Following on the heels of the original Sony RX100, the updated Mark II version of the compact camera seems to have latched on to a successful format.
Physically, the RX100 Mark II is similar to the original. It sports the same Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 10.4-37.1mm f1.8-4.9 lens (35mm equivalent 28-100mm). And this is still matched with the 20.9-megapixel back-side illuminated 1-inch sensor, though there is now a Bionz imaging processor.
The body is made of aluminium with dials and buttons that are well put together to provide a premium, solid feel to the Mark II. Only exception seems to be a somewhat wobbly zoom rocker lever/shutter button.
The Mark II is not huge. In fact, measuring only 100 x 58 x 36mm, it is quite small even for Asian hands. The buttons are small as well.
Its size, however, does provide a key attraction – ‘pocketability’. What would improve the handling is a rubber grip at the front of the camera where the right hand middle would rest on. That grip is available as an accessory.
So what has changed, when it comes to image capturing?
For one, the ISO range is curtailed in the latest version with a range of 160-12800 from the original’s 100-25600. For most users, the smaller range shouldn’t be a huge issue since using the highest setting often introduces colour artifacts, even though the Mark II’s image with high ISO is very usable.
This reflects well on the Bionz image processor. Despite its small size, it is very able when it comes to shooting photos in low light. The quality cannot be compared against those in superior digital SLRs, but for a point-and shoot-camera, the RX100 Mark II’s image processor really punches above its weight.
Night shot of Sultan Mosque. ISO Noise is superbly controlled with good colour graduation.
Induced bokeh. Coming from a 1 inch sensor this is really top notch.
As for the colour reproduction, the auto white balance could be a bit aggressive in correcting the ambient light temperature.
You may have to fiddle a little with white balance settings to bring a bit of the yellow back to a shot, for example, the interior of a restaurant recover a “romantic” feel. Skin tone is captured quite well in most shooting environments I tested.
Skin tone test with the camera meter to the face.
Colour, translucency and reflection is reproduced pretty well in daylight settings.
Interior shot with complex lighting situation without the use of flash. A bit on the pale side of things.
Unsurprisingly, in the RX100 Mark II, Sony has tried to marry the camera with the smartphone.
Just connect the two gadgets via Near Field Communication and the smartphone will prompt you to install the PlayMemories App to transfer the photos to the smartphone. This lets you share the photos online or use the smartphone as a remote viewer and controller, with a timer thrown in.
What’s missing though is the ability to shoot wirelessly, like on the more advanced Sony Alpha 7, where the camera can be controlled by the phone and the shots are sent directly to it. You can’t do the same for the RX100 Mark II.
Still, on the whole, there is very little to dislike about the RX100 Mark II. The size may be an issue for those with big hands but the camera does produce very pleasing results in situations that once called for the use of digital SLRs.
If you don’t fancy buying into a system of accessories and struggling with a hefty camera, this small pocket dynamite, costing S$999, might just do the trick.