The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VA is one of half a dozen or so premium compact cameras currently on sale as part of the RX100 series. It’s an upgraded version of the RX100 V. The changes are minor, but the basic concept is the same. It’s a pocketable camera with an integrated EVF, a bright zoom lens for better low-light imaging, and a 1-inch sensor to set it apart from smartphones. Its image quality and autofocus are standouts, but the competition has gotten stronger and other aspects of the RX100 VA are a bit dated.
Sony didn’t invent the premium pocket camera category, but it certainly set the precedent for what it is in today’s market, where the 1-inch sensor size has become standard. This type of sensor is about four times the size (in terms of surface area) of imagers found in most smartphones and basic digital cameras. The original RX100, from 2012, was the first to use this sensor size. The VA looks just like others in the family. It’s a pocket-friendly camera with a black metal exterior. Branding is fairly minimal-the Sony badge is on the front in white, along with the Zeiss badge in blue.
Sony RX100 VA (Specs)
- 20MP – 1″ BSI-CMOS Sensor
- ISO 125 – 12800( expands to 80-25600)
- 24-70 mm F1.8-2.8 Zoom Lens
- Optical Image Stabilization
- 3″ Tilting Screen
- 2359k dot Electronic viewfinder
- 24.0 fps continuous shooting
- 4K (UHD) – 3840 x 2160 video
- 960 fps High-Speed Video
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Sony RX100 VA: Price
Sony RX100 VA: Design and Build
The VA looks just like others in the family. It’s a pocket-friendly camera with a black metal exterior. Branding is fairly minimal-the Sony badge is on the front in white, along with the Zeiss badge in blue. There’s no grip-I used the digital camera combined with the included wrist strap-but you can get an add-on from Sony or a third-party manufacturer if you prefer a bit more camera to hold onto.
At 2.3 by 4.0 by 1.6 inches (HWD) and 10.6 ounces, we consider the RX100 VA to be pocketable, though you may take disagree if you’re a fan of tight, skinny jeans. Its lens collapses into the body when the camera is powered down, but there’s still a bit of a protrusion. The front element is protected by an automatically closing lens cover rather than a lens cap, typical for this class.
Sony RX100 VA: Performance
The lens is an 8.8-25.7mm f/1.8-2.8 design. In full-frame terms, it matches the angle of view of a 24-70mm zoom, the go-to lens for many serious photographers. It includes an integrated neutral density filter, which is useful for making images and videos at wider apertures under bright skies. It’s a short zoom, offering a little less reach than competing models from Canon. The G7 X III and G5 X II, both recent releases, offer 24-100mm and 24-120mm coverage respectively, and match the RX100 VA’s f/1.8-2.8 f-stop.
The camera doesn’t include weather protection, but not many of this type do. The Sealife DC2000 is a waterproof model with a 1-inch sensor, but its autofocus and general speed aren’t on the same level as the RX100 VA. Sony offers the larger bridge-style RX10 family as an alternative for photographers looking for an all-weather solution.
Sony RX100 VA: Controls
Because the lens protrudes a bit, there’s room for a control ring around it. The ring turns continuously, and can be used to adjust the zoom, aperture, or other function. Top controls include the On/Off button, the shutter release and zoom control, and a Mode dial.
The EVF and pop-up flash are also housed on the top plate. Both raise and lower mechanically, with launch switches on the side and top plate, respectively.
Rear controls are all located to the right of the LCD. The Movie button is closest to the top, nested in the thumb rest. Below it are Fn, Menu, Play, and C/Delete buttons, as well as the rear handle wheel. It’s a flat design, but turns comfortably, and with a big unmarked switch at its center-think of it as Enter/Set. The wheel has directional presses as well-Display, Flash output, EV compensation, and Continuous Drive/Self-Timer.
The buttons are supplemented by an on-screen menu. It’s launched with the Fn key, and shows a bank of a dozen settings over the bottom of the frame. The menu has a transparent backdrop, so you can change settings without losing your view of the world. You can only navigate it via control keys, though-the RX100 VA doesn’t have a touch screen, a curious omission considering its asking price.
The LCD does tilt to face up and down, and may face all the way forward for selfies. It is a 3-inch panel with 1,228k dots of resolution. It sports Sony’s proprietary WhiteMagic tech, a design that adds white pixels to a typical RGB array for better visibility under the sun. There’s even a Sunny Weather option you can enable to pump up the brightness in harsh light, though it does come at the cost of battery life.
The electronic viewfinder is quite useful. It pops out of the body via a release catch, located on the left side, but isn’t ready to use immediately. You need to grab the eyecup and pull it back toward you to lock it in place. If you don’t, you’ll be greeted with a blurred see. And you need to remember to push it back in before lowering the EVF into the body.
It’s an extra step versus the newer style used by the RX100 VI and RX100 VII, which raises and lowers with a single action but doesn’t actually lock into position. The plus side is the RX100 VA’s EVF is less likely to be pushed out of place when actually using it.
The OLED EVF itself is very good when you consider the RX100’s size. It’s crisp (2,359k dots) and sports activities 0.59x magnification, less than you find on a good mirrorless camera like the Sony a6400 (0.70x).
Sony RX100 VA: Sensor and Photography Features
Sony RX100 VA has a 20.0MP 1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm ) sized BSI-CMOS sensor and features Bionz X processor. You can shoot at maximum resolution of 5472 x 3648 pixels with aspect ratios of 1:1, 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9. RX100 VA has a native ISO range of 125 – 12800 which can be boosted to 80-25600 and it can save files in RAW format which gives you a wider room for post processing.
Sony RX100 VA: Specifications
|Max resolution||5472 x 3648|
|Effective pixels||20 megapixels|
|Sensor size||1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm)|
|Focal length (equiv.)||24–70 mm|
|Max shutter speed||1/2000 sec|
|Format||MPEG-4, AVCHD, XAVC S|
|Storage types||SD/ SDHC/SDXC, Memory Stick Pro Duo/ Pro-HG Duo|
|USB||USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)|
|Weight (inc. batteries)||299 g (0.66 lb / 10.55 oz)|
|Dimensions||102 x 58 x 41 mm (4.02 x 2.28 x 1.61″)|
Sony RX100 VA: Conclusion
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 Mark VA is an updated version of the fifth camera in Sony’s popular lineup of 1″ enthusiast compacts. The ‘ VA’ model gains a deeper buffer, new white balance, metering, and autofocus options, and the ability to save 720p proxy footage along with 4K video. Support for Sony’s PlayMemories Apps has been removed.
Features that carryover includes on-sensor phase-detection AF and a burst rate of 24 fps with full-time focusing. The AF system has the same 25-pt contrast-detect program with 315 PDAF points that cover 65% of the frame. 4K video is oversampled without pixel binning and saved using the XAVC S codec. The RX100 V(A) continues to offer a 20.1MP 1″-type stacked CMOS sensor, 24-70mm F1.8-2.8 lens, pop-up EVF, and built-in Wi-Fi w/NFC.