Sony RX100 M1: Close-Ups with Aperture Variations

Introduction | Sample Photos | Conclusions

This page and its companion pages discusses the macro abilities of the Sony RX100 M1. Although the camera has a macro mode (allowing shots from 5 cm), I would not call these photos "macros" and therefore use the term "close-up."

This page demonstrates the effect of varying the aperture in close-up shots.

Note: The following post on RX100 Macros (09-11-2012 05:42 PM) community.sony.com/t5/Cybershot-Cameras/RX-100-Macro/td-p/28896 offers a lot of useful information about using the Sony RX100 M1 for macros. For more close-up photos see pages Close-Up Introduction and First Samples, Close-Up Samples and Close-Up Samples - Part 2.

 

Introduction

Usually, you want a lot of depth of field in close-up shots, because even small differences in distance matter and may lead to fuzzy and unusable photos. On the other hand, shallow depth of field can make photos more interesting or even appear like art. Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to vary aperture and observe the effect of this.

First, I have to talk a little about the 1" sensor of the Sony RX100. This sensor is considerably larger than the ones used in typical compact cameras. Thus, it lets the Sony RX100 excel in image quality in this class. On the other hand, it is smaller than a 4/3, APS-C or full-frame sensor. Here are a few numbers for comparison:

Format Full-frame Format APS-C (DX) APS-C (Canon) MFT 1" 2/3" 1/1.7" 1/1.8" 1/2.3"
Dimensions (mm) 36 x 24 23.7 x 15.6 22.3 x 14.9 17.3 x 13.0 13.2 x 8.8
12.8 x 9.3
8.8 x 6.6 7.6 x 5.7 7.2 x 5.4 6.2 x 4.62
Area (mm2) 864 370 329 225 116
119
58 43 39 29
Diagonal (mm) 43.3 28.4 27.1 21.3 16 11 9.5 8.9 7.7
Crop Factor 1.0 1.5 1.6 2.0 2.7 4 4.5 4.9 5.6

Note: The values for the dimensions of the various sensor types differ slightly in the various sources. Here, I essentially follow Wikipedia Wikipedia (Formatfaktor). Many of the values are rounded. For more information, see page About Focal Length, Aperture, and Depth of Field for Different Sensor Sizes.

Sensor size has dramatic effects on a variety of photographic attributes, such as "apparent" focal length (defined by the crop factor), depth of field (also dependent on the crop factor), noise behavior, dynamic range, and more. As I am interested in depth of field here, it is important to know that it depends on the crop factor in the following way: Simply multiply the aperture value that you set with the crop factor to get the "effective" aperture value (with respect to the depth of field, not to light sensitivity). This provides you with a "feeling" for the to be expected depth of field. For the Sony RX100's 1" sensor and some other sensors we get the following "effective" apertures:

  Sensor Size
Crop Factor
f Value
Aperture of Camera >>
1.8 2.8 4 5.6 8 11
Effective
Aperture
for
Depth of Field
Full-Frame 1.0 1.8 2.8 4 5.6 8 11
APS-C 1.5 2.7 4.2 6 8.4 12 16.5
1" (RX100 M1) 2.7 4.86 7.56 10.8 15.12 21.6 29.7
1/2.3" 5.6 10.08 15.68 22.4 31.36 44.8 61.6

From the table, we can see that the depth of field of an 1" sensor lies somewhat "in the middle" between full-frame and APS-C sensor cameras on the one hand, and small-sensor cameras on the other hand. The huge depth of field of small-sensor cameras makes shooting close-ups and even macros easy with these cameras, but the pictures often look a little bit dull. On the other hand, I personally found it very difficult to shoot macros with an APS-C camera, having lots of discards, but also rewarding when I got interesting looking results. With the Sony RX100 M1, taking close-up shots is not as easy as with a small-sensor camera like my wife's Ricoh CX4, but still not too nerve-straining. Typically, I use an aperture value of f/8 to make life easier for me (which is equivalent to f/22 on a full-frame camera, as the table shows!). Nevertheless, I was interested in finding out, in which ways a photo is affected, when I open aperture up to the maximum of f/1.8 (at the wide end). Below, you will find some results of my tests.

 

Sample Photos

The following samples were taken in October 2015 to demonstrate the effect of varying the aperture for close-up shots with the Sony RX100 M1. Click the photos to see larger versions (900 x 600).

Motif 1

   
f/1.8

  f/2.8
 

The f/1.8 version looks rather "creamy" and would not be acceptable, except for a special effect. The f/2.8 version still has a nice blurred background. The f/8 version looks a bit confusing.

Note: It all depends on the background...

f/8    

Motif 2

   
f/1.8

  f/2.8
 
f/4

  f/5.6
  The f/1.8 version looks rather "creamy" and would not be acceptable, except for a special effect. The f/2.8 version still has a nice blurred background. In the f/5.6 and f/8 versions, the background may already look disturbing for some viewers.
f/8
   

Motif 3

 
f/1.8

  f/2.8
   
f/4

  f/5.6
 

Here you need to look closer to find differences between the different aperture values. If you look at the larger versions, the differences are easier to find, and the f/1.8 version looks quite "creamy" in the lower left corner.

Here, the differences in background blur are there, but not as extreme as in the preceding examples. It all depends on the motif!

f/8
   

Motif 4

 
f/1.8

  f/2.8
   
f/4

  f/5.6
 

The f/1.8 version looks rather "creamy" and would not be acceptable, except for a special effect. The f/2.8 version still has a nice blurred background.

While in the first two or three versions, the flower stands out, this is not the case for the f/5.6 and f/8 versions.

f/8
   

Motif 5

 
f/1.8

  f/2.8
   
f/4

  f/5.6
 

The f/1.8 version looks rather "creamy" and would not be acceptable, except for a special effect. The versions up to f/5.6 still have a nice blurred background. Regrettably, the f/8 version has a somewhat different section.

Again, this is a motif, where the differences in background blur are less pronounced than in other examples. One reason for this might be that the object, that is, the rose, is larger. But for the rose, you can clearly see differences in sharpness - it all depends on you and what you want.

f/8
   

 

Conclusions

Just a few conclusions that I took from the samples:

All in all, it was interesting for me to see how many options the Sony RX100 M1 offers for close-up shots when you vary the aperture value.

 

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