Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II

20.2MP 1"-type BSI CMOS sensor | 28-100mm equiv. F1.8-4.9 lens | Wi-Fi w/NFC

What we like:

  • Solid image and video quality
  • Compact, well-built
  • Tilting LCD display
  • Very good battery life

What we don't:

  • Interface not user-friendly
  • No touchscreen
  • Continuous AF tends to 'hunt'
  • Photos and videos split in playback mode

The RX100 II is an update to the original RX100, which was the camera that created the 1"-type sensor category. The sensor is now backside-illuminated, promising better performance in low light, which affects both image quality and focusing performance. The camera also gains a tilting LCD display and a 'Multi Interface Shoe', which supports both flashes and an optional electronic viewfinder or mic. Wi-Fi with NFC support has also been added.

The RX100 II is bigger than the Mark I but still small enough to fit into a jeans pocket, leaving little room for a good grip. It includes two dials: a slightly fiddly one on the rear whose function is fixed, and one around the lens. The lens dial is clickless, making it better for manual focus and zooming in video than for controlling aperture or exposure comp. Other than a poorly-positioned REC button the layout is good, and there's a reasonable degree of customization. Overall, though, its user experience isn't as polished as the best of its peers.

The RX100's autofocus performance is excellent in daylight but can struggle in low light relative to the Mark IV and V. Continuous AF is less impressive, with lots of 'wobble' from the camera's contrast-detect system. To quickly move the focus point you first reassign one of the function buttons, after which you can use the directional controller. A touchscreen would make this easier, but it has not been a feature on any of Sony's first four RX100 models. The camera can shoot continuously at 10 fps with focus/exposure lock on the first shot or at 2.5 fps with live view. Battery life is even better than that of its predecessor, which was already very good.

Despite not being the latest and greatest, the Sony RX100 II is relatively inexpensive in this class, thanks to its improved sensor, tilting LCD and Wi-Fi.

The RX100's image quality isn't as good as its successors, but it's still more than competitive and considerably better than your typical compact. The lens is sharp at the center but a bit soft in the corners. A good deal of detail is captured, though some of that is lost in JPEGs due to noise reduction. While you can pull back some of that detail in Raw, there's not a huge benefit to using it in normal circumstances. Since the BSI CMOS sensor is more sensitive in lowlight, you can feel a bit more confident letting the ISO climb.

The RX100 II has received a slight upgrade in video spec, with the ability to capture 1080/24p movies, in addition to 60p and 60i. You have a choice of standard or 'active' shake reduction, with the latter being 'extra strength' (though the field-of-view is cropped). You can capture video in manual modes and the camera also offers focus peaking and a wind filter, but no zebra pattern. For a camera now a few years old, 1080p video quality is excellent. One niggle is that the RX100 separates stills from videos in playback mode, so you can't quickly navigate through everything you've captured.

Despite not being the latest and greatest, the Sony RX100 II is relatively inexpensive in this class, and a good step-up model from the original RX100, thanks to its improved sensor, tilting LCD and Wi-Fi. The main negatives are its user experience and a lens that gets slow pretty quickly but, despite that, the RX100 II remains a winner.

If you're confused about which of the many RX100 models to purchase, you might find this article to be helpful.

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