A conundrum for the camera experts out there. (I take lots of photos when climbing/mountaineering but I don't count myself an expert).
I've been using a Sony RX100 (Mk1) for four years or so. It suits me well as the image quality is pretty good for a compact and its weight and size allow me to carry it everywhere on my rucksack strap or harness.
I'm off to African game parks next month so I'm looking to upgrade to something that will allow me to fit a long zoom lens, but still be portable as above - A CSC seems the logical choice.
I thought the Sony A6000 might do the job. (The budget might stretch to the A6300 or A6500 but I'm not convinced they are worth more than double the price.)
Anyway, to get to the point, yesterday I took my RX100 to the local Jessops where they have the A6000 in stock fitted with the standard 16 - 50 kit lens. I took a set of identical pictures (as far as possible) with each camera set on auto ISO and programm mode in a variety of situations, indoor and out, at all points of the zoom range. I get them home and guess what. The RX100 has significantly outperformed the A6000 for image quality on every shot. Not what I expected at all given that the A6000 has a 24 mp APSC sensor as compared to the 20mp "1 inch" compact sensor on the RX100.
I can think of several possible reasons:
The standard kit lens with the A6000 just isn't as good a piece of glass as the fixed lens on the RX100.
The A6000 kit lens has smaller max apertures than the RX100 lens throughout the zoom range (so I was generally shooting at higher ISOs and/or slower shutter speeds with the A6000)
The A6000 might have been knocked about a bit as a shop demo camera.
Right now, I'm thinking I need to look somewhere else for my first CSC. Any advice? Possibly I'd get better results with a micro 4/3 system? Or perhaps I need to reject the kit lens and consider paying more for a better lens with the A6000 (I'll need to buy a long zoom as well anyway).
Perhaps I'm just being too stingy with the budget. I'm mindful that I spent £120 on my first decent film camera (a Rollei 35 compact) in the mid 70's and well over £1000 including lenses on my Canon A1 system in the mid 80's, both corresponding to over a month's salary at the time.
No experience from the Sonys. But indeed I’d look into MFT, more options for bodies and lenses.
Oh, are you looking for a replacement or an addition to the RX100? If replacement, something like GX800 might fit the bill (got one, seems Ok). If an addition, well GX8 or GX80 might be a better option. Or even G9.
Don’t forget to take clear lens filters, a Giotto camera rocket and a decent dust proof camera bag in you kit. If you are going somewhere like the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park then the dust gets everywhere and you can’t drive off road/track so you are stuck shooting or changing lenses from whatever 4x4 weird angle you end up at.
Also buy or borrow a decent pair of binoculars with a big aperture (40-50mm) so you can use them whilst slowly driving around and having the life shaken out of you. Small aperture stuff is next to useless unless you are at an absolute stand still.
A bit left-field maybe but have you considered a Sony RX10 - I have been using the Mk1 for a couple of years now and the images are of exception quality - the fixed lens, a 24-200 Zeiss (max aperture 2.8 across the zoom range) is a beauty.
In reply to Martin Hore: I can't comment on any Sony cameras as I've never used one. However I have owned a crop sensor Nikon and I now own a micro four thirds camera. On paper the micro four thirds camera has the smallest sensor, and in a game of Top Trumps it should fair worst in image quality.
At the moment I have a Panasonic camera with a Panasonic lens. Its fair to say that Panasonic have not been making lenses as long as Nikon however they have been able to build lenses with modern technology and techniques for their new products. Having a link to Leica lenses and production techniques also helps with lens quality too.
Even though my micro four thirds lens has the smallest sensor, my observations are that the images taken with this camera compared to my Nikon crop sensor camera and budget lenses made by Sigma are superior in every respect.
My micro four thirds camera is lighter with smaller glass attached to it, yet it produces images that I feel are subjectively better than my attempts with a crop sensor camera.
Having a smaller sensor also helps with zoom lenses because they too can be smaller and lighter compared to crop sensor or even full frame cameras.
