Basic Specifications
Full model name: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 II
Resolution: 20.20 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1 inch
(13.2mm x 8.8mm)
Lens: 8.33x zoom
(24-200mm eq.)
Viewfinder: EVF / LCD
Native ISO: 100 - 12,800
Extended ISO: 64 - 25,600
Shutter: 1/32000 - 30 seconds
Max Aperture: 2.8
Dimensions: 5.1 x 3.5 x 4.0 in.
(129 x 88 x 102 mm)
Weight: 29.9 oz (849 g)
includes batteries
Availability: 07/2015
Manufacturer: Sony
Full specs: Sony RX10 II specifications
20.20
Megapixels
8.33x zoom 1 inch
size sensor
image of Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 II
Front side of Sony RX10 II digital camera Front side of Sony RX10 II digital camera Front side of Sony RX10 II digital camera Front side of Sony RX10 II digital camera Front side of Sony RX10 II digital camera

RX10 II Summary

Two years after its predecessor invented the large-sensor, long-zoom category, the Sony RX10 II is here to take things to the next level. It aims to replace your bulky interchangeable-lens camera with a veritable Swiss Army knife compendium of photographic features in a beautifully-crafted body. But the RX10 II is no longer in a class of one, and there's no getting around the fact that it is much more expensive than its rivals. Does it have what it takes to justify that extra expense? Find out now in our in-depth Sony RX10 II review!

Pros

Excellent build quality; Superb viewfinder; Excellent image and video quality for its class; Bright and versatile zoom lens; Very fast autofocus; Great burst performance and depth; Incredible slow-motion capabilities; Really intuitive Wi-Fi image transfer; Good battery life.

Cons

Expensive compared to its nearest competitors; Less zoom reach than rivals; Soft in corners wide-open; Slow buffer clearing; Small rear control dial has poor tactile feedback; Long delay to render each high frame-rate movie; No tilt/swivel or touch on the LCD panel.

Price and availability

Available since July 2015 in the US market, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 II carries a list price of around US$1,300. Although that's around the same price as the original RX10 at its introduction, it's quite a bit higher than rivals. The Panasonic FZ1000, for example, lists for only $800, a full $500 below the RX10 II. And the Canon G3X has a list price of US$1,000, still some $300 less than the Sony. Of course, while they're all large-sensor long-zooms, all three cameras have quite different feature sets, strengths and weaknesses. There's a lot more to the story than price alone, as you'll find out as you read through our full review!

Imaging Resource rating

4.5 out of 5.0

Sony RX10 II Review

by , Gannon Burgett and William Brawley
Preview posted: 06/11/2015

Updates:
07/28/2015: First Shots posted
08/05/2015: Real World Gallery Photos added
08/17/2015: Performance test results posted
08/20/2015: Field Test Part I posted
09/11/2015: Field Test Part II posted
09/25/2015: Print Quality analysis posted
: Image Quality Comparison and Conclusion posted

---
Special update: The Sony RX10 II was named Best Enthusiast Zoom camera in our 2015 Camera of the Year awards!
---

Sony RX10 II Review -- Product Image

In late 2013, Sony created a brand-new segment for the digital camera market: The large-sensor, long-zoom camera. In an instant, the Sony RX10 redefined the image quality you could achieve, vaulting past smaller-sensored rivals thanks to its 1"-type image sensor. And for a long eight months, it had the market all to itself. Then the Panasonic FZ1000 hit the scene, offering the same sensor size and an even more powerful lens for a whole lot less money. (And since then, another rival has also gotten in on the game, in the form of the Canon G3X.)

The Sony RX10 II, then, lands in an entirely different and more competitive market to that which its predecessor first created. Yet take a glance at its exterior and you could be forgiven for thinking it was unchanged: Looking only at the body and lens of both RX10 and RX10 II, you'd be hard-pressed to find any difference between the pair. Underneath its skin, though, the Sony RX10 II is a far more powerful and capable camera than was its predecessor.

In much the same way that Sony improved its RX100-series pocket cameras with the Sony RX100 IV, the RX10 II gets most of its new capabilities from the company's brand new 20.2-megapixel 1"-type Exmor RS stacked CMOS sensor with integrated DRAM, which allows for much faster performance.

And what a handy increase in performance it is! The RX10 II's top burst rate now hits a maximum of 14 frames per second in Speed Priority Continuous mode, and 5 fps in standard continuous mode, a significant improvement over the earlier model's slower 10 fps and 2.5 fps rates, respectively. And at the same time, the RX10 II's buffer has also increased to accommodate 44 Extra Fine JPEG frames or 29 raw frames in out tests, a big step above the original RX10's 21 JPEG or 10 raw frames. (See our Performance test results for details.)

