Sony’s most recent high-end bridge camera is called the Cyber-shot RX10 IV. It is designed to appeal to photography enthusiasts looking for a sophisticated all-in-one camera that does not skimp on performance.
It wasn’t long ago that “bridge camera” was considered a pejorative term in the photography world. These cameras may have had the appearance of DSLRs, but their functionality and image quality were far worse. All of that, however, changed when cameras such as the first Cyber-shot RX10 were released with sensors measuring 1 inch.
After four generations of cameras, Sony introduced the RX10 IV. Although it may appear that not much has changed from the RX10 III at first appearance, Sony has outfitted its most recent camera with a variety of brand-new capabilities.
Is this the ultimate bridge camera, as well as one of the most excellent travel cameras, considering that it has a long and fast zoom lens, a vast sensor (for a bridge camera, at least), and performance that, on paper at least, would make some advanced DSLRs blush?
Sony DSC-RX10M4 Features
The RX10 IV, much like its predecessors in the RX10 series, possesses a sensor with a resolution of 20.1 megapixels and is 1.0 inches in size; nevertheless, it makes use of Sony’s most recent EXMOR RS CMOS stacked sensor architecture. This, in conjunction with the front-end LSI and the BIONZ X image processor borrowed from the Alpha A9, results in a significant increase in performance.
The RX10 IV can now shoot at an incredible 24 frames per second (with full autofocus and auto exposure capabilities engaged), and it can focus in only 0.03 seconds. Additionally, the sensitivity range goes from ISO 100 to 12,800 and can be expanded to ISO 64 to 25,600.
The RX10 IV utilizes the same Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24-600mm f/2.4-4 optic as previous models, indicating that the lens design has not changed. This is flexible for many photographers since it combines a vast zoom range with a fast variable maximum aperture. This enables you to capture everything from wide-angle landscapes to narrowly cropped action and animal photographs.
Sony DSC-RX10M4 Build Quality
The Sony RX10 IV is a big piece of equipment, even for a bridge camera; its weight of 1,095 grams makes some DSLRs appear lightweight. However, when you take into account the fact that Sony has managed to fit a 24-600mm optic inside the housing, it starts to seem relatively tiny in comparison to what it provides.
For example, the weight of a Nikon 600mm f/4 telephoto prime lens is almost four times that of the RX10 IV, and that’s just the lens by itself. Even though this isn’t exactly a comparison of apples to apples, it does help put into perspective how great of an all-in-one solution this camera is, even though it’s somewhat large.
The finish is quite high-quality, which is precisely what you’d expect from a camera that costs this much money. The RX10 IV is made out of a combination of magnesium alloy and polycarbonate and is resistant to dust and moisture. Additionally, the RX10 IV has a wide handgrip that gives you a solid grasp on the camera even when the lens is extended.
Sony DSC-RX10M4 Autofocus
The introduction of on-sensor phase-detection autofocus is the most significant improvement that Sony has made to the RX10 IV in comparison to the RX10 III. Three hundred fifteen phase-detection AF points cover 65% of the frame, proving that Sony has not skimped on this aspect of the camera’s functionality.
Because the RX10 IV uses the same BIONZ X image processor as Sony’s top-of-the-line Alpha A9, it also has the luxury of using the same autofocus algorithms used for focus tracking as Sony’s top-of-the-line mirrorless camera. This allows the RX10 IV to take advantage of focus tracking in the same manner as the Alpha A9.
This feature, which concentrates AF points around a subject to increase tracking and focus accuracy, is known as high-density AF tracking. Sony claims that even the most unexpected issues should be easily caught with this feature.
Sony DSC-RX10M4 Performance
The RX10 III’s ability to shoot at a burst rate of 14 frames per second was already impressive; however, the Sony RX10 IV’s ability to shoot at a burst rate of 24 frames per second places it in a class all by itself for a bridge camera, even surpassing the 20 frames per second that the Alpha A9 is capable of.
You might need to ask yourself if you require this level of performance (if you don’t, it can be set to 10 and 3.5fps). Still, if you do, you can take comfort in the fact that the camera can maintain this rate for as many as 112 raw or 249 JPEG files while maintaining full AF and metering capabilities.
The electronic viewfinder (EVF) of the RX10 IV does not let users down, as it produces a view that is both crisp and clear. Additionally, the display has a wide dynamic range, making it suitable for various settings. There are no complaints to be made regarding the back display either; the resolution is adequate, and the colors and details appear to be of high quality.
