You will see me working at weddings - two enormous DSLR cameras (one on each shoulder) with, often, heavy lenses and lights attached as I try to remain nimble and silent as I move around. It's my job and I love it. When I am guest at a wedding though would I have any of this with me? Not a chance - that's what you hire a professional to do. However I do see guests with similar cameras to me at weddings, and this is fine, it is just not what I would want to do. On the other hand, I cannot get on well with using my iPhone as a camera - I never have been able to get on well with them for photography - I am always accidentally pressing the screen so when I need to take a photo it is setup accidentally to using the front camera, taking a video, using a horrendous filter, using a square crop or operating in slow motion - so I usually don't bother. I really admire photographers who take amazing images using their iPhones! So what is the ideal camera in my opinion for wedding guests that is easy to use and also is a step up in quality from their smartphone?
I have tried so many small digital cameras over the past 15+ years with varied success. They include The Canon Powershot G10, The Fuji X100, The Fuji X-E2, the Nikon V1, a Ricoh (can't even remember the model!) and, of course, my iPhone 3GS,5 & 6S over the years - each one a bit better than the previous one and none of which I could work well with!
I'd read a lot about Sony's diminutive RX100 since it came out in 2012 but it just didn't appeal to me for one reason or another. There are now 5 versions of it on sale (each one a bit better than the last, each one a bit more expensive too!). Then I saw one of the original ones with a spare battery and some other accessories for sale on eBay for a fraction of the original selling price so I thought I'd give it a go - I could always sell it later on if I didn't like it (I am good at selling small cameras that I don't get on well with...)
I am totally surprised to find that I actually really like this camera and it is therefore currently my recommendation, not only for wedding guests but also as a general 'always with you' travel / holiday / event camera.
Here's why it works for me:
1) Size and Weight
The Sony RX100 is tiny. You have to see it to appreciate just how small and light it is. This is first camera I have owned which I can actually put in my jean's pocket and then actually walk in a normal fashion! Despite this it feels tough and the buttons, shutter, popup flash etc. are all easy to use (more on this later).
2) Image quality and the lens
The Sony RX100 really takes excellent quality photos. Without going into too much detail (search for RX100 reviews on Google for that) it will easily beat any (2017) smartphone especially in lower light. The lens zooms from wide angle to telephoto (28mm - 100mm) can often rival a DSLR with a similar lens in the right conditions. Enough said.
3) Popup Flash
One reason why I use flashguns on my work cameras is the ability to point them to the ceiling and 'bounce' the light to soften, diffuse and make it more flattering for the subject. The RX100 also lets you do this with its tiny popup flash - just angle it back and hold your finger on it and off you go. I've modified mine with some grippy tape to make this even easier. It will not rival a property flashgun but this is an excellent and, by and large, undocumented feature.
The RX100 has a decent display on the back- this is essential as this model doesn't have a viewfinder so this is the only way to compose your images. I thought this would make the camera a pain to use (memories of struggling with a smartphone camera come to mind) but I quickly got used to it - and the best news is, using a special setting for sunny conditions, you can make the display super bright when you are using it outdoors in the sunshine. You'd struggle otherwise.
By the way the later models (V3, V4, V5) also have a viewfinder built in... but they do cost a lot more than the original ones and I miss having one on this camera much less than I thought would.
You can make a lot of changes to which button does what. For a photography geek such as myself this is great news and I can make it work for me. If you are beginner this is probably something you wouldn't do straight away but it is nice to know this functionality is there.
One of the reasons why professional photographers use DSLRs are for their superior ergonomics. You can use them all day, they are grippy and the buttons fall naturally into place. This means you can take shots without wasting time trying to change essential settings - they all become second nature. The RX100 has nowhere near this level of convenience BUT is so much easier to get used to than, say, a smartphone and with a little practice it soon becomes a camera which just doesn't get in the way. One tip would be to make sure you have one of Sony's add-on grips (Sony add-on Grip) fitted which makes it much nicer to hold - especially with one hand. They are cheap and just stick on - no hassle.
Actually this is a bit of misleading title, but to make this camera work best for me I have added a small shoulder strap (Op/Tech USA Small Camera Strap) - many small cameras only allow you to add a wrist strap (i.e. only one side of the camera has the correct lug for attaching straps)... As mentioned, I have also added grippy tape to the flash top and the Sony add-on Grip to make it better to hold.
So - there you have it. A tiny camera which takes amazingly good images for its size and can be customised and even modified - what more do you need? So if you are looking for that perfect super-light-weight camera for your hols or to take to a wedding (as a guest!) this maybe the one to go for. I am looking forward to using mine more and more. So far I have only had time to take it out and about a couple of times but even so, taking photos with it, is already second nature and for me this is the ultimate test. Here's a few (non-wedding!) shots I have taken so far ...
This shot was taken using the camera's sweep panorama mode
You can still buy a new, original model, Sony RX100 at many places including John Lewis and Argos. Please note I am not affiliated in any way with Sony or these shops.