4K video and 30x optical zoom in a camera that’s a little bigger than a smartphone? Sony has always been able to make compacts — from high-end models for a hundred thousand rubles to simple soap dishes for five. Most of its compact cameras are in the Cyber-shot line, but there are exceptions. We divided Sony compacts into several categories, in each of which we chose the most interesting models — we will talk about them now.
Best compact camera for vloggers
Let’s start with a rather unusual camera, which we have already written about (and more than once). This is the latest compact model from Sony, released in 2020, and also the first dedicated camera for vloggers — ZV‑1.
In fact, this model is an updated version of the RX100 V series camera, which we will talk about later, but specially “sharpened” for selfie video shooting. From the RX100 V, the “blogger” camera inherited a zoom lens with an equivalent focal length (EFF) of 24–70 mm (f / 1.8–2.8) and an inch 20-megapixel matrix. At the same time, the ZV‑1 records 4K video at 30p with advanced eye autofocus, which is especially convenient when you shoot yourself. Also for video shooting, there is a background defocus mode that automatically opens the aperture while adjusting the ISO value and the built-in ND filter to the changed exposure, all in one click.
An advanced built-in microphone on top of the camera helps bloggers filming themselves on the go, for the same purpose there is a face-priority auto-exposure function.
The ZV‑1 is also suitable for everyday amateur photography, but for more advanced photographers, it is better to pay attention to the next camera in the review.
Versatile top compact
There are cameras in the Cyber-shot series, which simply cannot be called a soap dish. This, of course, is about the RX100 series and, in particular, the latest Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VII model. The inside and functionality of this model is the envy of any professional camera, while it is compact, versatile and easy to operate. But her price tag is appropriate — about 80 thousand rubles.
A 24–200mm EGF lens will suit a wide variety of subjects in a wide variety of situations, and the f/2.8–4.5 maximum aperture won’t limit your work too much, although you can expect noise levels to increase in low light.
Along with the ZV‑1, the RX100 VII has perhaps the best autofocus system on compact cameras — reliable, fast and “tenacious” autofocus is provided. The quality of the JPEG format is at the highest level, with pleasing colors. There is shooting in RAW for more advanced post-processing.
At the same time, the RX100 VII is also a good video camera: you can shoot in very “sharp” 4K with effective stabilization and minimal rolling shutter effect. Unlike blogger’s ZV‑1, there is no built-in ND filter, which means you have to use faster shutter speeds in bright light, so videos can look a little less professional.
80 thousand for a compact sounds too expensive? Pay attention to past models of the series. So, the sixth generation RX100 has similar main characteristics: a 24–200 mm lens and a 20-megapixel matrix. Although it has the same resolution, it is a legacy device with fewer phase-detection AF points. In general, its main difference is the older autofocus system. Plus, the RX100 VI does not have a jack for an external microphone, which seriously limits the use of the model for video recording.
If you’re willing to sacrifice zoom range for a faster lens, take a look at the RX100 VA from the RX series. This is an updated version of the RX100 V that we mentioned in connection with the ZV‑1 blogging camera. The RX100 VA has a 24–70mm (EGF) lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.8–2.8, which is very good for a compact: unlike the 6th and 7th generations of the RX-series, you have no problems shooting in low light will be. This camera produces beautiful JPEG and flexible RAW files, and can also shoot bursts at 24 fps. Yes, 4K video is on board too. Of the minuses — an inconvenient obsolete interface and the lack of a touch screen.
The best compact travel cameras
If the 24–200mm range, on the other hand, seems too restrictive for you, Sony has a couple of models for you too. Moreover, in completely different form factors: there are soap dishes with an impressive zoom, and bridge cameras. Let’s start with the first.
In 2018, the Japanese released a duo of 28x zoom travel compacts: the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX99 and HX95. The difference between the two models is small: the HX99 has a touchscreen and a customizable control ring around the lens.
The main advantage of these miniature superzooms is, of course, their EGF lens of 24–720 mm (f / 3.5–6.4). This range of focal lengths, along with the tiny body, makes these compacts a convenient and versatile option for travelers who like to capture objects at long distances — birds, dolphins or nude beach goers. In addition, the HX99/95 handle 4K/30p resolution with full sensor readout, just like the older models in the RX100 series. Unfortunately, it was she who overshadowed the HX99 / 95 with its popularity, so finding them on sale today is not so easy.
