DON’T YOU HATE IT when you’re on the road or traveling on vacation when an unexpected birding possibility pops up? More often than not, your camera with the big glass is sitting back at home or maybe at the hotel.
Either way, you may be able to spot your quarry but not get a good shot of it.
I experienced that very situation recently on a trip to San Miguel de Allende in the central high desert of Mexico. It’s a charming colonial town known for its beautiful and colorful architecture, culture, food, and shopping. But not for its birding.
And yet, there they were, a colony of Great Egrets basking gloriously in the late-afternoon sun, perched in a gorgeous purple jacaranda tree in full bloom. It turns out that the trees on the edge of Juarez Park are a favorite seasonal rookery for the birds. Who knew?
I pulled out my Sony RX10 IV, zoomed it out to 600mm, and framed up my shot. The phase-detection autofocus quickly locked onto my target, and the multi-segment meter gave me a perfect exposure in the tricky backlight.
I didn’t have a tripod, but the camera’s Active Image Stabilization was giving me sharp results handheld. Because of the large 1-inch-square backlight sensor, I was able to use an ISO high enough to allow for action-stopping shutter speeds and still get a noise-free image with great dynamic range.
This camera has changed the ballgame for me. It’s small and light enough to carry up and down hilly cobblestoned streets, like those in San Miguel, all day without making me feel like a camel at the end of a trans-Sahara trek.
The 24-600mm equivalent zoom range is versatile enough to handle a variety of subject matter, from architecture to street scenes, portraiture, and yes, even wildlife. The large backlit 1-inch chip makes it usable indoors and in low light and night scenes. And the light weight and compact size make it easy to carry; it won’t require you to buy an extra seat on a regional or charter plane on safari, and it won’t need a backpack that defies the newer and ever more restrictive carry-on size and weight dimensions (especially on foreign airlines).
There’s an old saw that says “the best camera is the one you have with you,” and while there have been other superzoom bridge cameras with impressive zoom ranges before, none of them featured the bigger 20-megapixel chip, or the Carl Zeiss glass, that makes the results from the RX10 IV publishable and printable to some impressive sizes.
My stock agency happily takes the images from this camera, and I’ve illustrated a couple of travel articles in magazines with the photos from the RX10 IV. My only regret is that I didn’t have this camera earlier in my career.
I’ve converted a few of my skeptical pro-shooting friends who found themselves experiencing more and more fatigue and achy knees and backs as they lugged their big traditional DSLR gear around (none of us are spring chickens!). One of them, a network cameraman, now uses his RX10 IV as a second camera for his network footage; that’s how good the camera is in video, too — 4K, 120fps HD slow motion, it’s all in there.
So, if you’ve been looking to lighten your load without compromising your lens reach or image quality, consider the Sony RX10 IV. Your back, your knees, and your eyes will all thank you!
To learn more about the RX10 IV’s incredible technology and versatility, visit www.sony.com/electronics/cyber-shot-compact-cameras/dsc-rx10m4
Bob Krist is an award-winning freelance photographer who works regularly for magazines such as National Geographic Traveler, Smithsonian, and Outdoor Photographer. The Society of American Travel Writers has named him “Travel Photographer of the Year” three times, and his work has been featured in many books and videos.