Sony DSC-RX10M4 Image Quality
Because the Sony RX10 IV sensor is identical to those found in the RX10 III and RX100 V, the camera’s photos did not include any unwelcome surprises. The RX10 IV can produce some stunning images at a variety of ISOs. Since it has such a wide dynamic range, it is also feasible to recover a respectable amount of detail in raw files. This is particularly impressive for a camera that has a 1-inch sensor.
The resolution is extremely high, and you shouldn’t have any problems generating an excellent A3 print from a file shot with the RX10 IV. This is especially true if you shoot at an ISO lower than 800 since this helps keep picture noise under control. Even if you end up spending more than that, which you probably will, things are still pretty positive.
At an ISO of 1600, color noise in the shadow portions of a picture is just beginning to develop, but at an ISO of 3200, there are indications of both color and luminance (grain-like) noise present. However, it is still more than sufficient, mainly if you shoot in raw since this enables you to reduce the impacts of post-processing manipulation.
If it were up to us, we wouldn’t go any higher than ISO6400. However, if you had to, you should still be able to generate satisfactory results as long as you’re honest with yourself about the maximum size of the printouts you can produce.
Sony DSC-RX10M4 Specs
|Body type||SLR-like (bridge)|
|Max resolution||5472 x 3648|
|Other resolutions||4864 x 3648, 5472 x 3080, 3648 x 3648, 3648 x 2736, 3648 x 2592, 3648 x 2056, 2544 x 2544, 2736 x 1824, 2592 x 1944, 2720 x 1528, 1920 x 1920, 640 x 480|
|Image ratio w:h||1:1, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9|
|Effective pixels||20 megapixels|
|Sensor photo detectors||21 megapixels|
|Sensor size||1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm)|
|Sensor type||Stacked CMOS|
|ISO||Auto, 100 – 12800 (expands to 64-25600)|
|Boosted ISO (minimum)||64|
|Boosted ISO (maximum)||25600|
|White balance presets||9|
|Custom white balance||Yes|
|Image stabilization notes||4.5 stops correction|
|JPEG quality levels||Extra fine, standard, fine|
|Focal length (equiv.)||24–600 mm|
|Autofocus||Contrast Detect (sensor)Phase DetectMulti-areaCenterSelective single-pointTrackingSingleContinuousTouchFace DetectionLive View|
|Digital zoom||Yes (4X)|
|Normal focus range||3 cm (1.18″)|
|Macro focus range||3 cm (1.18″)|
|Number of focus points||315|
|Screen type||TFT LCD|
|Minimum shutter speed||30 sec|
|Maximum shutter speed||1/2000 sec|
|Maximum shutter speed (electronic)||1/32000 sec|
|Manual exposure mode||Yes|
|Subject / scene modes||Yes|
|Flash range||10.80 m (at Auto ISO)|
|External flash||Yes (Multi-interface shoe)|
|Flash modes||Auto, fill-flash, slow sync, rear sync, off|
|Continuous drive||24.0 fps|
|Self-timer||Yes (2 or 10 sec, continuous)|
|Exposure compensation||±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)|
|Format||AVCHD, XAVC S|
|Videography notes||High speed modes at 240, 480, 960 fps|
|Modes||3840 x 2160 @ 30p / 100 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM3840 x 2160 @ 30p / 60 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM3840 x 2160 @ 24p / 100 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM3840 x 2160 @ 24p / 60 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 120p / 100 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 120p / 60 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 60p / 50 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 60p / 25 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 30p / 50 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 24p / 50 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM|
|Storage types||SD/SDHC/SDXC, Memory Stick Duo/Pro Duo/Pro-HG Duo|
|USB||USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)|
|Wireless notes||802.11b/g/n with NFC|
|Remote control||Yes (via smartphone)|
|Battery description||NP-FW50 lithium-ion battery and charger|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||400|
|Weight (inc. batteries)||1095 g (2.41 lb / 38.62 oz)|
|Dimensions||133 x 94 x 145 mm (5.24 x 3.7 x 5.71″)|
Sony DSC-RX10M4 Verdict
The RX10 IV is a fantastic bridge camera. It appears that Sony has addressed the primary complaint that was leveled against the RX10 III: that the camera’s focusing performance was slightly annoying.
Even though we found the camera’s burst rate excessively fast for most situations, certain kinds of photography could benefit from having the ability to shoot at 24 frames per second. The autofocus system has been improved to the point where it does justice to the camera, which makes it a good choice for photographing wildlife and action.