The Laowa 15mm F2 Zero-D from Venus Optics is a fast, wide prime lens for full frame mirrorless cameras, available in RF-mount, E-mount, and Z-mount. Like Lawoa's other 'Zero-D' lenses it's designed to have extremely limited distortion despite the short focal length.
We've included a number of images representing two common use cases for this type of lens: astrophotography and architectural photography. Overall, it provides excellent results and delivers on its promise of minimal distortion. Not surprisingly, there's some vignetting wide open, but it clears up pretty quickly when stopped down and – if desired – is corrected quite well using the lens profile in Adobe Camera Raw.
To illustrate the point, here's an uncorrected sequence of dark sky photos shot at F2, F2.8, F4 and F5.6. The original Raw files for these images can be downloaded from the sample gallery if you want to make your own comparisons. Click through to the gallery to see all the images.
Our 2020 'Best and Worst' episode is here! Will Jordan's art house movie trivia drive Chris to madness? Can you make martinis with pickled tomatoes? Find out what gear the boys from Calgary liked most – and least – this year, and learn a few things you didn't know you wanted to know.
If you disagree with their selections, tell us in the comments! If you make your own pickled tomato martinis, let us know how that works out.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel to get new episodes of DPReview TV every week.
ISO 1400 | 1/250 sec | F1.8 | Nikon Z6 + Nikon Z 50mm F1.8 S
Belvedere officially joined the DPReview team last fall as a fourth-month-old pup and quickly became one of our favorite subjects to photograph. By the turn of 2019, he was a common sight in many-a sample gallery. Twelve months later and we have a complete and glorious timeline of his transformation from tiny puppy, to slightly larger puppy!
As Belvedere's human and Photo Editor at DPReview, I tasked myself with going back through each month of 2019 to select the top pup photo to share with you, my dear reader, along with the gallery it's from. We feel this is a nice way to not only look back at all the lovely gear we've tested, but also to fill the Internet with additional dog photos, because dogs are good and we love dogs.
We intend this slideshow to be enjoyed Advent calendar-style, meaning after today you are allowed to view one additional photo up until the 25th, when all can be enjoyed in consecutive order. Think of it as our holiday gift to you. We're counting on you to not peek ahead!
And for those curious, Belvedere, a rescue pup, is a mix of Chihuahua, Miniature Pinscher and Miniature Short-haired Dachshund. He likes dehydrated squirrel carcasses, licking bald heads, sitting in laps for hours, turning squeaky toys inside-out and whenever anyone puts on a pair of socks. He weighs 18.4lbs and is a very good boy.
*All images by Dan Bracaglia except where noted
ISO 2800 | 1/125 sec | F2.8 | Nikon Z6 + Nikon Z 50mm F1.8 S
We started off the year busy, publishing 11 sets of sample images in January 2019, including galleries for heavy hitting products like the Sony a6400, Sigma 28mm F1.4 Art and the Olympus E-M1X. But our top Belvedere pick in January comes from our Nikon Z 50mm F.8 S gallery. This one was a tough choice between two tempting pup picks, both from the same gallery. We opted for Belvedere enjoying a cheese stick, but Belvedere on the couch was a close second (we used it as the lead for the story).
January was also the month we tested the versatile, yet chunky Canon RF 28-70mm F2L as well as the beastly Nikon 500mm F5.6. We also got our hands on a Canon APS-C mirrorless favorite in the Canon EF-M 32mm F1.4 STM.
ISO 12800 | 1/125 sec | F5.6 | Fujifilm GFX 50R + GF 45mm F2.8
Photo: Carey Rose
February was a busy months for new gear. We got our hands on pre-production models of the Panasonic S1R and Panasonic S1 (in Barcelona). We also took a pre-production Fujifilm X-T30 for a spin (in Seattle), and freelance contributor Damien Demolder put together a pre-production gallery with the Ricoh GR III (from London).
Additionally we published final production galleries from the Canon EOS RP, the Fujifilm XF 16mm F2.8 and the oh-so-sharp Sony FE 135mm F1.8 GM. And yet somehow with all the launches and all the galleries shot, we didn't publish a single Belvedere photo in February. Shame on us. Fortunately DPR's Carey Rose captured the above image of our dear pup from a, well, not-terribly flattering angle for a Fujifilm GFX 50R gallery published March 1st. It was technically taken in February so we'll count it.
