One of the challenges of coming out with a great product is following it up — it hangs around the neck of its successor like an albatross of sorts. And Sony must have felt the same way when it got to work on a follow-up to the Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 which many hailed as one of the best point and shoot cameras we had ever seen, albeit a pricey one. The secret of the RX100’s success was simple enough — a 1.0-inch CMOS sensor in an amazingly compact body (it fit more easily into our trouser pockets than some phablets we know) and took pictures that were brilliant in terms of detail and colour.
Well, Sony has followed the ‘if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it’ path with the DSC-RX100 II. The design of the two cameras is so similar that when viewed from front, they both look like identical twins, with the same classy black metal finish large lens in the front portion. Take a closer peek, however, and changes start becoming evident. For one, while the RX-100 II has almost identical dimensions to the RX-100, it is a bit thicker and a reason for this is the 3.0-inch display at its rear. There is also what Sony terms a ‘multi interface shoe’ on top of the device, allowing users to attach accessories like an electronic viewfinder, a microphone or another flash (the camera comes with an inbuilt Xenon one), under the hood, and you will find NFC and Wi-Fi connectivity, letting you transfer pictures to your tablet and phones in seconds.
Though, the star performer remains the 1.0-inch CMOS sensor, which has the same megapixel count (20.2-megapixels) as its predecessor, but now comes with much more low-light photography muscle, delivering good results in terms of colour and detail even without the flash. It remains a wonderful performer in normal light conditions. There are a number of shooting modes available, and these are accessible through the dial on top of the camera. You can also tweak the setting using the control ring around the lens. You will need to spend some time getting familiar with the controls and settings if you want to really get the most out of the camera — there are several combinations and permutations to explore — but the real charm is that even as a pure point and shooter, it delivers brilliant results.
It does inherit some of the flaws of its predecessor. We would have really loved an optical viewfinder on such a powerful camera, and an optical zoom of 3.6X seems downright measly, although we are sure that the form factor restricted how far Sony could go in this regard. Finally, there’s the matter of price: just like the RX-100, the RX-100 II is an expensive proposition at R42,990. It more than holds its own in terms of image quality, but photography fans will point to the flexibility that a DSLR provides. If you need a great photograph from a very compact camera, with budget being no restriction, you will be hard pressed to do better than this. The big question, of course, is whether it is worth the R8,000-odd more it charges than its still superb predecessor. If you value Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity and the ability to tag on accessories, it certainly is. If not, well, remember what we said about that albatross?
} CMOS sensor functions well even without a flash
} NFC and Wi-Fi connectivity is present
} Optical viewfinder is absent
} Highly priced
Sensor: 20.2 Megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor
Lens: 3.6X optical zoom
Video: Full HD video
Disply: 3.0-inch tiltable LCD
Connectivity: NFC, Wi-Fi
Price: Rs 42,990
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