When it comes to an activity which requires tough gear as well as cameras that can do more than one thing well, its definitely storm chasing. So you can imagine my delight when Sony announced the Sony RX0.
A sport/action style camera but with a big sensor?! Small? Tough? Great picture?
Sign me up!
It sounds too good to be true right? Well, there is a catch — this camera does not do 4K. That will turn many tech heads off from this one, but to me and for storm chasing, this is a big time camera. Let’s dive in.
The Comparisons Are Going to happen
People are going to compare these to GoPros, its unavoidable. So for the purposes of this piece, I’ll just compare the Sony RX0 to what you already know in the micro-camera market, the GoPro. First the lack of 4K internal recording does hold the Sony back…but at 1080p the Sony RX0 does have a better look and feel on the video than GoPros (I like it as much as my Session 5’s 4K to be honest).
I should say that I haven’t liked the GoPro ‘look’ from the get-go but I’ve always used them because, well I guess I was invested in their mounting hardware solutions and such. The video was always fine, but I never was in love with the look.
Grading the Sony RX0 video reveals what my first suspicions were: there’s simply more ‘there there’ with the Sony image for me to work with. I get more out of the Sony than I have my GoPros in terms of Dynamic Range, Color, and Contrast. That’s good. My only wish is there was a 4K Codec to grade because I’m pretty certain this would truly outpace the GoPros in IQ at that point in every way, though someone with an external recorder will confirm that sooner or later.
The Options Are Immense
The Sony RX0 has A LOT of customizable options. If you’ve ever used a Sony cam you’ll be familiar with the menus, and if you’ve ever used a RX100 you’ll feel right at home. Most of these will not be available on GoPros either.
On top of that, there is an optional front faceplate ($149) which will allow you to attach 30.5mm filters onto the camera. That may seem like a small thing, but if you were wanting to get a little extra out of your camera’s image that’s a huge thing. For storms especially this could be helpful.
Kudos to Sony on packing a lot of pro features and possibilities into a micro body.
Lets not call it an action cam
I agree with Sony on this not being an ‘action cam’ though it is an action cam…if that makes any sense. I think “micro camera” is a better moniker though, so I’m running with that.
There’s a manual mode you could use, if you are a sadist. For me the automatic mode is fine and what these cams are made to do. With the available tweaks you can get a lot of customization over the automatic mode anyways.
In terms of ease of use, the Sony RX0 is what you’d expect: a very easy camera to operate. Now its not as simple as a GoPro, but it won’t take a rocket scientist to get a good image out of this cam. Micro-cameras are about pointing and shooting. No different here.
low light animal
In low-light, you start to see the strengths of the Sony RX0 especially over GoPros. Color, detail, and contrast all are retained MUCH better with much less noise as light dips. That bigger sensor gobbles up the light. This, turn turn, makes my GoPro look kinda bad when the sun goes down in comparison.
My main complaint with GoPros in storm lighting conditions was always the image would kinda go to crap about halfway through any chase. The Sony RX0 has a much better handle on those lower light situations and the dynamic range is better to boot as well.
So Should You Buy The sony rx0?
So at $700 is the Sony RX0 something YOU should buy? I honestly don’t know. That’s really the camera’s problem. GoPro peeps don’t need the extra features, and the vid quality due to lack of 4K doesn’t end up being a gigantic upgrade.
What I am convinced of is that this series (assuming Sony doesn’t give up on it due to the awkward market position its in) will be a huge deal soon enough. The big sensors in tiny bodies idea is something that’s long overdue and seems to have been pulled off relatively well.
Personally, I am thinking I may use this thing as a first person/vlog/capture the moments type of cam for chases and traveling as the IQ is good and the lack of 4K doesn’t bother me as much as it will others. With that in mind, I’m kinda a big fan. I’ve yet to put this thing through the full paces, but so far I’d say there’s real promise here.