie

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panda December 6, 2013

Thanks for the review. I have a question, please. Is there anyone on this forum who can tell me if this camera is better than a camcorder in its price range, say a Sony NX30?

For me, I want something that provides decent video and is fairly easy to set up and work with. So I am comparing this camera to a camcorder rather than a Blackmagic Pocket Camera (which presumably has the ‘cinematic’ look that you’re referring to, but is also more complicated to operate), or even an interchangeable lens DSLR system, which is also not as run and gun as the RX10.

So my question is: is the RX10 a better camera to buy than a camcorder similarly priced?

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Johnnie Behiri December 8, 2013

Dear Panda.

Sorry I can not help you with your question as I never used the NX30 BUT from the specifications I can say the following:

The RX10 (besides being cheaper then the NX30) has a larger sensor, has a faster lens on the zoom side of it (f2.8 vs. f3.4) and can also record hi quality stills.

Thank you!

Johnnie

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jimagine December 7, 2013

Hi Johnny,
I don’t want to sound like I didn’t appreciate your film – I really did. In fact, some of the moments (street scenes from the car and closeups in the shop) helped me decide to pick one up along with the new BMPCC. Now I have 2 cameras to test this week.

I appreciate the constraints of this type of work. I just finished a doc using the C100 and 5DIII that ironically featured both a traditional Italian print maker and a ceramic potter among other artists.

Anyway, we produce a lot of narrative and TV spots but this little camera will be along side the GH3 when it comes to quick work. I actually got rather than the 12-35mm and 35-100mm
zooms to go along with our GH3. I figured for half the price I’d get both – and a nice little camera thrown in.

Oh, and just for the kinotehnik VF for the BMPCC that I’m using on a shoot this week.

Jim

Reply
Johnnie Behiri December 8, 2013

Dear Jim.

No worries mate!.

Happy to hear you are doing well work wise and visiting our site for some (hopefully) valuable information!.

Take care!!

Johnnie

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panda December 11, 2013

thanks for reply!

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Chiumeister March 1, 2014

Great video story with the RX10. I was more interested with the ceramic product than the Sony minutes into the program.
Now, back to gear.
How would you compare the focusing ability of the RX10 with the Canon 70D?
Also, in medium to low light, all hell breaks out with the 70D, especially with low contrast interiors. I did not notice any vertical banding or other noise patterns with your film. Was this cleaned up in post processing?

Many thanks!

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