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Sony RX100 VII Review

Sony RX100 VII Review

Sony RX100 VII Review: Pocket-size camera with high-performance processor – premium compact camera with even more power

“Power and speed at Alpha 9 level. This is a great way to get to the heart of the features of Sony’s new RX100 VII,” writes Sony in the press release. The latest camera in the 1-inch pocket-size sensor series has a latest-generation image processor and offers real-time tracking and autofocus with eye recognition.

Brief assessment

Pros

  • Suitable for everyday use, large zoom range in “trouser pocket format
  • Overall good image quality up to ISO 800 with usable ISO 1,600
  • Extremely fast continuous shooting function
  • Rapid autofocus, even when tracking the subject and during continuous shooting

Cons

  • Fast decaying light intensity and missing ND filter
  • Due to the compactness somewhat tricky operation
  • Low battery life
  • High price

With the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VII, Sony offers a sister model to the RX100 VI that has been enhanced in autofocus and video performance. The 24-200mm zoom is designed to cover the most common DSLR focal length ranges 24-70 and 70-200mm in one lens. The fast 1″ stacked CMOS sensor is said to offer the same autofocus performance as the full-frame professional model Alpha 9 despite its compact package thanks to 357 integrated phase AF sensors and a high-performance processor. Our test shows whether this is actually successful and whether the Sony’s performance justifies the price, which is ultimately ambitious for a small compact camera, and what the picture quality is like.

As the Sony RX100 VI and VII have more in common than differences, much of this review is based on our review of the RX100 VI, but we’ve gone through all the text passages and where there are news or differences, we’ll go into them in detail.

Sony RX100 VII Review

From the very compact housing of the Sony RX100 VII unfolds an F2.8-4.5 light-strong 8x zoom with a small picture equivalent focal length of 24-200 millimetres. In the RX100 VII’s extremely compact housing, weighing around 300 grams, Sony combines a 24-200mm zoom with a 1″ sensor. [Photo: Sony]

Basically, the Sony DSC-RX100 VII is an improved version of the RX100 VI. Strictly speaking, the RX100 VII can’t be called the successor model, as the “old” cameras remain in the Sony range for many years and are simply offered at a slightly lower price, or the newer models, as in the case of the RX100 VII, are just a little more expensive.

The RX100 VII shares the same key data as the RX100 VI (for testing see further links). The decisive innovations are to be found in the autofocus and image processor and the improved performance data associated with them. But there is also a new interface that is important for videographers, but more on this later. Like the RX100 VI, the Sony RX100 VII offers an optical eightx zoom paired with a relatively large 1″ sensor with 20 megapixels of resolution in an extremely compact housing measuring 102 by 58 by 43 millimetres. Sony was also able to accommodate a flash, an electronic viewfinder and a folding display.

With a frame equivalent focal length of 24 to 200 millimetres, Sony combines two popular focal length ranges in a single camera, namely 24-70 mm and 70-200 mm. However, the light intensity suffers somewhat from the compactness; with F2.8 in wide angle to F4.5 in telephoto it is only moderately good. An optical image stabilizer is designed to compensate for camera shake and allow up to four f-stops longer exposure times. The Sony doesn’t offer a swivel-in gray filter or a filter thread, not even optionally. After all, there is a lens ring with which various functions, such as aperture setting, focal length or manual focus can be easily controlled.

Sony RX100 VII Review

Although the Sony DSC-RX100 VII’s touchscreen doesn’t turn out to be particularly large with a diagonal of 7.5 centimeters, it takes up most of the back. The small control elements are almost all crowded to the right of the display. [Photo: Sony]

Sony RX100 VII Review

The Sony DSC-RX100 VII’s 13.2 by 8.8 mm 1″ sensor has a 20-megapixel resolution and operates at 1.7x oversampling for 4K video recording. [Photo: Sony]

The 1″ image sensor measures 13.2 by 8.8 millimetres and is thus 2.7 times smaller than the sensor of a 35 mm camera, the surface area is even smaller by a factor of 7.3. Nevertheless, the image sensor for a compact camera is comparatively large and, with its 20 megapixels of around 2.4 µm, offers certain latitude in sensitivity without the image quality collapsing immediately. There is a lot of high-tech in this small sensor and compared to the RX100 VI, there are some new features. First of all, it is a back-illuminated Exmor RS CMOS sensor. The backside exposure ensures that the conductive tracks are not in front of the light-sensitive layer, which improves the light yield. The “stacked” technology includes an analog-to-digital converter for each pixel as well as a DRAM buffer, which ensures high performance and can buffer data before it is passed on to the new image processor via the “eye of the needle” of the sensor data link.

New to the sensor is the increased number of integrated phase autofocus sensors, 357 instead of 315 on the RX100 VI, and the number of contrast autofocus sensors has also increased dramatically from 25 to 425. 68 percent of the image field is covered. 60 times a second, even during continuous shooting, the Sony RX100 VII can measure, calculate and control the autofocus. With an autofocus time of just 0.092 seconds, Sony promises the fastest autofocus ever (the RX100 VI is only marginally slower at 0.03 seconds, but doesn’t offer the performance of real-time calculation for continuous shooting).

Real-time AF and AE calculation is made possible by the new, even more powerful Bionz-X image processor from Sony. The system originates from the Alpha 9 professional camera and is thus used for the first time in a compact camera. Not only can the camera bluntly keep focus and exposure permanently up to date, but it also detects and tracks faces as well as eyes, both human and animal, and regardless of whether you’re shooting single frames, continuous shooting or a 4K video, the latter is also a first.