Sony RX10 II Review -- Product Image

Autofocus performance is also much improved, now employing Sony's "Fast Intelligent AF" technology to allow manufacturer-claimed AF speeds as fast as just 0.09 seconds.

In addition, the new Sony Exmor RS sensor provides electronic shutter capability up to 1/32,000 second, which comes in very handy when shooting in bright conditions at wide apertures. And Sony claims that the RX10 II shows little to no rolling shutter "jello" effect, thanks to the high-speed readout enabled by the fast, local DRAM.

But perhaps the biggest news is that the RX10 II is now capable of capturing 4K (3,840 x 2,160 pixel) video at rates of 30 or 24 fps, and storing it to the in-camera memory card for as long as 29 minutes per clip. The RX10 II's 4K video is encoded using an XAVC S codec at a bit rate of up to 100Mbps, and even more impressively uses full pixel readout without pixel binning. (That translates to excellent video quality with minimal artifacts.)

And that's not all, either. If you drop the video capture resolution to Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) at a rate of 60 fps or lower, you can also capture high-resolution 16.8-megapixel stills using Sony's Dual Rec function. (And if you are worried about shaking the camera or inducing handling noise into your video, the RX10 II can also be programmed to periodically capture stills automatically during the video, without user intervention.)

Sony RX10 II Review -- Product Image

The RX10 Mark II can also capture very high frame rate, super slow motion video clips at up to a staggering 240, 480 or 960 frames per second in NTSC mode, and then play it back at anywhere from 24 to 60 frames per second, allowing everything from 4x to 40x slow-motion effects. (Capture rates are just slightly higher at 250, 500 or 1,000 fps for PAL mode, but playback rates also differ, meaning that the slow-motion effect is identical.)

There is a catch, in that you can only record two or four seconds of high frame-rate video in each clip, but that's not actually the limitation it might sound to be. (Typically, you only need very short clips to capture the key moment; a longer clip would quickly get boring.)

And where these high frame-rate modes impress most of all is in their relatively high resolution compared to other high frame rate-capable consumer cameras to date. All HFR video from the Sony RX10 II is output at Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixel) resolution, but that's after upsampling. Even prior to upsampling, though, 240p / 250p video is recorded at a surprisingly high 1,824 x 1,026-pixel resolution.

Stepping up to 480p / 500p capture does degrade the quality quite a bit with a capture resolution of 1,676 x 566 pixels (approximately halving the vertical resolution), but it's actually still pretty usable. And even the highest-rate 960p / 1,000p capture has 1,136 x 384 resolution before upsampling.

Sony RX10 II Review -- Product Image

Apart from the Mark II badging, nothing has changed from the front to distinguish the Sony RX10 II from its predecessor. As previously mentioned, the optics of the RX10 II remain unchanged from its older sibling, offering the same excellent Zeiss-branded 24 to 200mm-equivalent zoom range, with both an f/2.8 constant aperture and Sony's SteadyShot image stabilization.

The top of the camera is very similar to the RX10 as well, though the mode dial now has an MR position capable of accessing up to 3 sets of custom settings instead of 2 dedicated custom settings. That freed up space to add an HFR mode setting for quick access to High Frame Rate video. Also note the single Custom button on the RX10 is now labeled C1 on the RX10 II -- we'll see why in a moment.

The Sony RX10 II's sensitivity range is similar to that of the original RX10, with the same upper limit of ISO 12,800-equivalent, which can be extended to ISO 25,600-equivalent when using Multi Frame NR. However, the base sensitivity is now ISO 100-equivalent versus ISO 125, and it's expandable down to ISO 64-equivalent versus 80 on the earlier camera.

Sony RX10 II Review -- Product Image

Of course, all of those pixels need to be processed by something. To handle the workload, Sony packed in its latest BIONZ X-branded image processor. And with all of that updated hardware also comes new firmware functionality. The Sony RX10 II now includes a more robust flexible spot autofocus function, a new self-timer duration of 5 seconds, and a longer shutter speed of 30 seconds when shooting in Program or Aperture Priority modes. Also added are new Picture Profile options for movies that let you precisely adjust black level, black gamma, gamma (including S-Log2), color mode, saturation, color depth, knee and more.

For the RX10 II's electronic viewfinder, Sony has opted to use a new 2.35-million dot XGA OLED Tru-Finder display, almost doubling the dot count of its predecessor's EVF. Sony claims the updated EVF offers higher contrast and more natural color rendering as well, and although we didn't have a chance to try both old and new versions side-by-side, we'd certainly agree that it's a very impressive finder indeed.

The tilting three-inch, 1.23 million-dot LCD monitor on the rear of the Sony RX10 II remains unchanged from its predecessor, as does the control layout. One change that's visible from the back, though, is that the Delete button has an additional C2 label, indicating it now serves as a second customizable button in capture mode.

