What it's like to use

The Sony RX100 VI offers the small camera/large zoom combination of a classic travel zoom but adds a level of video and autofocus capability that we don't usually associate with that kind of camera. Equally, though, this capability comes with a price tag we don't usually expect of a travel zoom. So, for this money, do you get a do-everything camera?

We'll start with the types of use we think it's best suited to:

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Travel

Processed using Adobe Camera Raw
ISO 125 | 1/1000th| F7.1 | ~200mm equiv.

Photo by Carey Rose

The RX100 VI's 24-200mm equivalent lens and impressive autofocus and video mean it can turn its hand to almost anything, while you're traveling. The limited battery life makes it worth having a USB power pack to hand, though. The combination of the new, rangier lens and the underlying capabilities make it an adept all-rounder but its image quality will suffer in lower light, compared with its shorter-zoom rivals.

Pros

  • Flexible lens range
  • Impressive AF
  • Quick and simple Wi-Fi system
  • Built-in flash
  • USB charging

Cons

  • Rather limited battery life
  • Reduced low light performance
  • No built-in intervalometer
  • Price and question marks around durability might limit its take-everywhere appeal

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Family and moments

Out of camera JPEG
ISO 125 | 1/800th | F2.8 | 24mm equiv.

Photo by Carey Rose

The RX100 VI makes a great family camera, offering an extensive zoom range that makes it highly flexible. Its low light performance is less impressive than its predecessors but it still does well and its video autofocus is good enough to make it easy to get clips of key moments. Eye AF and excellent autofocus tracking make it easier to capture fleeting expressions and important family moments.

Pros

  • Extensive zoom range
  • Fast focus
  • Easy-to-use Eye AF system
  • Fairly simple to shoot high-quality video (though with drawbacks)
  • Flip-up screen and wide-angle lens make selfies and family group shots easier

Cons

  • Limited battery life
  • Eye AF performance drops in low light
  • Price and question marks around durability might limit its take-everywhere appeal

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Candid and street

Processed in Adobe Camera Raw
ISO 125 | 1/200 sec | F5.6 | 68mm equiv.

The discreet, compact nature of the RX100 VI, combined with its long lens and fast focusing make it a pretty handy camera for candid and street photography. Its flip-up screen allows waist-level shooting, without drawing attention to yourself.

What we like

  • Flip up touchscreen lets you shoot at waist level
  • Responsive AF means little lag when you hit the shutter

What we don't like

  • Limited battery life (carry USB battery pack)

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Video

The RX100 VI's video specifications are excellent, as is the footage it can produce. As well as shooting excellent-looking UHD 4K video, the RX100 VI can shoot 1080p video at up to 120p (and something close to 1080 as 240p), for nice slow-motion video. On top of this are a host of features such as zebra warnings for setting exposure and focus peaking if you don't want to rely on the pretty dependable autofocus. The features extend to Log and High Dynamic Range TV-ready 'HLG' modes and the ability to view a normal preview while using them.

However, you'll need to find a way to add a neutral density filter to prevent overexposure in daylight: unlike previous models, the new lens doesn't include one. There's also no mic socket, so your audio is unlikely to match the quality of the footage. There's also a five minute cap on recording 4K video, which limits the type of video you can shoot, and the screen dims to an unusable degree if the camera gets too warm.

Pros

  • Detailed 4K video
  • Extensive feature set (focus peaking, HLG support)
  • Dependable autofocus

Cons

  • Five minute limit on 4K recording
  • No ND filter makes it hard to shoot in daylight
  • No mic socket makes it hard to capture good audio
  • Heat can be a problem when shooting in warm environments

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Formal portraits

Out of camera JPEG
ISO 125 | 1/320th | F4.5 | 130mm equiv.

Unlike the most recent variants, the RX100 VI has a lens range including the classic short telephoto (85-135mm equivalent) focal lengths that are optimal for head-and-shoulders portraiture, as well as the wider-angle options used to add more context to more environmental portraits.

By maintaining a reasonably fast aperture, the camera lets you can get a little bit of background blur to your images, but it's the Eye AF feature that really helps the camera stand out. If you've got the Eye AF button held, you can be pretty sure your shot will be in focus, so can concentrate on composition and interacting with your subject.

Pros

  • Good range of focal lengths
  • Eye AF means you can concentrate on composition, rather than focus
  • Aperture remains fast enough to give a degree of background blur
  • Leaf shutter allows built-in flash to synchronize at high shutter speeds for good fill flash during daytime

Cons

  • Limited maximum aperture limits ability to blur background

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Sports and wildlife

Out of camera JPEG
ISO 2000 | 1/400 sec | F4.5 | ~200mm equiv.

The RX100 VI certainly has the autofocus and drive speed required to shoot sports and wildlife. The AF tracking is pretty impressive and 24 frames per second mean you should be able to catch the moment you're trying to capture. However, a relatively small maximum aperture, combined with the short shutter durations required for freezing action mean there's not much light for the sensor to make use of, which means grainy images in all but the best conditions. Because the RX100 VI continues to use a slower UHS-I memory card slot, it also takes quite a while for the buffer to clear if you've been shooting at 24 fps. This takes some of the shine off of the ability to shoot at such high speeds.

What we like

  • Fast autofocus with tenacious subject tracking
  • Ability to shoot at up to 24 frames per second, even with Raw capture and AF

What we don't like

  • Small maximum aperture with fast shutter speeds limits image quality
  • Slower UHS-I card slots sees some functions unavailable as you wait for the buffer to clear

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