Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Sony RX100V & Leica D-Lux 4

I recently purchased a Sony RX100V, as it's supposed to be the top compact for a little of everything, (stills & video). Packed with features, it is a great little camera, but I was missing another camera I recently sold, so I bought it again used on eBay. Which camera? the Leica D-Lux 4. Why did I buy the camera again? Because It was the only camera with a CCD sensor that I owned, has a nice macro feature, shoots lovely RAW files that convert to beautiful B&W pictures. Even the in-camera JPEG pictures settings are lovely in B&W, and well, I missed that very sharp lens.

Leica D-Lux 4

As much as I like the Sony RX100V, it isn't as sharp a lens as the Leica. The colors coming out of the RX100V are not as nice as the Leica, (or Fuji and Sigma). So, now I have two compacts, and a Ricoh GR & Sigma DP3M, which you would think would be kind of redundant. It isn't and here's why.

The Sony RX100V likes: I like the 4K video, though I don't know much about video at all, it's a nice feature to have. Yeah, I know it has no mic inputs and you can't do a lot with it, but in a pinch when I need video, it beats out the iPhone 5S I have in quality, and it has an articulating screen. Don't forget that EVF, which I do because it has to be popped up and pulled out. Every time I remember the EVF on the RX100V I laugh. It's one of the main reasons I bought the camera. I'm older, and my eyes are not the greatest so I need the EVF many times, especially in sunny Arizona. The tilting screen helps with the sun's glare, something the little Leica doesn't have. I like all of the features on the Sony. The camera is plain fun to use. Isn't that the point? But even with it's 1" sensor, the little Leica D-Lux 4 can keep up in quality with its sharp lens and lovely color files. I think the CCD sensor files have always pleased me. I recall the Nikon 990 Coolpix and how lovely those files were, and that it was a CCD sensor providing that look to the files. It reminds me of slide film. I know most brands have dumped the CCD sensor in favor of the CMOS because of the ability to shoot in very low light was not a CCD sensor attribute. The CMOS trounces it there. Still, I wish there were a way CCD could keep up in low light as I honestly like the look of the pictures better. It's the reason why I still hold on to my Foveon sensor Sigma DP3M, because the files remind me of Kodachrome slides.

Sony was never my favorite brand for tack sharp photos, and sometimes it can be tolerated as some of my nicer shots are a tad blurry, if that makes any sense. There is a pleasing effect to a soft photo of say a person, that the Foveon sensor destroys with its too much detail. I don't think my family & friends want to see their skin pores when I zoom in to a shot of their face. (The Sigma does have a feature in menu where you can choose to help with people shots. I know it softens the file and I think helps with skin tones.

What do I hate about the Sony? The colors. Well, hate is a strong word. I can fix it in Photoshop, but it should come out of camera closer to what I saw in person when I took the shot. I also think the lens could be sharper. The camera is like a mini brick, a slippery mini-brick. I would have loved a grip on the camera. As it stands, I would have to buy the stick on grip which would add size to it which would make it less pocketable. Don't ever wear this camera without the wrist strap. You will regret it as it goes sliding out of your hands. The Sony is too expensive of a camera. It does a lot, but at close to 1K, it is ridiculous. Sony has it's customers by the cojones, because they know they have the most features on their camera, especially in regards to the video capabilities. I tried out a Canon G7X (not the II), and I liked the grip a lot, but the files were a tad noisy, and the video camera went in and out of focus. Still, it is like the #1 camera among V-loggers, now taken up by the Canon G7X Mark II. The Sony beats it in features. Sony has more features, and what sold it for me is that damn EVF. It's a small one, but it works! I tried out a Panasonic LX100, which has the micro 4/3rd sensor. I liked the larger files, though because of the sensor cropping  them (from what I heard), and the sensor not being totally utilized, cuts the actual benefits of the sensor size. The camera is bigger and certainly not pocketable. I wanted a pocket camera that could do a little of everything. Sony fits the bill nicely. I have a love/hate with every camera, so i don't want you to think I hate the Sony. I don't. I just get irritated with what manufacturers could easily improve upon in features, but I think all brands purposely do this so you keep buying cameras in search of the that properly featured one. It doesn't exist. It's why so many photographers have many cameras. The Sigma DP3M is an awesome camera with a Foveon sensor. It has no EVF, it can't shoot in high ISO, is not a fast AF choice for sports, and has a fixed lens. The Ricoh GR, has a sharp lens, lovely APS-C files, but it too is a fixed lens. It can shoot in higher ISO. Ricoh files are not as detailed as the Foveon sensor files, but it's all a compromise. The Ricoh GR fits in a pocket. The Sigma Doesn't fit in a pocket. The Sony RX100V and Leica D-Lux 4 fit in a pocket, though the Sony is a tad smaller. The Leica has a smaller sensor, the Sony a bigger sensor. You'd think that the Sony would be the only choice then, but for me, it isn't. The Leica D-Lux photos are lovely still and I missed that CCD file. The Sony is more fun to use in its various features.

Still, as much as the Sony is fun to use, it doesn't have a good macro feature. Really? WTF! Sony! C'mon! I missed my Leica D-Lux 4 when I was checking out the files over the years of using it. Sure the camera shows noise in low light files, but I tell you what, the prints come out fantastic just the same. As small as the sensor is, I still think the prints from the Leica D-Lux 4 beat the Sony. The prints I have from the Sony aren't as detailed. That may matter to some. I think having owned Sigma DP Merrill cameras has spoiled me in regards to details in file. The Leica D-Lux 4 shows a lot of detail in the CCD sensor file.

Anyway, when I go out and shoot, I carry one of these smaller cameras with me depending on what I need. Usually it's the Ricoh GR for it's much larger APS-C sized files and sharp lens, but for versatility and video choices, it's the Sony. The Leica is also another choice. Need to shoot some macro, use the Leica D-Lux 4. What I find interesting is that APS-C is my preferred sensor size. I don't need full frame per se, but these smaller cameras with their smaller sensors provide a niche need for me in regards to fast zooms, 24-70mm, macro and versatility in a pocketable camera. It's better than the iPhone 5s, and smaller than the D-SLR or Mirrorless cameras like the Fuji X series. Each camera has specific attributes.

Sony RX100V verdict? If you want a do-everything pocketable camera that can shoot video and stills while still being able to put it in a pocket, then get this. If you are a Vlogger, this is it. Don't expect it to replace an APS-C sensor. Heck, I can't even replace it for the Leica D-Lux CCD sensor. It has its uses though, and most people will be thrilled with it.

Sony RX100 V Shots below.

Conclusion: The Sony does a little of everything very well. (I hate the ARW files because I have to convert them in Adobe RAW as I have CS6 and am NOT in that Subscriber cloud.) The Leica D-Lux 4 is slower, clunkier to use, but produces lovely, sharp files. It has a smaller sensor. You'll be less frustrated with the Sony in performance. Not mentioned is the Ricoh GR, which is almost as small, has a fixed 28mm lens and an APS-C sensor. Missing on it is an EVF. Ricoh GR is the absolute best pocket camera for sharp wide photos in APS-S sensor size. Most people will opt for that zoom on the Sony. The Ricoh GR and GRII are cheaper than the Sony RX100V.  If you like to V-Log, get the Sony.