Sony RX10 – Is now the time to buy

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The sea in Cornwall has a wonderul colour and the Sony RX10 captures this perfectly.
The sea in Cornwall has a wonderul colour and the Sony RX10 captures this perfectly.

I just received an email from WEX Photographic saying that I can pre-order the RX10 MKII. Whilst they don’t list the release date, it must be soon. The price is just short of £1,200 and browsing the spec, the thing that hits me is that it seems quite similar to the current RX10 model. Sure it shoots 4K video but I suspect the image quality is similar to the RX10 and that, as a landscape photographer is what I’m interested in.

I love the RX10 but I won’t be trading it for the MKII. In fact checking the prices on Amazon I can see that I can pick up the current model for just under £600 which is a 50% reduction on the new release. If all your interested in is still photography and you have been thinking about buying an RX10, now might be the time to keep an eye open for a great deal. I’m even tempted to buy a second one and convert it to Infrared.

Another Step Forward

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Steel Step. Sony RX10, f/5.0, ISO 80, 1/125"
Steel Step. Sony RX10, f/5.0, ISO 80, 1/125″

It’s a little over a week since I experienced the catastrophic failure of the Lenscraft website. At the time I was feeling quite desperate and thought that I had lost everything. Since then I have been able to restore the site and many of the problems that plagued me have been reduced or corrected by the installs.

There are still a few people having difficulty logging in with the “cookies issue” but this has been reduced dramatically.

I have been able to get the site security confirmed by S2 and you will now see their banner at the bottom of each page.

I managed to identify many broken links that were leaving people wondering what had happened to some content. I’m now in the process of fixing these.

There are though still issues to fix. One of these is that a lot of the tutorials I had on the original site have been lost, or at least I thought they had. Today I managed to locate some old copies of PDF tutorials but on reading these I realised that much of the information is now outdated. I’m therefore making it my mission over the next 12 months to develop and publish many more tutorials.

As for the picture, this is a steel step I spotted whilst in France a few weeks back. It’s quite surprising how simple everyday subjects can make for interesting photography.

Friday Image No.52

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Sony RX10, ISO80, f/5.6, 1/320"
Sony RX10, ISO80, f/5.6, 1/320″

This is another image shot last weekend at Gordale Scar near to Malham in the Yorkshire Dales. The image is of the side of the Scar before you get to the main scramble. The scar is actually a huge fault line and covered in limestone. If you have never been to this area it’s well worth a visit as the landscape is surreal. In fact I am off there again this weekend.

This image isn’t a pretty one but it does convey some of the harshness of the landscape in the area. It was taken around 11:00 in the morning as the fog was just clearing from the tops of the hillside.

Fingers crossed for some good weather tomorrow.

Friday Image No.049

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Sony RX10, ISO80, f/5.6, 1/200". Lee 0.6 ND Grad
Sony RX10, ISO80, f/5.6, 1/200″. Lee 0.6 ND Grad. Processing in Photoshop and Exposure 7.

This week’s Friday Image is yet another picture from my Sony RX10. I must apologise to anyone who feels this is becoming a Sony RX10. It isn’t, it’s just that I am finding myself reaching for the RX10 increasingly often, especially when a walk is involved. I don’t need to remember to take additional lenses and accessories. The battery life is excellent. In fact I just pick up the camera an ND Grad/holder and off I go.

There is an interesting story with this image though. The walk in question was up a hill named Black Hill, which you reach on the Woodhead Pass in the Peak District. It’s around 40 minutes drive from my house in order to arrive at the parking. It was only as I got to the top of the first ridge that I realised I was familiar with the area. In fact I have walked up Black Hill in the past from my home, without having to drive anywhere. You can actually reach Black Hill by walking across Saddleworth Moore which is the opposite direction to the one I had taken.

Despite this, the walk did provide a new outlook that I hadn’t seen before and allowed me to capture some wide scale landscapes.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Sony RX10 Exposure Tips

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Sony RX10, f/5.6, ISO80, 1/250", 2 stop ND Grad
Sony RX10, f/5.6, ISO80, 1/250″, 2 stop ND Grad

I mentioned in my last blog that I had been using the Sony RX10 exclusively over the last week and in doing so I noticed a few things about how to get a good exposure. Here is what I learned:

When the highlights clip they literally fall of a cliff. This can make the areas around the blown highlights appear very ugly. The Olympus EM5 highlights by contrast seem to behave much more like film, which seem to be more gradual.

