Thoughts on the Sony RX100 V

Based on the specs it seems like the perfect camera. Small and lightweight, with an EVF, image stabilization and fast lens.

But then, I looked at the sample images at dpreview.com and, especially the ones shot at the widest end (where I would want to use it a lot), the images look soft, with purple fringing. Not very impressive. I know that Henri Cartier-Bresson says that sharpness is a bourgeois concept, and maybe once you reduce the photos to Instagram-size, you won’t notice the softness, but for a thousand dollars (which sounds like a lot of money to me) I want a camera that has a sharp lens.

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The Leica Q (and the Sony RX1R II)

The only Leica I’d ever consider buying is the Q. (Except that I’ve never taken a photo worthy of a $4,250 camera, so spending that much of my retirement savings for G.A.S. reasons wouldn’t make any sense.)

Unlike pretty much all of Leica’s other cameras which are overpriced fossils, the Q is a thoroughly modern camera with a very unique value proposition. The only other similar camera, that is a compact full-frame, is the Sony RX1R II. While the Sony has a better-rated sensor with more megapixels, the Q has image stabilization and reviews say that it has faster auto-focus. That’s a first, a Leica beating a Sony at modern features like auto-focus and image stabilization!

Image stabilization is, in my opinion, a pretty important missing feature from the RX1R II. When you have a camera with such a sharp lens and so many megapixels, without image stabilization you need a much faster shutter speed than the traditional inverse of the focal length in order to ensure sharp photos. I suspect that you would want to shoot the RX1R II at no slower than 1/250 sec to ensure you are getting the sharpest results.

The difference in focal lengths is worth discussing. I believe that 28mm (Leica Q) is a better focal length for shooting in New York City or other urban places where there are a lot of tall buildings very close to you. 35mm (Sony RX1R II) is a better general-purpose focal length and better (or at least easier) for photographing people. When I use my Ricoh GR (a 28mm-equivalent camera) to take pictures of people, very often I feel the shot looks unflattering because of wide-angle distortion.

I think the Leica Q would be the most perfect camera for urban photography if only it had the sensor that’s in the RX1R II. When a camera has a really sharp Leica lens on it, it’s a shame to waste that sharpness on only 24 megapixels.