It isn’t easy to think of another camera series that has made it to its seventh edition. Still, the popularity of Sony’s RX100 range goes a long way toward explaining how we got here and why it has been so successful.
Previous variants of the RX100 have made their way into the hands of many photographers, either as backups to models with interchangeable lenses or as primary cameras for individuals who do not desire to be burdened by a more extensive and heavier system. The RX100 III is the latest iteration of the RX100 series.
It is also considered to be one of the best cameras for traveling. However, with prices being asked far into the four-figure range, some people may find it difficult to justify the more current offerings.
Despite this, the tiny camera series seems to be headed in the right direction. Its most recent versions have larger lenses and inherit important capabilities from Sony’s Alpha line of mirrorless cameras while keeping the bodies as portable as they were before. What innovations does the Sony RX100 VII bring to the table that were not present in its predecessors?
Sony RX100 VII Features
While the first five models of the RX100 kept a minimal zoom range and a large maximum aperture, the RX100 VI replaced the lens with a focal length comparable to 24-200mm when measured in 35mm, and the RX100 VII keeps this optic.
Surprisingly, Sony could fit this lens into a body that was not significantly larger than it had been in the past, but the trade-off was a decrease in the maximum aperture.
The interior of the lens is aspherical, advanced aspherical, and extra-low dispersion glass, which all work together to help keep everything looking bright and clear. Additionally, the lens has Optical SteadyShot technology, which allows things to remain steady.
However, the sensors haven’t been the same this whole time, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the RX100 VII has been blessed with a new one, albeit one that still conforms to the exact 1-inch dimensions and stacked architecture as before. It is very unusual for a camera to have the exact sensor resolution throughout seven consecutive models.
Sony RX100 VII Build Quality
The RX100 design has undergone very little evolution since the first model in the series was released in 2012. Except for some minor cosmetic differences, the Sony RX100 VII appears virtually identical to the RX100 VI. Additionally, the metal body of the camera continues to have the same satisfyingly robust feel as that of earlier models.
It is remarkable when you think about all of the features that Sony could cram into such a little package, not the least of which was the optic.
However, this also means that the same criticisms that were leveled at the previous models can be dropped at the new model as well. Some of these criticisms include the lack of a grip around the front and only a small square of rubber on the back plate where the thumb falls. Other complaints include the lack of an ergonomic design.
Because of this, it is less comfortable to carry than competing models, such as the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III; it is a camera that is meant to be as tiny as possible. However, an optional grip is available for purchase if you require one.
Sony RX100 VII Autofocus
Even though the RX100 VI already had a fantastic focusing system, Sony made improving the autofocus capabilities of the RX100 VII one of the primary goals for this camera.
The autofocus (AF) systems on newer Alpha models, together with software updates to older cameras, have increased performance throughout that line. Now, Sony is working to bring the same magic to its Cyber-shot range of cameras by bringing the same magic to its Cyber-shot range of cameras.
So, what can we report? The number of phase-detect autofocus points has been increased from 315 on the RX100 VI to 357 on this model, and together they now cover 3% more of the frame than they did in the previous model.
In addition, the existing contrast-detect AF system, which had 25 points, has been upgraded to a 425-point system. Sony claims that the camera will be able to focus in as low as 0.02 seconds with this new system.
Real-Time Monitoring, which employs AI-powered tools to automatically transition between regular autofocusing while tracking a moving target and face/eye tracking when the system identifies a person’s face, is the most significant enhancement that has been made to the autofocus function of the camera.
As individuals move in and out of view or adjust their location regarding the camera, this should make it simpler to rapidly concentrate on what is essential in the scene.
Sony RX100 VII Performance
In the past, Sony’s menu systems have been criticized for being difficult to understand due to the abundance of options they provide; however, color coding in more current models has made navigating the menus significantly simpler.
What we have on the RX100 VII is similar to what we have on previous models. Even if there are a few unpleasant abbreviations here and there, the opportunity to set up a tab with your preferences is a saving grace because there is a lot to go through. However, there is still the option to set up a tab with your choices.
You can use the screen as a touchpad while using the viewfinder, which is always convenient in place of a joystick-type control. The touchscreen works well for adjusting the focusing point, and it is pleasant and sensitive to even lighter touches.
Sony RX100 VII Image quality
The image quality of the previous RX100 VII left us pleased; thus, we have high hopes for the new Sony RX100 VII; can it live up to these expectations?
In a nutshell, the camera can create high-quality photographs in a wide variety of lighting circumstances with relatively little user input necessary.
Detail is excellent in general, and what is particularly good is how well this is maintained when using ISO settings closer to the middle of the sensitivity range; plenty of detail lurks in slightly noisier images, so it’s just a matter of removing this noise. Overall, the quality of the detail is excellent.
Overall, the details are excellent in the middle of the frame, and they are generally well-maintained to the edges. There is just a little bit of softness in the corners at both ends of the lens, but other than that, the entire lens has excellent detail retention.
