Sony RX100 VII: compact Alpha 9 as a movie making marvel for vloggers

The new RX100 VII is a basket of new things: new sensor, new AF performance, new drive mode, Real-time Tracking and Real-time Eye AF for humans and animals, all in a compact.

Sony RX100 VII: compact Alpha 9 as a movie making marvel

Presented as a compact with the performance of an Alpha 9, the Sony RX100 VII is also said to offer pro-level movie making capabilities, and offers a convenient setup for vloggers.

Sony’s award-winning series RX gets a new camera, and it’s as if Sony has taken a cue of Sigma’s recently announced Sigma fp. The Sony RX100 VII may not be the same type of camera, being a compact based on a newly developed 1.0-type stacked 20.1 MP Exmor RS CMOS image sensor, but Sony presents it both as a movie making marvel and a model offering mounting flexibility that larger cameras simply cannot match. And yet, Sony continues, “despite the small form factors, there are a multitude of pro-level movie making capabilities, including:

  • 4K in-body movie recording with full pixel readout and no pixel binning in high bit rate XAVC S
  • Real-time Tracking and Real-time Eye AF for video
  • 4K Active SteadyShot that is 8x more effective than 4K Standard SteadyShot
  • Industry standard 3.5mm microphone input
  • Hybrid Log-Gamma (HDR) / S-Gamut3.Cine / S-Log3, S-Gamut3 / S-Log3
  • Compatibility with Movie Edit add-on from the ‘Imaging Edge’ mobile application for movie stabilization and editing
  • Vertical-position data recording for movies
  • Interval Shooting for stunning time-lapse videos
  • Super Slow Motion recording at up to 960fps
  • 180-degree flip screen for ease-of use while vlogging


Real-time Eye AF for (some) Animals

As usual, one will have to read the footnotes to better understand that some of these features have limitations. For example, the 4K (3840×2160 pixels) in-body movie recording is limited to about 5 minutes of continuos shooting,  when “Auto Power Off Temperature” is set to “Standard”. Also, despite the indication by Sony that the camera offers “Real-time Tracking and Real-time Eye AF for humans and animals”, one has to read the small print, to discover that “Real-time Eye AF for Animals supports still images only, and cannot be used in combination with tracking. Does not work with some types of animal. Focusing may not perform well depending on scene and subject conditions”.

So, there are some limitations (these and others) to consider. Time to look at some other specifications, though.  The camera comes with the same lens (as the previous model) a ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T* 24-200mm F2.8-4.5 that Sony says  is “a versatile choice for all types of shooting scenarios and users, ranging from photo enthusiasts to professionals.”

The RX100 VII offers, also according to Sony, “a world-leading 357 focal-plane phase-detection AF points and 425 contrast-detection AF points. In addition, thanks to a newly optimized lens drive control, the world’s fastest 0.02 sec AF acquisition time is realized. A major leap in AF/AE tracking performance during continuous shooting means the camera performs AF/AE calculations up to 60 times per second and captures fast moving action at 20fps with AF/AE tracking, ensuring that each moment is shot with swift and accurate focus.”

Sony RX100 VII: compact Alpha 9 as a movie making marvel

90 fps for “spray and pray”

In addition, and I am just following the information provided, “the image sensor realizes blackout-free shooting for a completely live view, even when continuous shooting at 20fps; the same experience as the Alpha 9. The RX100 VII also debuts a new drive mode, Single Burst Shooting, for capturing the perfect high-speed shot at up to 90fps in JPEG/RAW format utilizing the anti-distortion shutter. Single Burst Shooting allows the photographer to frame fast moving action and shoot as if taking a single shot, but the camera will actually deliver seven still images taken at 90fps, 60fps or 30fps, so the user can select the perfect moment”. One footnote: Seven still images are shot per burst. Focus and exposure are fixed at the first shot.

For vloggers, Sony has a Shooting Grip Kit, which includes an RX100 VII and Shooting Grip (VCT-SGR1) that allows for easy recording and zooming right at your fingertips; Bracket with Accessory Shoe; and two Rechargeable Battery Packs (NP-BX1. Pair this kit with an external microphone (sold separately), such as the Sony Stereo Microphone (ECM-XYST1M) which mounts onto the bracket’s accessory shoe and allows for a convenient and simple vlogging setup.

Sony RX100 VII: compact Alpha 9 as a movie making marvel

The price of the RX100 VII

Sony will also introduce  a new Jacket Case for the RX100 Series. It’s a new leather-look body case for the RX100 series (LCJ-RXK), which includes a lens jacket and shoulder strap to protect the camera from bumps and shocks. Available in black, it provides easy access to the microphone jack and USB terminal, which enables charging and image transfers without the need to remove the case.

Now it’s time to look at prices, and that’s where things may get less interesting. The RX100 VII compact camera will ship in August 2019 for approximately $1,200, which is a price that places it too close to models with larger sensors and better specifications. Yes, it may bring to the compact universe some of the features of the Alpha 9, but who said those are important to compact users?

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Journalist, writer and photographer since 1979, both print and online, with a vast experience in the fields of photography, software, hardware, web, aviation, History, video games, technology, having published content in almost all Portuguese newspapers…