Every few years, Peggy and I save up and splurge on renting a cottage along the coast of Cornwall in southwestern England. It’s where the family roots of my mother, an English warbride from WWII, are firmly planted. Essentially, the area is a series of small fishing villages and great coastal scenery, and we just poke around, like the couple of fairly active senior citizens that we are, and explore the various festivals, pubs, cliff walks, and scenic views the area has to offer.
This year, I piggybacked it on an assignment that ended in London, and I had my full complement of travel video gear with me, but since I had no plans to do anything serious (photographically) during this trip, I decided to see if I could indeed just use one, basic camera, the Sony RX100iii, for my vacation, and still make some reasonably satisfying pictures.
Truth be told, I’ve tried this experiment before, but I always ended up resorting back to my big boy gear out of sheer handling frustration with point and shoot cameras. But this year, my experience was different. I rarely felt limited by the camera and in fact, its unobtrusiveness, silent operation and small size actually allowed me to get pictures I don’t think I would have gotten with my bigger gear.
I’ve done a lot of thinking (I’ve got some time on my hands, after all) about why this camera works for me, and I’ve come up with a couple of key points that make it a total winner in my view (and yes, the fourth iteration of the camera was announced a couple of weeks ago which will make it ever more awesome).
First and foremost, of course, is the lens and the sensor. A great 24-70mm (equivalent) Carl Zeiss T* optic that is sharp as a tack, reasonably fast, and the great 1″ sensor, the largest in a point and shoot (outside of the full frame sensor in that incredibly pricey Sony RX1). But there are a couple of other ergonomic features that put this camera over the top.
First that viewfinder. Yes it’s a pop-up, two stage affair, and it’s easy to bump and semi-close it again, but my goodness what a great image, and how much does using a viewfinder, as opposed to holding the camera out and using the back screen, improve the ergonomics and makes me feel like a photographer again and not a stiff-armed zombie trying to use a smartphone.
Huge difference outdoors (even in overcast, I can’t see the LCD screen the way I’d like to). So that pop-up viewfinder is, for me, the difference between a real camera and an emergency backup.
The second most important modification is the addition of a handle grip. You can get these stick on affairs either from Sony, or a very talented guy named Richard Franiec who has been making these kind of mod handles for years for a number of point and shoots. It really, really improves the “gripability” of the camera.
And I find that having a neckstrap, rather than carrying it in a pouch with a wriststrap, also adds to giving it the feel of a real camera and not a point and shoot. I use an Op Tech binocular strap for mine, and its neoprene stretchiness not only makes the camera feel even more featherweight than it is, but by pulling down a bit and using the back LCD, it creates a tension that really gives you steadiness in handheld video situations.
I’m wrapping up my Cornwall sojourn, not really looking forward to going home to the heat and humidity (but looking forward to a couple of exciting upcoming video projects). By the time I get home, the Sony RX100IV will be out.
Of course, version IV of this camera will be even more capable, especially in the video mode: 4K, S-Log, and other enhancements that will further enhance the professional capabilities of this tiny titan. Between the introduction of the new RX10 II, and this camera, the line between what is a “point and shoot” and a “professional” camera gets thinner and thinner!
15 thoughts on “One Country, One Month, One Camera.”
Hey Bob ,
Thanks for some beautiful photos. You are making me jealous. Jim and I have to get back to London. If you have time maybe you can do Isle of White, pretty. Regards to Peggy. Oh yeah, I was looking at Down the Shore this am. I am down here, I guess up here from Maryland. Love NJ! FYI the first mayor of fort lee was a Mr John Abbott.
great article, and beautiful photos! I would have preferred them without fake tilt-shift and bokeh but they are nonetheless great.
It’s just wonderful what these little cameras can do. And they make life so much easier when you’re humping around all day while traveling. By the way, I’m pretty sure the RX100iii has a 24-70 eq. lens…not 24-105.
Jim,you’re right, my mistake.
I really enjoyed reading this article. We also often haul around lots of stuff and equipment.
Meanwhile, what I enjoy most, is my little ridiculously lightweight Canon G16 – it even offers video in faux Tilt and Shift mode which I really love!
And, as you say, I can shoot people and situations which I could not with the professional equipment.
I just like it.
Best regards, Sabine
I bought an RX100M3 as a back up for my Nikon DSLR. The DSLR is used exclusively from the back of the car now, any travel involved it’s the Sony. Thanks for sharing the images Bob.
After seeing your fine work with the RX10, I got one and am shooting very happily with it — but, it appears to be intervalometer-free, so I guess no time lapses. I’m heading up to Greenland and the Canadian High Arctic on NG Explore in two weeks. Is there a way to TL with the RX10 that I’m missing, or is this a job for the iPhone 6+?
[BTW, I hope make out the west coast soon. I’d love be in of your workshops or seminars, sor just catch a terrific travel talk.
Jim…you van get a time lapse app from Sony Play Station for a couple of bucks….works great.
Thank you, I’ll try it.
You mentioned in the new issue of Sony’s Alpha magazine that you use the time-lapse plug-in on the RX10Mk2. I’ve tried downloading the app from Sony’s PlayMemories site to my camera, but can’t verify the connection. Then I think I read somewhere that Sony doesn’t support the time lapse app and the Mac OS. Any advice? I’ve contacted Sony twice by email from their help site, but have received no answer.
Jim: The timelapse app works with RX100 III (that’s 3)…not sure about the II (2) version. That may be why you have trouble connecting. I use OSX to connect to the PlayMemories Apps all the time, with no problem. It may be that the version II camera doesn’t take apps. I have both and will check it out and get back to you.
Bob, thank you. I made a mistake (typo–didn’t proof read). I should have written that I have the Mk4 — not the Mk2. I can’t verify the USB connection between it my iMac running Yosemite, after following the PlayMemories on-screen installation instructions. Cheers, Jim.
Bob, I resolved the issue. My iMac did not have the correct Sony downloader, which I discovered after I switched to my MacBook Pro. On that machine the Sony site sent me to the downloader, and I was able to install the app without further ado. Thanks again. Cheers, Jim
Jim: Glad to hear it. I try to do my Sony updates on my old laptop that I use as an email station in the kitchen. It’s still on OS 10.7.5 and it never has a problem with the Sony interface. I had heard that newer OS versions could be picky. I also have a couple of legacy programs (LR Timelapse and FotoQuote Pro) that depend on an older version of Java that is missing in the newer OS versions and the Java is not backwards compatible. So this old laptop earns its keep!
It’s recently great what these little cameras can do. Also, they make life so much simpler when you’re bumping around throughout the day while voyaging. In the wake of seeing your fine work with the RX10, I got one and am shooting cheerfully with it. I truly delighted in perusing this article. We likewise frequently pull around bunches of stuff and gear.