This morning Sony announced that little camera above, the Sony RX10IV and it is an amazing camera for a variety of reasons.
This camera now fires 24 FPS for a substantial burst in it's fastest mode. What this means is that you will be able to shoot action for a sustained period of time.
And, as Sony increased the frame rate of the camera, it also added Phase Detect AF. This is the sophisticated and amazingly accurate Sony method of tracking action over a large portion of the size of the sensor.
It's also a SILENT camera at the 24 FPS speed (or any other for that matter) which makes it incredibly useful when shooting in delicate situations or when you just don't want people to know how many photographs you're shooting of your kid while batting!
These three features are the ones that I have been waiting for -- especially the addition of the tracking PDAF AF! I had used the 3 previous versions of the camera and they were very good -- with the addition of this fast and accurate AF -- this makes the camera useful to me. The camera covers nearly 65% of the sensor with 315 PDAF points.
And while they've added these killer features, they've kept some of the other features like the super sharp 24-600 (35mm equivalent focal length) f2.4-f4 Zeiss zoom lens.
The camera is an all-in-one -- meaning the lens doesn't come off -- so this means that the sensor stays clean (helpful if you're overseas and you just can't clean the sensor)!
The zoom is motorized which also makes it superb for video, because the zooms are sure and steady.
The leaf shutter (mechanical shutter) is still present just like it was in the RX10III and this allows for synching flash at very high speeds. How this helps a still shooter like me is that you don't have to push the flash into the High Speed Synch mode (which takes power from the flash and slows recycle) and instead lets you natively synch a flash at a speed above the normal 1/160th or 1/200th that you need for an APS-C or Full Frame camera.
Practically speaking it means that you can use a much smaller flash to achieve an effect of a much more powerful strobe -- and this can be helpful to lighten the load and to synch at speeds virtually impossible with a bigger sensor camera.
Who Is the Target Market for this Camera?
In the past I would have said that consumers, advanced amateurs and folks that are just wanting a better, longer reach than a point and shoot (and smartphone, of course) but don't want the hassle or expense of buying into an interchangeable lens system camera.
Those folks will still love this camera -- in fact they'll probably love it a whole lot more.
But this is a camera that I will add to the bag as a pro for both stills AND video.
Now it can really do the work of shooting action -- up until now, it was only a Contrast-based AF system and it just left me frustrated. No more. Not with this new camera.
I joke that it's a "mini a9" because of how fast, accurate and silent it is.
Soccer Moms/Dads, Little League Parents, and folks with kids playing flag football, freshman and junior varsity football will especially LOVE this camera because now they've got a lens that really reaches and allows you in to see faces.
For folks going on a safari this camera will track the action much like it's bigger siblings the a6500 and the a9 and will do it at 24 FPS and silently! Oh how I wish I had had this camera back in July when we were at a game park in South Africa! It would've paired nicely with the a9 and the 6300 that I was using!
Sony though, in my opinion, has really opened this camera to pros and aspiring pros because of the feature upgrades.
For smaller newspapers, websites that require more than a smartphone and also want to shoot stills and video to a very high quality -- this camera can deliver.
Pros who require fast and accurate AF will add this to their bag as a backup camera ( I have been using it alongside my a9 at sporting events -- primarily keeping the RX10IV on the very long end (600mm) to take advantage of the reach that I don't have on my FF).
As a great video camera it is surprisingly good -- headphone jack, microphone jack, the ability to click/de click the lenses -- these are all features that make it a videgraphers' dream little camera. This could be a great B or C cam (or maybe an A cam for some videographers).
Sony has created a camera that will make birders, safari goers, sports parents, and now even more pros in stills and video world very happy because they've added so many meaningful and useful features to an already powerful line of cameras.