Sony RX100 VII Review

Apart from the viewfinder and flash, both retracted here, there is only little space left on the top of the Sony DSC-RX100 VII for the shutter release including zoom rocker, shutter release button and program dial. [Photo: Sony]

Speaking of the continuous shooting function: This works with either five, ten or 20 images per second, the shutter operates electronically and the live image in the viewfinder or on the monitor is displayed without interruption. Thus, the continuous shooting function is a little slower than it is still the case with the Sony RX100 VI, but on the other hand, it cannot adjust the autofocus and exposure in real time and does not display a live image, but instead always the last photo taken. Sony has minimized the rolling shutter effect so that no distortions occur despite the electronic shutter. But if you like, you can also choose to take three or ten series images per second with the virtually silent mechanical central shutter, which can briefly expose up to 1/2,000 seconds. The electronic shutter, on the other hand, achieves exposure times as short as 1/32,000 second. Almost unbelievable are the 90 frames per second that the Sony RX100 VII is supposed to achieve at full resolution. However, she can only maintain this tempo for seven pictures in a row. The function is rather used to not miss the right time for taking the picture by the touch of a second and to have a small selection of pictures. Optionally, seven consecutive images can be recorded at 60 or 30 frames per second.

A small change in the RX100 VII compared to the RX100 VI can also be found in the ISO sensitivity. Here, too, it is obvious that this is an advanced image sensor. The basic sensitivity is now ISO 100 instead of ISO 125, the maximum sensitivity is still ISO 12,800, with multiframe noise reduction at ISO 25,600. The extended sensitivity range now goes down to ISO 64 instead of ISO 80. Both of these features extend the possibilities for shots with a lot of ambient light, for example when you don’t want to dim the light for design reasons, because unfortunately the RX100 VII no longer offers a swivel-in gray filter, as the RX100 V did last.

Sony hasn’t forgotten the videographers either and offers some interesting new features with the RX100 VII. The resolution is still a maximum of 4K at 30 frames per second and up to 100 Mbps quality. The image sensor is read across its entire width with 1.7-fold oversampling, which is intended to ensure crisp videos and reduced moiré effects. According to Sony, the electronic image stabilizer has been improved, which ideally complements the optical one during certain movements and is supposed to provide for especially smooth videos when walking or panning. The videos should also benefit from the real-time tracking of faces and eyes (also with animals).

Sony RX100 VII Review

The Sony DSC-RX100 VII has both a small pop-up flash and an electronic pop-up viewfinder. [Photo: Sony]

A new feature is the 3.5mm stereo jack microphone connector, so you can finally record better sound. In addition, the RX100 VII now (unfortunately) also supports portrait videos, which look very modest on devices with a 16:9 landscape screen (computer, TV), but which are obviously very much in line with the young smartphone generation. In addition, the RX100 VII offers such features as a proxy function and various gradation curves, including Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG), which allows HDR video to be recorded directly and played back directly on compatible devices (such as flat-panel TVs) without having to edit the video first. The micro HDMI interface of the RX100 VII supports this of course. In addition, Full HD video at 60 frames per second and high-speed video at up to 1000 frames per second can also be recorded. However, the higher the frame rate, the more the resolution decreases, but you only notice this when you take a closer look, because the RX100 VII upscales the HFR videos to Full HD resolution. The desired recording length also has an effect on the resolution. In the best case, 1,824 x 1,026 sensor pixels are used for HFR videos (250 frames per second with quality priority), in the worst case only 912 x 308 sensor pixels (1,000 frames per second with recording time priority).

Furthermore, the RX100 VII has a 7.5 centimeter touch screen with a resolution of 921,000 pixels that will not leave anyone in the lurch these days. After all, the screen can be folded up 180 degrees upwards and 90 degrees downwards, so that shots from overhead and froggy perspectives as well as selfies can be taken without any problems. A small highlight of the RX100 VII is without doubt the pop-up viewfinder. It’s not so much its technical parameters, such as the 0.59x small-frame equivalent magnification or the 2.36 million pixel resolution of the OLED display, but rather the fact that Sony manages to accommodate the viewfinder in pop-up form in this small housing. In certain light situations such a viewfinder is worth its weight in gold. By the way, there is also a small pop-up flash in the case, but its power output turns out to be quite low. Unfortunately, there is no space left for a flash shoe or Sony’s multifunctional shoe.

Of course, the Sony RX100 VII has advanced connectivity with WLAN, Bluetooth and NFC. GPS data can be transmitted via Bluetooth, a radio remote release is also possible, Sony offers a corresponding remote control. Images and videos can be transmitted wirelessly via the high-performance WLAN interface, and remote control via a free app is also possible from a smartphone.

Sony RX100 VII Review

In addition to a micro USB and micro HDMI port, the Sony DSC-RX100 VII is the first camera in the RX100 series to feature an external microphone port. [Photo: Sony]

Sony RX100 VII Review

For selfies, the screen of the Sony DSC-RX100 VII can be folded up 180 degrees. [Photo: Sony]

Sony RX100 VII Review

If you fold the screen of the Sony DSC-RX100 VII down, which is possible up to 90 degrees, you can easily take pictures across crowds. [Photo: Sony]

The small lithium-ion battery NP-BX1 is responsible for the power supply. Despite the camera’s high performance, the RX100 VII still manages to produce 260 shots to CIPA standards, which is a decent figure considering the size or rather “small” size of the battery. It can be charged directly in the camera via Micro-USB, and Sony also provides a continuous power supply via the USB interface.