One of the features of the RX10 is that you can display “zebras” in the live view. These “zebras” show you where the scene is exceeding the dynamic range of the sensor and the highlights are blown. You can also set the level of this so that you see a warning before the damage is done. For my camera I have this set at 100%+ so that if I see zebras I know there is clipping which as mentioned above can look quite ugly. I do this because I shoot RAW and can usually recover some of the damage.

What I have found is that there just isn’t much headroom in the RAW files beyond the zebras so you need to take care. With most cameras I have found I can expose to the right (deliberately overexpose the image) and then correct this by careful processing of the RAW file. This typically results in a higher quality image with less shadow noise and more detail. With the Sony RX10 this doesn’t seem to be the case and leaving the camera to calculate the exposure without any compensation seems to render very good images.

So how much can I over expose the image by? Well it seems to be only 2/3 of a stop. BUT a nice feature I have noticed is that the histogram that you can display whilst taking the image seems to reflect what is being captured in the RAW file whilst the zebras seem to indicate where the JPEG file will blow the highlights. I have noticed that I can be showing the warning zebras (set at 100%) but the histogram shows no clipping. The JPEG will show clipping but when I get the RAW file into Lightroom I can fully recover the problem areas.

Hope this helps other Sony RX10 owners out there.

Sony RX10 Surprise

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Sony RX10 in the Lake District. F5.6, ISO80, 1/200". Monochrome conversion in Nik Silver Efex
Sony RX10 in the Lake District. F5.6, ISO80, 1/200″. Monochrome conversion in Nik Silver Efex
ANd I thought I would also share the colour version as the RX10 colours are superb.
And I thought I would also share the colour version as the RX10 colours are superb.

You might have noticed that I haven’t posted anything over this past week. That’s because I have been taking a break in the Lake District enjoying some walking and a little photography. I had with me a range of cameras (you never quite know what you will need):

  • Sony RX10
  • Olympus EM5
  • Panasonic GM1 (including a new 35-100 lens I have just purchased)
  • Canon G16

I started the week using the RX10 as the weather was looking quite changeable and it’s easy to push the camera under a coat. I also didn’t want to be bothered keep changing lenses which is quite a pain when out on the hills. As a backup I had the GM1 in my backpack.

By the end of the week, interestingly, I had only used the RX10. I must admit that some of the images were a little blurred due to camera shake but I just shot a few of each composition to ensure I had at least one good image.

If you had asked me at the start of the week I would never have predicted that I would use the RX10 exclusively. I must admit that I loved it and best of all I learned a few new points about how the camera seems to work out exposures. I will share these with you in my next post.

The RX10 is winning me over by osmosis

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Sony RX10 in the Peak District, 62mm, ISO80, 1/50", f/5.6
Sony RX10 in the Peak District, 62mm, ISO80, 1/50″, f/5.6

I’ve had the RX10 for around 14 months now so I should be in a position to say if it’s a good camera or not. Had you asked me this question 12 months ago I would probably have said (if I was being totally truthful) that it was a bit of a letdown.

You see my expectations were way too high having previously owned a Sony R1. The reason I expected so much was that the R1 had an amazing lens and the RX10 looked pretty much identical. It’s a huge Zeiss lens with a tiny sensor bolted to the back and a bit of a grip to hold on to. It won’t win any awards for being beautiful but it certainly feels good in the hands.

Part of the reason I felt let down also was that the EM5 produces such sharp, crisp, detailed images. I had dearly wanted the RX10 to produce the same “quality” but it doesn’t. It also has corners that are a little distorted and soft in comparison. What I had failed to realise and what only dawned on me when I bought the Nikon D800 is that most cameras suffer from this. In fact the RX10 is a very good performer, it’s just different. In fact, I’m now really quite pleased with the image quality I am able to achieve. The images make lovely prints all the way up to A2 (I haven’t tried anything larger).

But it’s not the image quality that I like, it’s the handling. It’s very easy and intuitive to use. I like the aperture ring on the body of the lens (isn’t this something we had on all lenses at one time). I also like the huge zoom range from 24mm to 200mm and the fast f/2.8 constant maximum aperture. It even has a great battery life.

In all, this is a very impressive camera and great when you don’t want to carry around multiple lenses. I am starting to find myself reaching for this camera more and more, especially when I am out walking.