ISO 100 | 1/200 sec | F2.8 | Leica Q2
Things quieted down a little in March. We got our hands on final production versions of both the Panasonic S1 and Panasonic S1R and filled out those galleries with plenty of samples. We also got our hands on Sigma's outstanding bang-for-the-buck 70-200mm F2.8 Sport as well as their latest long zoom in the 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 Sport.
Belvedere popped up in several of those galleries, but our favorite photos of him came from the Leica Q2, shot during a sunny afternoon walk. The weather was just starting to warm up in March and Belvedere's fur was just beginning to go through a rapid and often comical shed and regrowth phase.
ISO 64 | 1/320 sec | F2.8 | Nikon Z7 + Z 24-70mm F2.8 @ 70mm
April was also a somewhat quiet month. We got a final production version of the Fujifilm X-T30 in for testing as well as a final version of the Ricoh GR III. We also shot with Pentax's new 11-18mm F2.8 ultra-wide zoom and the slightly-less wide Nikon Z 14-30mm F4 S. But it was a different Nikon Z lens behind our favorite April Belvedere shot: the outstandingly sharp Z 24-70mm F2.8. Belvedere's not even the only handsome pup in said gallery!
Also important: At 10 months Belvedere wasn't quite fully grown. He no longer fits under the tight space he's peeking out from in the image above, though he does try from time to time.
ISO 125 | 1/200 sec | F4.4 | Ricoh WG-60
We shot with a wide array of products in May ranging from the image quality king, Fujifilm GFX 100 (pre-production), to the beginner-friendly Canon SL3, to the Panasonic FZ1000 II premium compact. We also called in and tested a number of rugged cameras for our Best Waterproof Camera Guide, including the Olympus TG-6.
But our favorite Belvedere photo comes from the comparably underpowered Ricoh WG-60, a rugged compact. Which just goes to show, it's not the quality of the camera that makes the photo, it's the cuteness of the dog. Here he is soaking up the sunlight from Seattle's oh-so-long May days.
ISO 200 | 1/40 sec | F2.4 | Samsung Galaxy S10+
Photo: Jeff Keller
Belvedere officially turned one year old in June (June 10th if you want to send a gift, he likes bones) and we had ample opportunity to photograph the birthday boy. June was a month in which we shot with a ton of high-end full-frame lenses including the Panasonic S 24-105mm F4, the Panasonic S Pro 50mm F1.4, the Sony FE 600mm F4 GM and the Rokinon SP 35mm F1.2. We also added a nice selection of images to our Fujifilm GFX 100 gallery (still not final firmware, womp).
But it was the Samsung Galaxy S10+ in the hands of DPR's Jeff Keller that captured our favorite shot of the young man. A shot that shows him starting to come of age: He's still got the doofy 'I'm a puppy' face, but his coat and body are filling out like a real dog. Nice work, Belvedere.
ISO 100 | 1/500 sec | F1.2 | Canon EOS R + RF 85mm F1.2L
July was a busy month for sample gallery shooting. With the Seattle rain finally dissipating for the season, we took full advantage of the long sunny days. The Sony a7R IV launched and we got ample shooting time with it in New York City. DPR's Carey Rose also got his hands on several freshly-launched Sigma lenses in Japan, including the Sigma 45mm F2.8 Contemporary, the Sigma 14-24 F2.8 Art and Sigma 35mm F1.2 Art. We also spent time with Tamron's wide, sharp 17-28mm F2.8 and took Sony's excellent do-everything pocket camera, the RX100 VII for a spin.
Other notable galleries include the Canon EOS M100 (in Mexico), the Panasonic Leica 10-25mm F1.7, the Sony 35mm F1.8, the Fujfilm GF 50mm F3.5 and the Rokinon AF 85mm F1.4. Gosh that's a lot of galleries. But our hands-down favorite Belvedere photo was shot with one of our favorite portrait lenses of the year, the Canon RF 85mm F1.2L. Just look at that happy boy! He knows the bokeh is creamy.
