Externally the Sony RX100 V is an unassuming compact camera, but pick it up and its solid metal-bodied build becomes apparent. Its price tag hints that it’s a bit more than the average pocket-sized camera. Inside the Mark V is a one-inch type Exmor RS CMOS sensor with 20.1 million pixels. The sensor’s stacked construction means the signal from the photo sites (aka pixels) has less distance to travel, enabling a faster read-out speed.
A DRAM chip and newly developed front-end LSI that supports the BIONZ X processing engine also enables 4K video, and a phenomenal maximum stills shooting speed of 24fps at full resolution with continuous autofocusing and metering for up to 150 shots. This impressive shooting rate is backed up by a top shutter speed of 1/32,000sec using the electronic shutter (the mechanical shutter maxes out at 1/2,000sec), a hybrid autofocus system with 315 phase-detection points and a claimed response time of 0.05sec.
While we can’t verify that time, the RX100 V certainly gets subjects sharp quickly and does a great job of tracking moving targets in reasonable light. It’s more hesitant in low light, but it’s still very good for a compact camera. In addition to the high-quality, three-inch 1,228,800-dot tilting LCD screen on the back of the camera, there’s a built-in 0.39-inch OLED electronic viewfinder with 2,359,296 dots. This pops-up smartly with the flick of a switch but its rear element needs to be pulled out manually to give a focused view.
That last stage seems a little unsophisticated, but the viewfinder works well, giving a nice, clear view that’s especially useful in very bright light or when panning with a moving subject. Like its doppelgänger the RX100 IV, the RX100 V is delightfully compact with understated charm, but its front is smooth and slippery making it a nervous hold and a wrist strap or similar is recommended.
Thankfully, Sony offers an optional rubber grip (AG-R2 for $14/$15) that can be stuck on. One disappointment with the RX100 V is that Sony continues to shun a touchscreen. This would make some setting selections (including AF point) a little easier and more intuitive. By default the AF point is set by pressing the button at the navigation pad and then using navigation controls.
If you want to use the navigation buttons to reach their other designated functions, you need to press the centre button to deactivate AF point selection.
As the RX100 V has the same pixel count as its predecessor, its images aren’t a revelation in terms of detail resolution, but it’s still impressive for this type of camera. Noise is also controlled well to around ISO 3200. Above this value RAW files show their benefit by producing slightly more natural-looking images and giving control over noise visibility. As a guide, try to stick to ISO 6400 or lower.
In the default settings the RX100 V produces pleasant colors and it generally handles exposure well, while dynamic range is good.