I bought the RX100 to potentially replace my Canon HF100 camcorder as my family / vacation camcorder. I'm really torn on whether to keep the camera or to buy a different camcorder like the CX760V or x900M.
Here are my first impressions - and don't get all sassy on me for my opinions of what it is.
The form factor kinda sucks, it is a bit hard to hold. I have read users wanting a grip and others replying that it doesn't and that it would make it bigger. My 2 cents is it definitely needs a little grip on the side and since the lens housing sticks out ¼” it really wouldn’t affect the size.
Even though it is a “pocket camera” I am concerned that it will get damaged. I owned a couple of point and shoots through the years and eventfully it seems that the lens protectors (or whatever those diagonally sliding things on the lens are called) get sand or dirt in them or get snagged in your pocket and stop working. This seems like it might be The Viewfinder – Since the back doesn’t tilt like a traditional camcorder, it can be hard and / or awkward to film kids or subjects that are down low.
As a big positive you will probably take the camera places you wouldn’t a camcorder and will get video you wouldn’t normally. E.g. You might want a few simple shots from an family dinner at a restaurant. It might also be great for a vacation where you just don’t want to haul around a camcorder.
I am of the opinion you have to have an external shotgun mic with a dead cat for any camcorder - unfortunately, you just can’t get sound outside, on many days, without it. Obviously, with the RX100 you have a trade off for the size. To me, the sound is generally decent, and I “steal” background audio clips from other places where the wind didn’t destroy the sound – this doesn’t work if you want to hear subject talking outside…
The two mics are at the top of the camera, you have to be careful not to put your fingers near or on top of the mics – I have done this a number of times.
Yes, you can clearly hear the grinding noise of the zoom – it’s quite bad... so you can’t zoom during video unless you don’t mind the noise or are going to use another audio clip. I’m fairly traditional and don’t generally zoom while recording anyway so this isn’t a bid deal.
No, you can’t hear the record button being pressed as someone suggested. Once you press record it takes about .5 sec to start recording, and when you hit the button to stop I can’t hear it on the recording.
Physically shooting video is not the most pleasant experience, shooting with a camcorder feels much better to me.
Zoom - The zoom length is pretty small, which is a trade off for the size. But big zooms can mean big image stability and resolution problems.
Aperture - There is an 1.8 aperture on the widest FL only. The problem is when you zoom to 29mm or greater the aperture quickly increases and makes low light shooting look awful. For nighttime indoor shooting, you will have to shoot at 1.8 at 28mm meaning, for me, I have to shoot my kids approx 2 feet from their heads to get the composition I want (and potentially slight FL distortion), which can make them flake out. For wider composed shots this isn’t a problem, but you may be limiting the type of shots you can get.
Focusing - The autofocus in video is a mixed bag. There is simple and easy to use focus tracking in which you click a button on any point to keep in focus. This is pretty effective. The problem is in lower light, (lower light defined as not outside in daylight), when you focus on something far and then quickly go to something in front of you it might take up to 5-6 secs to focus correctly – which is quite poor. This can be the same for the reverse, close to far. A traditional camcorder is by far better at focusing.
The video quality is quite good, better than my HF100. It has better dynamic range, much better lowlight capabilities. – much of this is probably due to the 60P and the larger sensor size.
Lowlight at 1.8 28mm is excellent and surprisingly clear, much better than my mosquito netted HF100. You can shoot all the tests you want with minimum lux etc – however my layman results revealed in a house with some lamps on, the low light image is really good. If you are in an area of a house with 1 lamp and you are in the opposite direction, the video is still ok, but you get muddled and slightly off colors.
Stabilization – Decent stabilization is a must for me, the RX100 is pretty good, but do to its small mass, it is a little tricky to get a smooth pan, but holding still is no problem. My HF100 works much better in regards to pans and quick movements etc. – even though the stabilization is fair.
ISO 3200 is usable!
Menu / Button Interface
Every shooting mode has a menu to tell you what is if for that pops up every time you enter the mode. This is pretty annoying and feels clunky. I can’t find out how to turn this off and I’ve also actually read the manual (but I couldn’t have missed it.)
There is a customizable function button which is pretty nice. E.g. you can have it set to a single item or up to 7 functions.
The main ring around the lens is customizable for FL, ISO, Exp Comp, however not for focus….
With 60P you will need an editor which supports this
With the 1” sensor you can get some DOF control with slightly blurred backgrounds, and the image is not a “videoy”
There is 60P 60i and some other weird 1440x1220 mode. If you want 24p, which isn’t for me, you can’t get it.
No histogram for video mode…
So, I’m really torn on whether to keep the camera, despite it’s faults, for the size convince, or get a traditional camcorder and deal with the size.