Last year I treated myself to a 100-400mm lens. Which for wildlife shots would be an advantage. But if you consider the micro four thirds magic then such a lens as mine would correspond to a 200-800mm equivalent on a full frame camera. Have you seen the size of a 800mm lens for a full frame camera. You're looking at 4.5Kg and a hole in your pocket north of £15,000 before you buy the camera to stick on the end of it.
I've used my camera plus 100-400mm single handed while bobbing around in a speedboat. That is the joy of Micro four thirds.
When I bought my Panasonic, I was seriously considering a full frame camera. Now that I've had my camera for over a year I am so glad that I took a punt because it is such a joy to have a light camera setup with excellent optics.
I haven't even commented on the video quality either.
Thanks alx - lots of very useful advice from someone whose profile states "expect nothing sensible from my forum contributions". You do yourself down! PS I always look at the profile to see if I can address you as something other than "alx".
Yes I lived in Kenya for 9 months in 1970 and visited again in 1974 - lots of game parks but also Kilimanjaro, Mt Kenya and Ruwenzori. Of course some of the kit you mention wasn't available then. Heading to S Africa this time.
I've just looked up some specs and reviews. I guess you're aware that the RX10 Mk3 has a 24 - 600 lens. That seems almost too big a step to retain good image quality but the reviews are positive. And not necessarily out of price range given that with a CSC I'm going to have to invest in lenses. I'll definitely take a closer look at the RX10 series. The sensor is of course the same as in my RX100 which I'm now more impressed with having seen the comparison with the APSC sensor in the A6000
By the way, it was your experience that led me to the RX100 in the first place - so thank you for that!
I own a Sony a6000. My friend owns the rx100. We went to Iceland together last summer and took quite similar photos, and whilst not a like for like I concluded (sadly) that his shots were generally better than mine!
I’m happy with the a6000 but I’ve told everyone who has asked me since to buy an rx100 - think I’m responsible for at least 4 sales now!
Interesting to hear some folk have had better IQ with RX100 v a6000. Contradicts my own experience!
I've had both (RX100 sadly died on a winter trip- the camera's circuits seem prone to short easily with a bit of condensation ), a6000 is still the main 'big' camera.
Although the RX100 was very good, and I liked it a lot, my experience has been that the a6000 is a much better camera (more versatile, great ergonomics, quicker to change important settings (less fiddly) and although close, the IQ has definitely seemed higher to me on the a6000. (nb the RX100 I had was however, a first generation one).
One other thing worth bearing in mind is that the electronic viewfinder in the a6000 is excellent - really helpful when shooting in bright conditions or against the sun.
I've only used the kit zoom lens and a longer Sony zoom but the resolution has been excellent from both - image files could definitely be cropped more without losing detail on the a6000. If you can fork out for the Zeiss zoom I understand it maximises what the sensor is capable of recording - but I can't really find much to complain about the IQ from the kit zooms.
Having said all that, I admit it's possible that I've just been lucky, with a couple of 'good' kit lenses (and that Martin was perhaps unlucky with the shop demo one). The ideal situation is to have both! (RX100 for climbing and a6000 for travel). By the way, if you're after saving dosh - It might be worth considering a second-hand NEX-6 - also an extremely good camera not a million miles from the a6000.
Most modern digital cameras are so good these days that you're not likely to catch a cold whichever one you plump for - the IQ on most of them is stunning these days for general photography.
Bloody hell, you buggers are confusing me. I am looking to downsize from a canon 70d as it is too big and heavy for me when climbing or doing long walks. Was thinking that I would get just as good or better pictures with a Sony a6000/6300/6500. But didn't want to go smaller than an aps c sensor.
Now I'm seeing quite a few posts saying the pictures you can get of any Olympus (micro 4/3) or even a sony 1 inch compact sensor are just as good. If this is really the case that is the route for me as that will be even easier to carry, but are these sensors really as good as an aps c sensor?
