Sony RX100 M4: Introduction

Purpose of My Sony RX100 M4 Pages | How I Became A Sony RX100 M4 Owner | Now I Am A Sony RX 100 M4 Owner... | Would I Recommend A Sony RX100 M4 to You?

 

Purpose of My Sony RX100 M4 Pages

My Sony RX100 M4 pages are intended as an information source for existing and prospective Sony RX100 M4 owners. However, there is no intention to offer a complete or even up-to-date information source, because I do not have the time for such a project. The focus of my pages is on presenting my personal experiences with this camera and thereby providing one or the other useful tip for others.

Note: I use the Sony RX100 M4 mostly in P mode, sometimes in A mode. I will therefore, not cover any of the following modes or specialties: Intelligent Auto mode, Superior Auto mode, Scene mode, Creative style, Picture effect, and many of the other gimmicks. Probably, this list is incomplete...

 

How I Became A Sony RX100 M4 Owner

Actually, I own already quite a few cameras, but I always read in forums that other photographers struggle with this problem as well and tend to own too many instead of too few cameras. Well, I discovered a supposed "gap" in my equipment, a compact camera with a zoom lens, an electronic viewfinder, and good picture quality for the holidays and for "quick shots." My Ricoh GR with its fixed focal length of 28 mm (equiv.) is often too inflexible, while my Leica X Vario (28-70 mm equiv.) and the Ricoh GXR with 24-85mm module often seem too bulky to me.

I would have liked a camera with a focal range of 24-100 mm (equiv.) and more, but 28-100 mm would have been OK for me. My wife's Sony RX100 M1 offers exactly this focal range, but unfortunately lacks a viewfinder. Briefly, I considered buying the RX100 M2, but, together with the viewfinder, this camera would amount to 900 Euros - far too much for me. So I then decided to drop the idea of "more tele range" and wavered between the M3 and M4. The former is significantly cheaper, the latter offers an electronic viewfinder with higher resolution and is overall faster. This finally made me buy the RX100 M4.

Figure: The Sony RX100 M4

Panasonic also offers compact cameras with 1" sensor in this focal range (and far beyond), but the lenses are rated lower and the viewfinder is tiny or there is none. Briefly, I also considered a Panasonic Lumix FZ1000, a bridge camera with 25-400 mm focal length (equiv.), but this is a completely different "beast" of camera and rather "bulky" and heavy. The electronic viewfinder and the autofocus speed impressed me, when I tried the camera in a store. However, I am not convinced of the the camera's image quality (the Sony's is reported to be better) and searching the Internet for opinions on this did not help me much. At least, I have found another gap in my camera collection, but did not close it...

A Few Words About the Sony RX100 M4

The first version of the Sony RX100, so to speak, the "original" and now called "M1" or "i", was released in 2012 as one of the first compact cameras with a 1" sensor on the market. It was soon widely regarded as the best camera in its class. This role was then taken over by each of its successors, as soon as it had been released. This is my wife's current camera.

The Sony RX100 M2 (or RX100ii) was released in 2013, offered a background-illuminated sensor (which was said to improve low light performance), a tilting screen, and an accessory shoe that could also accommodate an - expensive and good - electronic viewfinder. The last two characteristics make the camera a little larger and thus less suitable to pant pockets in comparison with its predecessor. In addition, the acquisition of an optical viewfinder was financially hardly viable - and if you plug-on the viewfinder, this is nothing for your pockets. Otherwise, there were a number of smaller improvements, which led testers usually to prefer this model to the original one. One important element, however, remained the same: the lens.

When we bought my wife's camera, the Sony RX100 M3 (or RX100iii) was the current model, which was published in 2014 and brought some more fundamental changes: The focal length range shifted to the "wide-angle" (from 28-100 mm to 24-70 mm equivalent), the display was even more tiltable to also allow shooting "Selfies," the hot shoe was gone, and now the camera featured an electronic "pop-up" viewfinder that is usually hidden. This is ideal to keep the camera small, but its resolution is not quite as high as that of the M2's EVF, and it also seemed to be a bit notchy (at least, for some users). The menus were re-arranged and were now more like the menus in other Sony cameras, which was generally regarded as an improvement. Overall, all these changes almost doubled the price of the camera compared with the current price of the original RX100 (which is much lower than when the camera was released). This, as well as the changes in the focal length range, made my wife refrain from the latest model. Moreover, several sources say that the M3's image processing is too "harsh" - its predecessors are less "harsh" in this respect. This is an issue that would deter me from buying the M3 ...