In a form factor more familiar to superzooms, two other compact models are made — Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX350 and DSC-RX10 IV.
In general, it’s rather comical that these models are included in the “compact” Cyber-shot series (all because of their inch sensor), because compared to the rest of the models in the series, they look something like Godzilla next to a Shiba Inu puppy. But, if we already undertook to understand Sony compacts, we will also tell about such models. These are bridge cameras that look like DSLRs with a built-in superzoom lens. The RX10 IV is more popular among amateur photographers, so let’s talk about it.
Of course, if you attach a super-telezoom to a regular DSLR (and don’t forget the extra wide-angle in your backpack) to cover a similar range of focal lengths, then the RX10 IV can seem like a really compact camera. But, if you suddenly choose a travel compact, do not forget that this compact weighs more than a kilogram.
At the same time, the camera is equipped with a 24–600 mm EGF lens and a good maximum aperture (f / 2.4–4). In general, the lens is very “sharp” and perfectly stabilized, which makes the camera a good option for sports and wildlife photography. In general, the RX10 IV takes excellent shots and shoots high-quality 4K video, but it is also not cheap — in the region of 100–120 thousand rubles.
Ultra compact action camera
In contrast to the two previous non-compact compacts, this compact could well be called an ultra-compact (yes, that was a tongue twister). The Sony DSC-RX0 II clearly claims to be more than just an action camera.
In addition to protection against shocks (up to 200 kgf), drops (from a height of up to 2 meters) and water resistance (immersion up to 33 m is possible without additional accessories), the Japanese managed to attach a 1.5‑inch inclined (!) Display to the camera, which can be raised into a selfie position for shooting action blogs.
A 15-megapixel inch sensor is paired here with a 24mm (f/4) lens from Zeiss. The camera is capable of continuous shooting at speeds up to 16 fps, while the maximum shutter speed is available at 1/32000 second, making it possible to perfectly freeze the fastest movements. And this model is also capable of shooting clear detailed video in 4K resolution and slow-mo at a speed of 1000 fps. And all this in a 59 x 41 x 35 mm cube that weighs 132 grams.
Whether you need some kind of hybrid of an inch compact and an action camera or better to choose the good old GoPro is up to you, but be prepared that Sony’s “magic cube” costs almost 20 thousand more.
Best Full Frame Compact
As you already understood, Sony has a lot of wonderful compact cameras, among which one cannot fail to mention another curiosity — the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R II.
This is a compact full-frame camera with a built-in prime lens. Perhaps its only analogues are the Q and Q2 models from Leica, although the German manufacturer’s premium cameras are larger and heavier.
The 42MP sensor offers excellent dynamic range and low noise at high ISOs, while the fixed 35mm f/2 lens is very sharp. The quality of photos is just excellent, but the model is not suitable for video: it has neither 4K format nor optical stabilization.
Despite the fact that the camera was released in 2015, its cost is still amazing: the Sony website lists the current price of 347,990 rubles. Unfortunately, this is another similar feature with Leica models.
Budget soap dishes
And again, contrasts — cheap soap dishes (almost in the usual sense of the word). We are talking about the already somewhat obsolete Sony Cyber-shot DSC‑W series: W800, W810 and W830. These cameras were introduced back in 2014, but they can still be found for 5–10 thousand rubles. The models differ in focal length: 26–130 mm, 26–156 mm and 25–200 mm. In terms of image quality, they are unlikely to be able to compete with modern smartphones, but they win in the zoom range.
In general, at the time of release, these were good cameras, but time does not stand still. It’s pretty hard to imagine why such a camera might be needed in 2021 — unless you decide to collect the entire collection of Sony compacts.
Sony Compact Camera Review Summary
There are many more amazing compact cameras in Sony’s Cyber-shot series, such as the DSC-G1 from ’96 with a built-in MP3 player, or the absolutely round QX10 from 2013 that attached to a smartphone. Today they are more valuable for history than for actual photography and videography.
|“Type” of Sony compact camera
If you decide not to read everything that we have written so far, there is one very simple recommendation for you. Looking for a versatile Sony compact camera? Take any model from the RX100 series, starting from the 5th generation (the most fancy and expensive is the RX100 VII, but it is worth the money).
*All prices are current at the time of publication of the article