The compact digital camera market, buoyed by the growth in higher specification models, continues to grow. The latest high-spec camera to enter the market is the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II, which features clean lines, a powerful lens and a large 1 inch sensor. It will replace the mark I RX100, which launched in 2012, and will hit the shelves at a pricey £649 GBP, which is a full £100 GBP more expensive than the original. Not yet on the market, we’ve got the lowdown on the camera ahead of its anticipated launch.
Following on from the popular Cyber Shot RX100 I, the second generation model features some solid upgrades. The new model carries Wi-Fi, allowing for rapid sharing and uploading of your photographs. It also features NFC – near field communication – technology which is more commonly associated with payment gateways on smart phones.
Compared to the original, the mark II comes in slightly larger in size but remains a small compact, especially relative to its specification. On top of the Wi-Fi and NFC, the new model boasts of a multi-interface hotshoe on the top and a tilting LCD screen, complete with 1,229k dots.
One of the biggest complaints with the original was the lack of a viewfinder. This was always a bit strange, considering the fact that the camera has always carried a very high spec. When you ask customers to pay north of £500 GBP for a compact digital camera, they naturally have high expectations and are generally unwilling to make sacrifices. It’s therefore good to see the addition of the viewfinder, and this probably goes a long way towards explaining the 100GBP price difference between Mark I and Mark II.
Besides the above, you would be hard pressed to tell the two cameras apart. The 28-100mm f/1.8-4.9 lens is the same as the one sported by the original. One of the pushback’s on the original was that it had a dark lens. Rectifying this would have required a brighter aperture. This would have been a warranted change, but it would have come at the cost of considerably more bulk, and the aim of cameras like the RX100 centers around portability. Ultimately, the really keen photographer will always go for the DSLR option, where the user gets far more control over aperture ranges.
Cameras like the RX100 are really a modern take on the classic bridge camera. Traditionally the bridge camera would sit between a compact digital and an SLR. The camera market has changed massively recently though, meaning it’s now more common that a camera such as this one will bridge between a phone and an SLR.
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Whilst visually the original and its replacement appear strikingly similar, there are some more wholesale changes under the hood. The image quality will be superior on the new model, due to the inclusion of a back-light sensor construction. Marketed as an Exmor R Designation, this will enhance the already potent 20.2 Megapixel, 1 inch sensor and will take the camera to the next level. This will deliver better function at top-end ISO settings, but more importantly for the more layman user, it will deliver comparable shots at an 1600 ISO compared to an 800Iso on the original model. Any photographer will now that represents a considerable claim, and we look forward to finding out how well that stands up. Sony have not allowed test users to take any pictures away with them, so we don’t yet have any comparable shots between the RX100 I and II.
Other noteworthy changes include, remote sharing. Powered by the Sony PlayMemories app, this allows you to use Wi-FI to remotely share pictures as well as to use live previews. This is particularly useful for quick uploading of movies too.
Some subtle changes are also very useful from the user experience point of view. The RX100 II’s lens ring now includes a “step zoom” function, which lets you rapidly switch between the classic focal lengths (Think 28mm, 35mm, 50mm etc)
So in conclusion, the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II is set to provide a lot of updates of value. There is definitely a lot to be impressed by with this camera, and the upgrades are a lot more tangible then the lack of visual differentiation can fool you into believing. The cameras price is probably its largest drawback, as it is moving into dangerous territory at £649. If you can overlook that, then the release of this camera in late July could see the release of one of the most exciting compacts of 2013.