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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II Review

The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II has a new 20.2 megapixel backlit 1inch CMOS sensor for improved performance, but how does it perform? Find out in our full review.

|  Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100 II in Compact Cameras
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Cybershot DSC-RX100 II

The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II, as you can probably tell from the name, is this years update to the Sony Cyber-shot RX100. The original RX100 was rather unique in that it features a 20.2 megapixel 1inch CMOS sensor, a compact metal body, manual controls, and a bright f/1.8 3.6x optical zoom lens. The RX100 II improves on the original with a 20.2 megapixel 1inch backlit CMOS sensor, built in Wi-Fi connectivity, NFC, tilting screen, and a multi-interface flash hot-shoe, along with a number of other improvements. 

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II Features

Sony Cyber Shot Rx100 II Large (6)

The RX100 II builds on the RX100 with a new back-illuminated Exmor R 1inch CMOS sensor for improved low light performance. The lens is the same Carl Zeiss branded f/1.8 3.6x optical zoom lens with optical image stabilisation. Full HD video recording has been updated with additional frame rate options including 25p and 24p. 

Wi-Fi connectivity has been added allowing images to be transferred to smartphones, to a PC, or to allow remote control of the camera from the smartphone. Setup of the connection has been made extremely easy thanks to the inclusion of NFC (Near Field Communication) which will work with any smartphone that also has NFC built in.

A flash hot-shoe has been added to allow the use of flashes, as well as accessories thanks to the Multi Interface Shoe, which will accept Sony NEX and Alpha accessories such as the electronic viewfinder, external flash, stereo microphone and shutter-release remote controller.

The 3inch 1.229 million dot White Magic LCD screen now tilts up and down for additional shooting creativity, as well as helping get a better view at awkward angles, without adding much additional bulk to the camera. There is also the option to use the control ring to set the zoom length.

Sony Cyber Shot Rx100 II Large (8)

Key Features

  • 20.2 megapixel 1inch Exmor R Backlit CMOS sensor
  • 3.6x optical zoom lens, f/1.8-f/4.9 aperture
  • 28-100mm equivalent lens
  • Optical image stabilisation
  • 3inch 1,229,000 dots tilting screen
  • Wi-Fi Connectivity
  • NFC (Near Field Communication)
  • Full HD video, stereo sound
  • ISO100 - ISO25600
  • 5cm Macro
  • PASM manual controls
  • HDR / RAW / 10fps continuous shooting
  • Flash hot-shoe / multi-interface accessory port

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II Handling

Sony Cyber Shot Rx100 II Large (12)

Handling - The RX100 II has an aluminium body that feels extremely well built with the high quality construction you come to expect from a premium Sony product, however the camera does not feature a front grip and instead you will need to look into adding additional weight to the camera if you want a front grip. The rear of the camera has a good rubber grip where your thumb rests helping you keep hold of the camera, however we would recommend use of the included wrist strap to stave off dropping the camera. 

Sony has added a tilting screen without adding much to the thickness of the camera, just 2.4mm, and the screen works well outdoors, and being able to tilt it can help give a better view when shooting at different angles. In addition to this the top now features a multi-interface shoe, and despite the camera now including Wi-Fi, and NFC, the camera remains pocketable. 

The multi-interface accessory port is the same as used on other Sony cameras, giving access to the Sony NEX and Alpha range of accessories, which include a number of flash options, video light, microphone, including the excellent 2.359 million dot electronic viewfinder (TruFinder OLED EVF). 

Sony Cyber Shot Rx100 II Large (11)

Menus – The menu systems are more like the Sony Alpha range of cameras rather than the NEX cameras, which is a good thing in our opinion. This gives easy access to options, with a clearly laid out menu system. To quickly set the most popular settings, you can simply press the Fn button on the back and from the rear screen you can set Metering, ISO, WB, DRO/HDR, Picture Effect, Focus area and Image quality - the options available here can also be customised to you can get quick access to your favourite settings. There is a memory recall setting on the mode dial so that it's easy to quickly switch to your favourite settings, and the buttons are clearly laid out with clear labelling, although some may find some of the buttons a little small.

Sony Playmemories Mobile App Rx100 II (1) Sony Playmemories Mobile App Rx100 II (5) Sony Playmemories Mobile App Rx100 II (3)

Wi-Fi: To use the Wi-Fi features with your smartphone you need to download the Sony PlayMemories Mobile app for Android or iOS. The app lets you remotely trigger the camera, control the zoom and set a self-timer, or send photos to the smartphone for sharing on social networks. You can also use NFC to setup the connection if your smartphone has NFC built in. Selecting photos can be done on the camera or the smartphone, and the app has options to set the image size transferred, from full size, 2 megapixels, and VGA.

