By Austin Photographer, Kirk Tuck ©2014
One of our readers tasked me to do two things. One was to shoot a portrait wide open so he could sample the depth of field that the RX10 yields. The second was to shoot a portrait near the long end of the lens so he could see how that looked as well. The third point of information is one that I added to the test inadvertently but which to me was the most important test....
I asked Belinda to take time our from being the best graphic designer in all of Texas (need a logo?) and to stand still for me in the living room of our house so I could do the test shots. Late afternoon sun light was coming in behind me and bouncing off the glossy surface of our Saltillo tiled floor. The camera needed a little help with exposure so I dialed down a stop and a half to compensate for the confused metering difference between the light on her face and the much darker living room space. I was cued to do this by the zebras that came on when I pointed the camera in her general direction. I'd set them at 95%. Once properly compensated (nice EC dial on the top right of the camera with firm click stops) the camera was successful in also producing a very neutral color balance in Belinda's face despite the orangey-warm color reflection off the Saltillo tiles as the main light source. (The bounce off the floor also explains the "spooky" under lighting....).
The camera nailed focus on her eyes and I noticed, when zooming in to 100%, that the tip of her nose is just starting to go soft. The window in the background is very soft.
But here's the crazy thing. I picked up the camera and it was in Aperture Priority so I didn't bother to check the other settings. I presumed that with all the light bouncing around that the camera would set something like 1/125th at ISO 200 or 400. I misjudged the light intensity and it was only when I inspected the image at 100% that I noticed my "mistake."
I noticed it because I could see just a trace of noise reduction on the image file that I didn't put into the image in post and I started to worry that maybe the camera was being too aggressive in its anti-noise intervention. So I checked the info palette and was stopped cold.
The frame was shot at 1/250th of a second, f2.8 at ISO 1600 !!!! The noise performance is a factor of three better than my Sony a850 full frame camera and as good as the performance I've been getting in careful use with my Panasonic GH3 at the same ISO. I think the files are big enough and juicy enough that I may go into the menus and turn down the standard levels of noise reduction in Jpeg to minus one or minus two. I wouldn't mind a bit more believable noise at 1600 ISO !!!!!
So. There it is. The camera can make things in the background go out of focus. The camera files are sharp and detailed, even at 1600 ISO. And the situation looks pretty nice at f2.8.
I decided to do a screen shot of the sizing menu so I could show off a real 100% (in relation to the top file) image blow up.
The head Visual Researcher here at the VSL lab was confabbing with our secret board of directors and we're in consensus, the RX10 is a good camera.