Miracle Mini: The Sony RX100 Series

This is a review of the best pocket camera ever made.

On June 27, 2012, these were the words that David Pogue, the New York Times' tech reviewer began his review with, of a camera that pushed the boundaries of category definition: a one-inch sensor, an f/1.8 lens from Zeiss combined with an incredibly tiny housing made the (then) all-new Sony RX-100 a stunner. His breathless tone (sample this: "this camera takes amazing photos", "insane amount of detail", "vivid, true colors") combined with his surprise at how well the automated modes worked had us hooked way back when. Yes, it was insanely expensive then ($650 in 2012 monies), and he called Sony out on it. And the conclusion is memorable for us RX100 fans:

...the RX100 has single-handedly smashed the rule that said, "You need a big camera for pro-quality photos."

Five years on

It's 2017 now, and five years on, the inexorable march of time, tide, and Sony's R&D division's experimentation with light have given us four more cameras in the series, the RX100 II, III, IV and V. Year after year, the cameras have kept getting better (sensor improvement!, processor improvement!, OLED viewfinder!, tiltable screen!, 4K video!, massive FPS bump!), delivering more value in a tiny housing than SLRs do.

DPReview's in-depth reviews of the series:
Generation 1: RX100
Generation 2: RX100 Mk II
Generation 3: RX100 Mk III
Generation 4: RX100 Mk IV
Generation 5: RX100 Mk V

But then, the price has kept climbing too. Every model has been launched with a very significant price bump, year after year. Sony continues to sell all five models side-by-side in the market, leading to this fun little chart:

 

RX100 Models: Current price

From B&H Video, Jan 2017