Video

The RX100 VI offers almost all of the video features and functions that Sony has developed for its consumer cameras but some of the hardware decisions make it harder to use them to their full potential.

Key takeaways:

  • The RX100 VI has one of the most complete video feature sets of any camera we've tested, combined with highly detailed 4K video capure
  • The lack of ND filter or mic socket limit the situations in which you can capture video and the quality of the audio that accompanies it
  • 4K video is limited to around five minutes, so it's better for assembling short clips than just expecting to leave it rolling
  • Autofocus performance is pretty good but works rather differently from stills shooting

Video control and setup

The RX100 VI's lens gives tremendous flexibility but its lack of an ND filter (or sensible way of fitting one) limits your options in bright light.

The RX100 VI uses its fast readout to offer UHD 4K at up to 30p. This footage is taken from the full ~5500 pixel width of the sensor and is then processed and downsized to the standard 3840 x 2160 size. This produces more detail than can be achieved by directly sampling a 3840 x 2160 pixel region. However, it is also more processor intensive which, along with the camera's small size, is likely to be the reason for the camera's relatively short 5 minute record limit.

The camera can also shoot 1080p video at up to 120p or shoot short clips at frame rates of up to 1000 fps at increasingly low resolution, that are played back as 1080 24, 25 or 30p.

There's also an extensive set of features to support video shoot, including tunable zebra warnings, to help set exposure, focus peaking to highlight in-focus regions and phase-detection autofocus with adjustable speed and behavior, to make video shooting easier. Sadly the only tracking option is the rather unreliable 'Center Lock-On' AF mode.

Lack of mic socket or ND filter make it harder to benefit from the camera's full video potential

On top of this the camera has a choice of Log modes, which try to squeeze more dynamic range into the file to give more scope for adjustment, but with the risk of added noise and posterization. It also lets you 'correct' the preview when shooting in Log modes so you're not trying to interpret a washed-out grey display.

However, the lack of a mic socket limits you to using the internal microphones, which will always be at risk of wind and operation noise, or forces you to give up some of the camera's size benefits by making you carry an external audio recorder. The lack of built-in ND filter also makes it harder to maintain the relatively long shutter speeds preferred by videographers. Both these factors make it harder to benefit from the camera's full video potential.

Video quality

The Sony samples the full width of its sensor then downsamples, giving it a series of advantages over the Panasonics that just capture a smaller 3840 x 2160 pixel region. Firstly it means it captures greater detail, secondly it gives you a wider-angle field-of-view than a cropped region does. Finally, using a larger region of the sensor means less noise, since you have more light capture area.

The 1080 video is slightly less impressive (the Sony a7S shows what you do if you oversample and downscale to 1080 res), but is still competitive. It degrades a little bit if you use the increasingly cropped stabilization modes.

Video Sample:

This sample video was shot to show several features of the camera. It includes clips stopped down to the camera's minimum aperture of F11 to get the slowest shutter speed available. It also includes examples of Center Lock-On AF*, with AF drive speed set to Fast, to encourage the camera to refocus on a moving subject. In our experience it's easily distracted and loses its subject. Generally we had most success by specifying an AF point or trusting 'Wide' mode to choose a subject fairly nearby and central in the frame.

*If the camera is set to capture low-res Proxy files alongside 4K footage it will erroneously tell you that it's 4K preventing you from using Center Lock-On AF. Turn off proxy recording and it becomes available.