Sony RX100 M4: Zoom Modes

Introduction | Menu Settings | Zoom Indicators (Zoom Lever) | Step Zoom (Control Ring) | Comments | References

On this page, I present some experiments with the different zoom types that the Sony RX100 M4 offers: optical zoom, Clear Image Zoom, and Digital Zoom.

Note: I do not present sample photos for the different zoom types here. I did this extensively for the RX100 M1 and I do not think that there will be much difference between the two models in this respect. Thus, for sample photos, please look at page RX100 M1: Zoom Modes.

 

Introduction

The Sony RX100 M1 offers three different types of zoom functionality:

  1. Optical Zoom: 24-70 mm equiv., 1 x - 2.9 x)
  2. Clear Image Zoom (electronic): 70 - 140 mm equiv., 2.9 x - 5.8 x
  3. Digital Zoom (electronic): 70 - 280 mm equiv., 2.9 x - 11 x

Note: If both electronic zoom variants are enabled, Clear Image Zoom takes over within its range (2.9 x to 5.8 x).

The electronic zoom variants are enabled/disabled in the Custom menu (page 3). For details, see below.

Clear Image Zoom is a digital zoom that offers better image quality at a lower zoom range than the so-called Digital Zoom. Alexander White writes about the Clear Image Zoom:

In my experiments I tried, among others, to find out whether the claimed better image quality of the Clear Image Zoom is indeed visible (see the samples below).

Smart Zoom: There is also another possibility to extend the range of the optical as well as of both electronic zooms: to reduce the Megapixel count from 20 Megapixels to 10 Megapixels or less. For 10 Megapixels, you get a longest focal length of 100 mm equiv. (but less pixels than with 20 Megapixels), that is, with this image size, the Sony RX100 M4 behaves like a 10 Megapixels camera with an optical zoom range from 24 to about 100 mm equiv. (Clear Image Zoom: about 200 mm equiv., Digital Zoom: about 400 mm equiv.). Sony calls this feature Smart Zoom. It crops the image und thus, you get no image deterioration at the expense of less resolution as long as the Smart Zoom is involved.

 

Menu Settings

To activate Clear Image Zoom and/or Digital Zoom, you have to go to the Custom menu, page 3. For details, see the Figures below:

    

The Zoom Setting menu item in the Custom menu

 

Clear Image Zoom on, Digital Zoom off, optical zoom active

     
 

Optical zoom on, Clear Image Zoom off, Digital Zoom off

 

Digital Zoom on, Clear Image Zoom active, optical zoom active

 

Zoom Indicators (Zoom Lever)

The zoom state is briefly indicated in the display if you use the zoom lever (Custom menu, page 5, Custom Key Settings > Control Ring to Standard). Basically you see the rough position within the focal range, the zoom factor, when digital zoom is enabled, and if so, which of its two variants is active (C = Clear Image Zoom, D = Digital Zoom). ´The scale disappears after a few seconds.

    

Optical zoom in effect

 

Optical zoom in effect

 

Clear Image Zoom in effect

 

The scale disappears after a short while...

 

Digital Zoom in effect

 

The scale disappears after a short while...

    

Smart Zoom in effect (for 10 MP and less)

 

The scale disappears after a short while...

Notes:

Zooming with the Control Ring

If you assign the zoom function to the camera's control ring at the lens (Custom menu, page 5, Custom Key Settings > set Control Ring to Zoom), you will get a different display. It is similar to when the zoom is set to Step Zoom, except for that here, intermediate values can be reached within the range of the optical zoom. For photos of the screens, see below.

 

Step Zoom (Control Ring)

On my Ricoh GXR camera I have a feature that I like a lot, called step zoom. That means that the camera offers several standard focal lengths (24 mm, 28 mm, 35 mm, etc.) and allows you to jump between these steps instead of zooming continuously. This feature is handy, if you like to use those standard focal lengths. On the negative side, zooming takes longer, particularly for larger differences in focal length. The Sony RX100 M4 offers this feature as well if you zoom using the control ring (the M1 does not offer step zoom). In the Custom menu, page 5, you can enable or disable this feature:

         

The Zoom Func. on Ring menu item in the Custom menu (page 5) allows you to select Step Zoom or a faster version of the continuous zoom (Quick).

 

Step Zoom selected

 

Step Zoom is indicated on the LCD screen (or in the EVF)

Of course, you also have to enable zooming with the control ring (Custom menu, page 5, Custom Key Settings > set Control Ring to Zoom).

         

The Custom Key Settings menu item in the Custom menu (page 5) allows you to select Zoom as operation for the control ring (default: Standard)

 

Control Ring selected (page 1) ...

 

... and set to Zoom

If you zoom using the control ring, the zoom display differs from the display when zooming using the zoom lever:

    

Only optical zoom active

 

Clear Image Zoom active, but still within optical zoom range

 

Optical zoom active, Clear Image Zoom on

 

The scale disappears after a short while...

 

Optical zoom active, Clear Image Zoom and Digital Zoom on; within Digital Zoom range

 

The scale disappears after a short while...

Notes:

 

Comments

Usage of the Zoom Modes

I use a combination of optical zoom and Clear Image Zoom, that is, Clear Image Zoom is enabled. This way, I have, at least, a zoom range from 24 to 140 mm equiv., although with lower image quality beyond 70 mm. But usually this quality is sufficient for me. With these settings, I also prevent that I can "rush" beyond 140 mm equiv., which would lead to visibly poorer image quality.

Using Step Zoom with the control ring helps me avoid running into Clear Image Zoom inadvertently. Step Zoom slows down the zooming process, but I like to shoot at "classic" focal lengths. For faster zoom speeds I would have to use the zoom lever (and set a higher zoom speed).

 

References

 

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22.10.2017