Raw mode

The RX100 II offers Raw image capture, a standard for the enthusiast compact class. Files are output in Sony's proprietary .ARW format. Sadly there is no in-camera Raw conversion. Enthusiasts favor Raw shooting for the amount of post-processing control it offers, and the RX100 II provides a lot of flexibility for these kinds of adjustments in its Raw files.

Sharpness and Detail

The RX100's large-for-a-compact sensor and lens overall produce sharp, detailed images. Occasionally though, a landscape shot like the one below may call for a little extra sharpening. Good results were yielded in applying post-capture sharpening to the RX100 II's Raw images.

Detail in the JPEG file above looked slightly hazy, especially in the brush at the center of the frame. Applying some sharpening in ACR v8.1 to the Raw file gave a little more definition to the leaves and some otherwise hazy brush.
JPEG (100%)
Raw adjusted (100%)

Exposure and color

By their nature, Raw files retain more of an image's information than their JPEG counterparts. This can be especially helpful when trying to recover tone seemingly in the shadows (with some scope for highlight recovery, depending on the situation). Changing exposure post-capture can usually be done with good results, and the RX100 II's Raw files were no exception.

f/4.5, 1/640sec, ISO 160 JPEG file Raw adjusted in ACR to taste: +0.50 exposure, +75 dark and +50 shadow adjustment, -28 highlight adjustment.

Noise-reduction and white balance

Sony's auto white balance setting tends to produce overly warm images in tungsten lighting, something that's easily corrected in a Raw file. Scenes with mixed lighting will always challenge a camera's auto white balance, as was the scene below. The subject is illuminated by tungsten light with cooler daylight emitting from the windows behind him. The resulting JPEG has a saturated orange hue, and a quick adjustment to 'auto' white balance in Adobe Camera Raw produces a much more natural-looking skin tone.

Original JPEG
Raw file adjusted in ACR

Raw files also provide the opportunity to apply fine-tuned noise reduction post-capture.

JPEG f/3.5, 1/125sec, ISO 12800, Long Exposure NR On, High ISO NR Normal 100% crop. Applying your own sharpening can help avoid the watercolor effect seen in this JPEG. The BIONZ processor also missed some yellow-ish blotches of color noise.
Raw file, color and luminance noise reduced in ACR v8.1 100% crop.

Applying noise reduction to your own taste means, in my case, means living with a little fine grain in order to preserve a bit more detail and tone.

If you'd like to experiment with the RX100 II's Raw files yourself, download the examples below: