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Sony RX1 versus Sony RX100 IV

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 IV are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2012 and June 2015. Both the RX1 and the RX100 IV are fixed lens compact cameras that are based on a full frame (RX1) and an one-inch sensor. The RX1 has a resolution of 24 megapixel, whereas the RX100 IV provides 20 MP.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Sony RX1 and the Sony RX100 IV is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the RX1 – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Sony RX1 vs Sony RX100 IV front
RX1 versus RX100 IV top view
RX1 and RX100 IV rear side
Body view (RX1 on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony RX100 IV is notably smaller (19 percent) than the Sony RX1. Moreover, the RX100 IV is substantially lighter (38 percent) than the RX1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the RX1 nor the RX100 IV are weather-sealed.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Sony RX1 (⇒ rgt) 113 mm 65 mm 70 mm 482 g 270 no 2012 2,799discont. check
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft) 102 mm 58 mm 41 mm 298 g 280 no 2015 999discont. check
Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 116 mm 89 mm 61 mm 427 g 295 no 2016 979 latest check
Leica Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt) 130 mm 80 mm 93 mm 640 g .. no 2015 4,249 latest check
Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt) 125 mm 98 mm 76 mm 480 g 600 no 2013 799discont. check
Panasonic FZ1000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 137 mm 99 mm 131 mm 831 g 360 no 2014 899discont. check
Sony RX100 V (⇒ lft | rgt) 102 mm 58 mm 41 mm 299 g 220 no 2016 999 latest check
Sony RX1R II (⇒ lft | rgt) 113 mm 65 mm 72 mm 507 g 220 no 2015 3,299 latest check
Sony A6000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 120 mm 67 mm 45 mm 344 g 360 no 2014 599discont. check
Sony RX100 III (⇒ lft | rgt) 102 mm 58 mm 41 mm 290 g 320 no 2014 799discont. check
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 94 mm 48 mm 474 g 340 YES 2013 1,699discont. check
Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 94 mm 48 mm 465 g 340 YES 2013 2,299discont. check
Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 102 mm 58 mm 38 mm 281 g 350 no 2013 749discont. check
Sony RX1R (⇒ lft | rgt) 113 mm 65 mm 70 mm 482 g 270 no 2013 2,799discont. check
Sony RX100 (⇒ lft | rgt) 102 mm 58 mm 36 mm 240 g 330 no 2012 649discont. check

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The RX100 IV was launched at a markedly lower price (by 64 percent) than the RX1, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Sensor comparison

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony RX1 features a full frame sensor and the Sony RX100 IV an one-inch sensor. The sensor area in the RX100 IV is 86 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 2.7. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Sony RX1 and Sony RX100 IV sensor measures
Sensor size

With 24MP, the RX1 offers a higher resolution than the RX100 IV (20MP), but the RX1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.96μm versus 2.41μm for the RX100 IV) due to its larger sensor. However, the RX100 IV is a somewhat more recent model (by 2 years and 8 months) than the RX1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

RX1 versus RX100 IV MP
Sensor resolution

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under review, the RX1 provides substantially higher image quality than the RX100 IV, with an overall score that is 23 points higher. This advantage is based on 2.3 bits higher color depth, 1.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Sony RX1 (⇒ rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 25.1 14.3 2534 93
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 4K/30p 22.8 12.6 591 70
Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 23.4 12.4 1262 77
Leica Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.3 12.7 2221 85
Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.0 13.9 1338 83
Panasonic FZ1000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 4K/30p 22.1 11.7 517 64
Sony RX100 V (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 4K/30p 22.8 12.4 586 70
Sony RX1R II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 42.2 7952 5304 1080/60p 25.8 13.9 3204 97
Sony A6000 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.1 13.1 1347 82
Sony RX100 III (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 22.4 12.3 495 67
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.8 14.2 2248 90
Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 36.2 7360 4912 1080/60p 25.6 14.1 2746 95
Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 22.5 12.4 483 67
Sony RX1R (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 25.0 13.6 2537 91
Sony RX100 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 22.6 12.4 390 66

