Pont and shoot camera enthusiasts have been pitched to no end on the merits of massive megapixel counts and generous optical zoom lengths, so Sony's new Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 aims to add yet another metric to that perpetual arms race: sensor size. At the camera's heart is 20.2-megapixel 13.2 x 8.8mm Exmor CMOS sensor, which Sony claims is four times larger than those normally available in point-and-shoot cameras. We had an opportunity to get a bit of hands on time with the Cyber-shot DSC-RX100, and while we weren't allowed to capture any sample images — we were told the cameras weren't production quality just yet — we did get a chance to fiddle with some of the improvements.
Sony is calling the DSC-RX100 the most advanced point and shoot it has ever released. That Exmos sensor is backed by an f/1.8 Carl-Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens with a 3.6x optical zoom, a 120 to 25,600 ISO range, and a battery that will reportedly last for about 330 shots. The device is also fairly compact, measuring in at 4 x 2.4 x 1.4 inches and weighing just under half a pound at 7.5 ounces. It offers a 3-inch, 1,229k dot LCD display bolstered by Sony's WhiteMagic technology: additional white pixels are used to boost screen brightness and enhance details. We took the camera out on a rather bright and sunny day and the LCD didn't disappoint, showing off a bright, accurate preview of the scenes we were checking out. A control ring surrounds the lens, and you can customize a number of functions to make adjustments on the fly.
The DSC-RX100 boasts some of the special shooting modes we saw on the Sony Alpha SLT-A37 and NEX-F3, including auto portrait framing and Sony's clear image zoom, which uses an internal database to "fill in" missing pixels, in an attempt to generate clear, full-resolution zoom images. The DSC-RX100 will be able to capture RAW images (in addition to JPEGs), and shoot 1920 x 1080 AVCHD and MP4 video. The camera is slated to be released in July, for $649.