Sony RX10 Exposure Tips

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.

6 thoughts on “Sony RX10 Exposure Tips

  1. Hi, I’ve had the RX10m1 for a couple months and got it mint for only $425 on Ebay!. While reading on DPR about the new RX10m4 today, I reread the m1 review and in the dynamic range section it shows that the m1 loses a full stop of highlights at ISO 80 & 100 compared to ISO 125 while gaining only 1/3 stop in the shadows over ISO 125.
    I started reading your RX10 posts from newest to this one and I see you are using ISO 80 on shots with your RX10 in combo with ND Grads so I’m not sure if you are aware of the 1 stop loss at this ISO or if it is part of your intended workflow. I’m inclined to believe that you are not aware of this because of the problems of limited DR you cite in this article but I assume nothing and would rather hear from you first.

    1. Sorry, I should have mentioned in replying to your other comment that the DPR article was measuring JPG response. It would be interesting if they would also test the RAW files. I suspect there is a still some loss but I don’t know if it would be as much as 1 stop. Sounds like you got a great deal with the MK1. Its a great camera.

      1. I’m hoping you find even better results for ISO 125 RAW when shooting towards the sun with more acceptable highlights. Whether the backlit image in this article would have been noticeably improved, who knows.

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