Sony RX100 M1: Introduction

Purpose of My Sony RX100 M1 Pages | How My Wife Became A Sony RX100 M1 Owner | Now She Is A Sony RX 100 M1 Owner... | Would I Recommend A Sony RX100 M1 to You?


Purpose of My Sony RX100 M1 Pages

My Sony RX100 M1 pages are intended as an information source for existing and prospective Sony RX100 M1 owners. However, there is no intention to offer a complete or even up-to-date information source, because I do not have the time for such a project. The focus of my pages is on presenting my wife's and my personal experiences with this camera and thereby providing one or the other useful tip for others.

Note: We use the Sony RX100 M1 mostly in P mode, sometimes in A mode. I will therefore, not cover any of the following modes or specialties: Intelligent Auto mode, Superior Auto mode, Scene mode, Creative style, Picture effect, and many of the other gimmicks like soft skin effect or auto portrait framing. Probably, this list is incomplete...


How My Wife Became A Sony RX100 M1 Owner

After having owned a couple of Ricoh compact cameras (R5 to CX1), my wife had a Ricoh CX4 for some years, with which she was very pleased at the beginning. Over time, however, we were less and less satisfied with the image quality, especially in comparison to the photos that my cameras took. That's why I was looking out for alternatives for some time, even though I'm actually a big Ricoh fan. But, concerning new models, Ricoh did not show any signs of movement... In the fall of 2014, we visited Brauschweig and went to the Saturn supermarket in the reconstructed Braunschweig castle. There, I pointed my wife to the Panasonic LX100, in which I was interested, too. And we repeated an experience that we already had about 10 years ago in Nancy, when I pointed my wife to a Minolta camera (I then owned a Minolta camera...) as her first digital camera: It was too big for her - and she found the Canon IXUS 400 much nicer. And this was the camera that we eventually bought for her!

This time, the camera exchange was not as smooth as the earlier ones, since my wife did not really want to depart from her CX4. Particularly, she loves its great macro capabilities, which are very important to her. Then there is the very practical 28-300 mm zoom range of the CX4 (older Ricoh had only 28-200 mm, but that was fine, too). These were, in addition to the size and the "habitual operation," two crucial criteria for my wife. Saturn had only the two newer models, M2 and M3, of the Sony RX100 in stock - which were also expensive. We then decided to take a second look on cameras in the Media market. There they had all three RX100 models in stock, and the original M1 model appealed to my wife most, because it was clearly the cheapest and most compact of the three. It was almost the size of her Ricoh CX4 - only the protruding lens ring bothered her a bit. And she wanted to keep at least a zoom range of 28-100 mm (how well the digital "intelligent" zoom would fare, was an open question...). We could also see that the M1's LCD display, which is fix, was the dimmest of the three. Anyway, a decision was not yet in sight, but a preference for the "original" RX100 was recognizable. Actually, however, my wife do not want a new camera...

Figure: The Sony RX100 M1

In the night, as good as my mobile connection allowed it, I surfed around and informed me about the differences between the three RX100 models. I came to the conclusion that the old model would actually be the best choice for my wife - whereas I myself would probably grab the newest model, the M3, if I needed a new compact camera.

The next evening, we visited Braunschweig again, went to the media market, tried out all three models for quite some time - and eventually bought the "original" RX100, that is, the M1. My wife had somehow given up her resistance... So now she had a new camera, but some time passed, before she could make up her mind to actually take photos with it. Therefore, I extensively involved myself with the RX100 M1 at the beginning of the new ownership - and what is presented here, is based partly on my initial experience ...

A Few Words About the Sony RX100 M1

The first version of the Sony RX100, so to speak, the "original" and now called "M1" or "i", was released in 2012 as one of the first compact cameras with a 1" sensor on the market. It was soon widely regarded as the best camera in its class. This role was then taken over by each of its successors, as soon as it had been released.

The Sony RX100 M2 (or RX100ii) was released in 2013, offered a background-illuminated sensor (which was said to improve low light performance), a tilting screen, and an accessory shoe that could also accommodate an - expensive and good - electronic viewfinder. The last two characteristics make the camera a little larger and thus less suitable to pant pockets in comparison with its predecessor. In addition, the acquisition of an optical viewfinder was financially hardly viable - and if you plug-on the viewfinder, this is nothing for your pockets. Otherwise, there were a number of smaller improvements, which led testers usually to prefer this model to the original one. One important element, however, remained the same: the lens.

When we bought the camera, the Sony RX100 M3 (or RX100iii) was the current model, which was published in 2014 and brought some more fundamental changes: The focal length range shifted to the "wide-angle" (from 28-100 mm to 24-70 mm equivalent), the display is now even more tiltable to also allow shooting "Selfies," the hot shoe was gone, and now the camera featured an electronic "pop-up" viewfinder that is usually hidden. This is ideal to keep the camera small, but its resolution is not quite as high as that of the M2's EVF, and it also seemed to be a bit notchy (at least, for some users). The menus were re-arranged and were now more like the menus in other Sony cameras, which was generally regarded as an improvement. Overall, all these changes almost doubled the price of the camera compared with the current price of the original RX100 (which is much lower than when the camera was released). This, as well as the changes in the focal length range, made my wife refrain from the latest model. Moreover, several sources say that the M3's image processing is too "harsh" - its predecessors are less "harsh" in this respect. This is an issue that would deter me from buying the M3 ...

Mid-2015 the next model in this series appeared: the RX100 M4 (or RX100iv). Outwardly nearly unchanged, it offers more speed thanks to a new sensor, 4K video, slow motion, and a higher resolution for the electronic viewfinder. The price has also risen considerably! And finally, the RX100 M5 (or RX100v) was released in October 2016 and indicated the current eveolution of the RX100 camera series. And the M1 is still available...


Now She Is A Sony RX100 M1 Owner...

As I wrote earlier, some time passed before my wife started using her new Sony RX100 M1 for taking photos. Meanwhile she uses it, although not as often as usual because it is winter, and there are fewer attractive motifs than in spring, summer, or autumn. So far, my wife did not explore how she can set the things on her RX100 that she sets on her CX4 - I still have to do it for her. One thing is clear, though: She will retain her Ricoh CX4 for close-up shots. Otherwise, she is very happy with the image quality of her RX100 - and I am, as well! On the computer screen, you cannot see significant differences in sharpness and tell from this whether an image was taken with the Ricoh GR, the Leica Vario X, or the Sony RX100 M1. The colors are, of course, different and can give you a hint...


Would I Recommend A Sony RX100 M1 to You?

I have already done so in photo forums when photographers were looking for a second camera and listed the RX100 as a possible candidate. At least, I have encouraged rather than discouraged them. It all depends on your particular photographic needs, and if you can get used to the handling of the camera, it can meet your needs in many cases - especially if you want a small camera with good image results. The RX100 M1 does not score highly in the macro range, but is quite suitable for many types of close-up photos. And with its zoom range it matches cameras with larger sensors - there is hardly more zoom range available in this category (only if you do not mind "about" DSLR size and opt for a bridge camera with an 1" sensor).

When the RX100 has come up on your short list, whether you opt for the M1, M2, M3, or M4 may depend, among others, on the desired zoom range, the need for an electronic viewfinder, and whether a tilting screen is important for you or not. Above, I mentioned already the somewhat "harsh" image processing of the M3 (and M4), which might exclude this model for one or the other photographer...

Well, in summer 2017, I "recommended" the RX100 M4 to myself and bought it. The reasons for buying this version included the viewfinder, the folding screen and the higher processing speed (otherwise I could have bought the model 3...). More on this on my pages about the RX100 M4!

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