Sony Cyber-Shot RX100 VII Review: A Compact Camera That’s Smart

When it comes to electronics, Sony is a name inspiring trust and reliability. For years, the renowned brand has provided us with gears and gadgets that have made our lives easier, more comfortable, and aesthetically pleasant.

And even with cameras, they have shown their mastery on uncountable occasions over the decades. With extraordinary lenses and image sensors, along with excellent precision and shutter performance, Sony cameras have become one of the most adored tools to photographers all over the world.

By now, you’ve probably guessed what the article is about, right? This is a piece reviewing Sony RX100 VII to the fullest extent where I speak about its benefits, specifications, positives, and not so good things.

Sensor Type

1.0" -type (0.52" x 0.35") Exmor RS® CMOS sensor, aspect ratio 3:2

Megapixel Count

Approx. 20.1 Megapixels

Lens Type

ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T* Lens, 15 elements in 12 groups

F-NUMBER (MAXIMUM APERTURE)

F2.8(W)-4.5(T)

FOCAL LENGTH (F=)

f = 9.0-72 mm

FOCUS RANGE (FROM THE FRONT OF THE LENS)

AF (W: Approx. 0.27 ft [8 cm] to Infinity, T: Approx. 3.29 ft [100 cm] to Infinity)

OPTICAL ZOOM

8.0x

Screen Type

7.5 cm (3.0-type) (4:3)/921,600 dots/Xtra Fine/TFT LCD

DISPLAY SELECTOR (FINDER/LCD)

Auto/EVF (Manual)/Monitor (Manual)

Touch Screen

Yes

Viewfinder SCREEN TYPE/NUMBER OF DOTS

0.39-type electronic viewfinder (OLED), 2,359,296 dots

MAGNIFICATION

Approx. 0.59x with 50 mm lens at infinity, -1m -1 (diopter) (35 mm equiv.)

EYE POINT

Approx. 20 mm from the eyepiece, 19.8 mm from the eyepiece frame at -1 m - 1 (diopter) (CIPA standard)

BRIGHTNESS CONTROL

Auto, Manual (5 steps)

IMAGE PROCESSING ENGINE

Yes (BIONZ X)

FOCUS TYPE

Fast Hybrid AF (phase-detection AF/contrast-detection AF)

FOCUS MODE

Single-shot AF, Automatic AF, Continuous AF, DMF, Manual Focus

FOCUS AREA

Wide (357 points [phase-detection AF], 425 points [contrast-detection AF]), Zone, Center, Flexible Spot (S/M/L), Expanded Flexible Spot, Tracking (Wide/Zone/Center/Flexible Spot[S/M/L]/Expanded Flexible Spot)

OBJECT TRACKING

Yes

EYE AF

[Still images] Human (Right/Left Eye Select)/Animal; [Movie] Human (Right/Left Eye Select)

LIGHT METERING MODE

Multi Pattern, Center-Weighted, Spot, Entire Screen Avg, Highlight

EXPOSURE COMPENSATION

+/- 3.0EV, 1/3EV step

WHITE BALANCE MODES

Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluor.: Warm White, Fluor.: Cool White, Fluor.: Day White, Fluor.: Daylight, Flash, Underwater Auto, C. Temp./Filter, Custom

White Balance MICRO ADJUSTMENT

Yes (G7 to M7,57-step) (A7 to B7,29-step)

APERTURE

iAuto (F2.8/F11 [W])/Program Auto (F2.8/F11 [W])/Manual (F2.8/F11 [W])/Shutter Priority (F2.8/F11 [W])/Aperture Priority (F2.8/F11 [W])

FLASH TYPE

Built-in, manual pop-up

FLASH MODE

Auto / Flash On / Slow Synchro / Rear Sync / Flash Off

AF ILLUMINATOR

Auto / Off

Sensor Type

1.0" -type (0.52" x 0.35") Exmor RS® CMOS sensor, aspect ratio 3:2

Megapixel Count

Approx. 20.1 Megapixels

Lens Type

ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T* Lens, 15 elements in 12 groups

F-NUMBER (MAXIMUM APERTURE)

F2.8(W)-4.5(T)

FOCAL LENGTH (F=)

f = 9.0-72 mm

FOCUS RANGE (FROM THE FRONT OF THE LENS)

