In the first part of my review (click here), I just shared some pics. In this review I dig a little deeper in my thoughts about living with the RX100 II, and compare it to the RX100. If you serious about purchasing this camera you should probably start with my RX100 review that I did in January of this year as this review will focus mostly on improvements that I discovered in this model.
The Same but Different
All of the things I liked and disliked about the RX100M1 carry over to this model, but there’s also some nice improvements that make it worth the upgrade. First and foremost improvements in its backlit sensor results in a noticeable improvement in image quality. In fact, I’d call this the best image quality I’ve ever tested in a camera this small.
NOTE: This camera does have a optical low pass filter.
Sony has a great web page discussing the features of this camera, but sadly they don’t do a good job of showing what’s new. Essentially what you get with this model are features to help it catch up (and surpass) the competition in the areas of WiFi, remote control from the phone (see below), and better video support.
This camera also supports NFC which really means a subset of Android based phones (Windows Mobile not supported), but I was unable to test it. It’s cool that it does it, but most won’t really get a chance to enjoy this feature. Click here to see a PDF with more info about this and other WiFi integration features.
This camera boasts 10 fps continuous shooting, but in real life at full resolution it’s no Canon 1D X that’s for sure. In fact, I’d go so far as saying don’t bother with continuous shooting with this camera unless you are in full manual mode as it does a pretty bad job out of the box (i.e., you’ll have mostly blurry shots nearly all of the time from what I saw in my real world testing).
Remote Control / WiFi Features
Join the RX100 II's private WiFi network from your phone
which is easily published using the Ctrl with Smartphone menu option
Install & Use the Play Memories App on your phone
It features real-time preview and remote zoom and shoot
Once you do this, the camera is locked and may only be controlled remotely as shown here:
You can not operate the camera while connected remotely,
but photos can get saved automatically on your phone!
Click here to iterate through some more of the screen captures I did from my phone when I was using this feature. The controls are very basic so advanced users will quickly find it frustrating, but having this ability can be handy for group photos where you want to include yourself in the shot. Sadly it doesn’t support bulb mode or any custom mode, so it appears to default to an auto mode when using this feature.
The only modes are Photo and Movie, but both work okay with some latency that can be a little problematic sometimes.
Photo taken with my cell phone as the remote control using a GTI light box for lighting
You can also wirelessly connect to the camera from your computer better than any device I’ve used to date. Here’s a shot of the bundled Play Memories software for the PC while it’s automatically importing photos over WiFi using the Send to Computer feature:
If you have a WPS capable router at home, you simply need to press the WPS menu item on your camera and do the same on your router and pairing happens automatically with no typing. If you have to do it manually it’s a bit more cumbersome, but it works as expected.
Unlike some cameras where these features are more gimmicks, I was very satisfied with what I could do with this Sony camera. In fact, I wish my Canon DSLR’s and Fujifilm cameras had this level of WiFi integration!
Using my GTI lightbox to light up my face, I took a little video using the remote control phone app and was very impressed with the high quality of the video of this camera:
In fact, it’s so good I wish I would have shaved my face and fixed my hair before doing the video!
If your only criteria for deciding which camera to buy is image quality, then the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC RX100 II should rank very high on your list of cameras to buy. The image quality and color is excellent, especially when I compare it to its predecessor. Much of the improvement in image quality comes from improvements to its backlit sensor. This modification results in jaw dropping great image quality when you stabilize the camera or ensure that its using an appropriate shutter speed to freeze subject movement.
As usual, all bookshelf shots are done on a tripod using camera default settings with image stabilization (aka Steady Shot) and DRO turned OFF. I also set auto white balance and set noise reduction to LOW for this test as I felt the default noise reduction was aggressive.
I have RAW’s available upon request, but only upload in-camera JPEG to the web.
The Wife Verdict
Nothing really changes from my previous review. My wife loved the size of this camera, but this camera’s love affair with 1/30 sec in aperture priority and 1/250 sec in full automatic (on very sunny days) resulted in a majority of the photos being blurry in real world use (even with Steady Shot on). The reason for this was often due the camera choosing the incorrect shutter speed (as previously mentioned) even in the auto modes, and its quick to jump to f/1.8. At such a shallow depth of field, even on this small sensor camera, incorrect auto AF selections put faces slightly out of focus.
