The first workout for my Sony RX100 was a short trip to many of Austin's great blues clubs a couple of weeks ago. As luck would have it, Jimmie Vaughan was in town playing at Antone's. I had seen him play this same venue twice earlier in March and July 2010, which I had shot with my trusty Canon G9. While it's not a perfect side-by-side comparison, it is the same venue, the same opening act, and similar songs. I also happened to be standing in pretty much the same spot, at the left hand side about 3 feet from the stage.
Canon G9 Photos & Video
Here's the best shot I managed to catch of Jimmy with the G9. (Ok, he doesn't smile too often.) You can see that there's a lot of noise in the photo and there's an overall washed out look, especially if you click to examine at it at full size. This was shot using the High ISO setting of the G9, which is pretty much the only setting that will work in a concert venue.
Here are some more shots with the Canon G9 I posted at PicasaWeb.
And here are several songs from July 2010. Note that the first two songs in the playlists for the two cameras are the same, giving an easy way to compare the quality. Sound quality from the G9 has always been exceptional. You can hear the guitar, bass and drums quite distinctly, especially on Jimmie Vaughan's songs.
Overall, I've thought my Canon G9 did a pretty good job on concert photos and videos. But when you put it side by side with the more modern RX100, there's no comparison. The G9 photos like intolerably grainy. Not only is the RX100 slimmer, lighter and faster to shoot with, it's going to deliver much high quality photos in concert settings.
Sony RX100 Photos & Video
The RX100 did a much better job of getting low-light photos at required high ISO settings without the noise seen on the G9. The blacks look much blacker and the photo of Vaughan with his white strat has a very dramatic contrast.
Again, not a lot of smiles from Mr Vaughan, but the RX100 burst mode enabled me to get at least one. I've also included some shots of the opening band, The Bluebonnets, as well. All photos were shot in Program mode with an ISO of 3200 (and occasionally 1600) and are uncropped and unprocessed.
And here are several songs by Jimmie Vaughan, Lou Ann Barton and the Bluebonnets. Again, note that the first two songs are the same as the earlier gig which used the Canon G9.
Viewing the videos at high resolution / full screen settings reveals just how much video quality has improved in the 5 years since the G9 was first launched.
The Sony RX100 does a much better job with both low-light concert photos and with higher resolution video. By comparison photos from the G9 are a lot noisier at high ISO settings. The RX100 focuses faster, has a better burst mode and generally, higher quality images. Despite the fact that the G9 has a bigger zoom, I think in most cases, the RX100 will deliver more better quality pictures because of it's faster lens and larger sensor. I also think a lot of the Auto+ and creative filters are great additions to the RX100. The only downside of the RX100 high resolution video is that it makes for some pretty large files and lengthy processing and upload times.
However, while the video quality is excellent, I'm not convinced the audio from the Sony RX100 is better; in fact I'd say the audio quality is worse than the G9. It's boomier and has a more washed out sound and is more likely to clip at very high volumes (above 100 db). For blues or jazz, that may not be an issue, but if it's a deafening head-banging metal band, sound will be distorted.
That said, I think both cameras do a good job on audio and are much better than the Fujifilm X10, Canon S100 and most other point and shoots. But this may be a question of personal preference more than anything else. It's also possible that by setting the Wind Noise Reduction ON, it may sound better, though I've not been able to tell the difference myself.
I've added a few more recent reviews following my first impressions post. Let me know what you think in the comments below.