AF (W: Approx. 0.27 ft [8 cm] to Infinity, T: Approx. 3.29 ft [100 cm] to Infinity)

OPTICAL ZOOM

8.0x

Screen Type

7.5 cm (3.0-type) (4:3)/921,600 dots/Xtra Fine/TFT LCD

DISPLAY SELECTOR (FINDER/LCD)

Auto/EVF (Manual)/Monitor (Manual)

Touch Screen

Yes

Viewfinder SCREEN TYPE/NUMBER OF DOTS

0.39-type electronic viewfinder (OLED), 2,359,296 dots

MAGNIFICATION

Approx. 0.59x with 50 mm lens at infinity, -1m -1 (diopter) (35 mm equiv.)

EYE POINT

Approx. 20 mm from the eyepiece, 19.8 mm from the eyepiece frame at -1 m - 1 (diopter) (CIPA standard)

BRIGHTNESS CONTROL

Auto, Manual (5 steps)

IMAGE PROCESSING ENGINE

Yes (BIONZ X)

FOCUS TYPE

Fast Hybrid AF (phase-detection AF/contrast-detection AF)

FOCUS MODE

Single-shot AF, Automatic AF, Continuous AF, DMF, Manual Focus

FOCUS AREA

Wide (357 points [phase-detection AF], 425 points [contrast-detection AF]), Zone, Center, Flexible Spot (S/M/L), Expanded Flexible Spot, Tracking (Wide/Zone/Center/Flexible Spot[S/M/L]/Expanded Flexible Spot)

OBJECT TRACKING

Yes

EYE AF

[Still images] Human (Right/Left Eye Select)/Animal; [Movie] Human (Right/Left Eye Select)

LIGHT METERING MODE

Multi Pattern, Center-Weighted, Spot, Entire Screen Avg, Highlight

EXPOSURE COMPENSATION

+/- 3.0EV, 1/3EV step

WHITE BALANCE MODES

Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluor.: Warm White, Fluor.: Cool White, Fluor.: Day White, Fluor.: Daylight, Flash, Underwater Auto, C. Temp./Filter, Custom

White Balance MICRO ADJUSTMENT

Yes (G7 to M7,57-step) (A7 to B7,29-step)

APERTURE

iAuto (F2.8/F11 [W])/Program Auto (F2.8/F11 [W])/Manual (F2.8/F11 [W])/Shutter Priority (F2.8/F11 [W])/Aperture Priority (F2.8/F11 [W])

FLASH TYPE

Built-in, manual pop-up

FLASH MODE

Auto / Flash On / Slow Synchro / Rear Sync / Flash Off

AF ILLUMINATOR

Auto / Off

How Does the Build Stack Up?

This is by far, Sony’s most powerful compact camera in terms of features, design, and price. The thing fits inside the palm of your hand and is so lightweight and compact that you can use it with one hand, just like you’d use your smartphone.

And when they say point and shoot, they really mean it. You can practically pull Sony RX100 VII out of your pocket, point it at your subject without having to fix the focus and stuff, and click.

Don’t go by the looks, this camera may look tiny and playful, but that is only a cover to disguise its power-packed performance. The exterior itself is very humble and minimalistic, with a semi-matte black finish and there isn’t any grip or anything on the front for you to hold it firmly.

You need to handle it gently. But that only makes it all the more aesthetically pleasing. Even the electronic viewfinder is hidden and only pops up when you slide a particular switch on the side.

These clever attempts to keep the whole thing compact and barely bigger than an everyday "Point and Shoot" camera almost makes people wish that the body of the camera was a bit wider until they learn to truly appreciate the beauty (and benefits) in little things.

The mode dial on the crown of the camera is equally as small, but it serves its purpose nevertheless. The same can be said about the dial on the back which is jointly dedicated for combined control and four-way controller.

Each and every button and lever on the body of the camera is tiny and well-designed carefully enough so that they don’t disturb the shape and aesthetics of the device, but just big enough so that you can easily find them once you’re used to their locations.

The sensor itself, however, is pretty big compared to that of a compact camera. The 1-inch sensor sits inside the camera which itself is barely as big as a smartphone and captures clear, noiseless images along with intricate details and precision.

