Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II Review
Sony's high-end Cyber-shots have never come up short on features, abiding by a more-is-more model when it comes to things like scene modes. Outside of its key sensor upgrades, the RX100 II boasts a few additional features that weren't included in the RX100, like a hot shoe and Wi-Fi connectivity.
The RX100 II can connect wirelessly to compatible smartphones and computers. Photos can be shared by way of a peer-to-peer connection with either of these devices, and Android and iOS devices can be used to wirelessly control the RX100 II. The camera also offers NFC, so if your mobile device is also equipped with the technology, the initial wireless pairing process becomes much easier.
Sony's implementation of wireless connectivity to a smartphone is one of the best we've seen in a compact camera. Pairing with NFC worked on the first try (much better than we can say for our experience with some other NFC cameras) and even in an office with lots of wireless devices and networks, the RX100 II connected to several smartphones without a problem. Occasionally it hiccuped and I needed to confirm the devices were connected in my smartphone's network settings (even though they already were) before images would copy. Overall, it was reliable and fast.
|Getting the wireless transfer process started begins in the playback menu, with options to send to a smartphone or computer (provided they have the appropriate app/software in place).|
|The next step is to choose whether you'd like to select images to transfer on the phone or on the camera.|
|The connection process begins. On any initial attempt to pair a mobile device with the camera you'll see this screen, but after that you likely won't need it again.|
|Making your selection on the camera brings up this menu with the center button being used to make selections and 'Menu' as the key to begin transferring.|
|The smartphone interface for selecting images is slightly more sleek - naturally, as smartphones are equipped with bigger touch screens.|
Sony's PlayMemories Mobile app is available for iOS devices running iOS version 4.3 or later and Android 2.1 and up. It simply facilitates wireless transfer of images and video between the devices, and enables the remote control function. Though the RX100 II plays well with an iPhone, it won't connect wirelessly to Mac computers as Sony's PlayMemories Home software is needed and it's currently Windows-only.
|The PlayMemories Mobile app allows you remote control over basic functions of the RX100 II including the shutter, zoom, self timer and flash. Auto focus is your only option, with no ability to set a focus point via your phone's touch screen.|
|Just two shooting modes are available - still or video recording. Stills are recorded to the camera's memory card and a lower-res version is saved to your phone. Video is recorded to the memory card only, at whatever resolution you previously set on the camera.|
There's just a bit of lag between the devices in remote shooting, and controls are stripped down to the very basics. Still, it worked consistently and as advertised.
Maybe the best thing I can say about the RX100 II's wireless connectivity is that I didn't mind using it at all. It did exactly what I needed it to, didn't hassle me to enter a lot of passwords or use a proprietary cloud storage service, worked reliably and was overall very quick. When faced with those moments that called for a shot I wanted to share on the spot, I reached for the RX100 II knowing I could get a great shot, transfer it to my phone easily, and post it wherever I wanted without a problem. As features go, this is a truly useful one.
The RX100 II sports a hotshoe, called the 'Multi Interface Shoe Connector.' It offers compatibility with an OLED electronic viewfinder with 1024x768 pixel resolution (2,359,000 dots). It tilts by 90 degrees upward and includes a sizable eyecup. The whole thing is currently sold by Sony at a steep $449.99. Sony's HVL-F20M flash unit is also compatible with a guide number of 20 (at ISO 100 with 50mm lens). Designed for the Alpha series, it's nearly the size of the RX100 II.
|The RX100 II's hotshoe accommodates an EVF accessory. The viewfinder has a sizeable eyecup with a built-in eye-level sensor that will switch between the display between LCD and EVF automatically.|
The EVF accessory is a very good one, and at $450 it should be. The viewfinder simply mirrors whatever's being displayed on the camera's main LCD, so shooting information, image playback, focus peaking and manual focus magnified view are all available using the viewfinder. Unfortunately Sony's more affordable $349 NEX-series EVF (with the same OLED panel) uses a different kind of accessory port connector.
The inclusion of a hotshoe in the RX100 II is a welcome one, but unless a viewfinder is vital to you, it's hard to make a case for purchasing it at well over half the cost of the camera. The LCD fares very well in bright light, better than most, so an EVF is not likely to make a night-and-day difference in your experience using the camera.
Filter modes and HDR
If you're a Raw or Raw + JPEG shooter, you'll need to switch into JPEG-only mode to use any picture effects. That might deter anyone who consistently shoots Raw from using them, and it's a bit disappointing that they're not at least offered in Raw+ mode. There are 33 filters in total (counting each variation as one). They can be accessed through the Function menu if you've configured the RX100 II accordingly, and all 33 filters are arranged in one linear menu - meaning if your desired filter is buried in the middle, you'll spend a few moments flipping through the menu trying to locate it. An easy way of getting around this would be to utilize the RX100 II's three Memory Recall modes and assign one to JPEG-only and a preferred filter mode.
|Toy Camera, Warm filter mode||Rich-tone Monochrome mode|
Aside from filter modes there are five levels of DRO (dynamic range optimization) not including 'auto' and 'off,' six levels of HDR strength. If you're partial to High Dynamic Range photography, the RX100 II's HDR mode does a fine job at that. It captures three images (under, over and even exposure) in quick succession and layers them automatically. Like the filter modes it's only accessible when shooting just JPEG, and it saves a non-HDR JPEG with each HDR image.
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