ISO 125 | 1/30 sec | F2.8 | Canon G5 X mark II
August saw major launches from two brands, Canon with its enthusiast APS-C siblings in the Canon EOS 90D and Canon EOS M6 Mark II and Sony with its APS-C siblings in the Sony a6100 and the Sony a6600. We also finally got our hands on a final production Fujifilm GFX 100 as well as a final production Panasonic G95.
Additionally we shot with the very sharp Nikon Z 35mm F1.8 S, the Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 and the Tamron 35-150mm F2.8-4. Finally Canon's two latest compacts, the Canon G7 X III and the Canon G5 X II also showed up at our office for sample shooting and testing. Our favorite Belvedere photo from the month was taken on the latter. Note: If Belvedere looks extra fluffy in this image it's because he had just received a bath after his very first puppy swim.
ISO 64 | 1/2500 sec | F1.8 | Nikon Z7 + Z 85mm F1.8
September was a somewhat quiet month for sample galleries, yet Belvedere managed to sneak his charming face into two of them. These included the all around-excellent Tamron 35mm F1.4 gallery and the also-impressive Nikon 85mm F1.8 S gallery. We also shot with the iPhone 11, Sony 16-55mm F2.8 and Phase One IQ4.
Now I'll be honest, my dear humble readers, I truly struggled with which Belvedere photos to pick as the winner for this month (OK, I shot them all). My decision ultimately came down to which image had the most likes in our gallery (10). Either way, September was a very good-looking month for our dear staff pup.
ISO 1000 | 1/100 sec | F2.8 | Canon M200 + EF-M 32mm F1.4
Photo: Carey Rose
October saw the launch of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 III, the Fujifilm X-Pro3 and the Nikon Z50 – cameras we were able to shoot galleries for, prior to announcement. We also got our hands on Canon's impressive RF 24-70mm F2.8L lens and shot our very first test samples on the Nikon Z 58mm S Noct (under very controlled settings). Additionally, we were thoroughly impressed with the real world output of the Google Pixel 4.
But our favorite Belvedere sample of the month came from Carey Rose with the Canon EOS M200. I'm not sure if Carey set out to capture Belvedere working hard on the job, but he sure did. Warming laps takes a lot of practice and dedication!
ISO 100 | 1/800 sec | F2.8 | Leica SL2 + Sigma 45mm F2.8
We had the chance to shoot with some really nice telephoto glass in November, including with the Fujifilm XF 200mm F2 as well as the jaw-dropping Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L. We also took Sony's 70-350 F4.5-6.3 for a spin and explored around the city with the super-compact Sigma fp full-framer.
But it was the beastly Leica SL2 behind November's top Belvedere pic. And if you zoom into 100% you can even seem some dreamy bokeh from the Sigma 45mm F2.8 on my dear dog's nose.
ISO 1000 | 1/200 sec | F1.4 | Sony a6500 + Sigma 56mm F1.4
Photo: Carey Rose
December has been a busy (and dark month) and it's not over yet! As such, we've only published a handful of galleries so far. These include our Panasonic S Pro 24-70 F2.8 gallery, our Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L gallery and our full-production Nikon Z50 gallery. But sadly, none of those galleries contain images of our fuzzy pal (what fools we are!).
But not to worry! DPR's Richard Butler reminded me of a classic Belvedere photo shot by our very own Carey Rose with the delightful Sigma 56mm F1.4, this time last December (no, Belvedere isn't Benjamin Button).
ISO 64 | 1/320 sec | F1.4 | Nikon Z7 + Tamron 35mm F1.4
And that's a wrap on the year. There you have it, 12 months of Belvedere in 12 days. Thank you kind reader, for following along on this fun and important journey through puppyhood and gear reminiscing. Hopefully you've enjoyed each slide, one at a time and didn't jump ahead. But even if you did, Belvedere forgives you. He's just that kind of dog.
Until next year. Woof!
There have now been eight variants of the RX100 series, with at least seven of them still considered to be 'current' models. This variety of choice and the similarity of the names can make them difficult to tell apart, or choose between, so we're going to look at the differences.
The biggest differences are the lenses: the first two versions were built around a 28-100mm equivalent lens with a bright maximum aperture at the wide end but one that's much slower at the telephoto end.
The Mark III saw a move to a wider, shorter and much brighter lens: a 24-70mm equivalent zoom with F1.8-2.8 maximum aperture, bringing significant benefits in low light and allowing shallower depth-of-field than before.