However, the high performance in the extremely compact and, at 300 grams, also relatively light metal housing has its price: Sony is calling just under 1,300 dollars for this all-in-one compact camera. You would also get an interchangeable lens camera with a much larger image sensor and a neat lens, but not in this performance and size class. So, if portability is a priority, the Sony RX100 VII is certainly worth considering. It is available since August 2019. As a new accessory for the RX100 series, Sony offers the LCJ-RKX leather protective case with lens cover at a price of 85 dollars.

Ergonomics and Workmanship

At just ten by six by two and a half centimetres, the metal housing of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VII is extremely compact, but the lens barrel protrudes from the body by a further 1.5 centimetres. However, as this is a lush eightx zoom of about 24-200 millimeters corresponding to 35mm, which “illuminates” a 13.2 by 8.8 millimeter 1 inch sensor, the Sony can definitely be described as extremely compact. It disappears easily in the jacket pocket or handbag, only one trouser pocket is bulged out by it. After all, the RX100 VII weighs just over 300 grams, which is not a lightweight considering its size. The camera is just full of technology and glass.

When switched on, the lens moves out of the housing by at least three and at most five centimetres. Zooming is done by means of the small ring rocker, which is arranged around the shutter-release button in the housing. In addition, depending on the mode or setting, zooming over the lens ring is possible, optionally in fixed steps with typical “fixed” focal lengths such as 24, 28, 35, 50, 70, 85, 100, 135 and 200 millimetres. At the same time, the light intensity, which in any case is not too high compared to the “smaller” RX-100 models, decreases extremely quickly. Already at 40 millimetres 35 mm equivalent you lose a whole f-stop (F4 instead of open aperture F2.8 at 24 millimetres). After all, the RX100 VII offers an effectively working optical image stabilizer. There’s no filter thread on the other hand, and unfortunately Sony has even removed the practical swing-in ND filter from the “smaller” RX-100 models (up to the “V”). The only solution would be to use third-party accessories, such as magnetic filters.

The other control elements are also very nicely embedded into the case, but turn out to be quite fiddly due to the small size. Up to the first pressure point, for example, the release is very spongy and smooth, unfortunately there is no improvement to the RX100 VI. You may like this for a “soft” release, but precise and high-quality feels not. Due to the flat case, there is a complete lack of a handle, Sony hasn’t even attached a small rubber grip to the front. Here, one has to fall back on accessory solutions, such as retrofitted rubber grips (about 15 euro original from Sony). Only on the backside there is a small, rubberized thumb cavity, which is also missing a clear “edge”. A small wrist strap or a safety strap for the wrist is almost obligatory (included).

The back keys are hardly bigger than the heads of pins. After all, there are sensible presettings, but for a really reasonable handling without excursions into the menus, there are definitely missing some control elements. After all, the center key of the four-way cross as well as the delete key (in exception mode C key) can be freely assigned. The menu of the RX100 VII, on the other hand, is in no way inferior to a full-grown camera, the little Sony can do practically everything that its big siblings can do. It’s handy for a Sony photographer as a second camera, but for casual photographers and beginners, the menu is quite confusing due to the many setting options. Some help is provided by the “My menu”, which you can “feed” with your favourite functions. Once the camera is reasonably busy with it and basically configured, the adjustment is quite easy. By the way, important functions for which one does not want to enter the menu, but for which the keys are not sufficient, can be found in the Fn-menu that can also be configured.

The 7.5 centimetre touchscreen takes up the largest part of the back. With 0.92 million pixels, it offers sufficient resolution and can be folded down 90 degrees and up 180 degrees. This keeps the mechanism compact, yet provides the freedom of movement needed for ground-level shooting and even selfies, for which the RX100 VII even has special functions. The maximum brightness of around 650 cd/m² also works well against bright sunlight, but this mode must be specially activated, without which the screen is somewhat dark in sunlight. Too bad that the monitor brightness is not automatically adjusted accordingly. By the way, the touch functionality is limited to very few functions, such as touch autofocus and, if desired, fingertip triggering. The menus and other settings on the other hand can only be operated by pressing a button, which is a pity.

Already known and ingeniously solved since the RX100 III is the integrated pop-up viewfinder, which since the RX100 VI can be activated even easier than in the previous models. You don’t have to pull the eyepiece back after jumping up, it extends mechanically by spring tension. With the camera off, it’s even enough to unlock the viewfinder to let it pop up and turn the camera on. To switch it off, simply press it down again. Casual search photographers can disable this functionality. The viewfinder itself offers a decent 0.59x magnification, and the resolution is reasonably fine at 2.36 million pixels. Also about the large dioptre correction one cannot complain. Thanks to a proximity sensor, the live image even switches automatically from the screen to the viewfinder as soon as you look at it. However, it is not possible to see it completely with glasses, and an eyecup to shield sidelight is also missing.

Due to the pop-up viewfinder and pop-up flash, the Sony RX100 VII unfortunately doesn’t have a hot shoe. Also otherwise it is rather economical, but at least it is equipped with one interface more than its older sister model. Behind rather flimsy looking covers, it now offers a microphone input in addition to a micro HDMI and a micro USB port. The small lithium-ion battery can be recharged conveniently via USB. However, an external charging cradle is not included with the camera and costs 80 euros extra. The USB power supply and cable are included. The somewhat short battery life of 260 pictures makes the purchase of a second battery (just under 50 euros) a must if you don’t want to connect the RX100 VII to a USB power bank while on the road. At least the RX100 VII, despite its faster processor, is even more energy-efficient than the RX100 VI, which only managed 220 shots.

Both the battery and memory card are removed from the bottom of the camera. Unfortunately, the tripod thread that is made of metal is not only located right beside the flap but also outside the optical axis. Even the smallest tripod quick release plates therefore block access to the battery and memory card. Unfortunately, Sony still can’t part with its proprietary memory stick duo, which can be inserted as an alternative to an SD card. However, this prevents compatibility with UHS II. But even the UHS-I standard is not nearly used by the RX100 VII, as the maximum data transfer rate for image storage we came close to 40 megabytes per second, which leads to about 50 seconds of storage time after longer continuous shooting, but more on that below.

