Sony RX100 IV Footage – First Impressions and Review

Sony RX100IV upEarlier this month Sony announced a bunch of new 4K cameras and the RX100 IV is the first to land on our desk for a test. Sony RX100 IV footage is nice because the camera has internal 4K (UHD) video and slow motion up to 960fps.

Before continuing, it is important for me to note, that all the slow-motion footage you see in the video above was upscaled to 4K in order to match the rest of the 4K footage on the timeline, so obviously it is softer. Also, the “flickering” when recording slow-motion is NOT a camera malfunction but is due to the electric circuit’s frequency. This can usually be overcome by using “flicker free” light fixture. At the location I wasn’t allowed to turn off the shop’s lighting.

0J8K3973Back to the camera. When you look at it you know this is one of those modern super compact wonders. 4K internal recording, various slow motion speeds (the 250fps with a sensor readout of 1,824 x 1,026 effective pixels is my favourite), a good lens, nice EVF and good LCD screen just to name the big ones, but if you look closer you will see that here’s another camera by Sony that suffers from an “identity crisis”.

Mostly it looks like Sony haven’t decided what they want this camera to be. If it is a photo camera, then why bother with pro features like S-log2 and internal ND filters? On the other hand, if it is a tool for the serious video shooter be it an advanced hobbyist or a pro, why is there no proper audio connectivity and only internal audio recording?

It is only when starting to use the camera, that one will notice the RX100 IV will function best as a “home shooting device”. The advanced user will suffer the shortcomings and limitations as soon as the shooting requirements get a bit more demanding.

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If you decide to use this camera in the field you should be aware of the following:

  • Battery life is very limited. If you intend to use HFR (slow-motion) mode, the battery will drain even faster.
  • It is not possible to connect the camera to the mains and continue recording while the battery is “dead”.
  • Due to extensive processing, the camera has to buffer the recorded slow motion images. This prevents you from recording the next desired shot immediately. You will always have to wait until buffering is complete.
  • When entering “slow motion buffering mode” no further adjustments in manual mode are possible. You cannot change aperture, focus or ISO.
  • There’s evident rolling shutter in 4K.
  • There’s a limit of up to 5 minutes recording time in 4K.
  • The camera has the tendency to overheat. During my test I got a “warning”, but the camera did not stop recording.
  • Last but not least is the horrible connectivity/battery/SD card placement this camera has to offer. You can clearly see that it was not designed with the filming experience in mind and probably a mindset of “why do we need an external HDMI connector anyway?”. Otherwise I could not explain the awkward placement of those. Note that the REC button functionality can be set to button “C”, but still the HDMI placement on the right hand side is a design flaw in my opinion.

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On the positive side: (in no particular order)

  • 1 inch sensor size (16mm equivalent).
  • Although the camera is somewhat limited in zoom range (24-70mm), the lens is fast (f1.8w-f2.8).
  • Custom button placement is possible.
  • Lowlight recording is fine for a 1 inch sensor.
  • Pop-Out EVF.
  • Additional professional video features like Zebra, peaking, built-in ND filter, S-Log2/S-Gamut.
  • Minimal moire in the Sony RX100 IV footage.
  • Various slow motion rates all being recorded in 1080p. Note the effective pixel readout of the sensor reflects the true picture quality which degrades with higher frame rates. In “Quality Priority”: 240fps/250fps (1,824 x 1,026), 480fps/500fps (1,676 x 566), 960fps/1,000fps (1,136 x 384)
  • In HFR mode you can choose ‘start trigger’ to begin recording once button is pressed or ‘end trigger’ to record footage up until the button is pressed.  The ‘end trigger’ mode lets shooting begin 2 to 4 seconds before the movie button is pressed so you can actually record “lost moments” in slow motion after they happened.
  • 100 Mbps 4K recording (3840×2160) and 50 Mbps during full HD.
  • “Take anywhere with you” sized camera.
  • PAL/NTSC switchable.
  • FN button is highly customizable.

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Final thoughts:

  • Personally I have no problem with the 5 minutes 4K recording limitation this camera has as I can not see myself shooting  anything lengthy with it.
  • The slow motion this camera offers is its main selling point! In the right lighting conditions it can produce beautiful effects. For the money, this is the best option currently available. 
  • I love working with small cameras and despite its weaknesses, I will buy the RX100 IV because of its pocket size, 4K recording and slow-motion capabilities. It can serve as a great family companion and “throw in the bag” second camera for my productions. After all, life in slow motion never looked so beautiful before (for less than $1000) …

Camera settings for the above video: File format XAVC S 4K, 25p, PP7 (S-LOG 2), ISO 1600 (camera default present in this mode),  HFR settings: 25p 50M, frame rate 250fps, Quality priority,

For those who would like to experiment grading Sony RX100 IV footage: (download the 4K version).

