Which is the Best DSC-RX100?
The DSC-RX100 Mark VI or the DSC-RX100 VA?
Back in June 2012, the first (of the series) Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 was announced. The camera quickly became a top draw in the competition for the best compact camera in the market.
Since then, Sony has launched a number of upgrades for the camera. The latest and the greatest in this series being the Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VI and the VA.
We shall be retracing our footsteps and make, what is essential, a Sony RX100 comparisons of the various models that have been released over the years. We shall also find out how the older versions stack up against the top two cameras in this series and also figure out how the camera has evolved over the years.
- 24-200mm F2.8-F4.5 ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T lens
- World's fastest (0.03 sec) hybrid AF system (contrast + phase)
- Battery life:Up to 330 shots / 165 minutes
- In-the-box: Rechargeable Battery Pack NP-BX1, AC Adaptor, Micro USB cable, Wrist Strap, Strap Adapter
The Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VI was announced in June 2018 whereas the DSC-RX100 VA was announced in July 2018. The latter being a subtle re-release of the DSC-RX100 V with an upgraded chip and some new features.
|Specification / Camera||RX100||RX100 II||RX100 III||RX100 IV||RX100 V||RX100 VI||RX100 VA|
|Sensor Technology||Exmor CMOS||Exmor R BSI CMOS||Exmor R BSI CMOS||Exmor R BSI CMOS||Exmor RS BSI CMOS||Exmor RS BSI CMOS||Exmor RS BSI CMOS|
|Effective Resolution||20.2 megapixel||20.2 megapixel||20.1 megapixel||20.1 megapixel||20.1 megapixel||20.1 megapixel||20.1 megapixel|
|Image Processor||BIONZ||BIONZ||BIONZ X||BIONZ X||BIONZ X||BIONZ X||BIONZ X|
|Native ISO Range||125-6400||160-12800||125-12800||125-12800||125-12800||125-12800||125-12800|
|No. of Phase Detection AF Points||NA||NA||NA||NA||315||315||315|
|Focal Length||10.4 - 37.1mm||10.4 - 37.1mm||8.8 - 25.7mm||8.8 - 25.7mm||8.8 - 25.7mm||8.8 - 74mm||8.8 - 25.7mm|
|Maximum Aperture||f/1.8 - f/4.9||f/1.8 - f/4.9||f/1.8 - f/2.8||f/1.8 - f/2.8||f/1.8 - f/2.8||f/2.8 - f/4.5||f/1.8 - f/2.8|
|Built-in ND Filter||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Start-up Time||2.8 secs||2.8 secs||2 secs||2 secs||2 secs||2 secs||2 secs|
|Fastest Shutter Speed||1/2000 sec||1/2000 sec||1/2000 sec||1/2000 sec||1/2000 sec||1/2000 sec||1/2000 sec|
|Built-in Electronic View Finder||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Video Resolution||1080p @ 60 fps||1080p @ 60 fps||1080p @ 60 fps||4K / UHD @ 30 fps||4K / UHD @ 30 fps||4K / UHD @ 30 fps||4K / UHD @ 30 fps|
|S-Log2 / S-Gamut||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Burst Speed||10 fps||10 fps||10 fps||16 fps||24 fps||24 fps||24 fps|
|Slow Motion Capabilities||No||No||720p @ 120 fps||1080p @ 960 fps||1080p @ 960 fps||1080p @ 960 fps||1080p @ 960 fps|
|Rear LCD Screen||3" 1229k-dots||3" 1229k-dots||3" 1228.8k-dots||3" 1228.8k-dots||3" 1228.8k-dots||3" 921,600-dots||3" 1228.8k-dots|
|Battery Life||1240 mAh||1240 mAh||1240 mAh||1240 mAh||1240 mAh||1240 mAh||1240 mAh|
|Dimensions||4.0 x 2.3 x 1.4"||3 x 4.75 x 2.5"||4.0 x 2.3 x 1.6"||4.0 x 2.4 x 1.6"||4.0 x 2.3 x 1.6"||4.0 x 2.3 x 1.7"||4.0 x 2.3 x 1.6"|
Just in case you are wondering, the original DSC-RX100 was announced back in June 2012. Both the cameras feature a 20.1 megapixel 1” Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor. Both the cameras produce large fine JPEGs of the size 5472 x 3648 pixels. Not much has changed since the original DSC-RX100 as it also shot large fine JPEGs of the same size on a similar 20.2-megapixel sensor.
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The original DSC-RX100 had an Exmor CMOS imaging sensor paired with a BIONZ image processing engine. The second version of the camera had a backside-illuminated sensor design. Paired with a BIONZ image processing engine. The same sensor design was retained in the third version of the camera too. However, the processor the sensor was paired with was the BIONZ X.
The fourth version of the camera saw the introduction of the Exmor RS CMOS sensor. This is a stacked backside illuminated design meant to produce good results even in low light situations. Version VI of the camera features a front end LSI along with a stacked design for superior auto-focusing as well as excellent low light performance.
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- AUTO FOCUS: World's fastest (0.05 sec.) hybrid AF system (contrast + phase) which is great for action and wildlife...