Equipment

The program selector wheel offers both beginners and ambitious amateur photographers everything their heart desires. The automatic mode, for example, can take over the complete recording configuration, including the selection of the scene mode program based on a live image analysis. Those who wish, can choose the scene mode themselves or delve deeper into photography with the creative programmes P, A, S and M and take full control of the shooting parameters. The Sony even offers an ISO automatic in manual mode. The Sweep Panorama mode allows for easy panoramic views, but does not have a high resolution and is prone to skidding with subjects that are too close to the camera.

Sony RX100 VII Review

The electronic viewfinder of the Sony RX100 VII automatically pops up when unlocked and resolves properly with 2.36 million pixels. [Photo: Sony]

The HDR mode is recommended, which automatically composes a new image from two differently exposed images. However, it emphasizes the shadows, so for subjects with few highlights and many dark areas, it is recommended to use exposure compensation to help balance the image. If you like, you can also compose your own HDR images on the PC with the help of the extensive exposure bracketing function. With up to one EV exposure distance, nine shots are possible, and with three EV exposure distance at least five shots are possible, which corresponds to an overall even greater dynamic range.

New in the RX100 VII compared to the RX100 VI is the interval recording function. It used to be installable as a PlayMemories app, but Sony hasn’t supported this app functionality for a while now (not even in the RX100 VI). So now the function is back and allows not only the choice of start time, interval duration and number of shots, but also the speed of exposure setting, shutter type (electronic or mechanical) and the choice between interval and exposure priority. The latter is important when the exposure time becomes longer than the interval duration, so that one can decide whether either the intervals become longer or alternatively the images become darker. This and the smooth exposure tracking are important parameters if you want to combine the recordings into a video later on the PC.

If you want, you can spice up your shots directly with creative filters, such as the toy camera effect, a black and white or sepia mode and many more. However, these functions cannot be applied to the photos afterwards, because the menu does not offer any image processing functions except for a beauty effect. These were also available earlier than apps that could be installed later. A raw development function for saving a JPEG is also missing.

In addition to the home PC, however, the smartphone can also be used for image processing. The Sony RX100 VII is very sociable. It not only has NFC, but also Bluetooth and WLAN. Thanks to the power-saving Bluetooth function, the camera can take over the position data from the smartphone and store it in the metadata of the photos directly when they are taken. In addition, images can be transmitted to be edited on the smartphone and shared in social networks. In addition, the RX100 VII can be remotely controlled via app including live image transmission. Numerous settings are available for the exposure, the recording program and even extracts from the camera menu. Remote release is also possible via USB remote release or via Bluetooth using a remote control or smartphone.

Sony RX100 VII Review

The lens of the Sony RX100 VII protrudes strikingly from the otherwise flat body. [Photo: Sony]

Sony RX100 VII Review

At full zoom, the lens of the Sony DSC-RX100 VII stretches considerably. [Photo: Sony]

When it comes to autofocus, the RX100 VII, like its predecessor, cheats a little, as the pre-AF is switched on by default, which improves performance and is quite practical, as the live image always appears sharp. In fact, without pre-AF, the Sony takes about 0.22 to 0.26 seconds from pressing the shutter button to the actual release, depending on the focal length including focusing from infinity to two meters. It’s fast and a bit quicker than the RX100 VI, even if it’s not record-breaking, but above all it doesn’t have any runaway down. This is gratifying in so far as earlier cameras with a large zoom often had problems with a rather slow focusing, especially at the long tele end. The pure shutter release delay after pre-focusing is even only 0.02 seconds, which is extremely fast and surpasses even the most expensive DSLRs. This is where the non-existent oscillating mirror, the physically small aperture and of course the central shutter play out their advantages.

But on another, perhaps more important point, the RX100 VII’s autofocus performance has improved. It now has 357 instead of 315 phase AF sensors integrated on the sensor as well as even 425 instead of 25 contrast AF measuring fields and a very powerful image processor including new algorithms. In principle, the tiny RX100 VII incorporates the technology of the large Alpha 9 professional full format camera, and you can see that in practice! The RX100 VII detects and tracks faces, eyes and even animals or animal eyes in real time. 60 times per second is measured and calculated. The whole thing works wonderfully and the AF fields just scurry across the small screen. However, you should not forget to activate the corresponding functions, preferably in one of the creative programs, because in full-automatic mode the camera does not necessarily recognize that it is now necessary to follow faces or moving subjects. Incidentally, the real-time tracking AF with face, animal and eye recognition also works at 20 continuous frames per second, which are taken with an electronic shutter and do not even interrupt the viewfinder image. More on the continuous shooting function below.

In wide angle, the closest focusing distance is eight centimeters, which allows considerable macro magnifications. The minimum field of view is only 1.9 by 1.3 centimetres. In telescopic position, however, the minimum shooting distance increases to one meter, macro shots are unfortunately not possible. Manual focusing is intuitive thanks to the lens ring. Thanks to the focus magnifier and focus peaking, the point of focus is also easy to find. In addition, the distance is shown on the display or in the viewfinder by means of a bar chart, but can only be read very imprecisely with this. Speaking of screens: A digital spirit level and a grid can also be faded in.