Edited in Adobe Premiere CC 2014. LUTs: Rocket rooster.

Music: The music bedWhat a day SUHONEN

Special thanks to Ilya and Ivan from Brothers’ Barbershop Vienna.

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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Watch it on Vimeo

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Stefan Krösbacher Reply
Stefan Krösbacher July 1, 2015

phew, cameras getting better and cheaper by the minute….

Reply
Gum Bum July 1, 2015

It’s feature packed, but cheaper? It’s a $1000 point’n shoot.

Martin Bleazard Reply
Martin Bleazard July 1, 2015

Awesome Johnnie, I think this is an incredible pocket camera, the slo-mo, s-log and 4K make not having an audio connection almost ok, I wish it had a Hot Show instead of the flash, and it it had the pro audio connection in the hot shoe even better. But I’m used to sep audio with a recorder and lav mic, so works with my workflow anyway. Do you know if it can be charged via the USB? and if it can, can it charge and record?

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Johnnie Behiri July 1, 2015

Hi Martin.

In version II the RX100 had a hot shoe mount and no flash. In version III the hot shoe mount was gone and instead a flash appeared. Hope version V will bring the possibility to use a microphone once again…

You can charge via USB but not charge and record.

Thanks!

Johnnie

Reply
Yudi Hilmawan July 10, 2015

Johnnie you’re wrong about RX100M2 because RX100M2 also has pop up flash.

http://www.sony.net/Products/di/common/images/products/g681/gallery/ph_11.png

Reply
Johnnie Behiri July 22, 2015

Hi Yudi.

You are right!

Will correct the article.

Thanks for pointing out!

Johnnie

Reply
Gum Bum July 1, 2015

I haven’t been this excited about a camera for a long long time.

Reply
Gum Bum July 1, 2015

I have downloaded the 4K version and I have a question. Have you added film grain in post or is the noise from the camera?

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Johnnie Behiri July 1, 2015

Hi Gum Bum.

No film grain was added in post.

Thanks!

Johnnie

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Gum Bum July 1, 2015

Also..and I’m sorry to keep spamming…did you film this in S-Log and is there any way you can be persuaded to upload the ungraded footage?

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber July 1, 2015

Hi Gum Bum,
The ungraded footage is in Johnnie’s article. Please check.

Reply
Gum Bum July 1, 2015

Oh yeah. Don’t know how I missed that. Thanks.

Emiliano Arganaraz Reply
Emiliano Arganaraz July 1, 2015

Great article! I’m looking forward to the RX10 II. Quick question: How does the dinamic range (in S-Log) compares to the a7S??? thanks in advance….

Reply
Johnnie Behiri July 1, 2015

Hi Emiliano.

Thank you!

Sony RX10 II is soon on my table for a test.

We did not manage to run our “lab test” on the camera as it had to be send back, but it looks to me that the RX100 IV is more limited then the A7s when it comes to DR.

Thank you!

Johnnie

James Bailey Reply
James Bailey July 2, 2015

Hey, what is the base ISO for slog footage, is it ISO 3200 like with the A7S?

Reply
Johnnie Behiri July 2, 2015

Hi James.

ISO 1600

Thanks!

Reply
John Sandoval July 2, 2015

Beautiful footage. You mentioned noticeable rolling shutter artifacts in 4k but what about lower resolutions like 1080p?

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Johnnie Behiri July 2, 2015

Hi John, thank you!

Rolling shutter is looking a bit better in 1080p.

One thing to note (as confirmed by Sony), The rolling shutter effect of RX10 II in 4K is less than the RX100 IV in 4K.

Thank you!

Johnnie

Juanpa Marin Cuartas Reply
Juanpa Marin Cuartas July 2, 2015

Great detail and color science thanks to slog,, jhonnie what’s your opinion on sharpness and detail compared to c100mark i & ii…?? the DR could be arround 11stops i guess…

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Johnnie Behiri July 2, 2015

Hi Juanpa.

The C100 line is different from this camera all together. The RX100 IV is a perfect “throw in the bag camera” while the C100 (especially II) is a proper production tool. Those few slow motion shots in almost HD quality can potentially enhance every production….

Thank you!