If I wanted a sharp shot, I had to switch to manual which was a no-go for my wife. What’s worse is that manual doesn’t support Auto ISO, so manual is really old school manual which isn’t very family friendly. These are non issues for people who will use this camera like a manual DSLR, but cell phone point and shoot mom’s are not going to like this camera.
Given the fact that this camera is $100 more than its predecessor ($748 at the time of this writing), it’s price isn’t very family friendly either. As a result, it gets a “oh hell no” verdict from my wife who says she’ll stick with our Fujifilm X20.
More Real World Sample Images
Starting with this image, all of the photos in the gallery (excluding the bookshelf images) used the Vivid mode with Medium noise reduction (the default). Many shots were done using the Auto modes because most were taken by my wife on our vacation. A few of my contributions to the gallery (like the cathedral interior shots) were done using manual mode settings.
All images below also had DRO (Dynamic Range Optimizer) set to Auto.
Click these images to view their original in-camera jpeg’s with only filename and metadata changes from their in-camera originals.
f/2 @ 10.4 mm, 1/200, ISO 160
The swamp pics turned out nice, but when compared to a 5D Mark III equivalents
I was glad that I didn’t ‘t leave the DSLR at home!
f/1.8 @ 10.4 mm, 1/30, ISO 500, No Flash
DRO still is no substitute for HDR when dealing with wide range lighting conditions,
but it does a good job with backlit scenarios
f/2.5 @ 10.4 mm, 1/30, ISO 640
This was one of the few shots that reminded me that this wasn’t a wide dynamic range DSLR,
but it was easy to forgive its shortcomings when seeing how well it exposed the rest of the scene
f/4 @ 10.4 mm, 1/4, ISO 160, No Flash
This shot required stabilizing the camera with a stack of unsteady books
and holding very still. It took a few shots before I got one, but I was
really wishing I had a tripod about now!
12416x1856 pixels pano at f/8 @ 10.4 mm, 1/500, ISO 160
Despite moving water, the stitching was excellent but the shot was more grainy
and had more chromatic aberrations than I’d expect under these conditions
with these camera default settings.
The RX100 is still on sale these days for much less, but the improved image quality and new features make this camera worth the upgrade.In fact, the WiFi and wireless features had me calling this camera a phone about a dozen times in this article because it felt so phone like!
While the wonderfully compact design of this camera and its fantastic image quality suggests that it is a brilliant point and shoot, personally I found it to be horrible at that task. This camera demands the photographers attention and manual intervention in all situations except outdoors on sunny days. If you give this camera that attention (i.e., shoot manual) you’ll be rewarded with fantastic results from this tiny camera, but this simply is not a point and shoot for the non-geek photographer.
I love so many things about this camera, but alas I’ll have to send it back to B&H because it failed its job as a point and shoot just as bad as its predecessor. If you are the patient type who has a different camera as your point and shoot, then using this camera in manual mode will delight you with the gorgeous images its sensor captures. For this reason, I love this camera and so desperately hope that Sony will make it a better point and shoot in the next iteration. If they do that, I’ll buy one for sure – despite its obnoxious price. It really is that good!
If you do decide to pick one up and treat it as a point and shoot, just set your expectations low about the number of blurry images you’ll get (typically not discovered until you get them on your computer at home). If you do, you’ll probably love this camera – especially when it does occasionally nail a shot (typically because the subject can handle the f/1.8 at 1/30 sec camera default settings).
Click here to see the Sony support page with more information about this camera.
Where to order
I had significant scratching to the LCD that occurred during my review, even before I took it outside of my home. As a result I HIGHLY recommend a protective product like Expert Shield - THE Screen Protector for the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100 II. I prefer these over the ones offered by B&H.
BlackRapid SnapR 10 Camera Bag + Sling Strap is a great camera bag to consider for this camera as well!
Other articles you may enjoy
If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:
- REVIEW: Sony Cyber-Shot RX100 II with Real World Sample Photos (Part 1 of 2)
- Sony DSC-RX100 (First Generation)
- Sony NEX-7
- Sony DSC-RX1 (Full Frame Compact Camera)
- Which camera should I buy?
- Canon G15 vs s110 vs G12
- COMPARISON: Fujifilm X-E1, X100s, X20 & X10
- Fujifilm XPro-1
- Olympus OM-D E-M5
- BlackRapid SnapR Camera Bag + Sling Strap
If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.