How they fit such a huge sensor inside such a minuscule exterior is beyond my imagination. But that’s just Sony being Sony.

There is very little space on the chassis of the camera for external controls. But that is made up for by the versatile and ambidextrous menu system, in addition to the Fn/quick menu button and the touchscreen display.

The camera literally has all kinds of complex functions fitted inside a miniature physical design. Almost as if it’s a child prodigy whose capabilities have outgrown its size.

How Good is the Image Sensor?

I was especially interested in the image sensor of this camera because it’s the first one of the RX series that comes with Sony’s legendary Emor RS technology. The RX100 VII is equipped with Sony’s newly developed Exmor RS™ 1.0-type stacked CMOS image sensor.

The technology works by using on-chip analog/digital conversion and two-step noise reduction in par with each column of Sony’s Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor (CMOS) sensor.

The result is fast, blackout-free shooting at up to 20fps, and up to 90fps of single burst shooting. This reliable AF/AE tracking possible thanks to the rapid arithmetic processing of the camera at 60 times/sec.

It enables the sensor to predictively track the subject’s motion and also helps the electronic viewfinder and the LCD monitor by improving the image quality and providing a clear and smooth 60fps display while you shoot.

Touch Screen Makes It Easy to Select Modes

Although almost every decent compact camera nowadays has a touchscreen panel, what’s special about the Sony RX100 VII is that its screen is adjustable upwards by 180 degrees, and down by 90 degrees. This flappable tilt-screen feature makes this camera the ideal tool for vloggers or those who shoot solo.

If you are a complete beginner and haven’t quite mastered the art of mode selection yet, the camera does the work for you. There is a wide array of different modes for all types of scenes and compositions.

For framing and composition, there are dedicated modes like the portrait mode, the landscape mode, and the handheld mode. For specific types of lightings, there are modes like the sunset mode, the twilight mode, the night mode, the gourmet mode, and the fireworks mode.

For shooting subjects that are in motion or have very sophisticated details, there is the macro mode, the anti-motion blur mode, the sports action mode, and the high sensitivity mode.

All these things take a lot of stress away from your editing apps. But wait, there’s more.

Sony seems to have outdone themselves in giving cellphone cameras a run for their money with a wide range of effects and filters that you can just use directly on any shot you take, or even better, you can experiment by taking multiple shots using each effect to see which one looks better.

The Intricacies of Video Recording

In this era of vlogging, compact cameras have been the go-to device for videographers who want the output of their efforts and dedication to look a bit better than the standards of a smartphone.

Obviously, smartphones are easier to use, handy, and more friendly to the pockets of the users both literally and figuratively. People can comfortably shoot 1080p videos at a rate of 120fps. If you want to go slow motion,

But if you want more controls over what you’re shooting, how you’re shooting them, and how you want to present the final outcome of it, there is no doubt that a compact camera will outdo any smartphone in various aspects.

This camera here is specifically designed for professional videography on the go. No, it’s not my verdict alone. Most Sony RX100 VII reviews will tell you the same. It has 4K HDR (HLG) video that it captures using full pixel readout without pixel binning.

For the laymen and common folk out there, “Pixel Binning” is a clocking scheme used in digital cameras to combine the charge collected by several adjacent CCD pixels, and is designed to reduce noise and improve the signal-to-noise ratio and frame rate.

This comes at the price of resolution. Pixel binning divides the final resolution of the video by the number of binning groups. The RX100 VII puts an end to this sacrifice. It can read out each pixel in full detail and henceforth delivers results without losing any pixels.

Then there is the 1.7x oversampling that will provide superb resolution while reducing moiré. If you’re wondering what difference does the HLG capability makes, let me spell it out for you.

HLG stands for Hybrid Log-Gamma. It’s a dynamic standard for HDR (High Dynamic Range) that increases the dynamic range of a video by tweaking its logarithmic curves and not including the linear part of the conventional gamma curve.

This was previously used in older cameras to limit camera noise in low light videos.

This means that the camera’s video recording capability is in fact so good that you’d need a good HDR (HLG) monitor to view its videos in full resolution and properly appreciate the pixel density and clarity.

