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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II Review

September 2013 | By Allison Johnson
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20.2MP | 1" BSI CMOS | $750/£649 (MSRP)

True breakthrough products are rare in consumer electronics and perhaps even more rare in the digital camera space. The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 was one of those rare products that caught the attention of casual photographers, enthusiasts and critics alike. It successfully fitted a large 1”-type sensor into a compact camera so inconspicuous that without knowing otherwise, a casual observer would assume it to be a point-and-shoot like any other. Unassuming to the eye, it succeeded in pulling off an impressive trick - delivering excellent image quality from a truly pocketable camera.

Now Sony has introduced the RX100 II, sold as a sister model to the existing camera. A new, back-illuminated 20MP sensor (the largest BSI chip we've yet encountered), gives a claimed 40% improvement in low-light sensitivity, which Sony says will allow the RX100 II to focus faster in low light than its predecessor, as well, of course, as producing cleaner high-ISO images.

Meanwhile, the camera's enthusiast appeal is bolstered by the addition of a Multi-Interface hot shoe, allowing use of external flashguns or, significantly, accessories such as an electronic viewfinder. The rear screen also now tilts up and down, which makes the RX100 II more flexible to use and more at ease in bright light. Impressively, Sony achieved this while adding just 2mm to the camera's depth - so it retains its pocketable prowess. The RX100 II has a list price of $750 - $100 more than that of the original RX100.

Key Features:

  • 1"-type Exmor-R BSI-CMOS sensor (13.2 x 8.8mm, 3:2 aspect ratio)
  • 20.2 million effective pixels
  • 28-100mm (equiv), f/1.8-4.9 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens
  • Steady-Shot image stabilization
  • ISO 160-12,800 (Down to ISO 100 and to 25,600 expanded)
  • NFC-mediated Wi-Fi allowing file transfer and control from smartphones
  • Rear control dial and customizable front control ring
  • 10fps continuous shooting in 'Speed Priority' mode
  • Tiltable 3" 1.2M-dot 'WhiteMagic' LCD screen
  • 13 Picture Effects (33 with variations)
  • Memory Recall feature can store up to three groups of custom settings
  • 1080p60 video, (AVCHD) with MP4 option (50p in PAL regions)
  • Built-in stereo microphones
  • 330-shot battery life (CIPA)

The RX100 II also manages to find room to include Wi-Fi capabilities that can be set-up using near field communication (NFC) if you have a smartphone that supports it. Those of us without NFC in our mobile devices will have to set the Wi-Fi up manually. The RX100 II's video capabilities have also been expanded, with the camera now offering the ability to capture 1080p footage at 24 frames per second, in addition to the 60p and 30p the current RX100 offers (50p/25p on European models). Sony now offers a filter adapter for the RX100 II and its predecessor, a $30 accessory that makes it possible to use 49mm filters with either camera.

Following on the heels of a hit

The RX100 was well received by consumers, and when we reviewed it last year it earned a Silver Award (mainly in response to user interface concerns). It wasn't just another enthusiast compact camera, it was truly a stunning piece of engineering. Now, the pricier RX100 II promises better low light performance, faster auto focus and the option to add a viewfinder/flash/remote trigger.

With the RX100 still on the market (and selling for a more-attractive $600 in the U.S. and £549 in the U.K.) do the RX100 II's additions and improvements make it worth the extra investment? If a tilting screen and the ability to use accessories aren't deal-makers, does the image quality justify its expense? Read our full analysis.


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (typically VGA) image in a new window.

To navigate the review simply use the next / previous page buttons, to jump to a particular section either pick the section from the drop down or select it from the navigation bar at the top.

DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2013 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Comments

Total comments: 507
1234
Hubertus Bigend
By Hubertus Bigend (Sep 24, 2013)

It's a shame that manufacfurers keep thinking people don't need viewfinders anymore. It may be the case, of course, that people really don't need viewfinders anymore. I sincerely hope, though, that many people will buy Panasonic's LF1, the only enthusiast-small-compact camera with built-in viewfinder at this point of time, which, by the way, also has at least a minimum of telephoto capability (200 mm eq.). Why doesn't the LF1 get reviewed, by the way? I think it's the most interesting compact camera on the market today (alongside its Leica branded sibling).

(As for the "award", I couldn't care less, but on the other hand I wonder why cameras without viewfinders get rewards at all ;-)

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 7 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
Impulses
By Impulses (Sep 24, 2013)

I imagine the P&S market in general doesn't much care about viewfinders since they were weaned off them ages ago, and the newer generations (born into modern smartphone use) were never even exposed to them. Then on the opposite end of the spectrum, enthusiasts' opinion of EVFs vs optical viewfinders are still pretty divided... And it probably wasn't very cost effective to slap even a low res EVF unto a pocketable camera until a few years ago.

