We take a look first hand what the new Sony Cyber-Shot RX10 IV can do

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First look: Sony Cyber-Shot RX10 IV

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First look at Sony’s latest bridge compact, the Cyber-shot RX10 IV

Sony has released a new bridge compact camera into the market in the form of the Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV. This new model follows from where the RX10 III left off, arriving roughly a year and a half later. The RX10 IV is expected to be available from late October and will cost £1800.

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV – Features

This fourth generation of bridge compact in the RX series is equipped with Sony’s latest 1-inch 20.1-megapixel Exmor RS CMOS stacked image sensor with DRAM chip, along with a powerful BIONZ X image processor and front-end LSI.

Little has changed with regard to the lens, and much like the Sony RX10 III, the new Sony RX10 IV uses the Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24-600mm f/2.4-4 wide-aperture, high-magnification zoom, which made it a hit with wildlife and sports photographers looking for an all-in-one solution.

To reduce the affect of handshake, the lens once again includes built-in Optical SteadyShot image stabilisation – which, when activated, allows users to shoot 4.5 stops slower than would otherwise be possible.

The big news is that the RX10 IV has been made much faster. With the world’s fastest AF acquisition time (0.03 seconds) and the possibility to shoot a continuous burst at up to 24fps for as many as 249 frames with full AF/AE tracking, it’s certainly no slouch. Sony was keen to stress that these latest developments have been made following customer feedback. With one in three people who bought the Sony RX10 III already owning a full-frame camera, it’s clear that Sony has looked to improve the RX10 IV for those with extremely high demands.

Thanks to the improvements in processing power, EVF display lag during continuous shooting has also been reduced. Plus, for convenience during image playback, continuously shot images can be displayed as a group rather than having to scroll through individual shots.

Furthermore, and something of a first for Sony’s RX10-series of cameras, the new RX10 IV features a Fast Hybrid AF system. Users will find 315 phase-detection AF points covering approximately 65% of the image sensor.

In another first for an RX-series camera, the RX10 IV employs the manufacturer’s high-density AF tracking. This advanced technology – which has previously only been available in a few of Sony’s line of interchangeable-lens cameras – concentrates AF points around a subject to improve tracking and focus accuracy, allowing even the most unpredictable subjects to be captured with ease.

With a maximum shutter speed of up to 1/32,000 second, the RX10 IV employs Sony’s high-speed Anti-Distortion Shutter to eliminate the ‘rolling shutter’ effect commonly experienced with fast-moving subjects. Like most mirrorless cameras, it can shoot completely silently in all modes when the electronic shutter is engaged, which will be welcomed by wildlife users who don’t want to disturb their subject.

Other improvements to the RX10 IV’s video functionality make it an even more versatile camera for those who like to shoot movies as well as stills. It becomes the latest Cyber-shot RX model to provide 4K (QFHD 3840 x 2160) movie recording, with its Fast Hybrid AF system offering focus speeds that are said to be twice as fast as its predecessor’s.

In 4K mode, the RX10 IV utilises full pixel readout without pixel-binning. The camera utilises the XAVC S codec, recording video at a high data rate of up to 100Mbps depending on the shooting mode that’s used. In addition, users have the option of shooting at either 24p or 30p in 4K mode (100 Mbps), or in frame rates of up to 120p in Full HD mode.

Other professional video features include Picture Profile, S-Log3/S-Gamut3, Gamma Display Assist, Proxy recording, Time Code/User Bit and more, as well as input for external microphone and output for headphone monitoring.

Super-slow-motion video recording is available, too, with an extended duration of about 4 seconds (in quality priority mode) and 7 seconds (in shoot-time priority). This gives users the ability to choose among 1000fps, 500fps and 250fps frame rates and among 50p, 25p and 24p playback formats.

Other important features to note are its 3-inch, 1.44m-dot tiltable LCD screen that supports Touch Focus and Sony’s Touch Pad function, which provides a means of shifting focus simply by sliding your finger across the LCD screen from one area to another as you look through the viewfinder. Above the screen you’ll find a 2.35m-dot XGA OLED electronic viewfinder. Video users will also be pleased to hear the lens rings for aperture, zoom and focus are designed to operate silently.

In addition to all of the above, the Sony Cyber-Shot RX10 IV is dust- and moisture-resistant to give users peace of mind if in harsh shooting environments. Needless to say, it also has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC connectivity options.

First impressions

Sony decided to reveal the Cyber-shot RX10 IV to many of the world’s tech journalists via a LiveStream of a US press event, so we’re yet to get our hands on the camera. Fingers crossed, it shouldn’t be too long before we’re invited for a touch-and-try session where we’ll be able to comment further on its speed, responsiveness and focusing capabilities.

Just as Mark Weir, Senior Technology Manager of Digital Imaging, Sony North America explained in the LiveStream, there are other cameras out there on the market that can do what the RX10 IV can do; however, very few are as small or lightweight.

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IVThe real beauty of a camera such as the RX10 IV is its compactness. Add its latest speed developments to the mix and it should have the performance it needs to match most photographer’s extremely high expectations and keep up with the speediest of subjects.

Sports and wildlife photographers who were excited by the Sony RX10 III appear to have great reason to get excited once again. It will be interesting to find out how it compares to the RX10 III and whether it can justify the gut-wrenching £1800 launch price.

All things considered, the Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV looks like it has what it takes to be the best 1-inch sensor bridge-compact on the market, but only time will tell whether or not that’s the case. Watch this space for our full review of the camera.

In the meantime, check out a few sample images taken with the Cyber-shot RX10 IV as supplied by Sony.