These reviews are meant to give a personal, hands-on experience by a professional photographer, and do not go into all the equipment specifications readily available elsewhere on the internet.
Ever since it was introduced the Sony RX-100 series camera has been one of my favorites. It directly fills a need most pro photographers have of wanting a carry-around digital camera that is pocketable yet sophisticated enough to achieve pro quality image results. Sony's new Cyber Shot DSC-RX100 II (M2) camera is similar in size to many point-and-shoot cameras, but comes with a large 1" sensor (same size as the sensor in Nikon's new CX series cameras), Carl Zeiss 10.1-37.4mm (28-100mm equivalent) zoom lens, and is capable of supplying RAW image files of a very high quality. This latest version, the RX-100 II offers some added features to the earlier model, which so far continues to remain in the Sony lineup at its original price. This new model is priced at $748, whereas the older one is listed at $648. What does the extra $100 buy?
The new model comes with a hot shoe on top. This will accept several Sony accessories: the electronic viewfinder, external flash, or stereo microphone. For me the electronic viewfinder is the more appealing option, although it is going to significantly bulk up such a tiny camera. The Remote Muilti-Terminal, in addition to connecting the camera to a computer via USB, also accepts the Sony Remote Control. This operates as a cable release but can also control several camera functions such as zoom and exposure.
|The RX-100II is definitely a pocketable camera despite the large size of its sensor. There is no excuse for not having this camera with you when you need to grab a quick, pro-quality image spur of the moment.|
The sensor in the new model, while the same size as the older one, is a redesign with back-illumination that makes it more sensitive in low light situations. The ISO on the new model is rated at 160-12500 as opposed to a top standard ISO of 6400 on the former model. Of course these high ratings are not very realistic if your goal is producing pro-quality images. Most pro cameras top out at a practical high of ISO 3200. Yes, they can be used higher, and will produce a recognizable image, but the image quality will be severely downgraded by noise and lack of detail that will require considerable post-processing work to correct. Most photographers I know, myself included, try to maintain a high threshold in the ISO 1600 range.
|This photo was shot at ISO 1600 on the RX-100 II. A high res version can be downloaded by clicking here.|
A most important benefit of low light sensibility is that the camera can focus quicker and more accurately under these adverse circumstances.
|This photo of the baby was actually taken at night with very little available light and an ISO of 3200. The camera had no trouble quickly finding focus in the low contrast area of the eye lashes and the image is over all sharp.|
|Another new feature on this model is the up and down tilting screen.|
|You can change the aperture either by turning the ring on the lens itself or by using the command dial on the rear of the camera.|
|The menu system is extensive, but clear and easy to navigate.|
|The built-in, pop-up flash can be manually tilted allowing for a soft bounce flash fill light.|
|The hot shoe accepts the same electronic viewfinder that fits on the Sony RX1 camera.|
I am planning to acquire a quadcopter and mount the Sony RX-100II to it for taking aerial photos and video. Being able to remotely view the images from my phone will hopefully allow me to operate the camera while it is in the air. The RX-100II is a perfect candidate for this type of photography due to its light weight, small size, and high quality sensor.
|Taken in low light at ISO 1250 this is a difficult situation for a camera to autofocus. It is dark, low in contrast, and has constantly changing smoke and flames.|
|The camera has a nice close focus look due to its very wide open f/1.8 maximum aperture.|
The video capabilities of the RX-100II have also been increased to include 24 fps in addition to the 60fps and 30fps of the previous model. Because of the image quality of its large sensor and convenience of its small size this camera will be very handy tool for shooting video in tight quarters or where you wouldn't want to risk shooting with an expensive DSLR.
In the photo about a Sony RX-100II is shown here next to one of the first Leica models ever made to illustrate that good things and high quality can come in very small packages. In its own way, the RX-100II is a ground-breaking technology much like the early Leica in that both freed the photographer from the limitations of working with cumbersome equipment.
It is not that a small camera such as the RX-100II should be the only one a photographer relies upon, but it does serve a useful purpose as an addition to a professional camera kit. I am looking forward to seeing additional accessories coming on the market to make this camera even more useful. Nauticam already makes an RX-100 underwater housing. So does Ikelite. Why risk a multi-thousand dollar DSLR underwater when you can take this smaller $748 model 20mp camera underwater instead?
A filter adapter kit, the Sony VFA-49R1, allows 49mm filters, such as the Sony circular polarizer, to be mounted on the lens.
The type of new features added to this model show that Sony is aware that the camera has caught on with more sophisticated users who require professional accessories. The Sony RX-100II can deliver a very top quality, pro level image from a tiny package. The added features and accessories now make it an even more attractive package for any serious photographer.
|This early morning photo shows the completed World Trade Center in its downtown environment. Taken with the RX-100II in its 16:9 crop mode and equivalent 28mm focal length.|
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