I actually bought myself an LF1 so I guess that much might make ya happy, tho the EVF wasn't amongst the top three reasons why I got it. Zoom range/aperture, size, and Wifi/NFC implementation would probably top the list for me... And the price was just about what I was willing to pay for a pocket camera (if I could get an RX100 II for $600 I'd probably choose that, but at $750 it's a bit much).

I've used the EVF on the LF1 a bit and I can appreciate it's handy to have (it made it easier to take stable shots while zoomed in on a concert), but I'm also seriously thinking of now getting a M43 model sans an EVF, so what do I know... :P

0 upvotes
sensibill
By sensibill (Sep 24, 2013)

Because not everyone needs or wants a viewfinder on a tiny pocket camera.

1 upvote
Olymore
By Olymore (Sep 24, 2013)

I agree. I'm waiting for an improved version of something like the LF1 with a 1mb viewfinder. I don't mind if the camera is a bit bigger. The LF1 viewfinder was a little bit too low res for me as I've got used to the Oly VF-2 with my Olympus XZ-1

0 upvotes
Raist3d
By Raist3d (Sep 24, 2013)

@everyone "crying" for the Silver award choice - if you really think all it takes for a camera as a photographer's tool to get a Gold award is its great sensor disregarding usability as a photographer's tool you probably don't take that many photographs.

Don't bother reading reviews. Read paper specs and order through Amazon/Gearshop accordingly.

Comment edited 34 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Zigadiboom
By Zigadiboom (Sep 24, 2013)

This review is very good but it can be summed up by the following:

Next time Usain Bolt wins the 100m he should be given a silver medal.

Comment edited 49 seconds after posting
32 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Sep 24, 2013)

The Olympus XZ10, with a smaller sensor, has an optically much better lens, and that lens remains faster through out the zoom range.

The Olympus can also be used through ISO 2000, while it looks like this Sony tops out at about ISO3200.

Unless you're counting video quality, not an Olympus strength, or an available EVF, the Olympus beats this Sony--and the Olympus is a lot less expensive, more pocketable too.

So yeah there are problems with this camera, that other small still cameras best.

I'm less familiar with it than the Olympus, but I suggest you look into the Fuji X20 too.

0 upvotes
ET2
By ET2 (Sep 25, 2013)

RX100 in imaging-resources studio shots easily out resolved XZ10. If DPR shoots the new scene with XZ10, you will see RX100 20 MP would do the same here.

The old studio scene was not credible as it was too small. That meant the studio scene was only reflecting close focusing performance of a lens, not real world performance.

So no you're wrong. RX100's 20 MP sensor and lens combo is better than XZ10.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Sep 25, 2013)

ET2:

Drop the more pixels = better camera thing, that only matters if you're going to do lots of cropping.

The Olympus has an optically better lens, and that lens is faster thru the zoom.

Yes the Sony is better at higher ISOs, but its lens limits what it can do.

You see I have real world shots from the Olympus, I'm not using the studio scene.

And don't mistake, I think the Sony is a plenty good camera, with a very good sensor, it's the lens that's that needs be better.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
ET2
By ET2 (Sep 25, 2013)

RX100 resolves more detail, has better dynamic range, lower noise, and focuses faster.

No contest here.

1 upvote
memo90061
By memo90061 (Sep 24, 2013)

I don't like the new studio scene. :( lol

1 upvote
Beckler8
By Beckler8 (Sep 24, 2013)

The video samples are, as usual for this site, nearly useless. I've told dpreview before about how we need more useful videos that show AF/AE performance, etc. etc. But you're not interested in improving things I guess.

1 upvote
Sam Carriere
By Sam Carriere (Sep 24, 2013)

You could always get a video camera -- which this isn't.

1 upvote
Beckler8
By Beckler8 (Sep 24, 2013)

Oh I see, that's why it shoots 1080p60 video w/stereo audio and manual control then? Give the camera whatever name you wish - it's irrelevant. I assume this site basically ignores video because they don't really "like" video and are into still photography more. Whatever. That's just incredibly stupid if so.

1 upvote
onlooker
By onlooker (Sep 24, 2013)

May the crying over silver begin.

Oops, too late. :)

4 upvotes
Stitzer23
By Stitzer23 (Sep 24, 2013)

Can someone help me out please. I have noticed, from this test scene (even the one before) that the D7100 has yellow 'patches' or 'blotches' in its images starting at ISO3200. Seems quite bad. I have noticed this is other Nikons too.

And at this ISO the Sony has cleaner images. However this can't be, right? The Nikon is supposedly one of the best apsc and the sony has smaller sensor by far, not to mention its only a compact.