- AF DETECTION: The most comprehensive phase detection coverage in a compact camera utilizing 315 Auto Focus points
- SHOOTING SPEED: World's fastest continuous shooting speed at 24fps3 w/ autofocus and auto exposure tracking to ensure...
- IMAGE SENSOR: 20.1 megapixel 1" Exmor RS stacked back illuminated CMOS sensor w/ DRAM for outstanding image quality and...
Form and Design
This Sony RX100 comparison will frequently bring the RX100 VI and the RX100 VA together in the same breath. From the front, both the DSC-RX100 VA and the VI looks identical. Speaking of which, all of the other models look just about the same.
The difference (between Mark VA and Mark VI) is only apparent when you look closely at the wide – tele toggle switch located at the front top edge just to the right. The one on the DSC-RX100 VI has slightly more texture compared to the one on the DSC-RX100 VA.
Of course, the other standout difference is the absence of the Zeiss branding on the bottom right of the front face of the camera. It is present in all the versions starting from Mark II. The only exception being the original DSC-RX100.
The DSC-RX100 Mark II is probably the only stand out camera in this series because of the multi-interface shoe that the camera came with. It was retracted in the subsequent update – the DSC-RX100 III.
Instead, all subsequent cameras in the series, including the DSC-RX100 III, have a pop-up OLED electronic viewfinder. The viewfinder on version III had a resolution of 1440k-dots. The one on the subsequent cameras has a bumped up resolution of 2.36m-dots.
All the variants come with a pop-up flash unit. It helps in getting a proper exposure in situations where the light is either poor or insufficient or both.
The Sony RX100 comparisons will be incomplete without a discussion of the maximum aperture of the built-in lens. The other difference being apparent when you read the line just below the lens opening written in fine print.
The one on the DSC-RX100 VA reads 8.8 – 25.7mm (that is a 35mm equivalent of 24-70mm) and f/1.8 to f/2.8 (which is the maximum aperture across the focal length range. The DSC-RX100 VI, on the other hand, reads 9-72mm (which is the 35mm format equivalent of 24-200mm) and f/2.8 – 4.5 (again maximum aperture range across the focal length). Evidently, the VA is designed as your standard zoom camera and the VI is designed as the more prosumer type, one camera that does all types of photography.
The original DSC-RX100 and the Mark II had lenses that had a focal length equivalent to 28-100 (35mm). The III, the IV, V and the VA (as mentioned above) has a 35mm equivalent focal length of 24-70mm.
- 209 MP 1"-type Exmor R CMOS sensor ; Optical zoom:2.9x (Optical Zoom during movie recording)
- Operating temperature:32-104°F / 0-40°C.24-70mm equivalent F/18-28 lens
- Continuous shooting up to 10 FPS
- Pop-up electronic OLED viewfinder with 1,440,000 dots
- ISO 160-12800, expandable ISO 100, 125, and 25,600
The VI’s slower maximum aperture range will hurt the most in low light where the VA will definitely have the upper hand with its more than one full stop wider aperture.
As a matter of fact, both the original version and the Mark II had an aperture range of f/1.8 – f/4.9. It is only the later versions with the exception of the Mark VI that had a faster aperture range across their focal length. That said the VI has the longer zoom and this is the sort of camera that will come in handy when you are traveling and want one camera-lens combo to be able to shoot everything.
Still on the subject of the lens. The Mark VI does not have a built-in ND filter. All the other models going back to the Mark III had a three-stop ND filter built-in. That essentially allows you the flexibility to shoot with a wide open aperture even in bright conditions. The ND filter offers some creative shooting options as well such as the ability to capture motion blur.
The lens on the DSC-RX100 VI (24mm to 200mm) is more complicated. It has 15 elements arranged in 12 groups. There are 8 aspherical elements in the lens. On the other hand, the lens on the DSC-RX100 VA has 10 elements arranged in 9 groups including 9 aspherical elements.
One area where the DSC-RX100 has improved quite a bit over the years is the auto-focusing department. The DSC-RX100 VI can autofocus in just 0.03 secs, making it one of the fastest auto-focusing cameras you can buy. Compared to this the DSC-RX100 Mark II could autofocus in 0.13 seconds.
The highlight of the auto-focusing feature of the camera, at least in the latest versions is the Eye-AF. It was quite good on the Mark IV, and fantastic in the Mark V and the Mark VI. The feature manages to keep the eye of the subject in focus no matter what.
ISO and Low Light Performance
The two latest cameras in the segment – the DSC-RX100 VA and the VI have identical native ISO numbers. From 125 all the way to 12800. The same as the DSC-RX100 III and the DSC-RX100 IV. The only cameras being different are the oldest two in this series the original DSC-RX100 and the DSC-RX100 II. The original DSC-RX100 could shoot at an ISO of 125 to up to 6400. The Mark II could shoot between ISO 160 – 12800 (native).
- World's first1 201 MP 1" Exmor RS stacked back illuminated CMOS, High resolution 4K movie recording with direct pixel...
