Modern smartphones have all but killed the inexpensive pocket cameramarket. It’s not a surprise—for casual snapshots, there are few more convenient tools than your phone, and the results are more than adequate for most folks.
But there are still people out there who prefer to use a dedicated camera. You might want some zoom capability, or simply find it more comfortable to work wih physical controls. If that’s you, you’ll want to think about a model that outpaces your phone in image quality.
The RX100 Concept
The original Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100—we’re just going to call it the RX100 from here on out—debuted in 2012. It was an iteration on an existing concept—an expensive point-and-shoot with features to match.
If you’re summing it up in a few words, they’re obvious: big sensor, bright lens. The 1-inch sensor format, now used by many camera makers, is about four times the size of the imager behind your smartphone lens, and more than twice the size of the 1/1.7-inch design that dominated the premium point-and-shoot market prior to 2012.
It was a big deal at the time, and separated the RX100 from an ocean of competing models with small sensors and $200 price tags. And it proved to be popular—Sony continues to sell the original version, and has released a new model on a seemingly annual schedule.
But, with one exception, it hasn’t discontinued the older models. Instead, Sony’s been introducing new cameras at higher price points, and adjusting prices for downmarket models as needed. The end result is an unprecedented level of customer choice across a single line, and a similar amount of confusion.With so many choices, picking the right RX100 can be difficult, especially if you’re not intimately familiar with the series.
We’re here to sort everything out. We’re spotlighting each model, talking about its capabilities, changes in the market since release, and offering up ideas for smart alternatives at similar prices. If you’re shopping for a pocketable camera with better-than-smartphone imaging, read on.