Pho­to: pcmag.com

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

An option­al tri­pod grip with wire­less remote con­trol is avail­able for the ZV‑1. Pho­to: hardwareluxx.ru

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

The pop-up viewfind­er is a huge plus on the RX100 series. Pho­to: dphotoworld.net

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

At the time of release (2018), the HX99 and HX95 were the small­est trav­el com­pacts in the world. Pho­to: videomaker.com

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.

Bridge superzoom

“What a pret­ty zoom!”, as one viral video said. Pho­to: primelens.ru

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

A minia­ture cam­era is a minia­ture tri­pod. Pho­to: provideocoalition.com

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

The pre­mi­um lens from Carl Zeiss is one of the high­lights of the RX1R II. Pho­to: dpreview.com

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

Soap dish­es were the first vic­tims of the “smart­phone rev­o­lu­tion” in the pho­to mar­ket. Pho­to: ephotozine.com

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

The most amaz­ing devices appeared under the Cyber-shot sub-brand. Pho­to: wikipedia.org

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 Best Mod­el
For blog­gers ZV‑1
Trav­el com­pact HX99
Bridge super­zoom RX10 IV
Action com­pact RX0 II
full frame RX1R II
Uni­ver­sal RX100 VII

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