Immediately after its announcement in New York, we got a chance to shoot with the latest addition to Sony's RX series, the long zoom, fast shooting, 4K-capable RX10 IV.
The first thing that becomes apparent is that the addition of phase detection immediately sets right the biggest limitation we experienced with its predecessor. Even across a range of shooting subjects, the autofocus was fast and exhibited vey little in the way of hunting.
Shooting at 24 frames per second you get used to going a little easy on the shutter button
Shooting at 24 frames per second you get used to going a little easy on the shutter button: hold it down for too long and, especially if you're shooting Raw, you can expect to be locked out of the menu for a considerable period of time. Like recent Sony models, you can now enter playback mode while waiting for the buffer to clear, and the camera will show you the images it's had time to process.
Intelligently, the camera groups all the shots from a burst together, meaning your card doesn't become impossible to navigate, even if it's full of groups of >30 image bursts. As you scroll through, you can hit the center button to expand the group and see the individual images.
Overall, the camera is extremely responsive. The viewfinder doesn't give you updates quite as immediately as looking through an optical viewfinder but it's fast enough that, with a bit of practice, I was able to follow the relatively unpredictable action of a football (soccer) game, even when fairly zoomed-in.
The touchscreen isn't the most responsive we've encountered but felt quicker than the one on the a6500. Tap quickly around the screen and you'll notice the AF point will sometimes noticeably lag behind your current location, but this lag is much less apparent in touchpad mode. Touching the active region of the rear screen causes the AF point to light up and it follows your finger's movement around the scene quickly enough.
We totally forgot we weren't shooting with a high-end sports camera
Focus tracking also seemed pretty effective and, between the ability to easily register a default AF point (with a different one selected for each camera orientation) and use the touchpad to move it, it proved to be pretty quick and easy to get the AF point where it was needed before hammering on a button assigned to be AF-On.
There wasn't time to completely familiarize ourselves with the full capability of the autofocus system but we'll be testing it more thoroughly as soon as we get a camera into the office. We'll also try to post some video samples in the coming days.
Our first impressions, though, were that anyone getting outraged by the camera's not inconsiderable price should try shooting with the camera for a while. Even in an initial phase of getting to know the camera, we'd find we totally forgot we weren't shooting with a sports-capable camera, only to occasionally be surprised when we took it away from our eye and realized it doesn't have high-end DSLR levels of direct settings control. This isn't something that tends to happen with a typical superzoom.