Saturday, 4 August 2012
The Game Changer
The Sony DXC-RX100 is the culprit. As dpreview mentions here, this is no ordinary compact camera: in addition to all the rest of the stuff one would expect from a compact camera designed to appeal to the more enthusiastic photographer that likes to take control of their photos (as opposed to compact cameras designed to operate automatically), the RX-100 has a fairly big sensor. It's much larger than the usual fingernail sized sensor one normally gets in compact cameras: it's more comparable to the sensor in the four-thirds category and it wouldn't feel too bad next to a normal APS sized digital SLR.
This large sensor means the camera can get away with a 20 mega-pixel resolution without too much noise. It also means the camera is able to have better depth separation (backgrounds more blurry than the subjects), as opposed to the "everything sharp" look one always gets with compact cameras. It can take up to ten photos a second, too. In short, what one has on their hands with the RX100 is a camera that performs not unlike an SLR but costs much less and - wait for it - would comfortably fit in one's pocket. To that I will say: Wow!
No, SLRs are not dead. Yet. The RX100 is still fairly limited by its lens. And no, the RX100 will probably not revive the compact camera market in this age where the people have had their say and found their preferred camera to be that of their smartphone (the most popular camera on Flickr, for example, is the iPhone).
However, if one is looking for a compact camera and one can afford to spend a bit more than your average compact's price, then one has few reasons to settle for less than the Sony. The same goes for the enthusiast: the reality is that for the bulk of occasions, the RX100 will do just as well as an SLR without breaking the back and the bank.
Between the mirror-less revolution and now the compact RX-100, I strongly suspect my current SLR is also going to be my last SLR ever.