Rob Potter

Film on Digital? Sony RX100IV video test

A fun camera, but is it worth it's weight in 2024?

Film on Digital? Sony RX100IV video test

18.04.2024

A fun camera, but is it worth it's weight in 2024?

There's a trend right now that photographers and filmmakers have, in which they want to achieve a classic film look - the pedant will tell you that this can only be achieved by shooting on film. The harsh truth is that they'd be correct BUT you can still get pretty darn close. 

We're not going to get into the conversation of analog vs.digital because it's a dark, deep & miserable hole of despair that we simply don't have time for today. What we are going to talk about however is the Sony RX100IV - more specifically the Sony RX100IV for video. Released in 2015 and dubbed 'The Speedmaster', it boasts the sort of tech you'd think Sony would be cramming into an 'affordable' model of that time (there is one used for sale on MPB for £450 as of April 2024) plus a nifty Zeiss 35mm equivalent built-in lens. If you're genuinely interested in the full specs, see 'em here. It'll fit into a satchel/pocket/large hat with pockets & we're not getting into photography, but the 20.1MP sensor isn't the worst thing I've ever seen. 

Now, if you want a camera that shoots high-resolution footage & slow-motion footage for a variety of needs, skip this whole post - you're not getting that with this camera. There are much more modern variants that do better jobs that retail at much friendlier prices. But if you've got money to spare and you're looking for a fun compact then don't rule this one out. When it comes to achieving a filmic 8mm look - with a bit of grading, this camera can be a lot of fun. It's reasonable dynamic range and it's reasonable lowlight perfomance, shot in HD, will play into your hands when it comes to crunching that footage down in your grade. Bear in mind of course that 240fps isn't atypical of an 8mm film camera, so don't expect it to feel or be perceived as particularly authentic. Here's what I pulled out of some b-roll from the Yorkshire Dales on a job I was on with Duncan Yeldham a good few years back. (shot at 240fps 1824x1026)

For posterity, when it comes to emulating the film look, you're going to need some weapons in your software arsenal. My current setup is Da Vinci Studio & the Tom Bolles Cineprint 16 powergrade. There's plenty of other options out there though such as Dehancer, Jarle's film presets, Filmvision - it really depends on your workflow and how deep your pockets are. When it comes to emulating film digitally, the money you initially save on processing, you'll likely be spending on software. Do your research!

View across the Dales
Chasing at dusk

I had to adjust the settings of the grain plug-in on Da Vinci/Cineprint 16 to complement the in-camera grain on the RX100IV.

This shot originally had some pretty bright exposure, but the light was reduced to enhance the silhouette of the the trees & wildlife. The shot itself had enough dynamic range to allow me to match it with the much darker shots.

Ultimately this is a very fun camera, but, currently retailing around £450 used. If you don't already own one, it may be worth re-evaluating as this sits in an awkward price range. £450 is a lot for a 9-year-old 'fun' camera. The Sony RX100IV does still hold up however as a good hybrid all-rounder & if you're part of that very nichey niche who want to apply a crunchy 8mm look to slow-motion footage I highly recommend.