The central shutter works absolutely silently and also allows flash synchronization with all shutter speeds up to 1/2,000 second. Shorter exposure times are achieved with the electronic shutter, up to 1/32,000 second is possible. However, extending the exposure time for creative effects in bright light is not possible due to the lack of a built-in ND filter. The flash must be mechanically unlocked and offers only the most important basic functions such as an automatic, a long time synchronization and the flash only at the end instead of the beginning of the exposure as well as a flash exposure correction. However, the guide number is only just under five, which is rather meagre. Who would like to flash creatively should look for another camera.

Sony RX100 VII Review

Apart from the pop-up viewfinder on the far right and the pop-up flash in the middle, the Sony DSC-RX100 VII unfortunately doesn’t have room for a hot shoe. The housing offers no grip on the front for an ergonomic hold. [Photo: Sony]

Sports and action subjects can be captured perfectly with the Sony RX100 VII, and not just because of the maddening autofocus performance. At full resolution, with electronic shutter, it takes almost 20 continuous frames per second, whether in raw or JPEG. Not only does it constantly adjust the sharpness, but also the exposure is constantly adjusted. Thanks to the large cache of about two gigabytes, you can take either 77 raw or 178 JPEG images at this high speed before the continuous shooting rate breaks down to 1.9 (raw) or 3.3 (JPEG) frames per second. A real bottleneck is the memory card interface, which does not write 40 megabytes per second.

Compared to the RX100 VI there are some interesting differences. The autofocus tracking is indeed faster and more accurate, and the JPEG continuous output is also significantly faster, but the continuous frame rate is a little slower and the buffer memory is a little smaller. The series image speed, which has dropped from 24 to 20 images per second, can be overcome without any problems, and the buffer memory is still quite large enough, even if it’s not as lavishly oversized as in the VI. The fact that the image processor has become much faster can be seen not only in the autofocus but also in the higher JPEG series image speed with full buffer. Obviously the processor is no longer the bottleneck here, because regardless of the file format, it now takes 50 seconds to write the buffer to the memory card. With the RX100 VI, JPEG took more than twice as long. Regardless of this, the camera essentially remains operable and ready to record even when the buffer is emptied.

What’s crazy, on the other hand, is the continuous burst mode, which takes seven pictures at 30, 60 or 90 frames per second. With our usual measuring method we did not succeed in verifying the 90 frames per second because the display of our stopwatch did not update fast enough. These shots, taken in a fraction of a second, may be useful if you don’t want to miss the perfect shooting moment minimally, but the “action” itself is so short that the normal continuous shooting function is pointless. By the way, the RX100 VII can also be slower, and with an electronic shutter it can also take ten or five continuous shots per second. Although the rolling shutter effect is minimal, those who still want to take serial pictures with a mechanical shutter can choose to take ten or three pictures per second. The latter is even possible in JPEG until the memory card is full.

Things are even faster in HFR video mode. Here, the Sony records short video sequences at up to 1,000 frames per second. However, the higher the frame rate is set, the more the resolution decreases. However, the camera always interpolates up to Full-HD resolution. In the best case, 1,824 x 1,026 sensor pixels are used for HFR videos (250 frames per second with quality priority), in the worst case only 912 x 308 sensor pixels (1,000 frames per second with recording time priority).

Sony RX100 VII Review

The tripod thread of the Sony RX100 VII is not only outside the optical axis, but also directly next to the battery and memory card compartment, which is thus blocked even by the smallest quick-release plates. [Photo: Sony]

In normal video mode, the Sony RX100 VII operates at a maximum of 4K resolution (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) with a choice of 24, 25 or 30 frames per second. High quality storage of up to 100 Mbit per second is possible. In 4K shooting, not only the optical image stabilizer now works, but also the electronic one, thanks to the higher processing power, so that freehand videos no longer appear blurred compared to Full HD recordings. Real-time autofocus is now also used for video recordings, which can be of great benefit depending on the subject. The exposure is also tracked and can also be controlled semi-automatically or manually on request. The zoom operates at a slower speed and, like the autofocus, is practically silent.

The video image quality is very good thanks to the 1.7x oversampling of the 4K video. However, the small Sony still has problems with large heat development and heat dissipation. Depending on the outside temperature, the camera heats up quite quickly, so that it switches off after a few minutes to cool down. In Full-HD resolution, however, the problem hardly exists. Here, by the way, the videos are even more fluid with up to 60 frames per second. The maximum recording time is then just under 30 minutes. The sound is recorded in stereo via the integrated microphone, an external one can now also be used thanks to the new connection.

In addition, the RX100 VII now (unfortunately) also supports portrait videos, which look very modest on devices with a 16:9 landscape screen (computer, TV), but which seem to be very accommodating to the young smartphone generation. In addition, the RX100 VII offers such features as a proxy function and various gradation curves, including Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG), which allows HDR video to be recorded directly and played back directly on compatible devices (such as flat-panel TVs) without having to edit the video first. The micro HDMI interface of the RX100 VII supports this of course.

Image quality

In practice, the Sony RX100 VII, like the RX100 VI, delivers very handsome, crisp, but not overly edited images. But specially in the wide angle, a decrease of sharpness towards the edges of the image is definitely noticeable by zooming a little into the images. In backlighting there are occasional reflections, which can also be rainbow-like, but the contrasts remain quite high. The RX100 VII tends to have a somewhat rich exposure, so you can try exposure compensation and if necessary use the HDR mode to lighten the shadows. Less impressive is the Bokeh, which is quite harsh. You should therefore avoid highlights in the blurred area when taking portrait photos, for example. However, the RX100 VII is not so predestined for cropping anyway due to its less fast lens. From a focal length of 40 millimetres equivalent to a small image, the maximum aperture is only F4, from 110 millimetres even only F4.5. With the typical portrait focal lengths in the range of 85 to 135 millimetres, you only get a moderate light intensity, so that the background should be far away for a strong blur despite the not so small 1″ sensor.

