Sony RX100 M4: Lens

Lens Characteristics in Short | A Few Technical Data | Some Quotations from Lens Reviews | References

On this page, I would like to discuss one the specific characteristics that lead us to buy the Sony RX100 M4, namely the lens. I investigate what the available test results and the reviewers say, and I also offer links to camera reviews.

 

Lens Characteristics in Short

The Sony RX100 M4 features a fixed Carl Zeiss® Vario-Sonnar T* 8.8-25.7mm (24-70 mm equiv.) f/1.8- f/2.8 lens with a zoom range of 2.9 x (10 elements in 9 groups, including AA lens). Thus, it offers the equivalence of five "classic" prime lenses: 24 mm, 28 mm, 35 mm, 50 mm, and 70 mm. Zoom is set using the zoom lever or using the control ring around the lens (this is configurable). Manual distance is set using the control ring. There are no marks on the lens, and the camera regrettably lacks distance and depth of field indicators on the LCD screen (only a coarse distance scale is shown when focusing manually).

    

Figures: The lens in "off" state from the front (left) and in the "on" state from above (right)

The lens does not have a filter thread for attaching filters or close-up lenses. Sony offers an adapter that you can glue to the lens (VFA-49R1 49-mm filter adapter), but does not recommend it for the newer models (only for the models 1 and 2). Lensmate offer a similar adapter, and I ordered one from the U.S. It is said to be on its way (and also has to go through the customs)...

Find more technical information about the lens below.

In-Camera Correction of Lens Deficits

All lens designs are a compromise between different requirements and therefore have certain deficits - the Sony RX100 M4's lens is no exception to this rule. Therefore, the lens's deficits are corrected in software for JPG images, but not for RAW images (ARW format).

 

A Few Technical Data

Data Sony RX100 M4 Comment
Lens Carl Zeiss® Vario-Sonnar T* 8.8-25.7 mm (24-70 mm equiv.) f/1.8-f/2.8

10 elements in 9 groups ( including AA lens)

The number of elements was taken from Ken Rockwell's site; I am not sure as to whether this data is valid.
Zoom Optical Zoom: 2.9 x

Clear (Image) Zoom: 20 MP approx. 5.8 x / 10 MP approx. 8.2 x / 5 MP approx. 11 x / VGA approx. 44 x

Digital Zoom: up to 11 x

There are two types of digital zoom: Clear (Image) Zoom (higher quality, lower range), and Digital Zoom (lower quality, wider range)
Filter diameter None Use the Lensmate filter adapter to attach filters and close-up lenses (the Sony filter adapter VFA-49R1 does not seem to be compatible)
Aperture range From f/1.8 to f/11 (at 24 mm) / f/2.8 to f/11 (at 70 mm) in 1/3 EV increments  
Distance setting range iAuto: AF (W: Approx. 5cm (0.17 ft.) to Infinity, T: Approx. 30cm (0.99 ft.) to Infinity)
Program Auto: AF (W: Approx. 5cm (0.17 ft.) to Infinity, T: Approx. 30cm (0.99 ft.) to Infinity)
Macro is only practically usable at the wide end.
Smallest object field W: Approx. ? x ? cm (according to own tests - do not take this too seriously) Magnification: ? (without close-up lens)

Maximum Aperture Versus Focal Length

This is what I found out:

Focal Length (mm)
Equivalent
24 28 35 50 70
Actual 8.8 10.3 12.8 18.3 25.7
Maximum f-stop
1.8 2.5 2.8 2.8 2.8

Minimum Object Width and Zoom

I also tested the minimum distance and thus, the minimum object width, for some "standard" focal lengths (equivalent). Without showing the respective photos here, I list the minimum object widths for these focal lengths:

These are just coarse numbers, because I did not do "controlled" tests (these tests were done with autofocus).

Sharpness Data

See the Lens Reviews below.

 

Some Quotations from Lens Reviews

In the following, I cite a few sections about the lens of the Sony RX100 M4 from reviews that I found on the Internet. This selection is, of course arbitrary, but may help readers gain a certain "feeling" for the lens.

dpreview.com

On the "Lens Performance" page (page 13) of its review of the Sony RX100 M4, dpreview.com uses the images taken with the RX100 M3 because the lenses are identical. I also cannot find any resolution data in this test; the same applies to the test of the RX100 M3.

Here are two quotations from the camera review:

dpreview Studio Shot Comparison Tool - New Version

More detailed test results, but not really any words on the lens, can be found on the "Studio Comparison" page (page 14) of the Sony RX100 M4 review. This camera was tested with the new studio shot comparison tool, which no longer includes a "resolution" test (which is probably the reason for the missing resolution data mentioned above). The new test tool allows even a comparison with the RX100 M1, although there is no direct access to the test shots for this camera:

Again, the results are meant that you make up your own opinion on the lens...

digitalkamera.de (Free and Pay Content)

The German photography Website digitalkamera.de published a test of the Sony RX100 M4 (in German, performed with DxOMark software). Here is an excerpt of the result for the lens (too long for translation...):

The lp/mm values have been scaled to 35 mm values, but I do not quite understand what this means.

They also published a thorough technical lab test of the Sony RX100 M4 (in German), which can be downloaded for a fee from this page. Since this is pay content, I cannot report on this test here.

Sony RX100 IV Review on Imaging Resource

The following citations were taken from the Sony RX100 Review on Imaging Resource (page Optics):

Sony RX100 IV Review (Amy Davies, TechRadar)

Resolution:

Sony RX100 IV Review (Nasim Mansurov, Photography Life)

 

References

The following online reviews of the Sony RX100 M4 typically include a review of the lens:

 

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08.01.2019