Johnnie

Reply
Andre Graziano July 2, 2015

Nice work, thank s! Sony Rx100IV, Rx10II or Panasonic G7? What do you recommend.

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Johnnie Behiri July 2, 2015

Hi Andre,

The G7 is currently on my table waiting to be reviewed. The RX100 IV is very small and will do well as a family camera or a prosumer tool to enhance production. I guess the RX10 II will probably be the better choice out of the 3 cameras with its build in ND filter, constant f2.8 lens, larger zoom range and the possibility to attach the XLR-K2m.

All in all it might be a good tool for video journalists. (BTW, hope you will take a moment watching the review I did with the original RX10 https://www.cinema5d.com/sony-rx10-first-look/)

Thank you!

Johnnie

Luke Holley Reply
Luke Holley July 2, 2015

Nice, work Johnnie as always. Do you know if the Sony XLR-K2M works with as does with A7 series as that would resolve some of the shortcomings that you mention? Can’t wait to pick this one up myself.

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Johnnie Behiri July 2, 2015

Hi Luke!

It will work with the RX10 II. The RX100 IV has no external audio connection possibilities.

Thank you.

Johnnie

Luke Holley Reply
Luke Holley July 2, 2015

thanks!

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Anonymous July 2, 2015

Yikes iso 1600 for slog2 on a super16 size sensor. How noisy did your original footage look. I’m guessing its better to use a profile with a lower base iso.

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Johnnie Behiri July 2, 2015

Hi KC.

You can see for yourself (and download) the “original file” from the above Vimeo link titled “Barber brothers, shot on a Sony RX100 IV-Ungraded”.

Thanks

Johnnie

Clayton Moore Reply
Clayton Moore July 3, 2015

Your work Johnnie is always clean and visually pleasing and good story telling.

Every camera video review Johnnie posts demonstrates how its the camera operator that makes all the difference. If you want to know what a camera is capable of, put it in the hands of someone like Johnnie. As usual its an informative and visually pleasing review.

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Johnnie Behiri July 3, 2015

Clayton, thank you very much for your kind warm wards. Very much appreciated!.

Next on my table is the Panasonic G7. Hope to find a nice story for it too…

Thank you again!

Johnnie

Philip Bloom Reply
Philip Bloom July 3, 2015

Lovely job Johnnie. Agree with almost everything you say. Finding the slog2 too noisy in Hfr but lovely little cam

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Johnnie Behiri July 3, 2015

Philip my dear friend, thank you for visiting our site, appreciated!

Looking forward seeing and reading more about your findings regarding the RX100IV and RX10II.

For anyone else who is curious to read Philip’s opinion, please head to http://philipbloom.net/blog/rxroadtests/

Thank you!

Johnnie

 Kurth Bousman Reply
Kurth Bousman July 3, 2015

wow ..it’s great you both are so interested in the new sony one inchers. I was wondering how ya’ll found the stabilization on the rx100 ii . Could this little jewel be the next camera used on celebration 2 ?

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Johnnie Behiri July 4, 2015

Hi Kurth.

For me personally the RX100IV (or the RX10II) will serve as a modestly priced slow motion production tool to enhance some productions. Since it will be in the bag anyway, I guess I’ll use it as a second/emergency camera when ever needed.

The stabiliser is OK. I’ve tested already better once…

Thanks!

Johnnie

Reply
matt puckett July 4, 2015

As an owner of the 1st gen RX100, this is amazing footage–thanks for the review. Just curious if you can share a little about the focusing capabilities of the video, and wondering whether this was shot just hand held using the eyepiece shown above, it’s really smooth!

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Johnnie Behiri July 4, 2015

Hi Matt, thank you for the thumbs up!.

Slow motion footage were shot hand held (very easy to create nice movement illusion in this mode), while the “normal speed” footage is partly hand held and partly on a tripod (or slider).

Focusing is NOT that easy as even the slightest ring movement can take you out of focus. In other words, it reacts very much like a “photo auto focus lens” rather then a “video lens”.

Thank you!

Johnnie

Tomasz Pasiut Reply
Tomasz Pasiut July 6, 2015

Hi Johnnie,

great work (as always from You)! Do you think rx100 IV is MUCH better than Panasonic LX100 (considering price – LX100 is cheaper camera)?

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Johnnie Behiri July 6, 2015

Hi Tomasz and thank you!

Both cameras are similar to some extent but I would go with the Sony if only for the possibility to shoot HFR (the 250fps in almost HD quality is very nice to have).

