Introduction
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Introduction

There have now been eight variants of the RX100 series, with at least seven of them still considered to be 'current' models. This variety of choice and the similarity of the names can make them difficult to tell apart, or choose between, so we're going to look at the differences.

If you're not fussed with the details and just want to know which model is best for what, feel free to skip to the conclusion: Click here on desktop, or tap here on mobile.

Lenses

The biggest differences are the lenses: the first two versions were built around a 28-100mm equivalent lens with a bright maximum aperture at the wide end but one that's much slower at the telephoto end.

The Mark III saw a move to a wider, shorter and much brighter lens: a 24-70mm equivalent zoom with F1.8-2.8 maximum aperture, bringing significant benefits in low light and allowing shallower depth-of-field than before.

Most recently, the Mark VI and Mark VII moved to slower but much more flexible 24-200mm equivalent zooms. This puts the RX100 into travel zoom territory.

Beyond this, we've tried to summarize the development of the series in terms of spec:

Price (MSRP) Lens Video AF Screen Viewfinder
RX100 $400 28-100mm
F1.8-4.9
1080p60
Line-skipping
Contrast Detect, 25-points 3" fixed None
RX100 II $600 28-100mm
F1.8-4.9
1080p60
Line-skipping
Contrast Detect, 25-points 3" tilting Optional 2.36M-dot
RX100 III $750 24-70mm
F1.8-2.8
1080p60 Contrast Detect, 25-points 3" tilting 1.44M-dot pop-up
RX100 IV $900 24-70mm
F1.8-2.8
4Kp30

Contrast Detect, 25-points 3" tilting 2.36M-dot pop-up
RX100 V $850 24-70mm
F1.8-2.8
4Kp30

Phase Detect, 315-points 3" tilting 2.36M-dot pop-up
RX100 VI $1000 24-200mm
F2.8-4.5
4Kp30

Phase Detect, 315-points 3" tilting touch-enabled 2.36M-dot one-touch pop-up
RX100 VII $1200 24-200mm
F2.8-4.5
4Kp30 Phase Detect, 315-points 3" tilting touch-enabled 2.36M-dot one-touch pop-up
A more complete comparison of these specifications may be found here.

Viewfinders

The RX100 II added the option to attach an external viewfinder, while for the Mark III Sony found the space to squeeze a pop-up viewfinder into the body. The resolution of the finder was updated in the Mark IV and the refresh rate increased in the Mark V(A) and VI. The Mark VI also saw the finder mechanism redesigned, so that it can be deployed or stowed with a single button press.

Video

The RX100 IV gained a Stacked CMOS sensor with memory built into the chip. This allowed much faster readout, allowing 4K video and an electronic shutter mode, widening the range of lighting conditions in which the camera's wide apertures can be used. The IV, V and VI can also shoot High Frame Rate video at up to 1000 fps, taken from increasingly low res crops of the sensor then blown up to 1080p.

The small body of the camera limits its ability to dissipate heat. This sees 4K video capture limited to around 5 minutes. The cameras will also dull their rear screens to minimize heat build-up as they approach this limit, which can make outdoor video shooting difficult in warmer climes.

Autofocus

Of particular note is that the Mark VII inherits Sony's 'Real-time Tracking' technology, which allows the camera to seamlessly transition from subject tracking to face-and-eye-detection on the fly, with very little input from the user. It's powerful and simple, and is the first time on an RX100 that you don't have to assign a separate button to initiate Eye AF. Here's a video of it in action.