Whilst looking for all the world like a souped up “action camera”, don’t be fooled
The first question you are invariably asked when you show someone the Sony CyberShot RX0 and you have told them the price, is “why so expensive when I can get a GoPro for $500 or a knock off for even less!”
The answer dear reader, is that the RX0 is not an action camera. Well it is, but it is much, much more as well.
Instead, think of it as a miniaturised grown up camera, with all the attributes to boot and then a bit more besides.
The waterproof and shock proof design gives the RX0 a wide range of flexibility; the high rigidity of the extra super duralumin chassis enhances the reliability of the RX0, especially under tough conditions. Sony says it has put the camera under rigorous, repeated testing to ensure that its performance is consistent, especially when shooting scenes of land, sea and air.
To be exact, the RX0 rated at 10 metres depth in water, shockproof for a 2.0 metre drop and can withstand a crush weight of 200Kg
Like it’s larger CyberShot siblings, the RX0 boasts an Exmor RS CMOS Sensor and BIONZ image processor. Super slow motion is available with frame rates up to 960 fps and an anti distortion shutter speed of up to 1/32,000 sec. For fast continuous shooting, the RX0 can perform at 16 fps to capture moving objects in high detail and Picture Profile and S-Log2 gamma settings enable pro-style movie expression.
Uncompressed 4K footage can be shot and recorded to an external recorder only sadly.
The inbuilt lens is a ZEISS Tessar T 24mm with a fixed F4 aperture. Focal length range is from 7.7mm to 30.7mm depending on settings. ISO can be dropped as low as 125 and up to a maximum 25600.
On the rear is a 3.8cm colour TFT LCD screen. It is not a touch screen, but is quite readable in sunlight, albeit with very small text as you’d expect. To the left of the screen is a lift off panel underneath of which is the slot for the microSD card, USB and micro HDMI port. NFC is not supported but WIFI is as is Bluetooth.
Dimensionally, the RX0 is 59mm wide, 40.5mm tall and 29.8mm deep.
One thing we did not like was the pop out panel covering the interface ports is removeable, and as we found, easily dropped. Hopefully a future model will have this panel on some sort of hinge or with a restraining device to keep it attached to the camera. (We have since discovered this part should be tethered, but on the sample unit it had snapped somehow)
The full specifications of the RX0 can be found Specificationsincluding the complete range of recording modes (of which there are lots, as well as a whole bunch of shooting modes, picture effects, drive modes and dynamic functions.)
The RX0 has been designed not only as a standalone camera, but to be used in concert with other cameras thus opening up the gamut of the potential of the camera. Sony says that for multi-angle shooting with multiple cameras is made easy as “… Respective optical axes of multiple RX0 cameras used together can be properly aligned for flexible setups, thanks to the cameras’ minimal symmetric design”.
Cameras can be controlled with a smartphone or tablet and the Sony PlayMemories app installed.
The RX0 appears to have been designed as its own little ecosphere with a range of accessories available to make the camera suitable for different environments and shooting conditions.
For example, there is a cage, underwater housing (to go beyond the 10 metre depth limit of the standalone camera), a camera control box for a wired network and multiple cameras, filter adaptor kit, external microphones and more on the Sony website. No doubt there are more on the way, but for mounting, thankfully a standard thread is on the underside of the RX0.
When placed against a GoPro or similar, the price tag of $1049 does look steep, but after delving deeper into the capabilities and functionality of the RX0, it’s easy to see how this, as I said at the start, is much, much more than a relatively simplistic “Action Camera” style of beast.
Indeed, Sony make its own Action Camera which is a very capable and cost-effective animal on its own, so the RX0 is not even needed as a GoPro competitor.
Sony seems to be treating and marketing the RX0 more as an “artistic” camera if the samples on the website are anything to go by. And it can be said the results they show are quite stunning and worth a look. I have reproduced one here to give you an idea.
Would I buy one? I feel there is a specific place for a camera such as the RX0 and in that sense, I cannot see a place for it for my day-to-day usage. But I can certainly see that in the right hands, some beautiful imagery can be created with it, and I can think off the top of my head a number of photographers and videographers who would make very good use of the RX0.
I understand that well known photographer / cinematographer Pieter deVries ACS has already put the camera through its paces and called it “brilliant”. You couldn’t get a better testimony than that.