Sony RX10 II Review -- Product Image

The Sony RX10 II uses the same NP-FW50 lithium-ion battery pack as did the RX10, but CIPA-rated battery life differs slightly, gaining in electronic viewfinder mode at the expense of arm's length capture. While the RX10 was rated for 420 shots using the LCD and 340 shots with the EVF, the RX10 II is rated for 400 and 360 shots respectively.

And with that, let's dig into the meat of the review with our real-world field tests, lab test results and plenty more besides!

Sony RX10 II Field Test Part I

A hard act, followed: Sony's impressive long-zoom just got even better

by Mike Tomkins |

Sony RX10 II shooter's report photoBack in late 2013, Sony launched the RX10, a camera which promised to do the same thing for the long-zoom camera that its RX100-series had for pocket cameras. With a much larger than average 1"-type sensor, the RX10 could capture really great photos that were packed with detail.

And while it wouldn't rival a DSLR or mirrorless camera in low light, the Sony RX10's bright constant aperture 24-200mm equivalent zoom lens would've required a hefty bag of glass to match with an interchangeable-lens body.

I was a big fan of the original Sony RX10
I first got the chance to shoot with the Sony RX10 alongside the Sony A7 and A7R mirrorless cameras, and while their full-frame sensors ensured that the latter duo grabbed all the headlines, the long-zoom RX10 was the sleeper hit for me. Nor was I alone in that assessment: We gave the RX10 our 2013 Camera of the Year award in the Enthusiast Zoom category.

How does the Sony RX10 II shoot in the real world?

Find out in Field Test Part I

Sony RX10 II Field Test Part II

Shooting the 'works at Knoxville's final Boomsday

by Mike Tomkins |

Sony RX10 II shooter's report photoIf you've read the first part of my Sony RX10 II field test, you'll know that I've already found a whole lot to like about this camera. (If you've not already read that first Field Test, I'd recommend starting there and then coming back to this one afterwards!)

A quick recap for those who've just tuned in!
Just as did its predecessor a couple of years earlier, the Sony RX10 II packs a whole lot of camera into a solid and surprisingly compact body. It would take at least a few lenses to match the RX10 II's capabilities in an interchangeable-lens camera, and it's really quite freeing to shoot with something of not dissimilar size to an entry-level DSLR with kit lens, and yet not feel limited by it.

The RX10 II still has the same quality feel and (for the most part) good ergonomics as did its predecessor. And its now even more of a pleasure than ever to shoot with, thanks to a superb new high-resolution electronic viewfinder, which truly makes manual focusing a snap.

How did the Sony RX10 II perform on my night shoot?

Find out in Field Test Part II

Sony RX10 II Image Quality

Pitting Sony's flagship enthusiast zoom against its rivals

by Mike Tomkins |

Sony RX10 II image qualityBelow are crops from our laboratory Still Life target comparing the Sony RX10 II vs. the original Sony RX10, Canon G3X, Panasonic FZ1000, Olympus Stylus 1 and Nikon J5. These models represent the RX10 II's direct predecessor, both of its closest rivals, an enthusiast-grade long-zoom camera with constant-aperture lens but a smaller sensor size, and a very compact mirrorless camera with the same sensor size.

NOTE: These images are best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). All cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses. Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera.

Sony RX10 II Conclusion

No longer unrivaled, but undeniably spectacular

by Mike Tomkins |

Sony RX10 II image quality2013's Sony RX10 was a camera that went unrivaled, a fact due in no small part to the fact that it had no direct rivals. The closest alternatives were a long-zoom whose image quality was crippled by its smaller sensor size, or an interchangeable-lens camera which couldn't compete on size and weight -- at least not if you wanted the same focal length range and bright f/2.8 constant aperture.

But time has moved on, and two years later that is no longer the case. Where the original RX10 launched into a market of its own creation, the Sony RX10 II must now do battle with cameras from both Panasonic and Canon.

There's no question about it: The Sony RX10 II is an even better camera than ever before. The same great body, lens, and resolution are retained, but 2015's model focuses faster, shoots faster for longer, has an even more enjoyable viewfinder and -- for those who favor using that finder -- even boasts just slightly better battery life.

Want to know what all the fuss is about?

Find out in our Sony RX10 II Conclusion

You can compare the Sony RX10 II with both its predecessor and its nearest rivals -- or for that matter, any other camera of your choosing -- using our Camera Comparison tool! Here are a few of the most obvious comparisons to get you started:

Sony RX10 II vs Sony RX10

Sony RX10 II vs Panasonic FZ1000

Sony RX10 II vs Canon G3X

 

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