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the RX100 IV provides a better video resolution than the RX1. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the RX1 is limited to 1080/60p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the RX100 IV has an electronic viewfinder (2359k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the RX1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Sony RX1 and Sony RX100 IV in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Sony RX1 (⇒ rgt) no no 3.0 1229 fixed no 4000 5.0 6 no
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft) 2359 no 3.0 1228 tilting no 2000 16.0 10.2 no
Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.2 1620 tilting YES 4000 9.0 5 no
Leica Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt) 3680 no 3.0 1040 fixed YES 2000 10.0 no no
Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.2 1037 swivel no 4000 5.0 12 no
Panasonic FZ1000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 no 3.0 921 swivel no 4000 12.0 13.5 no
Sony RX100 V (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 no 3.0 1229 tilting no 2000 24.0 10.2 no
Sony RX1R II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1229 tilting no 4000 5.0 no no
Sony A6000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1440 no 3.0 922 tilting no 4000 11.0 6 no
Sony RX100 III (⇒ lft | rgt) 1440 no 3.0 1229 tilting no 2000 10.0 YES no
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 no 3.0 1230 tilting no 8000 5.0 no no
Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 no 3.0 1230 tilting no 8000 4.0 no no
Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1229 tilting no 2000 10.0 15 no
Sony RX1R (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1229 fixed no 4000 5.0 6 no
Sony RX100 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1229 fixed YES 2000 10.0 YES no

The RX100 IV is equipped with a zoom lens, while the RX1 comes with a build-in prime. The RX100 IV has a 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 optic and the RX1 offers a 35mm f/2.0 (focal lengths in full frame equivalent terms). Hence, the RX100 IV provides a wider angle of view at the short end, as well as more tele-photo reach at the long end than the RX1. The RX100 IV offers the faster maximum aperture.

Both the RX1 and the RX100 IV have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The RX1 was replaced by the Sony RX1R, while the RX100 IV was followed by the Sony RX100 V.

Summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Sony RX1 or the Sony RX100 IV – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Reasons to prefer the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 20MP) with a 10% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (23 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (2.3 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.7 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (2.1 stops ISO advantage).
  • Faster shutter: Has a higher mechanical shutter speed (4000/sec vs 2000/sec) to freeze action.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2012).

Arguments in favor of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 IV:

  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
  • Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (16 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Better light gathering: Has a lens with a wider maximum aperture (f/1.8 vs f/2.0).
  • Wider view: Has a wider-angle lens that facilitates landscape or interior shots.
  • More compact: Is smaller (102x58mm vs 113x65mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 184g or 38 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (64 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 8 months of technical progress since the RX1 launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the RX100 IV emerges as the winner of the match-up (10 : 7 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features.

RX1 07:10 RX100 IV

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the RX1 and the RX100 IV in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites. You can find the full text of the reviews, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
dp
review
ephoto
zine
imaging
resource
photography
blog
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Sony RX1 (⇒ rgt) - 79/100 Gold 4/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2012 2,799discont. check
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft) HiRec 85/100 Gold 4/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2015 999discont. check
Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 82/100 Silver 4/5 4.5/5 4/5 2016 979 latest check
Leica Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 80/100 Silver 4.5/5 - 4.5/5 2015 4,249 latest check
Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 79/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2013 799discont. check
Panasonic FZ1000 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2014 899discont. check
Sony RX100 V (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 83/100 Silver 4/5 5/5 4.5/5 2016 999 latest check
Sony RX1R II (⇒ lft | rgt) - 82/100 Silver - reviewed 4.5/5 2015 3,299 latest check
Sony A6000 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 80/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2014 599discont. check
Sony RX100 III (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2014 799discont. check
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 80/100 Silver 5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2013 1,699discont. check
Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2013 2,299discont. check
Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 79/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2013 749discont. check
Sony RX1R (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4/5 reviewed 4.5/5 2013 2,799discont. check
Sony RX100 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 78/100 Silver 4/5 5/5 5/5 2012 649discont. check

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Other comparisons

In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just use the search menu below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please contact me, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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