20.2MP | 1" BSI CMOS | $750/£649 (MSRP)

True breakthrough products are rare in consumer electronics and perhaps even more rare in the digital camera space. The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 was one of those rare products that caught the attention of casual photographers, enthusiasts and critics alike. It successfully fitted a large 1”-type sensor into a compact camera so inconspicuous that without knowing otherwise, a casual observer would assume it to be a point-and-shoot like any other. Unassuming to the eye, it succeeded in pulling off an impressive trick - delivering excellent image quality from a truly pocketable camera.

Now Sony has introduced the RX100 II, sold as a sister model to the existing camera. A new, back-illuminated 20MP sensor (the largest BSI chip we've yet encountered), gives a claimed 40% improvement in low-light sensitivity, which Sony says will allow the RX100 II to focus faster in low light than its predecessor, as well, of course, as producing cleaner high-ISO images.

Meanwhile, the camera's enthusiast appeal is bolstered by the addition of a Multi-Interface hot shoe, allowing use of external flashguns or, significantly, accessories such as an electronic viewfinder. The rear screen also now tilts up and down, which makes the RX100 II more flexible to use and more at ease in bright light. Impressively, Sony achieved this while adding just 2mm to the camera's depth - so it retains its pocketable prowess. The RX100 II has a list price of $750 - $100 more than that of the original RX100.

Key Features:

  • 1"-type Exmor-R BSI-CMOS sensor (13.2 x 8.8mm, 3:2 aspect ratio)
  • 20.2 million effective pixels
  • 28-100mm (equiv), f/1.8-4.9 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens
  • Steady-Shot image stabilization
  • ISO 160-12,800 (Down to ISO 100 and to 25,600 expanded)
  • NFC-mediated Wi-Fi allowing file transfer and control from smartphones
  • Rear control dial and customizable front control ring
  • 10fps continuous shooting in 'Speed Priority' mode
  • Tiltable 3" 1.2M-dot 'WhiteMagic' LCD screen
  • 13 Picture Effects (33 with variations)
  • Memory Recall feature can store up to three groups of custom settings
  • 1080p60 video, (AVCHD) with MP4 option (50p in PAL regions)
  • Built-in stereo microphones
  • 330-shot battery life (CIPA)

The RX100 II also manages to find room to include Wi-Fi capabilities that can be set-up using near field communication (NFC) if you have a smartphone that supports it. Those of us without NFC in our mobile devices will have to set the Wi-Fi up manually. The RX100 II's video capabilities have also been expanded, with the camera now offering the ability to capture 1080p footage at 24 frames per second, in addition to the 60p and 30p the current RX100 offers (50p/25p on European models). Sony now offers a filter adapter for the RX100 II and its predecessor, a $30 accessory that makes it possible to use 49mm filters with either camera.

Following on the heels of a hit

The RX100 was well received by consumers, and when we reviewed it last year it earned a Silver Award (mainly in response to user interface concerns). It wasn't just another enthusiast compact camera, it was truly a stunning piece of engineering. Now, the pricier RX100 II promises better low light performance, faster auto focus and the option to add a viewfinder/flash/remote trigger.

With the RX100 still on the market (and selling for a more-attractive $600 in the U.S. and £549 in the U.K.) do the RX100 II's additions and improvements make it worth the extra investment? If a tilting screen and the ability to use accessories aren't deal-makers, does the image quality justify its expense? Read our full analysis.

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

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