Does anybody ever bother to re-review cameras that have been on the market for awhile but have been graced with new and much improved firmware? Here's one: Sony RX10.

There's this thing that happens in the camera market. A new camera hits the market and everyone rushes to review it. The camera may be good but it may have some rough edges that keep it from being great. Or perfect. Then, maybe six months or a year later that camera gets the firmware it deserved the first time around but, by then everyone has moved on to the latest miracle camera that's come sliding down the chute. The now improved, earlier camera gets no more love and dissolves into irrelevance in the marketplace. That recently happened to one of my all time favorite, non-DSLR cameras; the original Sony RX10. 

I'm revisiting that camera right now because used prices for them have dropped to "bargain" status and that camera model was visited by the firmware update fairy last year ---- with just the right amount of pixie dust and magic. If you have one be sure to update your firmware to 2.0. If you don't have one then maybe you should....

Where did we leave off with that camera? I had used it for an eight page, national shelter magazine assignment with good results and loved almost everything about the camera. It got sacrificed in one of those ill considered trade deals but it wasn't really missed as much as it should have been because, while it should have been the perfect hybrid camera (and all-in-one camera) it suffered from having a mediocre video codec, and enhanced video capabilities were one of the selling points of that camera. 
I was working with the Panasonic GH3 and GH4 at the time and just about any other camera would have been hard pressed to match their video performance. Even today some cameras might have less noisy video but few have video that can match the GH4's detail and color. So the camera found a new home probably around the time I was considering the purchase of the Nikon D810, etc. 

Last week I came across a used one for less than half the price of the same model new. It had no wear and was in "like new" condition. And I remembered that Sony had made significant improvements just where I thought the camera might need them to rise to it's ultimate potential. In the video. 

The new video firmware moved the RX10 from 28 mb/s ACVHD to 50 mb/s XAVC. This was the one parameter that every knowledgeable reviewer stuck on. Each reviewer basically said, "This camera would be the perfect hybrid video/still camera if only....XAVC." It's a much better codec. Same one used for 1080p in the Sony A72 series cameras. It handles motion better and it's a more robust codec for editing as well. It was enough to push me to go back to the change jar and the deposit bottle collection (and a little bit of plasma donation) to see if I could swing the purchase. I was successful with a last push for cushion change diving in the sofa and two arm chairs. 

Having bought the camera, and the several additional and requisite batteries, I decided that I may as well test the camera and see if the upgrade was the final piece of the "perfect bridge camera" jigsaw puzzle. One thing to understand though, is that we're talking here about version one, not the latest version two --- which is a sparkling and cool camera in its own right...

I had a strategy when I left the house today. I headed to the graffiti wall with the RX10 and a variable neutral density filter and I shot about 20 minutes of video (which is too boring to show) which proved to me that big improvements had been made and that the camera is very much ready for (well lit) prime time video production. Especially electronic news gathering varieties. Fun to set the manual exposure on the camera and then work the variable neutral density filter along with zebras in the EVF to hit perfect exposure. It worked well and, since I am at heart a very lazy person, I left the VND filter on for the rest of the time at the outdoor gallery; even when shooting still photographs. 

What is my assessment of the RX10 now? Well, with one of these and two of the Panasonic fz 1000 cameras (a very close cousin, hobbled only by the lack of a headphone jack) I'm pretty sure I could shoot a serviceable feature or at least a really fun TV sit com. I know, how about a sit com based on a hapless, 60 year old photographer who loves to press "toy-like" cameras into real world shooting assignments only to have unexpected, but very funny, things happen to him? I wouldn't watch it but I bet somebody would. 

Seriously, the camera does a great job with video. And I already liked the work I've done with a previous one in still photography. I'm glad to have another one back in the fold. I hope I won't be so cavalier about getting rid of it next time...It's a perfect complement to the rest of my stuff. Now I just need to remember all the menu stuff. 

I don't pay attention to all brands of cameras equally but I am sure this kind of improvement over the lifespan of a camera is not limited to Sony bridge cameras. I remember how excited I was when Kodak added Jpegs files to what had been introduced as the "raw file only" DCS 760. I'm also reminded of some recent, valuable upgrades that Olympus bestowed on the current EM5.2 and the venerable EM1. I welcome as many fixes as they'll give us. I don't expect them but I do appreciate them. It's made several of my cameras more fun than they were when they started...

Blog Note: Ben and I are booked on corporate imaging work (my actual job) the first three days of this week and then I head to Denver early Friday for a marketing forum that lasts until Sunday night. The tight schedule and the need to do post production around the edges of our paying jobs may mean that the blog is going dark until next Monday, January 25th. I need some downtime anyway after my last troll skirmish. Not sure where we're going with the blog. I still enjoy writing it but I'm a little concerned that its relevance has passed. That the format and the information have less value than when we started out this little venture. A good topic for discussion at the upcoming media marketing forum. I'll take notes. We'll reconvene. In the meantime, aren't the rest of you just so tickled that I wrote (and serially posted) some extra blogs for you? Stay tuned. 


Mike Rosiak said...

Okay, you're trying to bum me out, threatening to blog no more. I think I missed whatever negative comment was posted, but ...
I value your observations on the craft of photography, the business of photography, the relevance of photography, and ... the art of photography. These are all relevant still. Please persist in your writing.

Gary said...

Yours is the first blog I read daily, and I'm sure I'm not alone. The point of view is unique and grounded in experience.