A Zoom That Stretches All the Way

The built-in ZEISS® Vario-Sonnar T* 24–200 mm [20 Angle of view (35 mm format equivalent)] F2.8-4.5 zoom lens of this camera covers a broad zoom range which is equivalent to two standard zoom lenses (24–70 mm and 70–200mm). All in a very compact size.

It’s configured with 8 aspherical lens elements each coming with 13 aspherical faces. This grants you the maximum resolution, clarity, and contrast spread equally across the entire zoom range and all the way out to the far edges of the image.

To sum it up, the zoom of this camera is empowered by four of Sony’s original AA (advanced aspherical) elements that help minimize spherical, coma and chromatic aberrations as you zoom closer into your shot.

Built-In Flash is A Good Thing to Have

The complaint with compact cameras that we most commonly hear is that they don’t have an internal flash. And some of them don’t even have any hotshoe for installing one externally. But the Sony Cybershot RX 100 VII does.

And the flash is a rather good one in standards of a point-and-shoot camera. This adds to the camera’s versatility that the makers boast of.

Whether you use it in low light, or to balance the distribution of light on your subject that is otherwise well-lit, the flash will serve your needs if you know how to handle it. It works equally well both with stills as well as videos.

Autofocus That Sticks

The autofocus has object tracking and eye AF, which is equipped with left/right eye selection that is capable of choosing which eye of the subject is your primary focus and which is not.

Even if you want to overlook all the great things about the zoom and the sensor, Sony cameras are known for their autofocus systems, and this one truly lives up to the legacy of its predecessors.

Not just that, the autofocus on Sony RX100 VII has become even more fluid, and quote-unquote ‘intelligent’, with the help of AI (Artificial Intelligence). For the first time in the RX series, real-time tracking is supported by the autofocus of the RX100 VII.

When you’re tracking a fast-moving subject, the camera’s motion tracker uses a sophisticated subject recognition algorithm that draws on color, pattern (brightness), distance (depth) and face/eye information to automatically recognize and maintain focus on your subject.

Rainy Seattle

During continuous shooting, this camera relies on AF calculations at up to 60 times/sec. above) to maintain high-accuracy tracking even as the subject’s position changes moment by moment. Tracking can also be initiated through touch operation, for both stills and movies.

The face/eye detection allows the users to select an eye of the subject of your choice and makes it the primary focus. But at the same time, it allows them to customize the area and range of your focus and also automatically detects the face of the subject in motion as soon as it’s visible.

The face/eye detection feature is something that Sony specializes in. It works equally well on humans and animals, and to some extent, robots.

Well, technically. Sony tested this feature with its Aibo robot dog back at the Sony Ginza Experience Center in Tokyo, and it worked perfectly well. So, it’s got an eye on anything with an eye, it seems.

How Good is the Battery Life?

The CIPA rating for Sony’s RX100 VII is 260 still shots, which to some of you may be a downside.

Especially if you’ve got a long day of shooting ahead and won’t get the time to stop and charge your camera halfway through it. But the Sony RX100 VII has compensated for it as well by opening the doorway for USB charging without having to take the battery out.

The USB charging support means that now you can charge your camera anywhere or with anything that has a USB support. You can charge it with your laptop, or even your car’s accessory port while you’re on the go.

 That’s not all! You can charge it with a USB cable anytime you want, even while you’re shooting a video or watching it after shooting.

Sony RX100 VII

Things That I Liked

  • The Exmor RS™ 1.0-type stacked CMOS image sensor ensures blackout-free shooting.
  • Unique ‘Remote’ feature allows you to control and monitor your footage on your PC while you’re shooting it on your camera.
  • Built-in flash saves a lot of trouble of carrying and setting up an external flash every time you need it.
  • Huge optical zoom that catches all the intricate details without sacrificing clarity or image quality.
  • Wide array of preset styles and shooting modes that can act as a photography tutor for newbies as well as quick-access shortcuts for experts.
  • USB charging support allows to charge the camera anywhere and almost with anything that has a USB port and a power source, without having to take the battery out.
  • Super-fast autofocus with real-time tracking that can track down subjects in motion, along with face and eye detection.
  • The Anti-distortion electronic shutter achieves speeds as fast as 1/32000 sec, while fast data readout from the image sensor reduces distortion for fast-moving subjects.

