RX10

Return of the RX10

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La Rochelle, France. This is a 5 image sequence shot on the Sony RX10 and stitched in Lightroom. ISO80, f/5.6, 1/640″. Click the image to view a larger version of the file.

I previously commented on how my beloved RX10 was struck down by mould. This was on the front element of the lens and was inside a (supposedly) sealed unit. Rather than taking this to Sony for a repair I went to The Real Camera Company in Manchester. One of their engineers has now replaced the affected unit and the camera is back with me in a little over a week from my authorising the repair.

Whilst the camera has been away for repair it felt like I had lost something quite major. I had been used to taking the RX10 out on hikes across the moors where I live. The alternative was to take the Fuji X-T2 or Olympus EM5, both of which produce higher quality images than the RX10. Despite this, the inconvenience of never having the right lens on the camera at the point you want to use it, or needing to change lenses and filters frequently in the field was what can only be described as a pain in the butt.

The RX10 produces excellent detail and sharpness in the central area of the frame, but it softens near the edges and distorts a little in the corners (at the wide-angle end of the lens range). I suspect much of this is due to a lot of lens correction being applied in software. Despite this, the camera is a joy to use and produces images which have a lovely feel to them. The convenience of having a 24-200 focal length in a constant f2.8 lens, all bolted onto a 1” sensor is a great combination, especially when out walking.

So far, I have only taken a few test shots in the garden to check the camera functions correctly (it does.) I’m really looking forward to some good weather to put the RX10 through its paces. I would also like to say well done to The Real Camera company for their help and a job well done.

Sony RX10 Problems

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Gordale Scar, The Yorkshire Dales. Three image stitch with the Sony RX10.
Gordale Scar, The Yorkshire Dales. Three image stitch with the Sony RX10.

I have owned my Sony RX10 for a little over three years, purchasing it as soon as they were launched. I had a couple of initial teething issues; the lettering around the front of the lens reflected onto my filters, the focus wasn’t quite right and the Stabilisation wasn’t very good. Other than that, it’s been a very useful camera and one that I enjoy using a lot.

In August last year I went to France to visit my daughter, taking the RX10 along. All appeared fine until I noticed on some of the images that they were a little soft along one edge. That’s when I checked the front of the lens and to my horror I could see traces of fungus inside. This was faint at the time and wasn’t sufficient to cause the softness, although that’s what triggered my noticing the problem.

On returning to the UK I made some enquiries with the “legendary” Sony Support (legendary for all the wrong reasons). I didn’t hold out much hope of help given my past experience and unfortunately, they didn’t disappoint. The response was “your equipment’s out of warranty so there is nothing we can do”. Despite my protest that a camera of this age which is well treated and stored with care should not have a problem, they just didn’t want to know other than saying they could me find a Sony repair centre.

Roll forward six months. I had tried to live with the fungus problem, not expecting it to get much worse; unfortunately, I was wrong and it had spread across the inside of the front element. I took the RX10 to Real Camera in Manchester who I have dealt with a number of times and asked if they could have their engineer take a look (if you are ever in the market for a used film camera or need repairs, Real Camera are highly recommended).

I have now received word back from the engineer and the problem is indeed fungus on the inside of the lens. Worse still, it’s not possible to clean the affected elements as the problem is inside a sealed unit where the elements are cemented in place. This means the replacement of that particular lens group. I have authorised the work as it’s still a cost-effective repair but it raises an important question, how did fungus get inside a sealed unit? I have only two possible answers in my head:

  1. The fungus was introduced during assembly which would bring into question the manufacturing.
  2. The unit wasn’t properly sealed, which also brings into question the manufacturing.

In showing no interest in my problem, Sony have, to my mind missed the opportunity to identify and correct an issue. Ultimately, I feel Sony are showing contempt for their future customers by not investigating a problem which (I hope) is unusual.

Whilst I love the results from my Sony gear, this attitude will cost them in the future. I already refuse to use Sony lenses with my A7R as I have never had one that’s sharp into the corner. All have been bitingly sharp in the centre but this makes the edges and corners worse.

I have only one thing to say; Sony, you need to wake up and put customer service first.