- Operating temperature:Approx. 0-40°C (32-104°F).Super-speed Anti-Distortion Shutter at max 1/32000 sec up to 16fps,...
- Retractable XGA OLED Tru-Finer viewfinder and Sharp 3" multi-angle LCD, Simple connectivity to smartphones via Wi-Fi and...
- Enhanced pro-video functions and NTSC switchable. Power Consumption : DC3.6 Volt (supplied battery) / DC5.0 Volt...
Technically, what matters is not just the higher native ISO capability but the maximum aperture of the paired lens, as well as the sensor design. The stacked backside illuminated design of the recent models are capable of producing much better images in low light than the previous models.
Video shooting on the DSC-RX100 has evolved too over the years. When the original camera was launched it would only shoot full HD videos (1080p) @60 fps. By the time version, IV came about it could shoot 4K / UHD (3840 x 2160) @ 30 fps. Versions V, VI and the VA all do the same.
Version III introduced the full pixel readout technology. This prevents the sensor from capturing noise and artefacts because it can optimize light from all corners of the sensor. Additionally, this camera had the option to make a clean HDMI output to assist post-processing and editing flexibility.
From the DSC-RX100 V onwards the camera supports S-Log2 Gamma. The Mark VI comes with S-Log3 Gamma along with S-Log2 Gamma. This basically opens the door for creating up to 14 stops of dynamic range when Additionally, the V, VI, and VA has the ability to make full pixel readouts thus eliminating the risk of moiré and false colors in your footages.
With the DSC-RX100 Mark V, you get a proper video camera with features such as timecode (great for syncing multiple footages when using multiple cameras for the same shoot), zebra highlight warning and focus peaking, which is a great tool for locking sharp focus manually.
Speaking of zebra function the mark III had this too. Plus, the camera has the ability to record at a 4:2:0 sampling at 8-bit. Of course, you can always choose to use the clean HDMI output option. This way you can transfer 4:2:2 uncompressed video for better post-processing ease.
Rear LCD screen
A major difference between the DSC-RX100 VI and the rest of the cameras in the series is that the VI has a rear LCD screen with touch functionalities. Touch functionalities extend to touch to focus as well as touch to release the shutter. Essentially, this gives you the convenience of gently touching the rear LCD rather than push the mechanical shutter release to make your images.
In as much as the tilting and swiveling is concerned the DSC-RX100 has a fixed (non-articulate) rear LCD screen. For vlogging purposes that is not as useful. The subsequent models all have a tilting rear LCD screen. You can turn the LCD screen and make it face forward. Perfect when you are recording yourself for your vlog.
The DSC-RX100 has wireless capabilities since version II. Starting from that version the camera also has Near Field Communication system built-in.
One final word in this Sony RX100 comparisons. Looking forward the Sony DSC-RX100 Mark VII is the most logical successor in the current line-up. Plus, going by the timeline of past launch dates we can expect tentatively June or July 2019 to be the time when the new camera will be announced. There are rumors that suggest that the new camera is going to be powered by the Sony IMX 383 sensor which has a 20-megapixel resolution.
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Needless to say, the DSC-RX100 has been a popular choice among vloggers ever since it first burst on to the scene.
Between the various versions of the camera the DSC-RX100, the Mark V, the Mark VI and the Mark VA makes the most buying sense. For obvious reasons. They are the newest, has the best imaging sensor inside them and comes loaded with all the latest features.
No doubt, among these three you will have your own preferences. For example, the Mark VI definitely makes more sense if you want a longer zoom. It is often not feasible to zoom with your feet. Sometimes, the action is happening much further away and there is no way to quickly reach with your feet. Sometimes, it may simply not be safe. The solution is the zoom lens.
However, this convenience of a telephoto lens comes at a price. The price is the drop in maximum aperture. You need a fast wide aperture when shooting in low light. Also for shooting videos for recreating those shallow depth of fields. With a longer zoom lens that’s seldom the case. Of course, you can work around the problem by implementing other techniques, but sometimes a fast wide aperture is all too convenient.
Then again, the 24-70mm with its wide fast wide aperture of f/1.8 – f/2.8 is blazingly quick. Quick to capture even the most difficult of fleeting moments. Therefore, this is the sort of lens you would want to have with you if you are a street photographer and shoot hand-held most of the times. Also suitable, if you are going to use it for vlogging and specifically for creating those cinematic blurry backgrounds.
The newer models also have better (quicker) auto-focusing. The Mark VI for example is rated to lock focus in 0.03 secs. Especially, the Eye AF function that seems to lock focus on the subject’s eye, regardless of how much the subject is moving, quickly, every time. This feature is extremely useful for a vlogger who might be moving around while recording and want to be able to remain in sharp focus at all times. And there is no better way to get a sharp picture than getting the eyes sharp.
Plus, the fact that the Eye AF is function is so good, means you can experiment with a shallow depth field while vlogging without the risk of moving in and out of focus.
Thus, I would choose the DSC-RX100 Mark VA as the preferred vlogging camera. The DSC-RX100 Mark VI will be my preferred choice as the travel camera. That said, it can also double up as a vlogging camera at times.