RX10 IV initial impressions – long . . . you’ve been warned!

Jock Elliott

Hall of Famer
Jan 3, 2012
124
Troy, NY
For years now, I’ve had a mad, passionate love affair with superzoom cameras. I argue that they are, quite simply, the most versatile cameras on the planet: they will deliver 20-something millimeter equivalent wide angle views when you need them and yet, without changing lenses, draw you close to the action with a long-reach telephoto when it would be impossible or foolish to zoom with your feet. And I have backed my opinion with action -- in addition to wildlife and sky photography, I have used superzooms professionally to cover events, and a number of my pix taken with superzooms have been published as part of paid writing assignments.

My weapon of choice for a couple of years has been the Sony HX400V. I have been – and remain – well pleased with it, and would happily recommend it to anyone who needs a versatile all-in-one photographic tool. I came across the HX400V because of Stephen Ingraham, who runs the website point-and-shoot nature photography -- Point & Shoot Nature Photographer -- and he is also the author of a book with the same title -- Amazon.com: Point and Shoot Nature Photography (9781549762284): Stephen Ingraham: Books -- which I highly recommend. (Ingraham and I are acquaintances, and I have interviewed him for one of my projects, but I have no commercial connection with him and don’t get anything for recommending his stuff.) Ingraham had done a head-to-head comparison of three superzooms, and it seemed to me that the HX400V produced the best images, so I bought one and have loved it ever since.

A while back, though, Ingraham acquired a Sony RX10 MkIII, enjoyed it thoroughly, and shot tens of thousands of images (literally) with it. When the RX10 MkIV was announced, he ordered one immediately and hasn’t looked back. Among the things he said about the MkIV is that it “makes shooting birds in flight almost embarrassingly easy.” Really? Seriously??! Embarrassingly easy?

I’ve interviewed Ingraham, and he ran a newsletter about optics for birding for years, so he is not a man given easily to hyperbole. Still, I was happy with my HX400V and the idea of a $1700 superzoom was pinching my Scottish thrift genes pretty hard, so my wallet stayed in my pocket.
This spring, though, the better half (aka spotter-in-chief) and I visited Peebles Island in Waterford, NY, to see if we could see the nesting eagles. We could. We got some interesting images, and were completing our circumnavigation of the island and sharing some of our eagle pix with folks we encountered. We were nearly off the island when we came upon another couple. “Want to see some pictures of the eagles?” I said, indicating the screen on the HX400V. “Oh, I’ve got that camera came the reply.” We swapped eagle stories, and he mentioned “I’ve got the big brother of that camera too.”

A week later, we ran into them again, and he had the RX10 IV in his hands. He let me play with it, and I was immediately struck by the build quality and how fast the autofocus was. And that’s how I came to purchase the RX10 Mk IV.

So, is it worth it? Is the RX10 IV worth more than three times the cost of the HX400V? My early judgement is that, yes, it is . . . in fact, easily worth it. The images it captures, IMHO, are just lovely.

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On the very first day I took the RX10 IV to Peebles Island (just the second day I owned it), I was able to capture nearly a dozen shots of eagles in flight that I don’t think I would have been able capture otherwise . . . and I was in single-shot mode!

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The only odd thing I have encountered is this very strange bokeh above the bird in the shot below. Whether this is an artefact of the “intelligent” digital zoom software onboard this camera, I don’t know, but it is an oddity that has me wondering.

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The RX10 IV has astonishing capabilities: shutter speeds of up to 1/32,000th of a second, 24 frames per second stills, f/4 at 600mm e, video at nearly 1000 frames per second, blindingly fast autofocus, and the ability to shoot stills while shooting video. It has more tricks than a bridge tournament and even has a bit of moisture and dust protection. This is one camera that – as one bird photographer counselled in general advice to wannabee bird photographers – you should, every night, sit down with the camera and the manual, go through the manual page by page, and practice new operations so that you’ll know how to do them when you want them.

It’s bigger than the HX400V (but roughly the same size as a DSLR with a medium tele zoom) and heavier – by about a pound.

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My overall impression is that the RX10 MkIV is a “professional quality” superzoom, and, so far, I am very pleased.

This guy does a very good job of setting up "the optical problem."

And this is just mind-blowing:

Cheers, Jock
 
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Luke

Super Moderator
Nov 11, 2011
214
Milwaukee, WI USA
Luke
If (1) I was shooting more often (basically, at all) and (2) I had the money; I would snag one of the used ones at B & H for around $1,200 based on the photos that you have been sharing.

On the bright side, if I ever do start doing photography again, by the time I'm ready to purchase the IV, there will a V out, meaning the new IV's will be $1,200....and a nice used one will be more like $800 ;)
 
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bartjeej

Hall of Famer
Nov 12, 2010
124
bart
I'm hoping to organize my day pack and my wallet in time to allow me to buy a uaed RX10iii. I'd love the focus capabilities and other high speed features of the IV but the III is already an uncertainty, the IV is simply out of reach for me.

But congratulations on your fantastic new camera, hope to see many more shots taken with it!
 

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