Sony Cyber Shot Rx100 II Large (1)

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 350 shots according to Sony / CIPA test results, although extended use of Wi-Fi is likely to reduce battery noticeably.

Sony Cyber Shot Rx100 II Large (9)

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response 0.00
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.35
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.2
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 2.5
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.9
Shot to Shot with Flash 1.8
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
7fps (12 shots)
Continuous Shooting - Flash 1.7s
Continuous Shooting - RAW 5fps (5 shots)

Despite specifications suggesting 10fps continuous shooting is possible, we managed 7fps when shooting JPEG Fine, and were able to take 12 shots before slowdown. Shooting raw we were able to take 5 shots at 5fps until it slowed to 3-4fps.

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II Performance

Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100 II Sample Photos

Sample Photos - The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 takes an excellent portrait photo with very good detail and skin tones, although there is very slight red-eye. Colour, exposure and detail are all very good outdoors with the camera providing good dynamic range in photos, particularly when DRO (Dynamic Range Optimisation) is switched on.

Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100 II Lens test images

Lens Performance - Despite trying to produce flare in photos shooting into the sun, it very difficult, and the camera performed very well under adverse shooting conditions. The photos show good detail, even in the corners. The camera copes well with chromatic aberration, with very little on show. There is also good detail when using the zoom. There are very low levels of barrel or pincushion distortion in the JPEG files, nor did we see any signs of vignetting.

Macro performance is reasonable focusing on subjects 5cm away from the camera, producing pleasing background blur when the subject is close, thus giving photos the appearance of being taken on a larger sensor camera. Using manual or direct manual focus it's possible to get slightly closer to the subject.

Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100 II ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - Noise is very low at ISO80, 100, 200, 400, and 800 and improved over the RX100, with a very slight increase in noise appearing at ISO1600 as well as a slight reduction in detail. ISO3200 shows a slight increase in noise, and at ISO6400 detail is further reduced, however the results are impressive, with the image looking very usable. At ISO12800 there is a loss of colour and a further loss of detail, however images may still provide useful images particularly if used on the web. Above ISO12800 is only available using the multi-frame noise reduction JPEG only mode, where you can select up to ISO25600 - using this setting shows a slight decrease in detail, with noise being well controlled, and results significantly better than the RX100.

Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100 II White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - AWB (Auto White Balance) performance under tungsten lighting is good with a slightly warm result. Using the tungsten preset gives a slightly more neutral result. Using AWB under fluorescent light gives a good result, although there is a slight cast. There are a number of fluorescent presets that can help produce better results. Detail is very good, even when shooting in low light conditions.

Sony Cyber Shot RX100 II Pano2 DSC00135 | 1/500 sec | f/5.0 | 10.4 mm | ISO 160
Panoramic | 1/500 sec | f/5.0 | 10.4 mm | ISO 160

Panorama mode - Panoramic mode allows both vertical and horizontal panoramics. Options are wide or standard, depending on how much you want to capture.

Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100 II Outdoor images

DRO / HDR options: Dynamic Range Optimisation (DRO) takes one photo and adjusts the levels to bring out more detail in shadow areas. High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode takes three photos at different exposures and automatically combines them in camera to produce images with extended dynamic range.  DRO can be set to auto or Level 1 to 5 depending on how strong you want the effect to be. Similarly HDR can be set to auto or EV1 to 6 giving you control over the effect. When shooting with the HDR mode, RAW is not available, however the camera does save a standard JPEG image as well as the HDR version.

Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100 II Digital filters

Digital Filters - Picture effects can be selected when shooting JPEG images (Raw is not available), there are 33 in total if you include all the options available which you have to scroll through to get back to the OFF position. At least one of each effect is shown above. There are also colour options (called Creative Style), that let you adjust the contrast, saturation, and sharpness.

Video - Optical zoom is available while recording, as well as a wind filter. Video quality is very good with the optical image stabilisation helping to steady to image. The camera gives the choice of AVCHD Full HD video at 25/24p or MP4 recording although the resolution is reduced to 1440 x 1080 when recording MP4. It's possible to take photos while recording at 17 megapixels.

Value For Money

The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II is available for £649 which makes it £100 more than the RX100 when it was introduced at £550, although the RX100 is now available for around £410. The price of the RX100 II is noticeably higher than most other serious compact cameras, however it's one of very few large sensor cameras with optical zoom and is one of the most compact with a large sensor. The addition of Wi-Fi, flash hot-shoe, and tilting screen, makes the extra £100 seem justified considering the additional versatility.