Sony RX100 VII Review

The interface covers of the Sony RX100 VII look cheap and not very durable. [Photo: Sony]

Sony RX100 VII Review

In addition to the micro HDMI interface and the micro USB connector for charging the battery, the Sony RX100 VII now also offers a stereo microphone connector. [Photo: Sony]

Essentially, the lab test results for the RX100 VII are similar to those for the RX100 VI, so you’d think we’d tested two copies of the same camera, so close together. As with the older models of the RX100 series, optical errors are largely ironed out in the JPEG format in which the laboratory test was carried out. Despite the large focal length spectrum, there is practically no distortion, and edge darkening is minimal and irrelevant. The situation is different, however, with the chromatic aberrations that can be seen at the two focal length extremes, especially towards the edge of the image. This was evident not only in measurements with the test software, but also in practice.

In terms of resolution, the RX100 VII achieves a maximum of 63 line pairs per millimeter (lp/mm) in 35 mm equivalent at wide angle, but only in the center of the image. Towards the edge of the image, the resolution decreases considerably, dropping to a good 28 lp/mm at open aperture. This is easily enough for sharp pictures in DIN-A4 format, but for larger printouts it becomes rather critical. During fading, the image resolution decreases in the center of the image due to diffraction, but at the image edge it increases to its maximum of 30 lp/mm at F4. Beyond F5.6 the resolution drops more noticeably, you should not fade further than F8.

Sony RX100 VII Review

Thanks to NFC, Bluetooth and WLAN, the Sony RX100 VII can be easily paired with smart devices to receive position data or transmit images, for example. Remote control is also possible. [Photo: Sony]

The RX100 VII achieves the highest marginal resolution at a medium focal length of about 70 millimeters (35 mm equivalent), it already reaches almost 45 lp/mm at open aperture, which however, as already mentioned, is only F4 at this focal length. In the center of the picture it is enough for just under 51 lp/mm – a good value. If you zoom further, the resolution decreases both in the center and at the edge of the image. At the maximum not more than 45 to 30 lp/mm are possible. Thus, in telescopic position, one gets the lowest resolution that is, however, completely sufficient for many applications. Above all, the marginal waste here is pleasingly low, at least in relative terms.

The RX100 VII makes up a little for its lack of light intensity with good image quality up to higher ISO ranges, as long as you don’t compare it with faster cameras of the same sensor size. Up to ISO 160, the signal-to-noise ratio is in the range of over 40 dB and only drops below the critical 35 dB mark above ISO 1,600. The image noise is surprisingly fine-grained over the entire sensitivity range of up to ISO 12,800, providing a subjectively good image impression with natural noise. While color noise is practically irrelevant, brightness noise becomes visible from ISO 3,200.

Noise reduction is especially effective above ISO 800 and reduces image details visibly. At ISO 1,600, however, the image quality is still useful. ISO 3.200, on the other hand, is already very borderline, with many fine image details missing. The input dynamics are good in a similar sensitivity range. At ISO 100, it is just over eleven aperture stops, while at ISO 1,600 the value drops to just under ten stops. If the sensitivity is increased further, the input dynamic range decreases comparatively more than at lower sensitivities. At ISO 3.200, there are only nine, at ISO 6.400 already only eight aperture stops.

The tone curve is typically a little flatter at the lower sensitivity range of ISO 64, and then a little steeper from the basic sensitivity of ISO 100 for a crisp image impression without appearing exaggerated. The sharpness artefacts are also kept within limits. Thus, one can say that the image processing intervenes as much as necessary but as little as possible, which also leaves a subjectively good image impression in practice. The pictures look crisp without looking too much processed, and in principle there is nothing to prevent even light image processing, although the raw data format is a much better basis for this. Roughly speaking, the output tonal range decreases relatively linearly and starts at almost perfect values. Up to ISO 100, it’s well over 224 of 256 possible brightness levels, up to ISO 400 the value remains very good with over 192 levels and at ISO 1.600 it’s still good just under 160 levels.

Sony RX100 VII Review

The small lithium-ion battery of the Sony RX100 VII is only enough for a good 260 shots. The SD memory card slot is unfortunately not compatible with the fast UHS-II standard. [Photo: Sony]

However, Sony deviates a little from the above-mentioned principle when it comes to color processing. The colour accuracy is not the best, many colour shades deviate clearly from the original. First and foremost, this affects color saturation in yellow, red and even in the gastric region. But also some shades are slightly shifted, like the green tending towards yellow. Here Sony would have liked to have been able to withdraw a little more. There are hardly any complaints about the white balance. The manual measurement works perfectly and the automatic system also gives good results, especially thanks to the choice between colours that are as neutral as possible or colours that preserve the lighting atmosphere. The actual color depth is very good; at ISO 64 and 100, the RX100 VII achieves over eight million shades, up to ISO 1,600 it is over four million, and even at ISO 3,200 it is still two million, which is still a perfectly adequate value.

In comparison to the competitor models TZ101 and TZ202, the Sony RX100 VI offers a partly significantly higher resolution in the image center as well as at the image edge, while at the same time reducing sharpness artifacts. But especially at higher sensitivities above ISO 800, Sony has a clear lead, especially in detail resolution, which you can expect in view of the considerably higher price.

