Sony's built a reputation for making small camera with great image quality, with large-sensor models like the RX1 and RX100 leaving the competition–and our wallets–in pain. The latest models? A superzoom, and the full-frame interchangeable-lens compact that fans have been waiting for.
The CyberShot RX10 (left) has the same 20.2-megapixel one-inch sensor as the smaller RX100 mkII, but adds a constant f2.8 superzoom lens that would be equivalent to a 24-200mm on a full-frame camera. It shoots macro to 3cm, records 1080p HD video at 60 and 24fps, and Sony claims a fast autofocus. The lens has a manual aperture that can be declicked for video (there's also a proper mic jack, unlike the RX100s), and it, like today's other new model, has WiFi, NFC, and Sony's new accessory hotshoe.
Today's real star, though, is a 24.3mp full-frame interchangeable-lens compact camera, the Alpha 7. Similar to the popular and high-end fixed-lens RX1, it comes with a 28-70mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens, produces 14-bit raw stills, and tops out at ISO 25,600.
It shoots 1080p movies at 60 and 24 frames per second, outputs uncompressed HDMI, and has an external mic jack--good news for videographers, too.
The 7 is $2000 (or $1700 without a lens); a premium version, the Alpha 7r, has a 36.3 megapixel sensor, no low-pass filter, and a $2300 price tag.
Minuses? There are a couple. The $2k+ price tag is steep, and the relatively limited selection of full-frame E-mount lenses will have to grow fast. To start, there'll be the kit option, 24-70mm and 70-200m f4 zooms, and 35mm/f2.8, 55mm/f1.8 and 200mm/f4 primes.
Compact cameras usually involve significant compromises; the 7R looks like the most potent challenge to pro DSLRs yet. The RX10, though, seems too steep at $1300: lots of top-end micro4/3 models lurking in that price range, and once you're paying that much anyway, it seems a short leap to a used RX1.