Just as I predicted at the start of the year, 2012 is shaping up to be the year of the big sensor in the fixed-lens point-and-shoot market. The new Sony Cyber-shot RX100 joins the Canon PowerShot G1 X and Fujifilm X10 in the Big Sensor Club with a new 1-inch type 20.2-megapixel CMOS chip. However, Sony has managed to master something that the competition hasn't, and that's the size factor. The RX100 rivals the Canon PowerShot S100 when it comes to dimensions, making it the smallest fixed-lens point-and-shoot with a large sensor to date.

The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 is also augmented with a bright f/1.8 Carl Zeiss lens with T* coating to reduce ghosting and flaring caused by light reflections. The camera also benefits from seven aperture blades that produce an almost perfectly round diaphragm opening for enhanced bokeh effects. On the downside, the RX100 is saddled with a 3.6x optical zoom, but it appears to be a sacrifice in the name of quality glass.

Back to the RX100's sensor. It's a 1-inch type, which is the same size as the Nikon 1 mirrorless cameras. It's also a 20.2-megapixel Exmor CMOS configuration fortified with Sony's BIONZ image processing, so I expect great things from this combination. The fact that Sony now offers a point-and-shoot with an imaging sensor that's four times larger than a traditional 1/2.3-inch sensor is a dream come true. The camera has a maximum ISO sensitivity of 6400, and it can be expanded to 25,600 in certain specialty shooting modes. The RX100 is also capable of full 1080 60p HD video recording in P/A/S/M shooting modes for advanced manual control, and can shoot stills in RAW.

The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 is also gifted in the interface department, flaunting a 3-inch 1,229,000-pixel WhiteMagic display, which is the highest resolution available on a point-and-shoot. If you're wondering what WhiteMagic refers to, it's not a Kentucky Derby horse. Sony uses white pixels in addition to RGB pixels in order to boost display brightness and enhance visibility outdoors. The RX100 will also have a Function button with scrollable interface that allows the shooter to adjust Exposure Compensation, Focus Mode, ISO and much more.

The Function Menu on the Sony Cyber-shot RX100

The camera will feature a host of other features carried up from the company's traditional point-and-shoot lineup, including Photo Creativity filters, Face Registration, 10fps Continuous Shooting, multiple aspects, Optical SteadyShot and Sweep Panorama. New advanced features include a Digital Level Gauge, Peaking, MF Assist and an assignable lens control ring.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 will ship at the end of July for $649.99.

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100 Specifications

Click for larger view.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 Gallery




Sony's New Advanced Cyber-shot RX100 Camera Packs Large Sensor and Bright Lens into Stylish, Pocket-Size Body

New Model Contains World's First 1.0-inch type 20.2 MP Exmor CMOS Sensor and Ultra-bright F1.8 Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T* Fixed Lens to Deliver Outstanding Picture Quality

SAN DIEGO, May 16, 2012 – Travelling light no longer means compromising on picture quality with the Cyber-shot® DSC-RX100 camera, Sony's new flagship compact camera.

Striking the ultimate balance of form and function, the stylish, aluminium-built RX100 camera inherits many advanced imaging features from Sony's α range of A-mount and E-mount cameras, delivering beautiful still images, crisp full HD videos and a level of manual control and creativity unmatched by any other camera of its size.

"This camera is ideal for travel, portraits or street photography, delivering impressive results in a variety of lighting conditions with an intuitive, customizable control interface," said Yosuke Tomoda, director of the Cyber-shot business at Sony Electronics.  "It's a perfect step-up model for point and shoot users not interested in larger DSLR or compact system cameras, and also an outstanding choice for enthusiasts who may already own a large DSLR and are looking for a high-quality, pocket-sized 'all-in-one' second camera."

At the heart of the Cyber-shot RX100 is the world's first 1.0-inch type Exmor® CMOS sensor with a resolution of 20.2 effective megapixels. Specially developed by Sony, the sensor has an area that's approximately four times larger than the 1/2.3-type sensors in traditional point-and-shoot cameras. The sensor's larger area takes in more light while capturing content, resulting in beautiful, detail-packed images and Full HD movie clips with very low noise.

The larger sensor is partnered with an exceptionally bright Carl Zeiss® Vario-Sonnar T* fixed lens with 3.6x optical zoom range.  In contrast to standard point-and-shoot cameras, it has a wide F1.8 maximum aperture to let in additional light and complement the resolving power of the larger sensor.

Similar to high-performance DSLR optics, the lens features seven- bladed circular aperture. This makes it easy to produce images with subjects in sharp focus against a smoothly-blurred, beautifully defocused background. The lens also features an Advanced Aspherical (AA) lens element that contributes to the camera's extremely compact dimensions without sacrificing optical zoom performance or resolution.

Newly optimized to complement the 1.0-inch type sensor and lens, the camera's powerful BIONZ® image processor maximizes shooting response times while helping assure exceptionally clean, natural images. It also extends sensitivity right up to ISO 25600 (using Multi Frame Noise Reduction), allowing for exceptionally clear handheld images in low light conditions. To capture fast-moving subjects, the RX100 camera can also shoot at up to 10 frames per second (in full resolution) and has high-speed autofocus that locks onto a subject in as quickly as 0.13 seconds (depends on scene and lighting conditions).

The new RX100 camera features a high-resolution 3-inch 1,229k dot Xtra Fine LCD™ display and also adds a new feature: WhiteMagic™ technology. This uses additional white pixels to boost screen brightness, allowing users to see subtle details and tones on the screen in all types of shooting environments, including outdoors in bright sunlight.

For making manual adjustments while shooting both still images and movies, the new camera has a smooth control ring around the lens body, which can be used to alter exposure, zoom, creative picture effects and a variety of other customizable functions.   Additionally, frequently used functions can be assigned to the Fn (function) button for instant access, and the Memory Recall feature can store up to three groups of customized shooting settings based on user preference.

Similar to a DSLR-style interface, there's a choice of auto and manual focus modes on the Cyber-shot RX100 camera for enhanced image control. For those that prefer focusing manually, MF Assist magnifies images to simplify fine adjustments, and there's also a pro-style peaking function that highlights sharply-focused areas of the image on screen.

The RX100 camera offers a generous choice of artistic options to expand creative shooting possibilities.  It includes the option for six different creative styles and a variety of popular picture effects including Toy Camera, Partial Color, HDR Painting and several others, most of which can be previewed directly on screen before shooting.

The new Cyber-shot features Auto Portrait Framing – a feature found on Sony's latest α range of A-mount and E-mount cameras — making it simple to create sharp, perfectly framed portraits. This unique feature automatically detects faces in a scene, crops the picture accordingly creates a tighter, pro-style composition at full resolution.  Both the original and cropped photo are saved for review.

New accessories include a spare battery, dedicated carrying case and a battery charger designed to complement to the new camera.

Pricing and Availability

The Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 digital camera will be available this July for about $650.  The camera and accessories will be available at Sony retail stores (www.store.sony.com) and other authorized dealers nationwide.[press_end]