Conclusion

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VII can probably be described as the best compact 1″ sensor camera with at least 8x zoom currently available. It offers a very good equipment in an extremely compact housing paired with a zoom range suitable for everyday use and a high image quality as well as a racy fast autofocus, which again clearly stands out from the RX100 VI, which is also not exactly slow. However, the camera has a proud price of 1,300 Euros and therefore does not necessarily have the best price-performance ratio, especially if, for example, the high continuous shooting rate with the large buffer memory is not needed at all. The movable touch screen and the practical pop-up viewfinder are extremely useful and also, with some concessions due to their compactness, quite suitable for everyday use, although there is still room for improvement in the use of touch functionality and brightness control. Ergonomics suffers most from the compact dimensions, whereby Sony could gladly sacrifice a bit of design in favor of ergonomics, for example with a small, perhaps removable, handle.

In terms of image quality, the RX100 VII seamlessly joins the good image quality results of Sony’s 1″ cameras and shows only slight weaknesses, such as edge resolution in the wide angle, color fringes and color accuracy, and the not too nice bokeh, because the light intensity is not as high in favor of the zoom range as in 1″ cameras with a lower zoom range, which also suffers the suitability for environments with little light. Especially the zooming should be avoided in such situations, especially as the light intensity falls quite rapidly. However, Sony is clearly one or two steps ahead of its direct competitors in terms of image quality, which not only applies to the sensor and performance at high ISO sensitivities, but also to the lens, which in total justifies the high price.

Profile

Profile
Manufacturer Sony
Model DSC-RX100 VII
Sensor CMOS 1″ 13.2 x 8.8 mm (crop factor 2.7
)21.0 megapixel (physical)
20.1 megapixel (effective)
Pixelpitch 2.4 µm
Resolution (max.) 5.472 x 3.648 (3:2)
Video (max.) 3.840 x 2,160 30p
Lens F2.8-4.5/24-200mm
Filter thread
Video finder EVF, 100% field coverage, 2,359,296 pixels resolution, 1.59x magnification (sensor-related), 0.59x magnification (KB equivalent), diopter compensation (-4.0 to 3.0 dpt)
Monitor 3.0″ (7.5 cm)
Resolution 921.600 pixels
tiltable yes
rotatable
swiveling
Touchscreen yes
AV connector HDMI output Micro (Type D)
Fully automatic yes
Scene mode automatic yes
Scene modes 13
Automatic programming yes
Program shift yes
Automatic aperture control yes
Automatic timer yes
Manually yes
Bulb Long Term Exposure yes
HDR function yes
Panorama function yes, panoramic view
Exposure metering Multi-field, centre-weighted Integral, Spot
fastest shutter speed 1/2.000 s
Flash installed
Synchronous time 1/2.000 s
Flash connection
WLAN yes
NFC yes
GPS external, permanent smartphone connection
Remote release yes, cable release, Bluetooth release, remote control via smartphone/tablet
Interval recording yes
Storage medium
Memory Stick (Duo, Duo Pro)
SD (UHS I, SDXC, SDHC)
Sensitivity
automatically ISO 100-12,800
manually ISO 64-12,800
White balance
automatically yes
manual measuring yes
Kelvin input yes
Fine correction yes
Autofocus yes
Number of measuring fields 357 Line sensors425
Contrast sensors
Speed 0.22 to 0.26 s
AF auxiliary light LED
Dimensions (WxHxD) 102 x 58 x 43 mm
Weight (ready for operation) 302 g
Tripod thread off optical axis
Zoom
Zoom adjustment Lens ring (motorized), ring rocker (motorized)
Battery life 260 recordings according to CIPA standard
– = “not applicable” or “not available

Brief assessment

Pros

  • Suitable for everyday use, large zoom range in “trouser pocket” format
  • Overall good image quality up to ISO 800 with usable ISO 1,600
  • Extremely fast continuous shooting function
  • Rapid autofocus, even when tracking the subject and during continuous shooting

Cons

  • Fast decaying light intensity and missing ND filter
  • Due to the compactness somewhat tricky operation
  • Low battery life
  • High price

Sony DSC-RX100 VII Datasheet

Electronics

Sensor CMOS sensor 1″ 13.2 x 8.8 mm (crop factor 2.7
)21.0 megapixel (physical), 20.1 megapixel (effective)
Pixelpitch 2.4 µm
Photo resolution
5.472 x 3.648 pixels (3:2)
5.472 x 3.080 pixels (16:9)
4.864 x 3.080 pixels
3.888 x 2.592 pixels (3:2)
3.648 x 3.648 pixels (1:1)
3.648 x 2.736 pixels (4:3)
3.648 x 2.056 pixels (16:9)
2.736 x 1.824 pixels (3:2)
2.720 x 1.528 pixels (16:9)
2.592 x 1.944 pixels (4:3)
2.544 x 2.544 pixels (1:1)
1.920 x 1.920 pixels (1:1)
640 x 480 pixels (4:3)
Image formats JPG, RAW
Color depth 24 bits (8 bits per color channel), 36 bits (12 bits per color channel)
Metadata Exif (version 2.3), DCF standard (version 2)
Video resolution
3.840 x 2.160 (16:9) 30 p
3.840 x 2.160 (16:9) 25 p
3.840 x 2.160 (16:9) 24 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 1000 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 960 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 500 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 480 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 250 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 240 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 120 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 100 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 60 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 60 i
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 50 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 50 i
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 50 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 50 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 30 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 25 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 25 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 25 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 24 p
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 30 p
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 25 p
Maximum recording time 20 min
HDR video yes
Video format
XAVC S (Codec H.264)
AVCHD (Codec H.264)
MP4 (Codec H.264)