Is this something to do with noise reduction approach? Appreciate if anyone could, errr, shed some light.

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Sep 25, 2013)

Nikon has this broken JPEG engine for years now. These mucus-like splotches look especially "nice" on the faces in low-light portraits.

0 upvotes
Manfred Bachmann
By Manfred Bachmann (Sep 24, 2013)

I wish me the nikon1 would have this sensor!
manfred

2 upvotes
LukeDuciel
By LukeDuciel (Sep 24, 2013)

Other than the illogic silver award. It's a good review as ever.

For me RX100 has been the best compact travel camera from release and has not been challenged since.

RX100M2 is a sweeter renovation.

4 upvotes
Brian_Downunda
By Brian_Downunda (Sep 24, 2013)

Reading the above, I don't understand why this camera doesn't get a gold award. It seems to me something to do with the shooting experience. Or perhaps it's the price. But to say that it can't be beaten for features and image quality while remaining pocketable does beg the question of why it's only silver. It seems to me that this assessment reflects the reviewers' personal preferences a little too much and not enough of the review's systematic analysis.

16 upvotes
SRT3lkt
By SRT3lkt (Sep 24, 2013)

I'm really looking forward to the RX10 (APC-C version).

0 upvotes
TurboElephant
By TurboElephant (Sep 24, 2013)

This camera which has "Image quality is at the top of its class" scores 79% and a silver award and the Canon Eos 100/D 78% and a gold award...

*scratches head*

No I don't get it

19 upvotes
Jeff Keller
By Jeff Keller (Sep 24, 2013)

please see: http://www.dpreview.com/articles/4416254604/camera-scores-ratings-explained

Namely "There is no direct link between the overall score and the awards: they are not given automatically to cameras reaching a certain threshold"

1 upvote
sensibill
By sensibill (Sep 24, 2013)

I have the thing and I can attest that it's silver level. Amazing IQ alone does not make a perfect camera. It has issues with the practical functionality of the WiFi feature, in-hand ergonomics and general mechanics of use. It's really a gem in many ways, but an imperfect one.

0 upvotes
Olymore
By Olymore (Sep 24, 2013)

I agree, Make the camera a little bit larger, the sensor a little bit smaller and the lens a bit faster and you would have had a good handling, versatile camera with very good IQ and it would still be pocketable for most people.

1 upvote
photo nuts
By photo nuts (Sep 24, 2013)

I don't understand. This is the best camera in its class, but only received the silver award. Why? Sure, it has its flaws but there's nothing better in its class (similar size and weight).

Comment edited 27 seconds after posting
39 upvotes
utomo99
By utomo99 (Sep 24, 2013)

I hope Sony read the review and design new version which is much better and get the GOLD

0 upvotes
Deeso
By Deeso (Sep 24, 2013)

Perhaps because of the price bump

2 upvotes
Seon C
By Seon C (Sep 26, 2013)

Well, it is competing now with the mk1. Perhap mk1 is still a better over all deal now that mk2 is out. mk2 is not as innovative as the original rx100

0 upvotes
thx1138
By thx1138 (Sep 24, 2013)

I think the slow tele end of the zoom range should have been mentioned as a weakness and the rapid drop in aperture. It goes from f/1.8 to f/2 just changing from 28mm to 29mm, which is a joke. To really standout form the first version, it should have been f/4 at tele end, 24mm at wide end, placed more emphasis on improving lens quality as it's clearly soft at the edges and corners of the test scene, had 1/4000 shutter speed, at least allowed monochrome filters in RAW+jpg, kept the RAW files used for the HDR mode, bundled it with an EVF at a good discount.

Still a great little camera, but I'm not really seeing much reason to get this over the original

4 upvotes
Allison Johnson
By Allison Johnson (Sep 24, 2013)

We agree on the quick drop in maximum aperture, and it is mentioned about halfway done the image quality page: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sony-cybershot-dsc-rx100-m2/6

There is a black and white 'Creative Style' mode available in Raw+JPEG, but the monochrome filter effect modes are not available in Raw+.

1 upvote
Lightime81
By Lightime81 (Sep 24, 2013)

You're right THX1138. If they add those improvements, especially allowing RAW+ on the efx, I'll upgrade to the M3! (But that "slow" tele end isn't so bad at all compared to a lot of kit zooms).

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
PaulRivers
By PaulRivers (Sep 24, 2013)

What a "joke" is that they put some an impressively large sensor in an impressively small body, and yet some people (you) try to find something to complain about.

Is it a problem that it doesn't cook eggs? Perhaps you'd like to complain that you can't change the lenses on it. Or that it doesn't have a full frame sensor in it.

