Hands-on with the Sony RX10 II
Over the last few years, we’ve met a few superzoom cameras that make us think, “why would anyone who loves photography want this camera?” Giant bodies and limited image quality make some of this breed a case of “all zoom, no substance”. The Sony RX10 II is completely different, though.
A combination of 1-inch sensor and incredibly versatile lens make it the superzoom for real enthusiasts. And with this new model you get 4K video, a more advanced sensor and improved EVF.
We’ve only just met the Sony RX10 II so will just give a few light impressions for now. But check back soon for our full review of the £999 Sony RX10 II.
See what Sony had to say about the new Cybershot cameras:
Sony RX10 II: What’s new?
Despite being a bold camera, the Sony RX10 II looks just like its predecessor. You get a nice magnesium alloy body and a style a little less eye-catching than either the RX100 IV or A7R II. It has a hint of style, but function rules here.
The big changes all happen on the inside. First, there’s the new sensor style. It’s a 1-inch stacked CMOS sensor, an upgrade in architecture compared to the original RX10, letting more of the sensor surface pull-in light.
My hope is that this will improve high ISO performance. It was good in the RX10, but a 1-inch sensor camera has its limits. The RX10 II should be able to push even harder against them.
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New processing smarts also increase the RX10 II’s speed. It’ll now shoot at up to 14fps, and capture slo-mo video at up to 960fps. That’s 40x slower than normal motion.
This is all down to a new DRAM chip used in the processor, letting the camera handle data at an incredible rate. 4K video capture has been added too, and while Sony hasn’t talked about the RX10 II’s stabilisation, given the decent stabilisation of the former model we don’t think it’ll be tricky to coax good footage out of the camera.
Sony RX10 II: Lens
It’s still the lens that’s going to be the main draw of the Sony RX10 II, though, especially among its contemporaries. It has a 24-200mm equivalent lens. That’s not all that great a range compared with something like the 24-600mm Canon G3 X, but constant f/2.8 max aperture means you’ll be able to get better low-light shots and creative depth of field effects even at that 200mm end.
If you’re coming from a low-end 1/2.3-inch sensor superzoom, the flexibility of the RX10 II will be quite staggering. It’ll also be able to use the max aperture even in very bright conditions, such as shooting into the sun, because its shutter goes as fast as 1/32,000 sec. The first RX10 could only stretch to 1/3200, and just 1/1600 at f/2.8.
For really embracing that f/2.8 lens outdoors, this second-gen model is a hero. It’s when stretching the RX10 II that these generational changes become apparent, as the resolution of the sensor sticks at 20.2 megapixels. In many situations the photos of the two generations will probably look quite similar.
What you’ll notice every day, though, is the new EVF. It’s a 2.36-million dot XGA OLED model, the same resolution as that of the much more expensive Sony A7R II. Finally we’re getting to the point where EVFs don’t immediately seem like a poor alternative to an optical viewfinder.
If you don’t care about 4K video, owners of the Sony RX10 don’t necessarily need to bin their cameras right away and upgrade to this newer model. However, it’s definitely a case of ‘one of the best gets better’.
It’s still the idea of f/2.8 at 200mm that should get pulses racing here, but improved performance, a better EVF and the various new video modes make this seem well worth the extra £200 over the RX10 for brand new buyers. We’ll be back with more impressions, test shots and our all-important verdict soon.