Think That Fancy Bokeh Isn't Possible with a Sony RX 10? Let's put it to the test.....again.

For some reason I can't let go of zeroing in the Sony RX10. Something in my photo brain tells me that this camera is something special and that I should play with it more and with a more serious attitude.  I've only got my first six hundred frames on it and I'm of the opinion that you need to be somewhere near your ten thousandth frame before you really have a good camera figured out.

I'd been reading comments on various peoples' web reviews of the camera and the biggest single issue most people bring up is the inability of the camera and lens to make images with a narrow depth of field. Okay. I get that. I can look at DOF tables and see as well as anyone that your options will be more limited than they might be with a larger sensor and a faster lens. But where do we call it quits? I can trot out stuff we shot with a 110mm f2 Zeiss Planar on a Hasselblad 201f and we can laugh at all the people who think you can get decently narrow DOF on 35mm (full frame) cameras. But I get what they are saying. The RX10 isn't the right camera for you if you find you always want wide shots with narrow focus. But just how much control do you have?

Well, I met these two guys on the street today and they stopped to ask me a question. Here's the question: "Who do I think will go down in history as the most famous between these two athletes; Mohammad Ali (Cassius Clay) or Michael Jordan?" We bantered about that for a few minutes and then I posed a "Between Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps?" question. They left no doubt in my mind when they asked, "Who is Mark Spitz..."

I was about to walk away when I remembered my question: How do I show off the available control of DOF with an RX10?  I asked if they would pose for a test image. I stuck the guy in the sleeveless shirt about 7 or 8 feet behind the guy with the glasses, opened up to f2.8 and zoomed out to the 200mm equivalent focal length. This is what I got. By the way........Nice Bokeh !  Here's some more samples:

Utility pole at 25 feet and crane at approx. 100 feet. 

That was fun but guess what? I did my entire walk wide open. Well, I mean I left the lens aperture at f2.8 and I engaged something I haven't read about elsewhere. I engaged the automatic setting for the three stop neutral density filter. That's right, an automatic setting for the neutral density filter. 

I set the camera on "A" mode, ISO 125, f2.8 and walked around banging out stuff I liked without a care in the world. And that's BIG since the shutter in the RX10 doesn't go very high. I think it caps out at1/3200th of a second. slower at wider apertures...

Here are some of the images, all shot wide open at f2.8....even the corners....

Above. A couple of shots at the wide end of the lens. Wide open. Auto ND. 

70mm equiv. at wide open.

Need a lens with some range?
The next four images are a progression of shots from a very wide, establishing shot to an extremely tight shot done with the digital zoom. All were shot from the same position and with the same basic camera settings. Including the wide aperture and the auto ND filter setting. 
24mm EQV.

Above = maximum real optical focal length.

Above = Maximum focal length with digital zoom engaged. 

Just thought you'd like to know.


Anonymous said...


"I set the camera on "A" mode, ISO 125, f2.8 and walked around banging out stuff I liked without a care in the world. And that's BIG since the shutter in the RX10 doesn't go very high. I think it caps out at1/3200th of a second."

Actually, as you open up the aperture, the max achievable shutter speed drops a bit. At f2.8 the fastest you get is 1/1600.

This is true for all the leaf shutter cameras out there now-X100/X100s, etc. It mostly becomes important when sorting out flash+ambient. It's still heaps faster than the synch you can get with a focal plane shutter. And still plenty fast enough for bright daylight/low iso/wide aperture with that ND filter.

Cheers JD
Adelaide, Australia

Dwight Parker said...

As much as I love reading your Blog it does nothing to quell my desire for new toys and is a detriment in my battle against Gear Acquisition Syndrome (G.A.S.).... I will try to resist the G.A.S., but you sure make it tough.... I think you like new toys even more than I do...you can justify yours by making money with them though I guess......

Richard Alan Fox said...

When shooting RAW in square image ratio is the RAW file square?

Gato said...

Cut it out Kirk. You're going to sell me an other damn camera.

Truth is I really like the idea here. I made a lot of good photos with 2/3 sensors a few years back, so I know 1 inch is more than all I really need for sensor size. And I very much liked working with my Sony 828 back then. This seems to be much the same concept, though lacking the design coolness.

I may have to have one.