Most recently, the Mark VI and Mark VII moved to slower but much more flexible 24-200mm equivalent zooms. This puts the RX100 into travel zoom territory.
Beyond this, we've tried to summarize the development of the series in terms of spec:
|Contrast Detect, 25-points||3" fixed||None|
|Contrast Detect, 25-points||3" tilting||Optional 2.36M-dot|
|1080p60||Contrast Detect, 25-points||3" tilting||1.44M-dot pop-up|
||Contrast Detect, 25-points||3" tilting||2.36M-dot pop-up|
||Phase Detect, 315-points||3" tilting||2.36M-dot one-touch pop-up|
||Phase Detect, 315-points||3" tilting touch-enabled||2.36M-dot one-touch pop-up|
|4Kp30||Phase Detect, 315-points||3" tilting touch-enabled||2.36M-dot one-touch pop-up|
The RX100 II added the option to attach an external viewfinder, while for the Mark III Sony found the space to squeeze a pop-up viewfinder into the body. The resolution of the finder was updated in the Mark IV and the refresh rate increased in the Mark V(A) and VI. The Mark VI also saw the finder mechanism redesigned, so that it can be deployed or stowed with a single button press.
The RX100 IV gained a Stacked CMOS sensor with memory built into the chip. This allowed much faster readout, allowing 4K video and an electronic shutter mode, widening the range of lighting conditions in which the camera's wide apertures can be used. The IV, V and VI can also shoot High Frame Rate video at up to 1000 fps, taken from increasingly low res crops of the sensor then blown up to 1080p.
The small body of the camera limits its ability to dissipate heat. This sees 4K video capture limited to around 5 minutes. The cameras will also dull their rear screens to minimize heat build-up as they approach this limit, which can make outdoor video shooting difficult in warmer climes.
Of particular note is that the Mark VII inherits Sony's 'Real-time Tracking' technology, which allows the camera to seamlessly transition from subject tracking to face-and-eye-detection on the fly, with very little input from the user. It's powerful and simple, and is the first time on an RX100 that you don't have to assign a separate button to initiate Eye AF. Here's a video of it in action.
The original RX100 was the first camera to put a relatively large 1"-type sensor into a camera you could consider pocketable, and it started a revolution. Today, not only do you have five 1"-sensor models from Sony, but you have multiple competitors from the likes of Canon and Panasonic, too (and, hopefully, Nikon at some point).
At the time of this writing, the RX100 can be had brand-new for $370, making it the cheapest 1"-sensor compact out there (the Canon G9 X Mark II is slightly more expensive still, but with a different feature set and even slimmer size). That makes it a great option for budget-conscious folks that still want to have a camera with them all the time. This model produces a bit softer and noisier JPEGs than the others, albeit not by much (image quality is largely determined by sensor size, common across all models). AF can be challenged in low light, particularly with low-contrast subjects like facial features, and the screen doesn't tilt like it does with all subsequent RX100s, and there's not even an option to add a viewfinder. But hey - that's why it's the cheapest.
The original RX100 is still available and is now comparatively inexpensive. However, once you've experienced things such as the better lenses, improved responsiveness, viewfinders, up-rated video and more attractive color rendering of the newer models, it's hard to go back. We'd tend to recommend saving up a little bit more for at least the Mark III, since that way you get the full IQ advantage of that big sensor at more than just the wide-angle setting.
The multi-function hot shoe, which could work with either an electronic viewfinder or external flashes, was only seen on the RX100 II.
For an extra $180, you can get the second RX100, which added an impressive number of new features without appreciably increasing exterior dimensions.
The RX100 II has the highest-rated battery life of all the models in the range (CIPA rated at 350 shots), so if you want to avoid carrying extra batteries around, this is likely the best bet. There's a modest improvement in image quality, with more detail in low light JPEGs and less noise at the highest ISOs in Raw thanks to the BSI sensor. The RX100 II also has a multi-function hot shoe, which can be used for an external flash unit, or Sony's grotesquely expensive FDA-EV1MK electronic viewfinder (at least it's high quality - which it should be, for $450 MSRP). The LCD can tilt, and its at this point where Wi-Fi with NFC was introduced to the lineup. The Mark II was the last RX100 to have the 28-100mm zoom lens, so if you value the reach of this model over the speed or cost of later iterations, this is your best bet (or, of course, you can check out other manufacturers' offerings).
