Frostbite, shooting video at 10ºF with the Sony RX10

Frostbite, shooting video at 10ºF with the Sony RX10

watch in full HD 1080p

Unlike the storm we had a couple of years ago when I wasn’t so sure that my Canon 7D would survive, the arrival of winter this year wasn’t quite as dramatic. However, wind chill pushed temperatures
well below zero and I headed to CP dressed in snowboard gear, the Sony RX10 a lightweight Sirui and a short Konova K2 slider.
It was the coldest day of the year so far and since cold days reduce atmospheric dust concentration the sky was bluer then usual. How did the RX10 hold up in these conditions?
more after the break

Wind gusts dusted the camera with snow a few times during this 3 hour walk without effect. It took two fully charged batteries, the second one down to 17% by the time I couldn’t press buttons any longer.

Due to the tight button layout it was impossible to change settings with regular gloves, knowing this, I packed a thin pair of running gloves and even with those it wasn’t easy and I had to pull one glove off to change settings.
Everything was shot in full manual mode at 1080/60p at ISO 125.
All handheld clips where shot with active image stabilization on ( one clip shot with clear image zoom on, fully extended, easy to spot) and clips from the tripod and slider with standard stabilization or stabilization turned off.
I ran a few tests before heading to CP knowing that there wont be time to experiment and decided to go with the neutral setting at -3 contrast, -3 saturation and +1 sharpening.
The H264 codec really limits your grading options and therefore it is imperative to get as close to the final look as possible with the correct choice of creative style and WB settings, I did a few exposure tests and set the WB manually, always reviewing the clip after each take and re-shot if necessary with a different exposure setting.

Changing the aperture was a joy and changing the zoom range was ok, no complains here.
Below is the summary of my impressions from this shoot.
Incredible video quality at low ISO, rivaling much higher priced pro cams and surpassing some older models costing thousands of dollars
Optically, the incredible Zeiss lens shines at any focal length,
constant 2.8, almost perfect focal range.
optical steady shot
active steady shot with almost invisible quality loss at low ISO
clear image zoom works well in video mode, visible quality loss
but gets you twice as close (400mm equiv)
Stepless aperture control
great af performance
mf focus peaking, selectable colors
very easy to manual focus in the normal to tele range
very slow fly by wire zoom during recording – suits my shooting style
assign custom functions to main dial and buttons
All dials felt super solid and there were no signs this camera was affected by the extreme low temperature except for the short battery life.
effective weather sealing
High quality ND filter, no color shift
High quality EVF, great in such bright conditions where you simply can’t see sh*t on your LCD, no matter how good it is

unfortunate placing of the record button, really awkward to reach when using the EVF, handheld or on tripod
protruding EVF eyepiece, limits viewing angles with articulated LCD (which I rarely used during this shoot)
fast battery drainage (had 6 in my pocket, not a big deal)
fly by wire manual focus or zoom, can’t have both
zoom speed limitations, very slow during recording, not everyone’s cup of tea,
I wish Sony would release zoom speed options via firmware, giving us a choice of slow, medium, fast.

H264 codec
only 4x magnification for mf
blackout during audio level adjustments (obviously, not a problem during this shoot)

That’s it for now guys, if you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask, so far I am very impressed with this little camera and ready to overlook the few shortcomings, the RX10 rocks, however, I will say this again, it is imperative to get as close to the final look as possible with your choice of creative style, WB settings, and sharpening. Yes, sharpening, after numerous tests I found no matter what I tried during grading, unsharp masking with different strength and radius levels and any other post sharpening method, it can’t rival in camera sharpening, experiment, it depends on your subjects and the desired effect, on a model shoot for instance, I would turn sharpening all the way down, the closer you can get to the final look your envision for your project the happier you will be with the clips from this camera. If you like what you hear, Bonobo, Silver

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13 thoughts on “Frostbite, shooting video at 10ºF with the Sony RX10

  1. kim

    Thanks for the reply Mike.

    Can’t wait to see what you have to say about the RX10 in comparison to the other options, I feel you’re the only person blogging regarding hybrid photo/video that is truly excited about all the new tech yet isn’t biased to a particular camera/format/brand. Great that you don’t get hung up on the minor details that people complain about and really get out there and shoot! Really positive vibes :)

    Keep up the good work!

  2. mike.kobal Post author

    Thanks Kim! Crop mode doesn’t affect aperture value-only depth of field characteristics-shallow depth of field is much easier to achieve with the 18-105mm OSS then with the RX10. At regular working distances you really need to be zoomed in beyond 120mm equiv to see noticeable background separation at f2.8. Personally, I prefer the RX10, since it covers a much wider range and has much better macro capabilities and video in good light is superb. Really depends on what you shoot. If you are looking for shallow depth of field shots, stick with the large sensor, if close ups and landscape/cityscape type of shots are your thing, the RX10 will be the better choice. Hope this helps.
    PS. I just tried this lens on the FS100 and it shows massive pillow distortion, something I didn’t expect since it appears to be corrected in the A7.

  3. kim

    Hi Mike!

    Awesome test! I just got an A7 and was thinking about complimenting it with an RX10 for video use while travelling, however what do you think of the A7 + 18-105 OSS combo? Is the stabilisation as good as the RX10?

    I’m thinking although F4 (5.6 after the crop) is slower, it will still have slightly more shallower DOF compared to the RX10, and since I already own the A7 the cost is like half of the RX10.

    However, i’m thinking if I do go that route and double up my investment, not only will i get a bit more reach, but will get great close focusing abilities.

    Of course, another route would be to wait for the 24-70 f4 OSS to come out, but since you have experience with both the RX10 and A7+18-105, would be great if you could give some quick comments on how they’re working for you :)


  4. Fabrys

    No FCPX don’t support AVCHD. I converted with SONY PlayMemories Home in MP4 and then you can import them in FC. I Just don’t know if it work fine, with no problems, I will try ;)

  5. Fabrys

    Hi Mike
    Nice movie.
    Do you convert mp4 (from AVCHD) in ProRes ? I ask me if I can work directly with the mp4 from my RX100 MII in FCX…

  6. Vlad

    What a coincidence. I just came back from a 3 hour walk with my NEX-7. It is -17C here. Shooting with gloves is really a pain, the worst being taking off the caps of lenses such as the SEL35F18. I was actually forced to take my gloves off.

  7. mike.kobal Post author

    thanks for the links, Maik!
    I had the Atomos for a while, used it with the 5Dmk3 and D800E and it only worked properly once I secured it with the Lockport, hate hdmi ports and I certainly wouldn’t want to depend on that flimsy micro port we get on the RX10 for serious work

  8. Maik


    “THE BAD H264 codec”

    – please check: Atomos Ninja and Sony RX10 – clean HDMI out – Pro-res 4.2.2

  9. mike.kobal Post author

    Hi Reinhard, I haven’t had a chance to shoot at higher ISO yet, however, I wouldn’t expect too much, it won’t be able to compete with larger sensor cams. I will post a low light update soon.

  10. reinhard

    Mike: thanks for this, I have been on the fence for this until now, lovely footage! How does it hold up in low light?

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