Sony RX100 V review - Quality

Quality

Sony’s Cyber-shot RX100 V shares the same lens as its predecessor, so optically its performance is known. But I wanted to see how the overall performance compared to a current rival, so I took the same shot moments apart with the Mark V and Panasonic’s Lumix LX10 / LX15 with the coverage and exposure matched.

In terms of focal length I shot this test with the lenses roughly midway through their ranges at an equivalent of 50mm. As with most premium compacts with 1in sensors, the lenses on both models peaked in overall sharpness at f4, so that’s what I’ve used throughout my results. Both cameras were set to RAW+JPEG and I hope to include a RAW comparison in the future. Right now, I’m comparing out-of-camera JPEGs using the default settings which is how many owners will use these cameras. As always I’ve taken crops from the areas marked by the red rectangles below for reproduction at 100%.

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At first glance the crops below from each camera are pretty closely matched. Both cameras are resolving roughly similar levels of detail. In the first row, taking from the lower left corner of the frame, the Lumix LX10 / LX15 lens is a little crisper, retaining fine details in the window blinds, although the advantage is swapped in the lower right corner where the Lumix falls fractionally behind the Sony. But towards the middle of the frame, they both perform similarly in terms of optics.

You’ll also notice a difference in their processing styles with the Sony being a little more heavy-handed in colour, contrast and noise reduction. I personally prefer the slightly more restrained approach of the Lumix, but this is a personal choice and both models support a wide array of in-camera processing tweaks.

So I’d say there’s nothing decisive between them here, faced with a distant subject and zoomed approximately mid-way through their optical ranges. How about noise in low light? Find out in my Sony RX100 V noise results below.

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Above left: Sony RX100 V at f4, 125 ISO. Above right: Lumix LX10 / LX15 at f4, 125 ISO

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Above left: Sony RX100 V at f4, 125 ISO. Above right: Lumix LX10 / LX15 at f4, 125 ISO

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Above left: Sony RX100 V at f4, 125 ISO. Above right: Lumix LX10 / LX15 at f4, 125 ISO

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Above left: Sony RX100 V at f4, 125 ISO. Above right: Lumix LX10 / LX15 at f4, 125 ISO

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Above left: Sony RX100 V at f4, 125 ISO. Above right: Lumix LX10 / LX15 at f4, 125 ISO

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V noise

Most premium compacts employ 1in sensors with 20 Megapixel resolutions and most are manufactured by Sony too. But they’re not all of the same generation. Sony’s RX100 V features the company’s latest 1in sensor which not only has a stacked design with integrated DRAM, but now also features embedded phase-detect autofocus points. Then there’s the impact of different image processors. So to see if this makes any difference in practice, I shot the following scene at every ISO sensitivity using the RX100 Mark V and Panasonic’s Lumix LX10 / LX15, with the coverage and exposure matched.

Both cameras were set to RAW+JPEG and I hope to include a RAW comparison in the future. Right now, I’m comparing out-of-camera JPEGs using the default settings which is how many owners will use these cameras. As always I’ve taken crops from the area marked by the red rectangle below for reproduction at 100%.

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From the crops below I’d say both cameras share a similar approach to image processing and noise reduction, at least until around 3200 ISO. Up to that point, both share similar degrees of real-life detail and also similar amounts of noise – and smearing through noise reduction. On both cameras I’d say you’ll enjoy clean and detailed images up to 400 ISO with only minor evidence of noise at 800 ISO.

Increase the sensitivity to 1600 ISO and both are having to deal with increased noise by turning up the noise reduction with some smearing of fine details as a result, but again both are employing similar approaches up to this point. At 3200 ISO and above though, the two cameras adopt different approaches to noise and noise reduction with the Sony going for a more hands-off style than the Lumix, exhibiting greater noise than its rival which attempts to smear it out. But at this point neither is retaining visibly more detail than the other and I’d rank them similarly throughout the ISO range.

So while both cameras feature different generations of sensors and different image processors, their actual output is roughly similar – certainly not enough for me to make a buying decision based on it alone. Rather the decision between the Sony and its rivals boils down to other features discussed and compared in the main review. Next check out my Sony RX100 V sample images.

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Above left: Sony RX100 V at 125 ISO (100% crop). Above right: Lumix LX10 / LX15 at 125 ISO (100% crop)

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Above left: Sony RX100 V at 200 ISO (100% crop). Above right: Lumix LX10 / LX15 at 200 ISO (100% crop)

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Above left: Sony RX100 V at 400 ISO (100% crop). Above right: Lumix LX10 / LX15 at 400 ISO (100% crop)

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Above left: Sony RX100 V at 800 ISO (100% crop). Above right: Lumix LX10 / LX15 at 800 ISO (100% crop)

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Above left: Sony RX100 V at 1600 ISO (100% crop). Above right: Lumix LX10 / LX15 at 1600 ISO (100% crop)

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Above left: Sony RX100 V at 3200 ISO (100% crop). Above right: Lumix LX10 / LX15 at 3200 ISO (100% crop)

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Above left: Sony RX100 V at 6400 ISO (100% crop). Above right: Lumix LX10 / LX15 at 6400 ISO (100% crop)

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Above left: Sony RX100 V at 12800 ISO (100% crop). Above right: Lumix LX10 / LX15 at 12800 ISO (100% crop)

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