If you can swing the extra cost and size - the Mark I is appreciably slimmer and lacks the hotshoe hump - the RX100 II offers quite a bit over the original model, with Wi-Fi in particular being a valuable addition. But it's not as massive a leap as comes later in the series. If you can't live without a viewfinder, it's best to skip this model and go for the next one, which has a viewfinder built-in - but with some other changes that you may want to consider.
Sony's innovative pop-up electronic viewfinder has found its way into a few other models, and we're big fans.
The RX100 Mark III was a big jump for the series. As you can see at right, there's a substantial list of changes (mostly improvements) that you get for an additional $100, with this model's MSRP jumping to $650.
The biggest changes from a usability standpoint are the addition of an industry-first pop-up electronic viewfinder, which will make sunny-day shooting much easier, and a much needed custom Fn menu for quick access to most features. The new 24-70mm equiv. F1.8-2.8 lens is a showstopper as well, providing excellent optical performance and faster speed compared to the previous lens, though it gives up quite a bit of zoom reach. Whether you value the extra speed over the extra reach is a profoundly personal decision, but we often felt just a bit limited with this newer, though brighter, design. Note, too, that this is the beginning of some significant battery life reductions that only continue on later models.
Beyond that, there are some impressive leaps forward in image quality as well. Raw files are largely unchanged over the Mark II, but JPEGs throughout the ISO range are sharper (albeit with some haloing) and less noisy. Full-sensor readout for 1080/60p video results in much sharper footage with fewer artifacts.
The RX100 IV is shown here sandwiched between the III and V, which are virtually identical in terms of body and design elements.
The fourth iteration of the RX100 series brings the MSRP an additional $150 higher, to $800 (though it launched at $999). After three iterations of (albeit, slowly) evolving physical design, Sony has changed literally nothing about the outer design and handling with the IV.
On the inside, though, you get a new sensor that's 'stacked,' meaning it has memory chips built right onto the back of the sensor itself, giving it incredibly fast read-out speed and buffering capabilities. Almost all the improvements you see at right, including some significant improvements to autofocus speed and low light accuracy, come from this industry-leading sensor technology.
Of course, with more power but the same battery, it's no surprise that battery life dips to 280 shots, though you also get a significantly higher resolution electronic viewfinder, faster burst rates, and completely silent shooting. Usability improvements include instant 1:1 magnification of the AF point in playback, and best-practice Auto ISO control that allows you to more finely dial in how you want the camera to bias the ISO as related to shutter speed. Stills image quality isn't drastically improved (though JPEGs are more intelligently sharpened), but 4K video and a host of video support tools like log gamma put it a significant step ahead of the Mark III if you're looking for more of a hybrid shooting experience, as opposed to just stills.
Continuing on, we see the addition of new features like continuous Eye-AF and high frame rate video, which really start to overwhelm the RX100's controls and menu more than ever before. The RX100 IV clearly epitomizes Sony's new priorities regarding the RX100-series, with vast technological improvements under the hood, but only limited improvements to usability.
The RX100 V brings a level of speed and AF performance never before seen in a compact camera.
The RX100 V received a mid-life refresh in July 2018, bringing the processor and menus from the RX100 VI and losing the ability to run in-camera apps. This article focuses on this "RX100M5A" variant.*
The V comes at a $100 premium over the previous model bringing us back to an MSRP of $1000, for which you get even more speed, even better 4K video, and a phase detection AF system that is the most advanced in its class.
The RX100 V offers little image quality advantage over the RX100 IV, but 4K video, now oversampled from 5.5K, offers greater detail, though the significant reduction in rolling shutter in 4K is going to offer the biggest benefit to your footage.
Whichever you choose, be aware of the existence of two versions of the RX100 V and make sure you're getting the one you want.
This is definitely a camera for speed freaks (not a criticism). 24 fps burst shooting with autofocus tracking and Eye AF is a first for the industry, helping you nail the decisive moment. The doubling in length of high frame rate video clips makes them eminently more usable. For many of us, though, there's just more speed than we even knew what to do with.