The Sony is $50 more expensive then the Panasonic at B&H. For that little extra money I can get a feature that might help me to be a little more creative when needed.

Thank you again!

Johnnie

Reply
Gum Bum July 6, 2015

Where I am (Denmark), the RX100 is almost twice the price of the LX100. LX100 is below 5000 kr. and RX100 cost more then 9000 kr.

Oscar M Reply
Oscar M July 9, 2015

B&H

LX100 $797.99
RX100 IV $948.00

Reply
Johnnie Behiri July 9, 2015

You are right!

I meant $150

Johnnie

Nathan Peterson Reply
Nathan Peterson July 13, 2015

I hope this isn’t an ignorant question, but… Do you have any advice for someone looking at either this camera or a bmpcc with primarily a tokina 11-16 (for music videos – short film-like, not just live band)?

Reply
Johnnie Behiri July 22, 2015

Hi Nathan. Sorry for my late response!.

I would not use this camera as a primary one for shooting a music video!
Regarding BMCC, which model you had in mind?

Based on my experience, I still believe that the Sony A7s is a camera which can serve you well for shooting music videos or anything else you choose to shoot.

Thank you!

Johnnie

Nathan Peterson Reply
Nathan Peterson August 15, 2015

No problem! I’ve got the bmpcc now, with a slr Magic 12mm 1.6 for a 35mm equiv as my main lens.

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Sebastian Lotz July 19, 2015

I like the review.
What viewfinder did you use?

Seb

Reply
Johnnie Behiri July 22, 2015

Hi Sebastian.

Thank you!

Regarding the eye cushion: http://c5d.at/eyeushion

Thank you!

Johnnie

Ray Meese Reply
Ray Meese August 25, 2015

Great video… nice review. Thanks for putting this together. I’m left with a rather deep-in-the-weeds question. What frame rates are available when recording MP4?

Pedro Cordeiro Reply
Pedro Cordeiro September 23, 2015

Great article! Just one correction, I have the RX100IV and at least with mine, you can shoot with the external USB power cord plugged in. You probably connected it to a computer… But if it’s connected just to power source it will work!
I’m in the process of testing the camera, trying to figure out the best settings, before going on a trip to india.
My main doubt is to use or not to use the S-log 2…
For now I´m impressed by shooting in 100p/100M, and slow it down as the camera movements get really smooth.

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Johnnie Behiri September 23, 2015

Hi Pedro.

Good to know it can be powered directly from the wall. The unit I had, did not.

Personally I would use S-log 2. There are many good LUTs out there that can take the final look of your footage to the next level.

Thanks!

Johnnie

 Sarah Creighton Reply
Sarah Creighton October 28, 2015

Hi Johnnie, What SD card do you recommend for filming in 4k? i’ve tried a few that are meant to meet the criteria but still don’t work. any help?

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Johnnie Behiri November 3, 2015

Dear Sarah.

I’m successfully using Transcend 64GB SDXC Ultimate Class 10 UHS-1 Memory Card for all my Sony/4K recordings (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/903022-REG/Transcend_ts64gsdxc10ui_64GB_SDXC_UHS_1_Card.html)

Please make sure that the card colour is black and not dark blue…The later, although having the same specifications printed on the card, won’t sustain the data rate.

Thanks and hope it helps.

Johnnie

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Miltos PAVLOU November 4, 2015

Dear Johnnie,

Great small film and review there!
Now I own a Sony RX100IV and I mounted a LCDVF on it.
BUT, when the LCD is on its first position and attached to the camera (so not flipped up) the LCD image is upside down! Once I flip a mm the LCD screen the image is back again to normal. Did you have any similar incidents? Any ideas about how to deal with that?

Reply
Johnnie Behiri November 4, 2015

Hi Miltos

If I’m not mistaken, I had a similar issue and came to the conclusion it is “magnet related”.
The camera body has a magnet so when the LCD screen is being elevated it will flip automatically to “selfie position”. When the LCDVF is attached, the camera body thinks it is in this position (due to the LCDVF magnets) and is flipping the image.

Can’t remember what I did, but eventually I had no problem…

Hope it is somehow helping….

Thanks!

Johnnie

 Monty King Reply
Monty King March 28, 2016

What format is the 1.6 gig raw footage in available to download from the Vimeo page? It just downloads as a number file with no extension. Thanks.

Reply
Johnnie Behiri March 28, 2016

Hi Monty.

It should be an MP4 file. The same as I uploaded to Vimeo.

Thanks.

Johnnie