October 20, 2012

Nikon D800 vs. Sony RX100

Nikon D800 vs. Sony RX100

Once again I am updating my Sony RX100 review page. Here's an amazing admission: I bought a Nikon D800 specifically to shoot video on my then-upcoming Rim to Rim hike in the Grand Canyon. D800 video for natural landscapes is astonishingly good—probably you've got to spend car-sized sums to do better. So which camera did I actually carry across the Canyon? My RX100.

What happened? The day before the hike, I realized that RX100 footage looked much better than D800 footage handheld. Plus my RX100 weighs about five pounds less. Plus it fits in a tiny little case that I can clip anywhere. So the choice was, did I want to carry an eight-ounce deck of cards or an awkwardly-sized lead brick some twenty miles plus across Grand Canyon? Really, it was no choice at all—carrying the RX100 saved more weight than I was carrying in water for the entire trip!

Afterward, looking over the raw footage, I realized if I'd tried to carry the D800 I never would have got the shots I got with the Sony. Part of what made it possible for me to shoot 7 gigs of video and make it across the Canyon before dark was how nimble the RX100 is. I could effortlessly draw it, shoot, and stow it—sometimes within the span of ten to twenty seconds. That would have been utterly impossible with the D800, and believe me, those extra pounds would not have been my friend as the day wore on, either.

Yes, raw D800 video on a tripod or a stabilization rig looks better. I'd say a lot better. So I'm not abandoning my Nikon. But streaming online compression evens out a lot of the D800's aesthetic quality advantage, and the RX100's superior onboard stabilization really shines regardless. For this kind of run-and-gun backcountry photography, the RX100 easily proved itself the superior choice. Check out Wilson Mountain (Nikon) versus Grand Canyon (Sony) and see for yourself.

Andy Lewicky

ANDY LEWICKY is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer who enjoys good books, jasmine tea, long walks in the rain, and climbing and skiing the big peaks of the California Sierra. email | follow

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