The update to V 'A' status brings better-organized menus and a custom 'My Menu' tab, which make it somewhat easier to cope with the camera's extensive feature set. Sadly, the camera doesn't gains the Mark VI's touchscreen, so it remains an astonishingly able camera with a control system that works best when you point and shoot. It's probably the world's best point-and-shoot, but it's hard not to look jealously at the more hands-on control systems on most of its rivals and imagine how easily it could be the world's best enthusiast compact.
Ultimately, though, there's no other camera that offers such impressive AF, such good video and such good image quality in such a small package.
*You may be able to find an original Mark V at a lower price for a while. This lacks the improved AF performance, updated menus and JPEG color of the Mark VI, but has the ability to install in-camera apps, such as the popular intervalometer app. Whichever you choose, be aware of the existence of two versions of the RX100 V and make sure you're getting the one you want.
The RX100 VI sees the camera gain a longer but slower lens to become an excellent travel companion.
The RX100 VI is the most radical camera in the series, arguably since its introduction. The adoption of a much longer lens significantly expands the types of photo you can take, making it an excellent travel camera. The trade-off is that the lens has become slower to keep the camera down to essentially the same size as the others in the series.
As well as the lens, the Mark VI also gains a touchscreen for AF point positioning and control during playback. The viewfinder mechanism has also been revised so that it can now be deployed or stowed with a single click. Both of these are distinct ergonomic improvements and there are further strides forward in operability with the addition of Sony's latest menu system. This brings a more comprehensible structure and a custom 'My Menu' tab, for gaining quick access to the features you want.
Arguably the world's best travel camera
The camera's underlying performance is superb. The autofocus is hugely impressive (though it begins to struggle as light levels fall), the 4K video is highly detailed and has virtually no rolling shutter and the JPEG color rendering is the best yet. We were also impressed with the lens quality, given its ambitious range and reasonably fast aperture range. We still feel the user interface doesn't expect you to take too much control over the settings but this makes more sense if you're traveling and want to capture the moment, rather than intentionally devoting time to photography.
The costs of the new lens are twofold: its slower maximum aperture means it can't capture as much light in low light situations, which means noisier images. These's also no ND filter in the lens, which would let you use wider apertures for shallower depth-of-field or longer shutter speeds typically used for video, in bright light.
Overall, then, the RX100 VI is arguably the world's best travel camera. It's expensive, for sure, but nothing else can match its combination of size, lens range, image quality, AF and movie capability.
The RX100 VII is a refinement of the previous model, with better autofocus, and blackout-free burst shooting, but at a slightly lower 20fps.
The RX100 VII, the series' latest model, is the most capable pocket camera ever made. While it inherits much of what made up the Mark VI, Sony's found room to include some pretty dramatic improvements.
The most significant of these is the inclusion of a new type of tracking autofocus, which transitions seamlessly from incredibly tenacious tracking of any subject, to face and eye detection on people, with little-to-no input from the user. It's powerful, simple, effective, and simply the best autofocus implementation on the market today.
The RX100 VII is the most capable pocket camera ever made
An updated processor also improves 4K video capture, as the camera is now capable of combined digital and lens-based stabilization. This crops your video in slightly, so you don't get quite as wide an angle as before, but the extra stability is welcome. A newly added microphone socket will make it easier to get better quality audio as well.
And though burst shooting has actually slowed a bit, at 20fps instead of 24fps on the Mark VI, it now comes 'blackout-free.' This means you continue to see a fluid, live feed of your subject while shooting 20fps bursts. It makes following fast-moving subjects much easier.
The same compromises the previous model made are present in this model as well, though, and these include a usefully long lens that is hampered a bit by a slower maximum aperture, and a lack of any built-in ND filter that would be handy for video. The menus are still dense, and there's still some overall operational lag. On the plus side, battery life has increased a bit, but you'll likely still want to carry a spare.
Now, the important part. Which one is a fit for whom?
With the release of the Mark VI and Mark VII, it almost becomes easier to make sense of the sprawling RX100 series. Now you can choose a camera with a long, slower lens or ones with a short, fast lens: there's less sense in buying the short but increasingly slow lens models that started the lineup.
With this in mind, we'd probably only recommend the original RX100 Mark I and II if your budget absolutely won't stretch further. The latest versions have made so many improvements: in terms of JPEG quality, AF performance and video, and with the addition of useful features like the built-in viewfinders, Wi-Fi... The benefits of saving up for the faster lens of the Mark III, or rivals from Canon and Panasonic are, we reckon, worth it.
