Some thoughts about the Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV camera for bird photography

I’ve been using the Sony Cyber-shot RX10 mark IV bridge camera for 4 months now and the more I use, the more I love this powerful camera in a compact house. Key features of the fourth generation RX10 are the 20.1-megapixel ‘one-inch‘ sensor, the super sharp 24-600mm (35mm equivalent) Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* f2.4-4.0 zoom lens, 315 point phase-detection autofocus system for amazing movement tracking and 4K video capabilities. All these features are perfect for bird and wildlife photographers but utilising the exceptional lens sharpness, it has also been used for portrait photography by many.

The RX10 IV is my everyday camera for documenting birding for good reasons. I love its capability to track flying birds with the support of the very same processor used in the Sony a9 camera. I had a pretty gloomy and misty morning in the Peak District National Park a few weeks back, where I photographed territorial Eurasian Curlews. The tracking was amazingly accurate and I only lost the birds when I couldn’t manage proper panning. The result was a set of pleasingly sharp photos even at higher ISO. Tracking was tested on more distant subjects as well. The camera found displaying Common Snipes and Eurasian Skylarks high in the sky without any problem.

EurasianCurlew_PeakDistrictNP_June2018_0001_2732px Territorial Eurasian Curlew in the Peak District National Park flying into the mist. The camera managed to keep the focus on the bird perfectly. Sony RX10 IV © Gyorgy Szimuly

I use the camera in manual mode and shooting uncompressed RAW for higher editing flexibility. With the maximum resolution, the file size is 5472 x 3648 pixels what can give me a lot of cropping flexibility if it’s needed. This way the 600mm focal length can easily be doubled while still leaving a lot of megapixels for the final image. Just for the record, the resolution of my long-serving Canon EOS-1D Mark II N camera was just 8.2 megapixels and still created superb photos. Cropping half the RX10 IV files will preserve more megapixels than my Canon was in full resolution 13 years ago.

EurasianJackdaw_England_June2018_0001_2732px Out the camera, this Western Jackdaw photo was pretty sharp and only slight Lightroom adjustments had to be made. Sony RX10 IV © Gyorgy SzimulyEuropeanHerringGull_Dorset_0002_2732px A taking off European Herring Gull with a distracting background. Sony RX10 IV © Gyorgy SzimulyGadwall_England_May2018_0001_2732px A drake Gadwall with a busy background and a beautifully sharp duck. Sony RX10 IV © Gyorgy SzimulyMeadowPipit_PeakDistrictNP_June2018_0001_2732px I shot this calling Meadow Pipit from my car from a relatively close distance. The shallow depth of field (f/4.0) and the distant background created some very nice bokeh. Sony RX10 IV © Gyorgy SzimulyEuropeanHerringGull_Dorset_0001_2732px European Herring Gull against a dark background. Some chromatic aberration is visible but it could have been fixed in Lightroom. Sony RX10 IV © Gyorgy SzimulyCommonBlackbird_England_April2018_0001_2732px Food collecting male Common Blackbird in the local park. Despite distracting foreground elements, the camera tracked the moving bird. Sony RX10 IV © Gyorgy Szimuly

While the camera is capable to shoot at an astounding 24 fps rate, this feature is still to be tested.

The Sony RX10 IV sells for £1,799 in the UK (Wex Photo Video) and $1,698 in the United States (B&H Foto). It’s not the cheapest camera on the market but certainly the most powerful compact of all with professional attributes. Images out from this camera might not appear on the pages of National Geographic but in ideal shooting conditions, it is more than capable to deliver outstanding results. For general web purposes, it’s a simply perfect solution. I highly recommend this camera for every birdwatcher.

More detailed specifications can be found at Sony’s related page.

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