Things That Could’ve Been Better

  • The image stabilization on the camera isn’t as good as it should be on the price point. You can’t really wave it around and expect it to be steady because of it. Holding it as stable as possible will give you the best results.
  • The Built-in microphone despite being adequate for normal conditions tends to fall short when the environment is a bit windy or crowded. But if you take your videography seriously, you’d obviously record your audio separately.
  • The camera doesn’t have a built-in ND filter. This means the camera closes down to F-11, But there’s the ‘Mag-Filter’ to cope up with the situation.

Sony RX100 VII vs. RX100 VI vs. RX100 V

If the RX100 VII has to be compared with any compact camera, it’s a good idea to do so with its predecessors from the same series to get a clear calculation of its ups and downs.

Camera

Sony RX 100 VII

Sony RX 100 VI

Sony RX 100 V

Preview

Sony RX100 VII Premium Compact Camera with 1.0-type stacked CMOS sensor (DSCRX100M7)
Sony RX100 VI 20.1 MP Premium Compact Digital Camera w/ 1-inch sensor, 24-200mm ZEISS zoom lens and pop-up OLED EVF
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100 V 20.1 MP Digital Still Camera with 3" OLED, flip Screen, WiFi, and 1" Sensor DSCRX100M5/B

Released

July 2019

June 2018

October 2016

Megapixel

20MP – 1” BSI-CMOS Sensor

20MP – 1” BSI-CMOS

Sensor

20MP – 1” BSI-CMOS

 Sensor

ISO

ISO 125 - 12800

ISO 125 - 12800

(expands to 80-25600)

ISO 125 - 12800

(expands to 80-25600)

Zoom Lens

24-200 mm F2.8-4.5

 Zoom Lens

24-200 mm F2.8-4.5

 Zoom Lens

24-70 mm F1.8-2.8

 Zoom Lens

Image Stabilization

Optical Image

 Stabilization

Optical Image

 Stabilization

Optical Image

 Stabilization

Viewfinder

2360k dot Electronic

 viewfinder

2359k dot Electronic

 viewfinder

2359k dot Electronic

 viewfinder

FPS

20.0 fps continuous

 shooting

20.0 fps continuous

 shooting

20.0 fps continuous

shooting

Focal Length

200mm

200mm

70mm

Battery Life

260 shots

260 shots

260 shots

Weight

302g.

301g.

299g.

Price

Tips You Can Follow to Make Things Even Better

Not to brag but I wasn’t too good handling Sony Camera products when I got my start. Naturally, I practiced a lot. I gave it time. Then, I got good. I have my own hacks and tips that helped me in getting

Here are some additional tricks and info that you can have up your sleeve and use to get the best out of this camera.

The users can transfer photos and videos captured with this camera directly to a smartphone with just one touch via Bluetooth, even when the camera is turned off.

The selection and transfer of images after shooting are no longer needed as the automatic background transfer function allows images to be transferred to a smartphone as they are captured.

People can capture photos remotely using each exposure mode (P/A/S/M) while checking the image on Their smartphone. This is convenient for capturing still image/video scenes in which we do not want to directly touch the camera such as night views, water flowing scenes, long-exposure, and macro shots.

With cameras that have a location information linkage function, the location information acquired by the smartphone can be added to the captured image in your camera. This allows the location of where an image/video was captured to be displayed on social media and map applications.

Imaging Edge Mobile can save up to 20 sets of camera settings. We can also load and apply saved settings to the camera.

You can obtain information on the cameras and applications that you own. By sending notifications of support information including software updates, you can make sure that you have the latest version of your camera application.

Few Words to Cap Off My Sony RX100 VII Review

Sony is known to hand out advantages when it comes to it’s cameras. The basic rule of this being, the more you pay, the more you get. Yet, with the Cybershot RX100, things are a bit different.

Yes, it’s a high-end camera when compared to its predecessors. To my surprise, this thing is not at all pricy compared to all the buffs I got from the machine. I’d say this is a good choice when you consider the phenomenal Autofocus system and image quality you get thanks to that.

Also, the video recording is superb. I was baffled with surprised that Sony offered us users a chance to shoot our videos in slow motion. Sure, image stabilization and in-built microphone need some work. But all in all, they’re not deal breakers.

>