Sony RX100: Pocket Cinema Camera

I have long dreamt of the ability to video-blog my life in a cinematic yet low-profile way.  To me, this means the ability to attain shallow depth-of-field, clean low light performance, and full manual controls.  And everything has to be able to disappear into my pockets so I can look cool in clubs and avoid the Asian Tourist Effect (ATE).

Sony has recently dropped a bombshell on the point-and-shoot camera world with the DSC-RX100.  Ideally, I would love to carry two of these at all times and be able to record spontaneous conversations cinematically.  Imagine the documentary possibilities.

Here’s why it’s special:

Tiny Size – Like, really small.  It will easily fit in a jeans pocket, which to me often means the difference between bringing a camera or leaving it at home.  Competitors like the Nikon J1 and Canon G1x are not easily jeans-pocketable.

The RX100 goes well with great hair.

Larger Image Sensor – This is the first point-and-shoot cam with a 1″ sensor, which is about 4x larger than your typical point-and-shoot CMOS chip. Bigger sensor means excellent pics/videos in low light and attractively defocused backgrounds (bokeh).  While the effect is most obvious in macro shots, here is a shot that represents more “normal” cinematic shooting conditions:

rx100 sample portrait

Any other p&s camera would give you a sharp background.

Full Manual Control in Video Mode – Until now, almost all point-and-shoot cameras were crippled in their video abilities due to a lack of manual controls. Now you can use aperture priority mode to keep the aperture open and background soft.  To keep the shutter speed at a cinematic 1/50 sec in bright light, however, you’ll need an ND filter.  This camera doesn’t take filters yet, but the folks at cheesycam are working on an aftermarket solution.

Slow Motion – This camera only shoots at 60fps, so in editing you can choose to either throw away the extra frames and create normal 24p or 30p, or you can make any shot into smooth slow motion.

Image Stabilization – While I have heard the stabilization in this camera isn’t as effective as that in their other offerings such as the HX9v, it nonetheless is an indispensable tool when shooting with such a small camera.

There is no mic input, so you’ll still have to post-sync your sound.

For a full review of the RX100’s cinematic capabilities, go here:


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Latest Comments
  1. PannyGH

    Your goal and my goal is the same buddy. Imagine being able to go anywhere and get insane quality videos of everything!

  2. Julian C

    So I’ve been researching this in prep to buy it and here are a list of the key problems for anyone that wants to know.

    For beginners with this type of manual interface will find a steep learning curve as it has been noted that Sony didn’t include a manual with release, something that won’t bother the more serious videographers but I do hope Sony will resolve this.

    There is also no charging while filming for those that want to use the camera to continuously film you’ll need to buy spare batteries which becomes another problem as to charge a battery you need to have it in the camera at present as no external charger has been released.

    Finally you cannot film and use the zoom without massive quality drops. As great as this camera is it may be worth waiting just one more year for something to come out that really is a perfect CSC w/ video although this is the closest thing out there so far that is still compact.

    • brandon

      I just picked up a couple of these cams and have been playing with them. Agreed on all points, though the zoom doesn’t drop in quality per se, just low light ability. And from what I’ve seen, the digitial zoom appears to be lossless for the first quarter or so of its range. This probably results from cropping the sensor as opposed to blowing up the image with software (aka Clear Image Zoom).

      The laws of physics make it difficult to incorporate a faster lens into such a small package, although I invite you to check out Samsung’s innovative dual-lens solution for shallow depth-of-field:

  3. Mark

    I’m wondering how you properly convert your 60p to 24p in FCPX. I’ve done a few google searches but all the results seem to be about conforming to 24p for slow motion. I just want to create regular motion at the 24p frame rate. Any tips on how to do this? FCPX seems to want to keep the footage at 59.94 even if I drop it on a 23.98 timeline…

    • brandon

      I actually have never tried to do the frame rate conversion in FCP X. My best guess is that you do the pulldown to 24p in the file export, not the timeline. So when you send it to compressor, choose 24p as the output framerate.

  4. MTC

    I just picked up the Canon G15 and am interested to compare it with the RX100 and NEX6 model. Need to learn how to cheat the automatic ISO on the G!% with some sort of priority lock, but so far I’m liking the 1.8 – 2.8 lens and the video is pretty sweet. Have you considered the G15?

    • Brandon Li

      I have considered it, but I’m offput by the lack of manual controls. I’d love to see a sample video, especially some portrait shots done at f/2.8 telephoto. I want to see if the depth of field is any shallower than what I’m getting with my RX100. Let me know if you can post something, thanks!

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