I haven't seen anything that would suggest that it's physically possible to make a faster lens, with that sensor size, in that size of camera body. Have you? What would you suggest, that they make the camera bigger? If you want that, you can buy an lx7 (with a smaller sensor), or a m43rds, or a dslr.

4 upvotes
Leandros S
By Leandros S (Sep 24, 2013)

Okay, I see what you mean now.

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
thx1138
By thx1138 (Sep 24, 2013)

Did I not say it's still a great camera. As for making the camera bigger, they already did by puting the swiveling LCD, it's much thicker now. I would have preferred the camera grew a little for the faster lens. We are only talking half a stop, yet you are carrying on like a pork chop as though I asked for f/1.8 throughout the range.

Oh thanks for your permission to buy other cameras, but I already have them and won't be adding the Sony to my collection.

1 upvote
littlebitstrouds
By littlebitstrouds (Sep 24, 2013)

No. The problem is the people making these kind of comments don't understand what it actually takes to manufacture this kind of camera. Please looking up MTF, and it's implications to lenses. Don't just be annoying consumers who gripe about features that aren't actually feasible. Grip about low res raw video, but not about this lens please.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
sensibill
By sensibill (Sep 24, 2013)

2mm = 'much thicker now'..?

I've never seen so much hyperbole as in this comment thread, and that's saying something on DPR.

3 upvotes
calking
By calking (Sep 24, 2013)

The first person to invent a blow-up camera with stick-on features will be a multi-gazillionaire.

2 upvotes
Biro
By Biro (5 months ago)

The RX100 II is not "much thicker" than the RX100. It's a tenth of an inch thicker and still fits in the same pockets as the original camera. It is a bit heavier, though.

0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Sep 24, 2013)

I liked the control ring on the RX100. It operated smoothly with a quiet clicking sound. The corners were somewhat soft at wide angle and there seemed to be a lot of plastic in the all-metal body.

If you look at the the test chart shots for the image quality compared (daylight) the lower left corner is much better than the lower right corner. I ran into a similar thing with mine. But I really did like that control ring.

0 upvotes
gerard boulanger
By gerard boulanger (Sep 23, 2013)

I thought "Carl" has to be removed for the previous "Carl Zeiss" brand name to become "Zeiss" alone...

1 upvote
Sean Nelson
By Sean Nelson (Sep 23, 2013)

I recently purchased an RX100M2 and am very pleased with it. It delivers still and video results that surpassed my expectations, and has a quick menu and enough assignable function buttons and dials to provide a very capable shooting experience even for those who never go near the "Automatic" modes.

I agree with the criticisms of the front control ring - it is frustrating to use because of the lack of feedback and rather erratic response to movement. And the camera really needs to have the optional Sony grip affixed to be decently "ergonomic". But those are really the only two negatives on an otherwise very impressive product.

It's an expensive product, but it's really in a class of its own.

2 upvotes
Raist3d
By Raist3d (Sep 23, 2013)

I tried a Sony rx100 mk II for some street life. Bought one and returned it within the hour.* Great camera for many things but didn't find it too hot for street life work. I sincerely find the Pentax Q line faster with greater usability for that kind of work. And the Sony at tele goes very slow.

Still have to give sony the kudos for packing so much high tech in the little space and above all the LCD. The LCD is hands down best in class of any LCD I have seen on any camera. With the power on sun mode I had direct clear sky sunlight falling on it and it still was very visible with great contrast. The fuji xm1 for example has a mode like that but the LCD becomes washed out and hard to judge exposure.

Sony- if you could make a camera like this with faster response, less zoom range and higher quality lens (wasnt too impressed with some of the ghosting) and faster I would be interested. Or even a prime set. But for now it just comes across to me as a camera trying to be "too smart" and "trying too hard"- sort of what Zack Arias said in the x100s review.

* I made it darn clear to the store I may return it according to their policy if it didn't work for me to make sure and they fully encouraged me to give it the try and return if it didn't work. I double clarified that they were cool with that before buying.

2 upvotes
Stitzer23
By Stitzer23 (Sep 24, 2013)

Cool. What's even cooler is if they let you do it again.

0 upvotes
roserez
By roserez (Sep 24, 2013)

Since when does 13.2 mm equal 1 inch?

0 upvotes
Raist3d
By Raist3d (Sep 24, 2013)

@Stizer23- they do, that's why they have the policy. I do not buy with the intent to play and return. I buy with the intent to try to keep. That's how I got the Fuji X-E1 (same store) along with two lenses, so they know me already.

0 upvotes
Raist3d
By Raist3d (Sep 24, 2013)

@roserez- I guess you are not replying to what I posted.

0 upvotes
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (Sep 24, 2013)

prime please..

0 upvotes
Total comments: 507
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