Although this seems to be worse at the wide-angle end of the zoom range than it is at the telephoto lengths, it does tend to improve slightly when the aperture is stopped.
Sony RX100 VII Specs
|Max resolution||5472 x 3648|
|Image ratio w:h||1:1, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9|
|Effective pixels||20 megapixels|
|Sensor size||1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm)|
|Sensor type||Stacked CMOS|
|Boosted ISO (minimum)||64|
|White balance presets||10|
|Custom white balance||Yes|
|CIPA image stabilization rating||4 stop(s)|
|JPEG quality levels||Extra fine, fine, standard|
|Focal length (equiv.)||24–200 mm|
|Autofocus||Contrast Detect (sensor)Phase DetectMulti-areaCenterSelective single-pointTrackingSingleContinuousTouchFace DetectionLive View|
|Digital zoom||Yes (2x)|
|Normal focus range||8 cm (3.15″)|
|Macro focus range||8 cm (3.15″)|
|Screen type||TFT LCD|
|Minimum shutter speed||30 sec|
|Maximum shutter speed||1/2000 sec|
|Maximum shutter speed (electronic)||1/32000 sec|
|Manual exposure mode||Yes|
|Subject / scene modes||Yes|
|Flash range||5.90 m (at Auto ISO)|
|Continuous drive||90.0 fps|
|Exposure compensation||±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)|
|AE Bracketing||±3 (3, 5 frames at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV, 2 EV steps)|
|Format||MPEG-4, AVCHD, XAVC S|
|Modes||3840 x 2160 @ 30p / 100 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM3840 x 2160 @ 30p / 60 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM3840 x 2160 @ 25p / 100 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM3840 x 2160 @ 25p / 60 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM3840 x 2160 @ 24p / 100 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM3840 x 2160 @ 24p / 60 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 120p / 100 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 120p / 60 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 100p / 100 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 100p / 60 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 60p / 50 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 60p / 28 Mbps, MP4, H.264, AAC1920 x 1080 @ 60p / 28 Mbps, AVCHD, MTS, H.264, Dolby Digital1920 x 1080 @ 60i / 24 Mbps, AVCHD, MTS, H.264, Dolby Digital1920 x 1080 @ 60i / 17 Mbps, AVCHD, MTS, H.264, Dolby Digital1920 x 1080 @ 50p / 50 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 50p / 28 Mbps, MP4, H.264, AAC1920 x 1080 @ 30p / 50 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 30p / 16 Mbps, MP4, H.264, AAC1920 x 1080 @ 25p / 50 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 25p / 16 Mbps, MP4, H.264, AAC1920 x 1080 @ 24p / 50 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 24p / 24 Mbps, AVCHD, MTS, H.264, Dolby Digital1920 x 1080 @ 24p / 17 Mbps, AVCHD, MTS, H.264, Dolby Digital1280 x 720 @ 30p / 6 Mbps, MP4, H.264, AAC1280 x 720 @ 25p / 6 Mbps, MP4, H.264, AAC|
|Storage types||SD/ SDHC/SDXC, Memory Stick Pro Duo|
|USB||USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)|
|HDMI||Yes (micro-HDMI with uncompressed 4K/30p output)|
|Wireless notes||802.11b/g/n with Bluetooth and NFC|
|Remote control||Yes (wired or smartphone)|
|Battery description||NP-BX1 lithium-ion battery & USB charger|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||260|
|Weight (inc. batteries)||302 g (0.67 lb / 10.65 oz)|
|Dimensions||102 x 58 x 43 mm (4.02 x 2.28 x 1.69″)|
Sony RX100 VII Verdict
The Sony RX100 VII is, without a shadow of a question, a fantastic piece of photographic equipment. It was likely that any changes Sony made here would only make it a better performer gave the strong performance and enormous popularity of previous models. That is pretty much the case.
The autofocus system deserves special recognition because not only is it quick, but it is also exceptionally good at following moving subjects, detecting faces even when they are far away, and switching between face/eye detection and more standard tracking as the subject changes in distance and orientation. This is a testament to the autofocus system’s remarkable versatility.
Even though some competing models don’t fare too poorly in terms of speed when compared to others, the fact that some of them are still only based on contrast-detect AF makes it unlikely that they’ll be able to catch up with what Sony is doing here until that aspect of their design is improved.
In addition to that, it has excellent image quality, detailed 4K video, and a significant amount of control over both of those aspects.
The body’s high build quality and small size – especially when considering the lens and the inclusion of the viewfinder – make it easy to carry around and slip into a pocket. You can be confident that it will survive the occasional bump and scrape. The viewfinder can be retracted, and the LCD screen is acceptable. This combination makes for a perfect partnership.
Sony RX100 VII Pros & Cons
- Good JPEG color and detail
- Excellent dynamic range
- A quality lens with a hugely flexible range
- Complex user interface
- Autofocus menu options appear complicated
- Low-light performance limited by ‘slow’ lens