Lens

Focal length 24 to 200 mm (35mm equivalent
)8.3x zoom9
to 72 mm (physical)
digital zoom 5.8x
Sharpness range 8 cm to infinity (wide angle
)100 cm to infinity (telephoto)
Aperture F2.8 to F11 (wide angle
)F4.5 to F11 (telephoto)
Autofocus yes
Autofocus mode Phase comparison autofocus with 357 sensors (357 line sensors), contrast autofocus with 425 spot sizes
Autofocus functions Single AF, Continuous AF, Tracking AF, Manual, AFL function, AF Assist Light (LED), Focus Peaking, Focus Magnifier (11x)
Sharpness control Depth of field control, Live View

Viewfinder and monitor

Monitor 3.0″ (7.5 cm) TFT LCD monitor with 921,600 pixels, touch screen, non-reflective, brightness adjustable, tilts 180° up to 90° down
Video finder Video viewfinder (100 % field coverage) with 2,359,296 pixels, magnification factor 1.59x (0.59x KB equivalent), dioptre compensation (-4.0 to 3.0 dpt)

Exposure

Exposure metering Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement, spot measurement
, special features: Highlight Exposure Metering
Exposure times 1/2,000 to 30 s (Automatic
)1/2,000 to 30 s (Manual)Bulb function1/32
,000 to 30 s (Electronic)
Exposure control Fully Automatic, Program Automatic (with Program Shift), Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual, Motif Automatic
Exposure bracketing function Exposure bracketing function with a maximum of 9 shots, 1/3 to 3 EV increments, HDR function
Exposure Compensation -3.0 to +3.0 EV with step size of 1/3 EV
Photosensitivity ISO 100 to ISO 12.800 (automatic
)ISO 64 to ISO 12.800 (manual)
Remote access Cable release, Bluetooth release, remote control via smartphone/tablet
Scene modes Fireworks, landscape, macro, night scene, night portrait, portrait, sunset, food, sports/action, animals, 3 additional scene modes
Picture effects HDR effect, High Key, High contrast monochrome, Miniature effect, Monochrome, Retro, Selective color, Softer, Toy camera, 4 additional image effects
White balance Auto, Cloudy, Sunny, White balance bracket, Fine tuning, Shadow, Flash, Underwater, Fluorescent lamp with 4 presets, Tungsten light, from 2,500 to 9,900 K, Manual 3 memories
Color space Adobe RGB, sRGB
Continuous shooting 20 fps at highest resolution, optionally 20, 10 or 5 fps with el. shutter and live tracking90
, 60 or 30 fps with el. shutter for 7 consecutive 10
or 3 fps with mechanical shutter
Self-timer Self-timer with 10-second interval, special features: 5 or 2 seconds; 3-5 consecutive shots; bracketing with 10, 5 or 2 second delay
Timer Timer/interval recordings with max. 9,999 recordings, start time adjustable
Recording functions AEL function, AFL function, live histogram

Flashgun

Flash built-in flash (hinged)
Flash range 0.4 to 5.9 m at wide angle1
.0 to 3.1 m at teleflash range
at ISO autoflash sync speed
1/2,000 s
Flash functions Auto, fill-flash, flash on, flash off, slow sync, flash on second shutter curtain, red-eye reduction by pre-flash, flash compensation from -3.0 EV to +3.0 EV

Equipment

Image stabilizer optical image stabilizer
Memory
Memory Stick (Duo, Duo Pro)
SD (SDHC, SDXC, UHS I)
Panorama Sweeping panorama

12.416 x 1.856 pixels
5.536 x 2.160 pixels
8.192 x 1.856 pixels
3.872 x 2.160 pixels
GPS function GPS external (permanent smartphone connection)
Microphone Stereo
Power supply unit Power supply connectionUSB continuous power supplyUSB charging function
Power supply 1 x Sony NP-BX1 (lithium-ion (Li-Ion), 3.6 V, 1,240 mAh
)260 images according to CIPA standard
Playback functions Image rotation, image protect, highlight / shadow warning, playback histogram, playback magnifier with 10.7x magnification, image index, slide show function
Face recognition Face recognition
Image parameters Sharpness, contrast, color saturation, noise reduction
Grille can be faded in during recording yes
Special functions Electronic spirit level, Orientation sensor, Zebra function, Live View, User profiles with 7 user profiles
Connections Data interfaces: Bluetooth, USBUSB type
: USB 2.0 High SpeedWLAN
: available (Type: B, G, N)
NFC: availableAudio output
: noAudio input
: yes (3.5 mm stereo microphone jack)
Video output: yes (HDMI output Micro (Type D))
Supported direct printing methods DPOF, Exif Print, PIM
Tripod thread 1/4″ not in optical axis
Special features and miscellaneous BIONZ X Image ProcessorMulti-Frame Noise Reduction
(ISO 100-25600)
Dynamic Range Optimizer (incl. exposure bracket)
Creative Styles (14 settings)
Picture Profile (10 settings)
Bravia SyncHFR VideoAutofocuswith face and eye recognition of humans and animals incl. Real-time tracking for photo (including continuous shooting) and video recording60
autofocus and exposure calculations per secondAnti-distortion shutter
to reduce rolling shutter effectVideo recording
in 4K with 1.7x oversamplingOptical
image stabiliser with up to 4 f-stops Efficiency

Size and weight

Weight 302 g (ready for operation)
Dimensions W x H x D 102 x 58 x 43 mm

Miscellaneous

standard accessory Sony AC-UUD12 AC adapterSony
NP-BX1 Special battery strap
, micro USB cable, user manual
additional accessories Sony AG-R2 (Handle
)Sony LCS-RXG PocketSony
NP-BX1 Special BatterySony
RMT-P1BT (Bluetooth Remote Control)
Sony RM-VPR1 Cable Remote ReleaseSony
VCT-SGR1 (Handle)
USB
USB 2.0 High Speed (micro-USB)