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Gear Reviews

Sony RX100 M4 | Initial Thoughts & G7X Comparison

By Anthony Thurston on August 5th 2015

Today may be “a7R II Day,” and you can find our full initial thoughts on that here, but I am here to share some thoughts on a smaller Sony camera; one you shouldn’t underestimate.

sony-rx100-m4

[RELATED: Sony Announces New RX100 M4 & A7R II]

Initial Thoughts On The Sony RX100 M4 & Quick G7x Comparison

On the exterior, one wouldn’t be wrong to think that nothing has changed between the RX100 M3 and the new M4. That would be because the only difference, externally, that I can see is that one says RX100 M3 and the other says RX100 M4. There is nothing wrong with that either, as Sony took a decidedly, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach to the exterior design of the new RX100 M4.

Internally, though, the newer M4 model has had some serious upgrades over the previous model. Including a brand new sensor and processor combination which gives better ISO performance, 4K Video, and an impressive super slow motion video mode. This is, far and away, the best compact ‘pocketable’ camera ever made.

rx100m4-vs-g7x

I was able to grab a Canon G7X for some quick comparisons, and while the G7X is no slouch on its own, it still doesn’t quite have what it takes to truly challenge the RX100 line – at least not in its current form.  As you can see in the comparison images, these two cameras are very close in size.

rx100m4-vs-g7x-top

These two cameras actually look and perform very similarly; Where the RX100 M4 (and the M3, for that matter) pulls away is in the ‘extras’. The RX100 has the pop-up EVF, a huge advantage in bright daylight conditions. Its lens ring is smooth to turn, while the G7X is ‘clicky’. The RX100 also has a much more advanced AF, and can shoot more frames per second.

But the RX100 M4 is also close to $300 more than the G7X right now. The G7X does have one clear advantage, its lens has a longer range and stays ‘brighter’ longer. But what about image quality? Honestly, in normal daylight conditions, it was a bit of a wash. Both lenses were not terribly sharp wide open in the corners, and both looked really good fully zoomed in wide open. See for yourself below.

I shot the following images on aperture priority because I wanted to compare the metering from the two cameras.

g7x

G7X

As you can see, the two cameras metered pretty closely. But also, the dark greens from the RX100 file are a bit richer than on the Canon file. Otherwise, they are very similar in my opinion.

Here are some example images where I tried to keep things a little more even in terms of framing to demonstrate lens IQ.

g7x-lens

G7X @ Max Aperture Fully Zoomed In

g7x-lens-2

G7X @ Max Aperture, Fully Zoomed Out

As you can see, the G7X is fairly soft in the corners wide open and fully zoomed out. But it’s quite sharp all around the frame zoomed in at max aperture. You will also notice below, that the RX100 performs similarly.

RX100 M4 at Max Aperture, Fully Zoomed In

RX100 M4 at Max Aperture, Fully Zoomed In

RX100 M4 at Max Aperture, Fully Zoomed Out

RX100 M4 at Max Aperture, Fully Zoomed Out

Notice how the colors change slightly between the RX100 shots. This is due to the contrast being better when zoomed in. The G7X does this as well, but it’s not quite as apparent, at least, not in these images.

Finally, I wanted to demonstrate the difference in range with these two cameras. I took both cameras out with me to the coast for a family trip. One of our favorite spots is this place on the Newport Bayfront where you can stand and watch the sea lions bask in the sun on a few manmade docks. This is a situation where the extra zoom on the G7X was a real advantage.

g7x-lens-range

G7X Fully Zoomed In

rx100m4-lens-range

RX100 M4 Fully Zoomed In

As you can see, I was able to get a fair bit ‘closer’ to the sea lion in question thanks to the extra zoom on the G7X. If there is one thing this comparison showed me, it’s that the G7X holds up pretty well in normal conditions, and for the price, it has to be considered.

But where the RX100 M4 shines, is better low light performance, light years better video quality and better AF. Since this is just a quick comparison, I will save those other points for the full review, so stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, if you are interested in the new RX100 M4, you can pick it up now over at B&H for $949. The G7X is also currently on sale for just $649, a full $300 cheaper than the RX100 M4, a great deal if you don’t need 4K/SlowMo Video or the pop-up EVF.

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Renato Zampieri

    Honestly I’m very happy with Canon G7X video capabilities. Here is an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2lLrJWrYhY

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  2. Phil Bautista

    In 2008, Casio came out with the Exilim Pro EX-F1, a bridge camera capable of shooting high speed video up to 1200 fps. The drawback was the file size at this speed was viewed as a thumbnail. Back then, it sold for about a grand but if you want to pick one up brand new now, you’ll have to dish out about $2500. At less than a grand, the RX100 IV doesn’t seem so expensive now given that you can get to almost 1k fps at HD quality. Granted this is a niche need, it is still one that provides a unique perspective which is what most photographers and videographers are looking for (the unique perspective, not the high speed slo-mo) and this is what makes RX100 IV desirable.

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  3. Paddy McDougall

    Both excellent cameras but $949 is a lot of money for a compact. I will give it 6 months to see if the price drops.

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    • Jason Markos

      I agree it’s a lot for a compact… but I have the Mk1 and it’s one of the few compacts where I’m not hugely disappointed for not having my SLR with me. I can only imagine that’s even more so with the Mk4.

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  4. Connor Katz

    How are the dynamic range on these? Interesting option for an “always with you” camera that can shoot RAW.

    I hate camera phones. Even a good one on my iPhone6 is a POS compared to an actual camera. But even something small like my a7r is too big to just carry around when I am not actively in “photo” mode. :)

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    • Dave Haynie

      I’ve kept a Fujifilm X-F1 (12Mpixel 2/3″ sensor, f/1.8 lens, raw shooting) in my car’s glove box for some years now… not a regular alternative to a DSLR or mirrorless, but compared to even a good smartphone camera, still a big improvement for an “always has” camera.

      And of course, phone cameras get better all the time.. some offer raw shooting, fast fixed lenses, etc. But they’re still fighting physics, given the need for a thin phone, meaning short focal length, small sensor, and probably a budget of under $10 for even the best sensor/lens assemblies.

      I’m always thinking of the next upgrade, and been following Sony’s and some of the others — Panasonic’s LX100, for example, that puts in a 4/3″ sensor… though not much of a size advantage there over a Panasonic GM-series m43 model.

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  5. Trevor Dayley

    I love how thorough you always are in your reviews Anthony.

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