The King is dead, long live the king!

Sony Rx100ii

Sony Rx100ii

Time was, Canon S100 was the king in the pocket sized high-end digital camera market. This is a ruthless end of the market. Perhaps more so than the high-end SLR’s and Mirrorless cameras. If Money is no object, a Leica M, would do very nicely. Don’t need an interchangeable lens? How about a Sony RX1R at just $2800 and a bit of change? Hell of a camera and undoubtedly, a marvel of engineering. The Lens on that beast goes all the way to the back of the camera, almost touching the glorious full frame sensor.

For the rest of us mortals, there is the RX100 at $600 that has recently been upgraded to this RX100ii available for $750 in the US. I had the RX100, and though thicker and heavier than a Canon S100, it soon became my pocket-sized digital friend. When RX100ii came out, I wasn’t too sure if it’s worth the upgrade. Turns out, it was! This camera is quite amazing. True enough, the core characteristics of RX100 are much the same, including the optical talents. But, improvements to the sensor, hot-shoe, WiFi, the very useful tilting TFT-LCD, and some more bells and whistles with the menus, make it even more desirable. The movable LCD alone was enough to make me go for it. Sold the original RX100, still a good camera, and got me a new RX100ii, better still!

Not only do the RX100 and its successor RX100ii look & feel similar to RX1 and RX1R, they have a shameless resemblance to Leica’s too. RX100ii is just a tad thicker and heavier than the original, and that actually is what I like even more. It feels more like a balanced camera and less of a cheap point&shoot.

The image quality is spectacular. Still RAW (and jpg) images at 20.2 megapixel on a very large 1″ sensor ( same as Nikon 1 series) and video talented AVCHD: 28M PS (1920×1080, 60p). The Carl Zeiss® Vario-Sonnar T* coated lens is quite something. Wide open at 28mm, the f/1.8 is lovely and bright, but still lacks the Bokeh for some reason. And of course you’re not going to take many portraits at 28mm. At 100mm the f-stop goes up to f/4.9. Bear in mind that the maximum f-stop is 11.

Buttons and the fit and finish are first class with magnesium alloy feel and the solidity you’d expect. Everything clicks and ticks with bundles of quality. Battery life is above average, but I would still advise for a spare in your pocket.

I love the manual focus mode on this little camera. It is smooth, magnified full screen, and the 3.0″ (i.e. 7.5cm) 4:3 TFT LCD with 1,229k dots has plenty of resolution to fine tune with the smooth ring round the front, should you decide to assign it as a focus ring. Oh, and thank you Sony for not making it a touch screen.

The camera dimensions are around: 4″ x 2 3/8″ x 1 7/16″ (101.6 x 58.1 x 35.9mm) and weight around 240g or 8.5 oz.

All the usual Auto, Aperture and Shutter Priority, special Scene selections, 3D, Panorama, and the all important FULL Manual are there. The full control is on everything from flash to multiple exposure and exposure compensations etc. There are way way too many features to cover in this humble quick review. Trust me, you’ll be very impressed.

ISO goes from 100 to 12800, yes that is no typo 12800.
f Stops from f/1.8 to f/11
Shutter speed from Bulb, 30″, 25″, …. all the way up to 1/2000 in manual mode.

For those of you who have been messing around with cameras and photography as long as I have, this camera reminds me of Contax G1. Back in the 90’s when dinosaurs still roamed the earth and presidents went round saying “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”, Contax G1 changed what defined a traditional full-framed (35mm film) rangefinder was. When you used it, it was a new experience and the results were (are still) mind boggling, thanks mostly to the same high-end Carl Zeiss® T* coated lens that still dazzles to date – 20 years later.

Maybe I’ll do a nostalgic review of the G1 one day soon too.

Back to the RX100ii, the popup flash is pretty useful and has spring action. That means you can actually hold the spring back quite safely such that the flash light bounces off the ceiling, and you get that quality pro light look off of your pocket camera’s built-in flash. RX100ii has a hot shoe and can therefore take the bigger Sony TTL flash, external Mic., or the Special and expensive viewfinder. No, sadly other brands of flash do not work on this hot-shoe.

$750 is pretty fair for this much quality and optical talent miniaturized in this tiny body. Contax G1 with a 45mm f/2 T* lens, retailed for over $2000 twenty years ago!

If you are after a small high-end pocket sized digital camera, Sony RX100ii is quite a tough act to beat – for now. But, the kingdoms in this segment of the Camera market are unseated rapidly. For now though, in my books, at sub $1000, Sony RX100ii is the new King!

More details on Sony web site:

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