Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 II Review

September 14, 2015 | Jack Baker |
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Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 20 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5Mb.

Images from the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 II immediately impress thanks to vibrant colour reproduction and good detail capture at lower sensitivity settings. Auto white balance is accurate and reliable, whilst matrix metering produces balanced exposures. The sensor's dynamic range is also very good and can be enhanced further by exploiting the camera's multi-shot HDR ability.

Image noise is well controlled up to ISO 800, but at this sensitivity grain is becoming visible when High ISO Noise Reduction is disabled. Colour speckling starts to creep in at ISO 3200, and by the maximum standard sensitivity of ISO 12800, both forms of noise are obvious, even when viewing at 25% image size. But on the upside, there's still plenty of detail in these high ISO shots. If you'd rather have cleaner images, setting High ISO Noise Reduction to Normal will dramatically reduce noise, but also smear some detail in the process. This only becomes visible at ISO6400, but it does demonstrate the limitations of the 1-inch sensor, which simply can't match the signal to noise ratio of larger APS-C designs.

There's little to find fault with the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 II's lens though. It's almost distortion-free throughout its focal range and is also very sharp, right into the corners of frame. You'll see some minor chromatic aberration on high-contrast boundaries, but it's nothing to worry about. The lens' f/2.8 aperture, combined with the relatively large 1-inch sensor size, also gives you the ability to shoot images with a shallow depth and attractive background bokeh blur.

Noise

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 II has a standard sensitivity range between ISO 100 and 12800, selectable down to 1/3EV increments. This can be extended down to ISO 64, whilst the Multi Frame NR feature can add an ISO 25600 sensitivity by compiling multiple consecutive exposures into a single image with supposedly reduced noise levels, though this isn't available when shooting RAW or RAW+JPEG. We captured these ISO test shots with High ISO Noise Reduction set to Normal, though this can also be set to Low, or disabled completely.

JPEG Raw

ISO 64 (100% Crop)

ISO 64 (100% Crop)

iso64.jpg iso64raw.jpg
   

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

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ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

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ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

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ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

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ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

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ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

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ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

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ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

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ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

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ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

 
iso25600.jpg N/A

Focal Range

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 II's 8.3x zoom lens achieves a focal range of 24-200mm when converted into a 35mm camera format. Here you can see the range this gives, which is enough for most shooting scenarios. However, unlike conventional bridge cameras generally capable of over 40x magnification, you won't be able to zoom in on distant objects or animals and have them fill the frame. You do however get an f/2.8 constant aperture, which combined with the Optical SteadyShot image stabilisation, improves low light shooting by facilitating faster shutter speeds and lower ISO sensitivities.

24mm

200mm

focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg

File Quality

Five quality settings are available: RAW, RAW+JPEG (Extra fine, Fine and Standard JPEG compression options), JPEG Extra fine, JPEG Fine and JPEG Standard. You can also chose to shoot at 20MP, 10MP or 5MP image sizes, and there's 4:3, 16:9 and 1:1 aspect ratio options if you don't fancy the default 3:2 ratio.

Extra Fine (11.2Mb) (100% Crop) Fine (5.89Mb) (100% Crop)
quality_extra_fine.jpg quality_fine.jpg
   
Standard (4.04Mb) (100% Crop) RAW (19.9Mb) (100% Crop)
quality_standard.jpg quality_raw.jpg

Macro

Sony quotes a 3cm minimum focussing distance for the RX10 II, and we found this to be accurate. However, at such close range, the large lens inevitable casts a shadow over your subject.

Macro

Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg

Flash

Five flash settings are available: Autoflash, Fill-flash, Slow Sync and Rear Sync and Wireless. A separate menu option controls whether or not red-eye reduction is active, but even without this enabled, the camera successfully avoided red-eye in our testing. The flash itself is powerful and shows little evidence of vignetting when shooting a white surface from 1.5m with the lens set to its 24mm-equivalent focal length.

Suppressed Flash - Wide Angle (24mm)

Forced Flash - Wide Angle (24mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Suppressed Flash - Telephoto (200mm)

Forced Flash - Telephoto (200mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Forced Flash setting or the Red-Eye Correction option caused any amount of red-eye.

Forced Flash

Forced Flash (100% Crop)
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Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg

Night

We shot this night-time scene in three ways: Night Scene mode captured it with a long 1.6-second exposure at ISO 100, making a tripod essential. Superior Auto mode used multiple frames to reduce image noise whilst also keeping the shutter speed relatively high at 1/8th-second. Finally, we switched to shutter priority mode to manually select a one second exposure at ISO 400 which produced the most accurate colours with minimal image noise.

Night Auto

Night Auto (100% Crop)

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Night Scene Mode

Night Scene Mode (100% Crop)

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Night Long Exposure

Night Long Exposure (100% Crop)

night_long.jpg night_long1.jpg
   

Steadyshot

Sony's Optical SteadyShot image stabilisation system does a good job of ironing out any camera shake, although this is partly because the RX10 II's 200mm-equivalent maximum telephoto reach isn't a massively challenging focal length to hold steady. Unlike many of Sony's compact cameras, the RX10 II will also let you disable image stabilisation.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Shake Reduction Off (100% Crop)

Shake Reduction On (100% Crop)

1/13th / 200mm antishake1.jpg antishake1a.jpg

High Dynamic Range

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 II's HDR mode can be activated automatically, or you can choose to have 1-6 stops of exposure variation, depending on how contrasty the scene you're shooting is. These samples demonstrate what 3-4 stops of variation can do. The results have greatly-enhanced highlight and shadow detail, yet also look impressively natural.

Off

On

hdr_01.jpg hdr_02.jpg
   

Off

On

hdr_03.jpg hdr_04.jpg

Picture Effects

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 II contains 13 Picture Effects, some with additional sub options: Toy camera (normal, cool, warm, green, magenta), Pop color, Posterization (colour, mono), Retro photo, Soft high-key, Partial color (red, green, blue, yellow), High-contrast mono, Soft focus (low, mid, high), HDR painting (low, mid, high), Rich-tone mono, Miniature (top, middle horizontal, bottom, left, middle vertical, right), Watercolor, Illustration (low, mid, high).

Toy Camera

Pop Color

picture_effect_01.jpg picture_effect_02.jpg
   

Posterization

Retro

picture_effect_03.jpg picture_effect_04.jpg
   

Soft High-key

Partial Color (Red)

picture_effect_05.jpg picture_effect_06.jpg
   

High Contrast Mono

Soft Focus

picture_effect_07.jpg picture_effect_08.jpg
   

HDR Painting

Rich-tone Mono

picture_effect_09.jpg picture_effect_10.jpg
   

Miniature

Watercolor

picture_effect_11.jpg picture_effect_12.jpg
   

Illustration

 
picture_effect_13.jpg  

Sweep Panorama

Sony's iSweep Panorama mode gives horizontal and vertical panning options. Two horizontal widths are available: Standard (roughly 120 degrees), and Wide (180 degrees). It's a shame there's no ability to stop panning at will, but the results are almost seamlessly stitched and are consistently exposed. What's more, unlike cheaper CyberShot compacts which output panoramas at around 1080 vertical pixels, the RX10 II produces much larger images which are 1856 pixels high.

Standard
panorama1.jpg
 
Wide
panorama2.jpg