Alternatives to look at include the following serious compacts: Fujifilm X20, Olympus Stylus XZ-2, Canon Powershot G15, as well as the Canon Powershot G1-X - a serious compact with a large 1.5inch CMOS sensor. At this price, you could also have a look at a number of compact system cameras. You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II Verdict

The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II, thanks to Sony's expertise in the image sensor business, features a 1inch 20.2 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor that delivers impressive noise performance and excellent image quality. Combined with a high quality Carl Zeiss f/1.8 3.6x optical zoom lens with image stabilisation and Sony's skillset in miniaturisation means Sony are able to produce a compact digital camera with an abundance of features, which now includes Wi-Fi connectivity and NFC. 

If the lack of a flash hot-shoe put you off the original RX100, then this has been resolved with the RX100 II, and the addition also gives the option of using accessories such as the excellent high resolution electronic viewfinder, as well as studio flash lighting and more. The high resolution 3 inch screen now tilts up and down, but adds just 2.4mm to the thickness of the camera, with the camera still pocketable and compact.

The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II is available now, with an RRP of £649, however if the price seems high, and you don't need Wi-Fi, a flash hot-shoe, and tilting screen, then the previous mode, the RX100, makes an excellent option, as it is still available for around £410. 

The RX100 II's image quality is noticeably improved over the already good RX100, with impressive noise performance even at high ISO settings up to and including ISO6400, with the multi-frame noise reduction performing significantly better than the previous model. With additional features and greater versatility the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II could be the last compact camera you'll ever need, and is therefore Highly Recommended.

  The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II delivers impressive image quality and excellent expandability in a compact and stylish camera.

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II Pros

Excellent image quality
Compact, pocketable camera
Large backlit CMOS sensor
Dual axis electronic level
Flash hot-shoe accessory port
Tilting high resolution 3inch screen
Impressive noise performance
Wi-Fi connectivity

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II Cons

High price
f/4.9 at telephoto end
Little grip at the front
Buttons may be small for some


Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100 II Specifications

Max Aperturef/1.8 - f/4.9
35mm equivalent28mm - 100mm
Optical Zoom3.6x
Image Sensor
Pixels20.2Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)5472
Pixels (H)3648
Sensor TypeBack-lit CMOS (B.S.I.)
Sensor Size1 inch
Sensor Size (width)13.2mm
Sensor Size (height)8.8mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution1,229,000 dots
Touch ScreenNo
Min Focus5cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • AF Tracking
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • Multi
  • Centre
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/2000sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec
Bulb modeNo Data
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
  • A
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity100 - 25600
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-3
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting10fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 640x480 VGA
  • 1440x1080
Video FPS50p, 50i, 25p, 24p
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • Memory Stick (Sony)
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLithium-Ion
Battery Life (CIPA rating)350shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsRechargeable Battery Pack NP-BX1, Micro USB cable, Wrist Strap, Shoulder Strap Adaptor, Instruction Manual

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Photographs taken using the Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100 II

Bubble JoyLone FlowerEarly MorningStairsMoonlit Walk.Crane in the sky...Enjoying the Winter Sun.WinterFlooded golf LinksColoured Sunsrise Deal Pier.Meadow DandelionWindsweptPink Bluebell ?Day Of The DandelionsNatures Cradle

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Sonnar 9 2 United Kingdom
10 Jul 2013 5:31PM
I have the RX 100 and it is an excellent camera. It does have some flaws though.
Firstly, the screen is not visible in bright light unless the sunny weather setting is chosen for LCD brightness.
Also, I find that the lens distorts horribly people who are placed at the side of the picture at the wide angle end.
It also does not quite react quickly enough to capture fleeting facial expressions.
kombizz 17 601 1 United States
11 Jul 2013 6:33PM
I wonder if Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R is better than this camera or not?
Also how good this camera is for Macro Photography?
Is there any macro prime lens for Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II ?
Sonnar 9 2 United Kingdom
11 Jul 2013 9:16PM
It has a built in zoom lens - not interchangeable. Macro is OK on the RX100.
Niknut Plus
12 3.3k 82 United Kingdom
18 Jul 2013 8:59PM
Very impressive results in the Hi-Def images, with clean ISO up to at least 6400 !!!!

Just possible to see a dedicated Exp.Comp. button at the bottom of the rear scroll
wheel, so with the Fn button set for ISO, it'd be a cracker to use........

Wonder now if the clip-on EVF is gonna cost arm & a leg, even if it is a good'n ??

Interesting to see if the price comes down some, but Sony stuff seems to hold it's
price more than some others ??

But at least it's top quality build with similar results...& truly pocketable !!....yummy !!!!
Sonnar 9 2 United Kingdom
21 Jul 2013 10:43AM
I think that the EVF is around 250 which does somewhat bump up the price of the camera if you want a viewfinder - which I do...

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