Sony RX100: The Best Compact Cameras Ever Made

RV travel and photography go hand in hand. For an outstanding travel camera that’s so small it fits in your pocket, consider the Sony RX100 (http://goo.gl/HkYcXg) series. To add pro video features and wifi to transfer photos, go for the “sequel” RX100 Mark 2 (http://goo.gl/sqJ7qM). These are being called the best compact cameras ever made. They are loaded with professional features, the most important of which is a large 1” imaging sensor. The sensor is the heart of the digital camera.

The best compact cameras ever made. (Click the pic for more info.)

The best compact cameras ever made. (Click the pic for more info.)

We have an RX100 Mark 2, and feel it works especially well in the context of RV travel. When we travel, we want to capture great photos. Smartphone cameras often leave us unsatisfied, but we don’t always want to lug around a bunch of heavy DSLR equipment.

An RX100 gives you an image quality that’s comparable to a DSLR, but in a wonderfully tiny package. The essential upside of this camera is its size – it offers a high quality image, but the camera is small – it’s truly pocketable, although it’s a hunk of well built metal. If you are wanting a pocketable pro cam, this qualifies. It’s ideal for taking on a hike or casual walkabout.

Alas, the RX100 Mk2 feels clunky in the pocket. It’s a little heavy because it’s made of solid metal.

Build quality is excellent. It’s fatter than a smartphone, but it also delivers a much higher image quality. Most smartphones come equipped with a tiny 1/3.2-inch imaging sensor. The RX100 sensor is a 1-inch sensor.

Here's our own RX100 Mark 2. We've attached a textured skin, corner grip, and wrist strap to our camera. As you can see, it's a small camera. (Click the pic for more info.)

Here's our own RX100 Mark 2. We've attached a textured skin, corner grip, and wrist strap to our camera. As you can see, it's a small camera. (Click the pic for more info.)

That sensor is paired to an excellent f1.8 Carl Zeiss lens. The upshot? The camera is excellent in low light. When the sun goes down and the lights are low, most smartphone cameras are useless. But the RX100 is capable of getting nice photos even in low light.

I rarely ever use the zoom since it reduces the available aperture. But if you like a zoom lens, this one goes from 28mm to 100mm.

Sony has included a zillion picture modes & features. Some people dub this a drawback, but personally I like all the options such as HDR. It’s up to you to figure out how to use ’em. Some of the auto modes are overly auto – you may get best results by dialing down the computer.

Photo taken with the Sony RX100 Mark 2.

Photo taken with the Sony RX100 Mark 2.

Controls are cramped, which I guess is unavoidable in such a small space. Sure, you can fly in full manual mode – but can you figure out the controls? It will take some time. I love shooting in manual with most cameras, but it’s not intuitive here.

Video is outstanding. in the RX100 Mark 2 Sony’s given us 24p and 60p frame rates. Image stabilization is top notch. Audio is surprisingly good with an external mic (via the multi interface show). I have two external mics (yes, I’m stuffing money into Sony’s pockets) and they both work well.

The RX100 Mark 2 comes equipped with an extendable tilt screen for taking shots at strange angles. The tiltable LCD screen of the RX100 Mk2 is helpful, but it would be more helpful if it flipped forward like a video camera (and like the Nikon D5300 series).

We want a viewfinder but are not inclined to pay Sony’s high price for one.

Handling is poor out of the box. We added a texture skin AND the grip, and everything is much improved.

Battery life is excellent. Better yet, it accepts low cost aftermarket batteries without complaint.

Overall we’re pleased with the RX100 Mk2 and would buy it again.

You will get radically different results with this camera depending on its settings. Sure, that’s true of any pro level camera, but this one is styled as a point-and-shoot. Don’t think of it as a point-and-shoot. It’s a powerful, even finicky, camera that’s packaged in a deceptively small body.

The Sony PlayMemories app works well. You can control the camera with a phone or ipad! It’s actually a fantastic way to remotely operate the camera. Images are easily transferred from camera to smartphone or tablet.

The RX100 Mark 2 is an ideal RV travel camera. It’s loaded with just about every feature one could want, yet it’s amazingly small. If you are unsatisfied with the images coming out of your smartphone or tablet, this is a great option. If you are not interested in the wifi and video features of the Mark 2, the first generation RX100 takes wonderful still images and is considered by many to be a modern classic.

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