Mid-2015 the next model in this series appeared: the RX100 M4 (or RX100iv). Outwardly nearly unchanged, it offers more speed thanks to a new sensor, 4K video, slow motion, and a higher resolution for the electronic viewfinder. The price has also risen considerably! And finally, the RX100 M5 (or RX100v) was released in October 2016 and marked the current end point of the evolution of the RX100 camera series. And the M1 is still available...

 

Now I Am A Sony RX100 M4 Owner...

Meanwhile (end of April 2018) almost a year has passed and I have used the RX100 M4 a lot, among other things also on a Sweden and a France vacation. In fact, I hardly used my other cameras at all during this time (except for special purposes like astronomy photos). This is due to the compactness and "universality" of this camera, which is easy to grab and take with you. I have to admit that during this time I rather did a lot of "occasional photography" than tried to take "good photos"...

And I have to admit that at the beginning I looked into the corners of the photos, which is always one of the first things I do when a new camera is new, and that I was not very pleased (especially with regard to wide-angle shots). But a comparison with my wife's RX100 M1 showed that here camera is no better in this respect. So I decided not to look so closely into the corners of my RX100 M4 photos anymore...

I must also admit that it took me some time and effort to configure this camera so that the things that matter to me are easy to reach and set up. But in the meantime this works quite well, especially since I rarely take advantage of the special features of this camera. I have assigned important functions to function keys (AF/MF switching, AE lock) and use the control ring for step zoom. Some for me important functions are placed in the Fn menu, but I have not really "optimized" this menu yet...

Compared with my wife's RX100 M1, I found a lot of improvements in the RX100 M4 in general and in detail, which unfortunately were not reflected in firmware updates for the M1. Overall, the RX100 M4 is much faster and more responsive than the RX100 M1, and I think it is my fastest camera yet. But of course this cannot be applied to the older model. But displaying the distance scale with manual focus, step zoom, and many other things would be possible via a firmware update...

When I bought the RX100 M4, the built-in electronic viewfinder was an important argument for buying it. At the beginning, I had some reservations as to using the viewfinder, because it pops up, but on vacation I got used to the mechanism, and now I would not want to miss the viewfinder any more, because I take most of my photos using the viewfinder. I also like to use the tiltable LCD display, especially for close-ups, provided I can see something on the display... Of course, it would have been nice to have a tiltable viewfinder like I know it from some of my cameras, but of course this is not possible with the pop-up mechanism used.

I did not like the built-in macro function at a focal length of 24 mm. But since I purchased a Lensmate close-up lens adapter (in the USA), I can also use the RX100 M4 for close-ups. I use two achromats with +5 and +10 diopters, also together with +15 diopters. At +15 diopters, objects of approximately the size of a slide fit the image; thus, this combination corresponds to a scale of approximately 1:1 for full format.

Perhaps a word about the size of the camera: As nice as it is to own such a small camera, the Sony RX100 (all models) may be a bit too small. Often enough, I touch keys I did not really want to touch...

The only thing I really miss at the Sony RX100 M4 is a larger telephoto range. That is why I was always looking for 1" cameras with a larger zoom range before and after the purchase of the RX100 M4. I almost bought a Panasonic FZ1000 instead of the RX100 M4, but then I decided on the latter. But when the Panasonic TZ202 with a 15 x optical zoom appeared on the market at the beginning of 2018, I decided after an "information phase" to partner my RX100 M4 having a fast lens with a narrow zoom range with a Panasonic TZ202 that has a slow lens with a wide zoom range. I will see whether both cameras will coexist or whether only one or the other will prevail in the long run...

 

Would I Recommend A Sony RX100 M4 to You?

With the Sony RX100 M4, it happened to me for the first time that other people who saw me with the camera came up to me and said: "This is a (very) good camera!" So my choice was confirmed by others. Now, if someone would ask me whether I would recommend this camera, I would say "yes", provided that the requester is aware of its limitations (low zoom range, complex operation) and that these do not scare him or her off. There is no ideal camera anyway, and you always have to adapt a little to the possibilities of a camera. That is why many photographers have different cameras for their different photographic applications. I am one of them...

 

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29.04.2018