Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 II is sturdy, with solid features

Images shot with the RX10 II are vivid with sharp details and they exhibit surprisingly low barrel distortion throughout its long focal range.
Images shot with the RX10 II are vivid with sharp details and they exhibit surprisingly low barrel distortion throughout its long focal range.PHOTO: SONY

Superzoom compact cameras like the Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 II are also called bridge cameras - because they bridge the gap between compact cameras and DSLR cameras.

Most bridge cameras' lenses have small apertures that go no larger than f/6.5 or f/8, at the maximum focal length. Not so the RX10 II, which has a constant f/2.8 aperture throughout.

In terms of appearance, it looks exactly like its predecessor. However, it now uses a stacked 1-inch CMOS image sensor. Unlike conventional image sensors, stacked image sensors are built by putting layers on top of one another. This means there is more space behind each individual pixel for high-speed signal processing circuitry and faster data readout.

An attached memory chip acts as a buffer to store data, so the Bionz image processor can handle data at a smoother pace. This allows RX10 II to capture slow-motion video at up to 960 frames per second (fps), as well as 4K (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) video. Resolution of its Oled electronic viewfinder (EVF) has gone up to 2.36 million dots, from 1.44 million dots. The fastest shooting speed is now 14fps, up from 10fps. Other features include the ability to shoot 16.8-megapixel still images during 4K video recording.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $1,899

    IMAGE SENSOR: 20.2-megapixel 1-inch Exmor RS CMOS

    LENS: 24-200mm f/2.8

    DISPLAY: Tiltable 3-inch LCD with 1.23 million dots; Built-in electronic viewfinder with 2.36 million dots

    SENSITIVITY: ISO 64-12,800

    SHOOTING SPEED: Up to 14 frames per second

    CONNECTIVITY: Wi-Fi, Near Field Communications

    WEIGHT: 813g (with battery and memory card)

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 5/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Thanks to its magnesium-alloy body, the RX10 II has a solid and sturdy build. Its rubberised grip and contoured rear thumb rest allow you to hold it comfortably. I was able to wrap all of my fingers around the grip. On the downside, it is as heavy and bulky as a DSLR camera.

Handling is good. All of the controls and buttons are easily accessible. There is a mode dial on the top left with an exposure compensation dial on the top right.

You can change the aperture size using the aperture barrel ring, and the shutter speed using the rear dial, when in manual mode.

You change focal length by using the zoom lever around the shutter release. You can also do so by turning the step zoom barrel of the lens.

The upgraded EVF is sharp, bright and almost as good as an optical viewfinder. The 3-inch display can be tilted downwards by only 45 degrees or upwards by 84 degrees, which may not please selfie lovers.

The RX10 II starts up pretty quickly, at 1.4 seconds. Shutting down takes 0.4 second longer. Using an SD card with a writing speed of 95MB per second, the camera captured 31 RAW images in 4.5 seconds before the buffer ran out. This is fast for a bridge camera.

Autofocusing (AF) is almost instantaneous in bright sunlight. Even in dim conditions, it takes at most 1.5 seconds to get focus lock with the aid of the AF assist light.

Images shot with the camera are vivid with sharp details and they exhibit surprisingly low barrel distortion throughout its long focal range.

I saw no visible noise up to ISO 800. Even at ISO 1,600, while there are visible noise artefacts, there is no significant loss of details. Pictures shot at ISO 3,200 are good for small prints or Web use. But anything above ISO 6,400 is not recommended due to much loss in details.

Videos that I shot with the camera, both in full high definition (HD) and 4K, are generally crisp. But slow-motion videos are not as sharp. This is because the camera can capture at a resolution of only 1,136 x 384 pixels in this mode. It then uses upscaling to achieve full HD resolution.

Battery life is around 400 still images on a full charge, which is actually 20 fewer than its predecessor.

Trevor Tan

  • Verdict: With its solid build, good handling and great image quality, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 II is the superzoom compact camera to get - if you do not mind the bulk and price.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2015, with the headline 'Sturdy, with solid features'. Print Edition | Subscribe