This post is NOT out of date. While the Sony RX100 has seen several new editions, this commentary is less about tech specs and more about a way of thinking about photography equipment.
Max Mishkin IS NOT sponsored by Sony or any other camera company. This blog is based solely on his experiences and personal opinions.
"I want to take professional quality photographs, but I don't want to break my back or bank doing it."
For a full list of technical specifications, click below:
The beginning of a love affair
I set out from Springer Mountain, Georgia on March 28, 2014 in a cold, damp fog. My goal was to follow the famous Appalachian Trail for the next 2185.3 miles until I reached the storied summit of Maine's highest peak, Mount Katahdin. On my back, I carried a small day pack, containing everything I would need for the first and coldest 400 miles of my journey. Of my 4.5 lbs of equipment, a precious 7.51 oz were dedicated to my camera, Sony's RX100.
Over a year later, while on a photoshoot for Vermont State Parks, I flashed-back to that moment on Springer Mountain. Here I was standing in Vermont's beautiful Green River Reservoir, and all I was thinking about was not dropping my telephoto lens in the thigh-high water, while I changed lenses. On my back I carried over 20 lbs and thousands of dollars of camera equipment. As I paused and thought back to my hike from the year before, I was struck by the way that photography equipment can get in the way of actual photography.
Food for thought: Adapt to less, assess and adjust
Let me just say, right off the bat, that specialized camera lenses and equipment are a staple of most professional photographer's bags, often for good reason. When your livelihood is on the line, getting the best possible shot is very important. It is also important to note that many professionals are not carrying their equipment continuously from GA to ME. I am not criticizing others in their equipment choices. I am proposing that we make camera equipment selections based on "needs," rather than our "wants."
A great way to figure out what you need is to go without what you want. By limiting your equipment, you can determine what you can get away with and without. You often see this argument made by travel photographers. Unfortunately, the discussion often ends there and an argument for minimalist photography ends up sounding like a defensive justification for why someone DOSEN'T have a DSLR.
Less is more: Be a photographer, not a gearhead
The reality of minimalist photography is that you have less to worry about. I fully concede that there are shots that I miss. I also understand that (pending the purchase of a few thousand dollars of lenses, tripod heads and camera bodies) I could fill those gaps. What I do not miss is the immediacy of the moment. When I juggle lenses and camera bags, my world shrinks to the logistics and mechanics of "getting the shot." When I operate a fixed-lens camera, I am free to be part of the space that I am in.
It was accidental at first, but I soon came to appreciate the intimacy that a professional point-and-shoot allows for. My RX100 allowed me to capture the moments that I was experiencing. The result was evident in my images. Instead of rooting through a camera bag, selecting and changing lenses, I could simply turn on my camera (tucked in my pocket) and document the moment. The camera's quick and accurate autofocus and fully adjustable settings did the rest.
Image quality is phenomenal and the 20.2 megapixels give the latitude to print at large dimensions. This image has been shown in gallery spaces at sizes over 24x17"
Using the RX100 can be as easy or as technical as you want it to be.
Photograph taken by Mitchell Mishkin
Ultralight is more comfortable
I do not take camera or hiking equipment lightly. I enjoy researching and selecting the best possible options before making a purchase. I stumbled upon ultralight photography because I was limited by pack weight and size. I needed to walk over five million steps with my gear on my back and I intended to do so with less than 5 pounds of equipment. DSLRs and mirrorless cameras were out of the picture, so I chose the best "point-and-shoot" I could find.
Comfort was crucial. I needed to live with my equipment choices for 5-6 months. The RX100 fit my needs perfectly. I could take professional quality images, travel light and not worry about expensive accessories. My camera, like my other hiking equipment was a perfect reflection of my hiking mentality, "carry less, enjoy more."
A love that stands the test of time
Two years after my Appalachian Trail hike I still use my RX100. My RX100 has been with me for over 3600 miles of hiking and every ding, nick and scratch on its metal body represents another adventure together. While I now own a mirrorless body and a set of lenses, my RX100 is special. Even more special to me are the photographs I have taken with it.
On August 29, 2014, my RX100 and I summited Mt. Katahdin. For five months and one day, we traversed the Appalachian Mountains together through fourteen states. Together we documented that journey and those images have been seen and used across the country. In the end photographer Chase Jarvis was right, "the best camera is the one that's with you."
For more RX100 Images:
MAX MISHKIN is...
a conservation photographer. Max's passion is to show the intimate and majestic moments that define great outdoor spaces.