Sony DSC-RX100 II review - Hands on with the updated premium compact

Numerous upgrades for premium compact sequel to RX100

Sony has launched its new premium compact camera, the DSC-RX100 II, and we got our hands on it at a preview event last week. The camera looks largely similar to the original RX100, no bad thing, but there's been a number of additions both inside and out that make it a far superior-looking replacement.

Sony DSC-RX100 mk2

It may not look much different but it's clearly a far better all-rounder

NEW SENSOR

On the inside there's a new sensor, with the 1in CMOS being upgraded to a back-illuminated EXMOR R design. The technology is now common on smartphones and even compact cameras, but we see less such sensors at this size. The redesigned sensor is essentially flipped, moving electrical elements of the design out of the way of the light-sensing parts and so improving performance. This should equate to a one-stop equivalent improvement in noise compared to the RX100. A very handy boost when shooting in more demanding conditions.

Speaking of shooting in low light the maximum ISO speed has been hiked up to ISO 12800, double from the previous model. Now we aren't expecting a lot at that sensitivity, even with a back-illuminated sensor, but it might increase the range of conditions in which you can grab a snap for Facebook.

HOTSHOE AND LCD

On the outside there are two welcome additions. The first is a proprietary hotshoe on top of the RX100 II for attaching an external flash or microphone, it's a good addition that increases the flexibility of the camera, though we imagine it won't see a lot of use.

Sony DSC-RX100 mk2

The new hotshoe will be a boon for those who want to invest in a proper flash gun

More immediately handy is the new tilting LCD, allowing you to shoot from close to the ground or above your head. There's still no touch input however, with the camera keeping the same manual-control driven interface.

Sony DSC-RX100 mk2

The new tilting screen will help you shoot more creatively

INTERFACE

The interface has also seen a few tweaks. A step zoom function has been added allowing you to jump between various set zoom points, such as 28mm, 35mm and 50mm equivalents with a quick twist of the customisable front ring control. It's quicker and easier than zooming (rather slowly) between such points and you can always refine the zoom after using the thumb control.

Sony DSC-RX100 mk2

No touchscreen still, so the interface is largely unchanged

Video fans will be pleased to know that they can now adjust settings in Program, Aperture, Shutter and Manual modes whilst recording. Video recording is also now available in Full HD at 24/25p. The HDMI output has also been moved to the side of the camera for easy access when on a tripod, and a new remote control lets you control the shutter, zoom and video recording without disturbing the camera.

WIRELESS

The RX100 II has the honour of being the first NFC-enabled Wi-Fi camera from Sony, with the company assuring us that all its new cameras from now will support the ease-of-use technology. Just tapping an NFC-equipped phone to the camera makes an instant Wi-Fi connection with no other faffing about.

It uses the PlayMemories app we've already used with other Sony cameras. If the camera is in shooting mode, the app will immediately go into monitor mode; while if the camera is in playback mode, it will automatically transfer the image displayed to the smartphone when you tap them together. Very handy stuff.

EARLY VERDICT

Add it all together and you've got a very significant update to a capable camera - with significant-looking upgrades to image quality, handling and controls. The ongoing lack of a touchscreen is the only downside, but we guess they had to leave something out for the Mk3 model.

It will be available from early- to mid-July with an estimated retail price of £650. We'll bring you a full review in a couple of weeks when samples become available.

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