Sony Cyber-shot RX100 IV review

Sony's latest high-end compact camera gets a faster processor and 4K video

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The RX100 IV delivers truly excellent image quality – arguably the best currently available from a camera of this size. What's not small. however, is the price, and unless this falls dramatically it seems unlikely that many enthusiast photographers will be keen to splash out on the camera.

And while Sony has made some impressive improvements in the areas of picture quality and operating speeds, there are still enough niggles to make this a less-than-perfect compact, especially at its price point.

The collapsible EVF is very good, and increasing the resolution has made it even better to use than on the Mark III, but the two-step process of deploying it is still a little fiddly – it would be good if Sony could come up with a way of automating this.

The absence of a touchscreen continues to frustrate, especially when it comes to setting the autofocus point; while it's not particularly difficult to do this it's not very speedy either, and a second or two can make all the difference when you're trying to capture a fleeting moment.

We've said it before – and we'll no doubt say it again – but the fact that you have to disable raw format shooting before you can use certain settings, such as Picture Effects, adds another layer of inconvenience that we could do without.

The ideal would be having the option to shoot such effects in raw, so that you have the option to revert to a 'clean' image down the line, but if that's really not possible then automatically switching off raw shooting would at least speed things up.

Although it's great to have so many settings and options that can be customised, it can make the menus a little cumbersome to navigate; Sony could do with streamlining this process for the next iteration of the RX100.

We liked

For many users the most important factor when choosing a camera is image quality, and this is where the RX100 IV excels. It performs very well in low light, but it's also fantastic in bright light thanks to the ability to shoot at fast shutter speeds. The focal length range is a little limited but it's perfectly adequate, and the wide aperture at both ends enables great shallow depth of field shots.

We disliked

There's no single, obvious thing to dislike about the RX100 IV – it's more a case of several smaller issues which, added together, become rather frustrating. Not having a touchscreen isn't the end of the world, but when you're shooting a street scene, for instance, and want to quickly move the AF point from one side of the screen the other, having to do so manually can mean you miss the action altogether. It remains a little baffling why a camera of this price, and from an electronics giant, is missing such a feature.

Final Verdict

It may seem that I've picked up on quite a few negatives here, but the RX100 IV is an excellent compact camera – and, crucially, it produces excellent images. And it would be easier to let those smaller niggles slide with a product which didn't come with such a high asking price, but they disappoint more here because of the cost. It's also worth noting that this is the fourth generation of the RX100 series, so Sony has had plenty of opportunity to address these issues.

Overall, though, this is the best RX100 to date, and arguably the best compact camera currently on the market. If you want something that's great for everyday shooting, includes some fun and high-end features such as 4K shooting, and fits neatly in your pocket – and if you can stretch to that asking price – then you can't go far wrong.

Amy Davies

Amy has been writing about cameras, photography and associated tech since 2009. Amy was once part of the photography testing team for Future Publishing working across TechRadar, Digital Camera, PhotoPlus, N Photo and Photography Week. For her photography, she has won awards and has been exhibited. She often partakes in unusual projects - including one intense year where she used a different camera every single day. Amy is currently the Features Editor at Amateur Photographer magazine, and in her increasingly little spare time works across a number of high-profile publications including Wired, Stuff, Digital Camera World, Expert Reviews, and just a little off-tangent, PetsRadar.