Q Do you have any information on Sony's new pocket-sized camera that is getting rave reviews?
I'm not a pro but love taking pictures and need a pocket camera. I use movie mode often, and being able to take low-light night photos would be lovely. I hate flash because of the washed-out look and the startling, intrusive quality when photographing people. It stinks for nature and buildings, too.
Is it worth it for me to buy the new Sony, when other small cameras cost much less?
A The camera you are referring to is the $649 Sony DSC-RX100. It is generating a lot of buzz and is selling out everywhere.
The 20-megapixel DSC-RX100 has a sensor far larger (in physical size, not megapixels) than any other compact camera and combines it with a sharp Zeiss zoom lens packed in a solid metal body small enough to fit into a pocket. It's designed for serious photographers who want as little compromise as possible in a pocket camera, as well as well-heeled travelers and family shooters who want the best.
The large sensor is what makes the DSC-RX100 unique in the compact class and is the reason for the high price. Large sensors work well in low light, and in good light, pictures have a smooth, deep, natural look. Given the camera's size and capabilities, $649 is warranted.
The critical question is whether the camera is worth that for you.
In your case, the DSC-RX100 is worth splurging for. Good pictures in low light without flash are important to you. The DSC-RX100 does this far better than any other compact camera. The large sensor, sharp lens, optical image stabilization and 1080p AVCHD video recording make for top-notch video, too.
If you buy anything less, you're not going to get the results you want and won't be happy. Although new cameras come out all the time, the DSC-RX100 is a powerful tool and will be useful to you for many years.
If low-light capabilities and video recording were not as important, I would recommend taking a look at the Olympus XZ-1. It has a top-notch lens and internal processing that produces clear, sharp, colorful pictures without fuss. It retails for $399 and refurbs can be had for as little as $299.
Unfortunately, its 10-megapixel sensor is only about one-third the physical size of the DSC-RX100 sensor and the video recording is only 720p Motion JPEG. This takes up more space on memory cards than the higher-resolution 1080p AVCHD video of the DSC-RX100. With AVCHD, playing back the movies is as easy as putting the memory card in the slot on your TV or Blu-ray player.
This isn't meant to belittle the XZ-1. I love the way it works, its quality feel and the outstanding images it produces. For most people, it would be more than enough, but your needs demand the DSC-RX100.