VSL CEO gesticulating wildly at an advisory board meeting for the photography
department at Austin Community College. Image taken by fellow board member during the "new camera pass around."
Claire knew that it was inevitable that I'd be buying an RX10 and deep down I knew it from the day of the first announcement. How could I not after having experienced nearly nine years of perfection from it's noble ancestor, the Sony R1? For those who've chosen to remain out of the new product loop I'll make a brief detour to flesh out what the camera is: Sony has taken the backlit 20 megabyte sensor from the RX100-2, put it in a body with a serious and uncompromising 24-200mm (equivalent) Carl Zeiss Sony with a constant f2.8 aperture (yes: all the way to 200...), designed in a very good EVF and added enough video feature sets to make most new school video artists very happy.
They packaged all of this into a beautifully designed package with lots of button and dial controls, a snazzy and easy to navigate menu and the ultra cheap price of $1300. If it does everything it's supposed to do it will be a bargain. One video reviewer who was virtually salivating on his keyboard about the lens made the point that he would pay upwards of $2,000 if he could get just that lens alone for his preferred video system. My friend Eric summed the lens up yesterday by saying that if it performed as advertised it represented the "holy grail" of lenses for videographers...
I'll reserve judgement on the ultimate quality of both the lens and the files until I've had a bit more time with the camera. Today was my first day out with the new toy and of course it was a gray and rainy day (just what one of our UK commenters suggested I try only yesterday.
So far I'm having glorious fun with the camera and I have not yet revved up the video half. The lens is a "power zoom" and it's "fly-by-wire" so it takes a little getting used to but it's well damped in it's action and doesn't exhibit any of the overshoot I used to get from the first version of Canon's 85mm 1.1:2 L series lens with its fly-by-wire manual focusing.
The camera is light and agile and while you know you are using a contrast detect AF camera there's really very little focus hesitation or hunting, even in lower light situations.
I set up the camera today by selecting Jpeg, extra fine, AWB, Auto ISO and I shot mostly in the aperture priority mode sticking to f-stops on the fast side of the dial. It's perfectly fine at f2.8 and I like the bountiful depth of field I can get at the 24mm equivalent when I stop down to f5.6. I used the center focusing system in S-AF as I do with most cameras and didn't mess with stuff like HDR or fast frame rates.
I am probably the last person in Austin to discover the Royal Blue Grocers but I went to one of the downtown stores for lunch today and was pretty impressed by their wine inventory and their fresh foods. They are a small grocery/convenience store model and they seem to locate near or in high end residence towers or luxury hotels like the W. Above is a sample of wine bottles shot at a very close distance, wide open showing some fun focus fall off. How's that bokeh in the distance?
I like the way the the bottles look and I wanted to do a shot of one with a red foil cover to balance the blue one in the image above this one. The colors, even in AWB, look right on the money...
An amazing selection of champagnes for a corner market.
The Louis Roderer Brut is my all time favorite.
As it was lunch time I decided to forgo popping any corks....
It's fun to have a lens that goes very close up. 1:3 at the tele end and 1:2 at the short end...
These are various tacos. I've heard that the bean, avocado and cheese are really good.
True, long time Austinites don't eat ready made tacos from a steam table. They go to
TacoDeli and order fresh ones. But in a pinch it's nice to have options.
My lunch today was kale and white bean soup with a bit of sausage in it. I thought it was delicious and the RX10 did a good job of capturing it.
This is an image of Jerry Sullivan, the man who, along with his wife, owns the biggest and best camera store in all of Texas; Precision Camera. I took this during our meeting at Austin Community College. The ISO was 2500 and the camera was set to AWB. Works for me. Not much noise for such a high ISO and you can still see plenty of detail in Jerry's hair and the edge of his glasses. Not a bad performance for an image taken in a (dimly) florescent lit conference room with no windows. And yes, I bought the camera at his store. No, his staff did not give me a discount. I paid the same price I would have paid at B&H or Amazon. The difference? I didn't have to pay for and wait for shipping....
For some unknown reason today was "dog day" downtown. I saw more people out walking their dogs than I've ever seen before. I thought it would be a good test of the RX10 as a long lens, street shooting camera. It's really nice in that regard.
This is the camera at 200mm f4. Handheld.
The two images above are a sad reflection of modern culture. No respite from engagement at any time or for any reason. A total withdrawal from present reality....
Sign up for Zip Car and get a free cup of coffee.
The Menu at a restaurant called, Congress.
I shot some stuff with the 24mm side of the lens but this is the only one I'm posting. The camera must do some interior post processing of every file because all the samples I shot have absolutely correct and linearly perfect edges. I included this one for two reasons. First, I am enchanted at the sheer depth of field you can get with a shorter lens and a smaller sensor and secondly, I am amazed at the sheet ubiquity of the Starbucks franchise. This really enormous Starbucks in the making is hooked onto the corner of the W Hotel and is, literally five blocks from the original downtown Starbucks location at 6th and Congress Ave. Amazamundo.
I was so enchanted by the camera that I started shooting dumb stuff like gratings and that's when I knew it was time to turn the power switch to "off," put the lens cap on and get to the car. After all, I had a 1:30pm meeting on the other side of town....
In the next few days I'll try using the camera for a studio portrait (which implies lighting) as well as for some rigorous video tests. So far it's looking really good. Can a professional photographer and video producer do everything on his first quarter schedule with one little $1200 system? it might be interesting to find out. What do you think?