The Mark III would be our choice for an entry-level model RX100. It was the first in the series to gain the short, fast 24-70mm equivalent lens. Its F1.8-2.8 maximum aperture means you get the full advantage of that nice big sensor when you're zoomed-in, rather than just at wide-angle. The Mark III has a lower-resolution viewfinder than newer models, and can't shoot 4K video, but its image quality is pretty much a match for them, especially if you shoot Raw. Since this camera came out, though, Canon has introduced the PowerShot G5 X Mark II, which houses a similar sensor, more versatile lens and a similar pop-up electronic viewfinder in a body that handles better and has a friendlier interface. It's also around $150 more expensive at the time of this writing, but we feel its worth the extra cash, overall.
The RX100 IV falls into a similar trap to the first two models: once you've seen what can be done with newer technology, the more limited version might not make sense. It gains 4K video and a higher-res viewfinder over the Mark III but, although you're paying for a more advanced Stacked CMOS sensor, the IV doesn't have the phase detection autofocus or processing power to make the most of it. We'd either suggest saving up for the Mark V or looking closely at the Mk III, Canon's G5X II or Panasonic's LX10.
The RX100 VI, with its travel-zoom-territory 24-200mm equivalent lens, is a great choice for travel photography. Its maximum aperture of F2.8-4.5 means it's pretty flexible, though it could be limiting for dim interiors and nighttime shooting. While its autofocus system isn't quite as capable as the newer Mark VII, it's perfectly fine for general use. Its 4K video capture is solid (the lack of an ND filter could be problematic though), and the Wi-Fi system means it's easy to get images onto your phone and off onto the web. In the end, we'd recommend getting the Mark VI and saving a few bucks over the very latest model if you don't need the absolute best autofocus performance or the most stable 4K video capture.
The updated 'A' version of the already impressive RX100 V looks extremely promising. Its quiet introduction sees the camera creep back up to its launch-date MSRP but the benefits of the improved menus and better JPEG color add to what is already a highly capable camera. Updated AF algorithms should further improve things. We still don't think it's as engaging to use as some of its rivals but none of them can match the speed, AF performance or 4K quality of the Sony.
At which point you have to choose between the low-light capability of the RX100 V (A) or the greater flexibility of the RX100 VII's longer lens. The V has a built-in ND filter, which will be useful for video shooters, while the VII has a touchscreen and quicker-to-use EVF mechanism. But it's the lenses that should decide it for you.
It all comes down to what kind of photography you expect to do
The RX100 V and VII are both fast-shooting compacts that produce great photographs. They each have excellent autofocus and 4K video, though the VII has the edge in both cases thanks to its improved processing power. If you've decided the combination of price, performance, image quality and size is the one you want, it all comes down to what kind of photography you expect to do: the bright 24-70mm equiv zoom of the Mark V will shoot at any time, if those focal lengths work for your subject, whereas the 24-200mm equiv of the VII will shoot just about any subject, so long as there's enough light. Which matters more to you?
Still can't decide? Our Buying Guides are designed to help you find the perfect camera.
Update: Canon has offered the following official response: "Canon has become aware of this phenomenon, which occurs when focusing on a close subject at 200mm,
and is preparing a firmware update that will be released as quickly as possible."
Canon may have an issue on its hands as multiple users of its new RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM lens report that it misses focus when used at the closest minimum distance. A thread on our forums as well as posts on Fred Miranda state that when used at the longer focal lengths, and with subjects at the closest focusing point, the lens focuses in front of the area under the AF point in use.
|DPReview forum member pokesfan posted some tests which he says demonstrate that the lens focuses about 3mm in front of the active AF point when uses at the closest focusing distance while at the 200mm setting.|
Tests carried out by users report the fault is most pronounced at the longer ends of the focal range and that it gradually reduces as the lens is brought back to the 70mm setting. More distant subjects also avoid any issues, as it seems to happen only close up.
The Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 is said by owners to be exceptional in every other situation, but this will be something that needs attention. Forum member pokesfan says that his lens was sent to Canon to be checked and the service engineers claimed there was nothing wrong with it.