Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sony FDA-EVM1K Electronic Viewfinder on the RX-100 II

A Hands-on Review

When I first found out that the new model of the Sony RX-100 II would have an accessory shoe, I speculated that it would accept the Sony FDA-EVM1K Electronic Viewfinder, the same one used on the RX1. I also thought it would be a cumbersome and expensive addition to a camera whose main selling point is its trim size. After all, you're not going to be putting the camera in your pocket with the viewfinder attached. Plus, at $448, the finder is a very costly addition to a $750 camera.

As it turns out, I find myself using the RX-100 II for some serious photography and wanted to see if the EVF would make a difference in its use. So I decided to give it a closer look.

My first surprise was that it is not as bulky as I had imagined on the RX-100 II body, particularly if you swap out the interchangeable eye cups. The finder comes standard with two eyepiece cups. The one it is often shown with in most product shots is the larger, more flexible one. If you wear eye glasses, this larger one will definitely obstruct your vision, not to mention it bulks up the profile of a tiny camera like the RX-100 or RX1. The smaller eyepiece cup a much better option. It provides a better field of view than the larger one, and is a much more manageable size. A third option for eye glass wearers, and suggested by Sony in its mini-manual, is to use no eyepiece cup at all. This definitely improves the field of vision and further reduces the overall package of camera-finder combo.

This photo shows the relative size of each eyepiece cup option, including no eyepiece on the right. That's a big difference when you want to stow the camera conveniently.
The Electronic Viewfinder comes standard with two eyepiece cups and a leather carrying case that can also be mounted on a camera strap.
Some photographers have complained, and I agree, that the electronic finder does not fit snugly on the RX1 camera and is prone to falling off. It does seem to snap into place with a firmer fit on the RX-100 II, however. Perhaps it is something Sony took note of and fixed before the RX-100 II came out.

Like most auxiliary electronic finders today, this one can be tilted from flat to straight up making it convenient for macro and low angle work. I do wish these finders would snap securely into place when they are flat instead of opening up whenever they are even slightly bumped. The EVF on my Leica M does the same thing even though it does snap into its closed position.

There are only two controls on the finder. An LCD switch on the left turns the interior live view image on and off. A sliding switch on the right adjusts the eyepiece magnification to your vision. The finder image comes on automatically when you put your eye up to look through it. Otherwise, the back LCD screen lights up for viewing.

The finder LCD button on the left switches image viewing from the finder to the camera LCD screen.  A tiny sliding button on the right adjusts the eyepiece vision to your individual prescription.
The electronic finder is not as bulky on the RX-100 II as I  had originally imagined it might be, particularly when it is fitted with the smaller of the two supplied eyepiece cups.

The Sony FDA-EVM1K Electorninc Veiwfinder for the RX-100 II is definitely not going to be for everyone. Its high relative cost and bulk makes it a premium accessory for such a small camera -- something that goes against the grain of what this camera is supposed to be, namely small, convenient, and portable. On the other hand, it offers to the serious photographer an option to better see and finely compose the image.

Unlike the EVF I use on the Leica M, where I have it attached most of the time, I find that with the RX-100 II such a finder is more of an occasional accessory. When I think I am going to be using the camera for some serious work or in difficult viewing circumstances, I bring the viewfinder along. One thing is for certian: It works great on the RX-100 II, and is probably an even better option for it than for the RX1.  For one thing, the RX1 has only one fixed focal length lens and therefore can use an optical viewfinder, which may be a better option for it. Electronic finders are still a bit clumsy as viewing devices, not nearly as good as a true DSLR finder. This model seems to be faster than most I have used but it is still contrasty and does not have the crisp viewing image of a true SLR. But we take what we can get, and considering what current technology has to offer, this is definitely a solid contender.


  1. Great review. I have a question. Is the camera still pocketable th the viewfinder attached?

  2. Probably depends upon the size of your pocket. It won't fit with the finder in a typical pocket, but it would in cargo pants. I always take it off when I put it in my pocket and carry the finder in a separate protective pouch. It could probably be easily damaged while attached to the camera in a pocket.

  3. Great review.... Just what i needed as i am looking for a small camera like the rx100 II to go with my DSLR kit and i am not too keen on using the big lcd to frame shots, especially in bright conditions. So this helped me decided. Thanks

  4. Great review, thank you.

  5. Wonderful review. Though, it is costly