Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II Review - The Sony RX100 II updates the award-winning RX100 with the addition of Wi-Fi, hotshoe and a vari-angle screen. Can it improve on an already excellent model?
Sony RX100 II Review – Image Quality
Colour and White Balance
With the White Balance set to auto, the Sony RX100 II produces neutral colours that appear neither too warm nor too cool. There are eleven other presets to choose from, which include Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent: Warm White, Fluorescent: Cool White, Fluorescent: Day White, Fluorescent: Daylight, Flash, Colour Temp/Filter and Custom.
As previously mentioned, there are also five Creative styles to choose from if you’d like to enhance, or reduce, the saturation of colour in-camera. These include Vivid, Portrait, Landscape, Sunset and Black and White. If any of these Creative styles are used, we’d advise shooting in the Raw+JPEG format so you can always retrace your steps back to the original saturation from the Raw file if required.
The Sony RX100 II put in an identical tone and exposure performance as produced by the RX100. The camera’s metering system gives you the choice of either Multi, Centre-weighted or Spot modes, but it can take some time to find from the main menu and we’d prefer it if they could be selected directly from the function button.
Set to Multi, the exposure system handled high-contrast scenes very well, but we did occasionally find ourselves dialing in -0.7-1.0 EV to preserve maximum detail when we were shooting scenes with exceptionally bright highlights. There is also Sony’s D-Range Optimizer with an Auto mode and 5 selectable levels.
This is used to produce a more natural looking result than Auto HDR, with in-camera processing applied to a single image to improve detail in both the shadow and highlights.
With the same sensor as the RX100, albeit now back-illuminated, it’s no surprise that the RX100 II delivers identical resolution results to its predecessor. The 1in 20.2MP sensor delivers outstanding detail for a camera of its size and resolved an impressive 26 lines per millimeter at ISO 100 on our resolution chart.
If you’re after a compact with a greater detail performance than this you’d need to look at model with an even larger sensor, such as the Nikon Coolpix A or Ricoh GR. The disadvantage of both of these models however is their size, and they’re not as light or as small as the Sony RX100 II. The 28-100mm lens produces exceptionally sharp images through the range. The fast f/1.8 maximum aperture allows you to shoot with a super shallow depth of field at the widest end of the zoom, but a faster maximum aperture at the long end would be preferable.
The RX100 II produces a clean, noise-free performance at the low end of its sensitivity range, and for the very best results, you’ll want to keep the sensitivity between ISO 100 and ISO 400. At ISO 800 noise begins to creep in to images, but it’s not detrimental to the overall image quality and can be quickly removed using noise reduction techniques in Camera Raw.
At ISO 1600, colour noise becomes more noticeable when images are inspected closely and the furthest we’d push the sensitivity to in low-light is ISO 3200. Beyond this point, luminance and colour noise becomes more of an issue, while the saturation also becomes more muted.
Saying that, the detail that’s resolved at ISO 3200 and ISO 6400 is very impressive and only starts to drop off slightly when you push up to the ISO 12,800 limit.