Friday Image No.88

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Sony RX10, ISO80, f/5.6, 1/250".
Sony RX10, ISO80, f/5.6, 1/250″. Click the image to enlarge.

I will start with an apology for having not posted anything over the past week. I was away in the Lake District at the start of the week and then had to get my Lenscraft Newsletter out.

Given I have been in the Lakes, I though it only fitting to share one of the images I shot.

Ordinarily when I visit the Lakes I take either the Olympus EM5 or the Sony A7r. This time I decided to be different and packed the Sony RX10 so that I wasn’t needing to switch lenses all the time. As I can carry this in a small shoulder bag, it also gave me room to fit my Hasselblad XPan + 45mm and 90mm lenses in my bag pack (together with a few rolls of film). In the end I only shot one roll of film with the XPan but managed many more shots with the RX10.

The RX10 really is starting to become my go to camera when I am out walking. I like the quality and look of the images but most of all I like the convenience of a fixed lens camera with a good focal range (24mm-200mm).

I also noticed Sony have released the RX10 MkIII which sports a 24mm-600mm lens. I have some misgivings about this move and worry that they will have made too many compromises. I think I will keep to my MkI for the time being.

Hope you like the image and have a great weekend.

Friday Image No. 86

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Sony RX10, ISO80, 1/160" at f/5.6
Sony RX10, ISO80, 1/160″ at f/5.6

Have you ever tried to photograph a tree trunk with a full frame or even an APSC sensor camera? It’s very difficult and you often need to resort focus stacking because you can’t get the depth of field you need. This is one of the advantages of the smaller sensor cameras such as they can give greater depth of field.

I shot this particular image near to my house using the RX10 which has a 1” sensor. It’s sharp and crisp from corner to corner despite my zooming in to pick out a portion of the tree trunk. I also ran off a print at A3 and the quality is exceptional.

I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.

Friday Image No. 84

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Sony RX10, ISO80, f/6.3, 1/400".
Sony RX10, ISO80, f/6.3, 1/400″.

Last weekend we had snow and a reasonable amount at that. So I did what I usually like to do in the snow and went for a long walk in the hills. With my new found project of moorland views I headed up onto the moors to join the Pennine Way.

Now to reach the Pennine Way from my house you have to cross the moors where there is a reasonable trail unless its covered by a foot of snow or possibly more. Well I can vouch for the fact that we were the first people to walk that trail since it had snowed the previous day because there were no footprints anywhere. And despite knowing the route very well having walked it many times, it does get pretty tricky when it starts snowing and visibility is down to around 20m. And if that wasn’t bad enough I was wearing new glasses that turned that dark I could barely see my feet.

In the end a 22Km walk took 6 hours but I did get some rather nice shots to add to my project, including this one. I hope you like it and have a great weekend.

A Personal Project

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Moorland near to Blackstone Edge.
Moorland near to Blackstone Edge.

Sometimes it can be hard as a photographer to keep your motivation up and I think this is especially true with Landscape Photography where the weather is often uncooperative. This is where the personal project comes in.

Having a personal project helps you find the motivation to get out and shoot. But even then it can be difficult if your project isn’t something accessible and near to where you live. I personally have been searching for something near to home for some time but without success. Then it dawned on, I have the moorland of Saddleworth all around.

Now if you have ever tried shooting moorland, you will know that it can be some of the bleakest, depressing and most challenging of subjects. I have tried many times to shoot the area but failed miserably (unless it’s been snowing). But that’s before I was trying to shoot a project.

Once I resigned myself to multiple visits, I suddenly found a degree of patience that I hadn’t experienced before. No longer was I looking for that single amazing shot. Instead I was looking for scenes that would allow me to explore and represent the moors.

I now have a project “Views from T’ Moors”.

Friday Image No.80

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View from above Ullswater in the Lake District. Captured with a Sony RX10.
View from above Ullswater in the Lake District. Captured with a Sony RX10.

I captured this image in February last year. It was late afternoon and the weather had been dreadful. It had been alternating between rain and snow for much of the day but the poor weather conditions created some wonderful and dramatic light. It was last weekend’s adventure with the heavy rain that made me think of this image.

Hope you like it and have a great weekend.