I can believe I couldn't tell the difference for A4 size pictures shot in good light, but is it still true if the light is worse so you bump up the iso? or for long exposures on a tripod? Or for the very occasional time I might want to look at a pic bigger than A4?
> Now I'm seeing quite a few posts saying the pictures you can get of any Olympus (micro 4/3) or even a sony 1 inch compact sensor are just as good. If this is really the case that is the route for me as that will be even easier to carry, but are these sensors really as good as an aps c sensor?
I've owned two "aps sensor" Nikon cameras and I loved the images that I got from them. However I now have a camera with an even smaller sensor, micro four thirds, and the image quality is superior to my Nikons with an "aps sensor".
I had seriously considered going full frame but took a punt and I've never regretted my decision.
A full frame mirrorless camera would be the combo.
Thanks Colin - much appreciated. Yes, my plan was to keep the RX100 (it's also the first generation model) which I'm pretty pleased with, and use the A6000 for general tourism and also mountaineering when weight isn't an issue (eg when I'm not lugging climbing gear).
You may be right that the shop demo A6000 was a rogue one. I wonder if the quality control is as robust on the cheap kit lenses as on the Zeiss lenses. Interesting that "67 hours" found a similar result though. My "experiment" has rather put me off the A6000 for the present. I was definitely expecting better image quality if I'm upgrading. I may be guilty of "pixel peeping" but I'm not sure I entirely agree with you that most digital cameras have "stunning" IQ these days. I've see some quite soft or noisy images taken by others in circumstances where the RX100 has performed well.
I've owned an RX100 and an NEX-5N (which uses the same stock lens as the a6000 I think). Would agree the RX100 takes better pictures. Both colours and sharpness seemed better. The Sony stock lens is widely considered to be very average quality and the Zeiss lenses aren't cheap. I was recently considering the a6000 with the Zeiss SEL1670Z zoom lens but opted for a Fujifilm X-T20 with the 18-55 lens option for essentially the same price. Lens quality seemed comparable and obviously I got a much newer body. I much prefer the X-T20 functionality. The a6000 seems excellent for video in case that is a high priority.
Martin, I think it may well be the lens quality that was the determining factor for me, perhaps particularly that the RX100 lens has a larger max aperture so was taking shots at lower ISO readings in auto mode. I too find it difficult to believe that a 24mp APSC sensor would give poorer results than a 20mp 1" sensor of the generation from the same manufacturer with similar quality glass in front. Though I can well believe that newer generation smaller sensors outperform older larger ones.
Thanks - that's a great set of posts on the dpreview site bang on the topic of this thread.
As I understand it (now) the problem is that the A6000 with the kit lens is not doing the APSC sensor justice. Whereas the smaller sensor of the RX100 allows Sony to attach a better quality lens with greater max aperture at an affordable price and portable weight/bulk. For the price of the A6000 (or indeed A6300 or A6500) with the kit lens you can get one of the same generation from the RX100 series which will probably do a better job for someone like me who is primarily a mountaineer not a photographer. To do justice to the A6000 series you need to invest a lot more money in better glass, and end up with a rather less portable camera which in a climbing situation is less likely to be to hand when you need it.
So for the sake of two days in a game park in SA I'm beginning to think it's perhaps not worth investing in a camera that I can fit a long zoom to and just stick with the RX100. Or possibly look at a micro 4/3 option as a compromise, or perhaps , as Chris suggested, consider the RX10.
Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this thread.
> Or possibly look at a micro 4/3 option as a compromise
This would be my suggestion, and Lemmings as well if I read his comments...
The smallest MFT camera I can think of is the GX800 (which I have) and couple it with a rather good IQ glass 14mm/f2.5, it is rather good option and not much bigger than the RX100.
But the bigger options (Oly Pen and GX??, GX? or G?) offer more features. They are however more spendy and bigger. Best thing is for the safari is the option of gettin' a good tele lens (I believe even rentals are available).