Live Science Verdict
The Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV delivers an impressive 25x zoom range and great image quality, making it ideal for wildlife and all-purpose photography.
Versatile 24-600mm lens
Great image quality, with RAW
Fast autofocus performance
Limited touchscreen controls
Tilt-only rear screen
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Sensor: 20.1MP 1” CMOS
Lens mount: N/A
ISO range: 100-12800
Viewfinder resolution: 2.36m dots
Video capability: 4K 30p / 1080p 120p
Size: 5.22 x 3.70 x 5.71 inches
Memory card type: SD
The Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV is a premium-quality, high-end bridge camera. If bridges are new to you, they offer an all-in-one photography solution that combines DSLR-style handling and controls, mirrorless-style performance, and a versatile zoom lens giving you the kind of reach that would require multiple lenses and thousands of dollars on a conventional camera.
While its 25x zoom range, covering 24-600mm in full-frame camera terms, is very impressive, it pales in comparison to something like the Nikon Coolpix P1000 with its 125x, 24-3000mm zoom. However, what the RX10 IV compromises in reach, it makes up for in image quality, offering a larger sensor with superior resolution and ISO (low light) sensitivity.
In short it's one of the best wildlife photography cameras, as it gives you high quality stills – along with slow-motion and 4K video – with the kind of zoom range that means you can get eye-to-eye with your subjects or photograph them from across the Serengeti at the push of the zoom button.
Can it really replace a traditional DSLR or mirrorless camera and a bag full of lenses? In my opinion, yes it can – and even a professional photographer can get images they would otherwise miss, thanks to the speed and convenience it affords.
Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV: Design
- Aperture ring
- Tilting rear screen
- Touch focus
The RX10 IV has a pleasingly chunky, DSLR-like design that fills two hands and offers reassuring heft. While the bulk could be seen as a strike against the camera, in practice it gives you great purchase for following and focusing on subjects – unlike smaller and more lightweight cameras, where the handling can feel a bit too "floaty" by comparison.
Having a physical aperture ring is a great option that will appeal to advanced users and pros, especially when it comes to shooting video. While you can forego it completely, opting to use either a control dial or an automatic mode, the aperture ring gives you tactile control over light gathering and depth of field – and it can be de-clicked, making it a silent option when you're shooting video.
While we would always prefer a fully articulating screen, the tilting mechanism on the rear LCD is very welcome (again, especially for video shooting), and the ability to tap the screen to touch focus makes operation familiar to anyone who uses a smartphone – though other touch input is sadly limited (more on this in Performance).
Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV: Functionality
- 4K and slow-motion video
- 24fps burst shooting
- Phase detection autofocus
The RX10 IV packs formidable firepower in its chunky frame, starting with its 1-inch, 20.1MP image sensor. For reference, that gives you a physically larger sensor than the one in most phones – and in most competing bridge or point-and-shoot cameras, for that matter – resulting in both better image quality and low light capability.
Remote: Sony Remote Control RM-VPR1
Spare battery type: Sony NP-FW50
Memory card: SanDisk Extreme SD card
The 20.1MP resolution delivers crisp, clean still images even in challenging light, thanks to the broad ISO range and the fast f/2.4-4.0 lens, both of which enable the camera to gather more light and make better use of it. It also possesses a pop-up flash for those moments when you need it, though a hot shoe enables you to use external and off-camera flash for more creative and professional results.
Great performance extends to the autofocus system, too, which employs the superior phase detect AF method (as opposed to hunting-prone contrast detect) with 315 focus points. This is the system you want for things like wildlife photography, especially when the RX10 IV is capable of blistering 24fps continuous shooting, along with videography, where 4K 30p is offered for high-resolution shooting or 1080p at 120p can be employed for slow-motion video.
Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV: Performance
- RAW images
- Mic & headphone jacks
- Fantastic control options
Whatever you're shooting – portraits, landscapes, wildlife, video, vlogs, b-roll – the RX10 IV gives you all the options you could ask for. It all starts with the autofocus, which is honest and adapts to whatever the shooting situation, and ends with the image quality, which delivers stills and video that capture plenty of detail. Especially with the option to shoot RAW images, giving you plenty of scope for post-production.
As noted video shooters will be delighted with the physical and de-clickable aperture ring, but this camera also offers jacks for microphones as well as headphones. It's still a shame that the touchscreen doesn't fully articulate, as this would have made it ideal for self-shooting, and the lack of ability to adjust settings or use menus via touch input is a pain. But with 4K and 120p this is still a versatile video option.
The amount of controls and inputs is very impressive, though they might overwhelm newcomers. There are three customizable buttons, enabling you to put your own inputs at your fingertips, along with a highly useful focus limiter (handy, with a monster 24-600mm zoom range!), a focus mode adjustment dial, a zoom ring on the lens along with a zoom switch on the shoulder for fine or fast zooming respectively…
The camera makes it easy for both newcomers and professionals to pick it up and start shooting great shots, whether you want to leave it on automatic or go fully manual. Sony's menu structure is notoriously unfriendly, though, so be prepared to get used to hunting for settings in the labyrinthine options!
Should you buy the Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV?
If you are looking for an all-in-one camera with the best image quality and autofocus performance, the Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV stands tall. It offers crisp stills and 4K video, a fast lens with enviable stabilization, with customizable controls and all the inputs you could ask for.
For newcomers who simply want to aim and shoot, its automatic and semi-automatic modes accommodate beginners and those still learning the finer points of photography. It also caters to advanced users, though, with RAW imaging, full manual control, 24fps burst shooting, and even a de-clickable aperture ring and mic and headphone jacks for videography.
From family picnics to wildlife excursions, this is a camera that can handle it all – and can be handled by just about anyone in the family, too. So it's a no-brainer, then? Well, almost…
If this product isn't for you
The image quality and overall performance isn't as good, but if reach is what you're most concerned with then the Nikon Coolpix P1000 is simply untouchable. Photographs are still good, though the RX10 IV's resolution and ISO still leave it in the dust, but the P1000's ridiculous 3000mm maximum zoom is 5 times greater – so if you're happy to sacrifice a bit of quality for pictures that you'd otherwise never be able to capture, this is the one to go for.
If video is important to you, the Panasonic Lumix FZ2500 is definitely the one to look at. It offers less reach, at "just" 480mm maximum, but it boasts built-in ND filters, a log profile and 10-bit 4:2:2 shooting (via an external monitor). If stills are your focus, though, then the RX10 IV is an easy winner.
For the very best image quality, a DSLR or mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses is the way to go. The full frame Canon EOS R5 sits at the top of the tree, with 45MP images and the best autofocus we've ever used, while the APS-C Nikon D500's 1.5x crop will extend the reach of your lenses (so a 200mm lens would become a 300mm, and so on).
The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist. He has worked professionally in the photographic industry since 2014, when he started as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy (who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert on cameras and lenses, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine, PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine, N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine, Digital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show. An Olympus (Micro Four Thirds) and Canon (full frame) shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a particular fondness for vintage lenses and film cameras.