Kirk Tuck said...

Naw, I'm not going to stop blogging. Just a momentary mental burp. But I am going to miss some this week. Gotta keep the CFO happy and generate some revenue. EPIDA and ROI and all that sort of thing.

Alan Kett said...

Kirk, I don't post much but want to say that your blog is one of the 2-3 that I open unfailingly every day, even if you're not posting. :)

Please keep it up. Always happy to see the great state of Texas produces something I can relate to.

Alan Kett

Alan Kett said...

Kirk, I don't post much but want to say that your blog is one of the 2-3 that I open unfailingly every day, even if you're not posting. :)

Please keep it up. Always happy to see the great state of Texas produces something I can relate to.

Alan Kett

Anonymous said...

I look forward to reading your comments and commentary almost every day, Kirk. Some folks just gotta' hate - or be dicks. Let's like-minded guys and gals just keep sharing good karma and look beyond the negative crap being spewed by the less savory amongst us. Your work and sharing are appreciated and anticipated.
~ Ron

Carlos said...

Hi Kirk,

Just wanted to comment that I am more guy who reads your blog daily, and it is fair to thank you for your time and work.

Carlos (from Spain)

James Pilcher said...

At this point in the comment chain, I will sound like a broken record: Your blog is at the very top of my browser favorites; I visit your blog first thing every day. If you are not posting that day, I wipe the tears from my eyes and re-read an earlier blog. Gotta get my fix of Tuck. It's about so much more than photography.

Jim Putka said...

Reading your blog provides me great value. Sharing your real world experiences sharpens my thinking on things photographic. As an example, your thoughts and experience on the Sony RX10 mirror my own - traded one away, missed it horribly for what it could do and bought another! While the decision is yours, I do very much look forward to reading your blog and hope you continue.

Diogenes Montesa Baena said...

The RX10 is the one camera I have with me all the time, is the main cam for short interviews with a CX900 as the Bcam. Same codec, same nitrate, same sensor, same colour. With a small LED light to slightly dil in the shadows, I am good to go. My only complaint is the clipped highlights.
Almost all my instagram/blog photos are taken with with the RX10 and if I could only use 1 camera with for the next year, this is the camera (ok, maybe the RX10II).
I'd like to echo the previous commentators: Your blog is my go-to-blog for tips and inspiration!

Eric Rose said...

Intelligence is so rare on the net. I visit your cyber home each and every day to enjoy your wit, viewpoint and intelligent writing. I understand the work involved in producing a blog at the pace you do. If you are not feeling the ROI in whatever way you measure such things then I understand you wanting to rethink things. Personally I hope you continue sharing with us. BTW how is the second installment of Henry White's adventures coming?

Michael Matthews said...

Very nice image #4 in the thumbnail strip. Lighting it would have taken a ton of gear. Far better to be alert and catch it on the fly.

As to the blog -- it's a daily point of contact (when available), an antidote to the daily news, a bit of reassurance that not all the world has gone nuts. Thanks.

Noons said...

Rarely a day passes that I don't drop by and check the latest here.
Never fails to impress. It might not be the text itself, just the images.
I'm sick and tired of sites where the only thing that is talked about or discussed is the pixel-peep or noise-signature or micro-whatever of this or that camera/sensor/converter.
Completely forgetting this hobby (in your case profession!) is about taking great images. The sort that touch you without words, without pixels, without micro-whatevers!
Trolls? The biggest, best advantage of the blog-sphere compared to the Usenet for example, is that those can be just archived in the round bin, without so much as a concern. I got out of the Usenet years ago, due precisely to the constant trolling and scamming that goes on there.
Please keep posting. And if you don't feel like saying anything, just post images: meaningful enough, for me!

Brian Smokler said...

I'd really miss connecting with you if you stopped your blogging. Here's one more vote for you to keep doing it. I know it's a lot of work, but I appreciate the effort.

I'm a fan of the Panasonic GH series cameras as well. Lot's of bang for the buck.

Roger Jones said...

I feel you really hit the mark on images 4 and 8. As for camera it really doesn't matter. Very nice work. Great colors.


Peter said...

Can I add my compliments on the blog, and please keep writing. I don't know how you find the time to write so much, though. Are you a seriously fast typist? Do you use voice recognition? I blog too (bullsroar.wordpress.com) but it takes a lot of time.

I'm a landscape and travel photographer (strictly dedicated amateur) and I resonate with your equipment choices. I have the RX10 (v1) and the FZ1000, as well as EM-1 and Pentax K-5. On my recent trip to Bali I took the FZ1000 and the E-M1 with 7mm Rokinon and Pana 14-42mm. I found myself using the FZ1000 about 90% of the time, especially when I wanted to shoot video, but boy, it's a bulky and heavy camera compared to the E-M1. The 7mm came in handy once or twice, but you couldn't call it sharp by any stretch.

Actually, my most successful video was shot with the E-M1 in a small restaurant lighting and entirely hand held. The stabilisation in the low light was marvellous.
https://vimeo.com/150519261 and https://player.vimeo.com/video/150473374. A clip shot with the RX10 in XAVC HD is here: https://player.vimeo.com/video/150473374

My favourite camera? The Pentax K-5. The menus and controls on the Olympus still baffle me, but I took to the Pentax with no trouble at all. I'm even considering buying a K-3 II despite the imminent FF Pentax. There are reasons Pentaxians love the brand.