Everyone loves a superzoom. And Sony has gone and taken the category up a notch with a model that looks more akin to a DSLR with a fixed lens: the Cyber-shot RX10. At a Sony launch event in London's City Hall, Pocket-lint got to handle this bridge camera beast. Does it get the balance right, and is this an all-new camera category of its own?
The first thing you can't help but notice about the Cyber-shot RX10 is its physical size. It's a DSLR. Well, it isn't technically, but it certainly looks like one in terms of scale. That's unusual for a modern-day superzoom: typically these cameras try to balance out size to features.
But Sony's gone all-in here. This is a superzoom for the super-fan. It comes complete with the same large 1-inch sensor size as found in the RX100 II compact camera, complete with 20-megapixels, paired up with a Zeiss lens that offers a 24-200mm equivalent with a constant maximum aperture of f/2.8 throughout. That explains the physical size then. It also explains out excitement when we came to use the camera.
That might sound, in some respects, similar to the Panasonic Lumix FZ200 model, but Sony has stepped things up a gear in the RX10. As much as it is big, it's not huge by any means and is eminently usable in the hands - so long as you're happy with a DSLR sort of scale.
Launched alongside the full-frame Sony compact system cameras, the Alpha A7 and A7R, the RX10's audience is clear. This is superzoom for the aspiring professional. But we didn't find it to be as pro-grade as it's Alpha equivalents.
The camera's autofocus system is speedy, but feels a lot like Sony's other superzoom models, such as the HX300. Perhaps it just felt a little slower - although not slow - after just testing out the Alpha models. We found that the RX10 had to occasionally hunt for focus and did on one occasion mis-focus and deliver a blurry shot (despite claiming it had focused correctly).
But don't take that the wrong way. There are some awesome things about the RX10 that a camera with a larger sensor wouldn't be able to do. The main one that we found was close-up focus. Even with the lens extended to its 200mm equivalent we were able to focus on subjects around just 30cms away from the end of the camera's lens. That's unsual, and very cool when coupled with the f/2.8 aperture.
If 200mm isn't quite long enough then the 20-megapixel resolution offers enough scope to crop in and effectively magnify the focal length yet further.
The lens also includes an aperture ring that can toggle between a super-smooth motion and click-in aperture via a button to the base of the model, while a manual focus ring is equally smooth. Zoom is controlled from the toggle around the on-off switch, or the manual focus ring can be set up to control zoom instead.
In addition to a tilt-angle LCD screen, the RX10 features the same 1,440k-dot OLED viewfinder as found in the NEX-6. There's no scrimping here. It's physically large and bright, a step above any other superzoom that we can think of.
READ: Sony NEX-6 review
In terms of price, prepare to be shocked and impressed in equal measure: the RX10 costs £1,000. It's a grand, but then it's a grand idea that we're rather fond of.
A serious price for serious kit. Even if they don't sell in boat loads, we can see the appeal for a specific audience. If you've always been looking for that all-in-one solution then the Cyber-shot RX10 is the only model on the market today that offers a step-up from superzoom without the insane price of a system camera.