This is Sony’s 6th iteration of the flagship RX100 series, and this time it’s packing its largest zoom yet.
The previous RX100 models had a maximum of 70mm zoom. The RX100 VI blows that out the water sporting a 24-200mm zoom, which is the equivalent to 8.3X zoom lens.
On paper, there seems to be some compromise in that the lens is slower with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 compared to the f/1.8 on the RX100V.
However in practice, it’s not really a drawback when you see the awesome picture quality, speed-tastic autofocus and a whole load of other features crammed into this baby.
It’s mighty expensive, but if you can afford it...here’s why you won’t regret taking the plunge.
DESIGN AND BUILD: LEAN, MEAN, TEENY-SNAPPING MACHINE
It seems as if Sony hasn’t made any design changes since the last RX100, or the one before that, or the one befor.... It could be a good one for a game of spot the difference - extreme level.
But that’s not a bad thing, because the cameras have always looked and felt great. The buttons and dials, although quite close together, are positioned where your finger and thumb naturally rest.
No larger than a chunky chocolate brownie, it’ll easily fit in most pockets and you can wrap your entire hand around it. Studying the spec sheet, it’s a couple of mms thicker than the RX100 V, but barely noticeable and still proper dinky.
It’s super light and the metal chassis feels robust, and with that smooth finish and subtle Zeiss branding, a touch luxurious too.
Sony are treating us to an LCD touchscreen here. Hurrah! The first in the series to have one, which is sort of crazy given the fact pretty much all cameras nowadays have them. We’re a generation of happy-go-tappies and anything not proddable belongs in a museum.
The touchscreen doesn’t have full functionality, so it’s not possible to flick through the menus, but it works for all the important stuff; tap-to-focus, pinch and zoom on playback.
The mechanical switches to operate the flash and viewfinder (OLED, natch) are really fun to use, they both spring out with great speed and precision. It’s a bit like playing with a toy. If you’re the type of person that enjoys a retractable pen (what kind of fun-sapping bore doesn’t), then you’ll love this.
One slightly annoying thing though, if you flick the viewfinder up, the camera will automatically switch itself on, but you can override that in the camera’s settings.
There’s no grip around the body, but because it is so teeny, you get pretty good purchase, plus there’s a lovely tessellated ring around the lens which is there to be used to steady the camera.
FEATURES: ZOOM IN ZOOM OUT
What you get from the RX100 V, that the previous models don’t have is that all-new 24mm-200mm zoom. Meaning, that the staple big zoom top-spec Lumix TZ series finally has some competition.
It houses a 20.1MP exmor CMOS sensor, similar to the famed innards of Sony’s Alpha series.
Positioning itself as a do-everything travel cam, you get lightning-fast autofocus and continuous shooting at a rate of 24fps at full resolution.
Shoot video in 4K at 30p and 24p, 1080p slow-motion capture, plus on-sensor phase-detection autofocus and Wi-Fi with NFC. With such video capabilities it seems like a massive shame there’s no microphone ports for capturing decent audio.
There’s USB charging, which is handy and you’ll want to keep it charged at all opportunities, as this thing gulps down battery juice like it’s just run a marathon. Which is kinda has, when you consider all that work going on inside.
I had to charge it twice a day when using it constantly, and once a day with less regular use.
SHOOTING AND IMAGE QUALITY: SPEED KING
What you might lose from the aperture, you gain in the zoom and I actually found when I was zoomed in at 100x, the results were most pleasing.
Really lovely depth and pin-sharp focus on my subject - a flitting and fleeting bumble bee.
The autofocus here is, according to Sony, the fasted AF for 1in sensor, focusing in 0.03seconds.
With 4-stop image stabilization paired with that rapid AF, the camera works best as a point-and-shoot miracle worker creating really stunning jpegs.
Many snappers will be thrilled to see the addition of Eye AF mode too, which works incredibly well. The smaller aperture will mean, however, that the camera isn’t as capable in low-light - especially not handheld.
Sony RX100 VI verdict
There are so many great things about the Sony RX100 VI, but before you go into a dizzying spell of lust where it seems like nothing will become between you and the thing you so much desire, let’s talk about its flaws.
The lack of mic port is an oversight, especially considering all the great video features. And with the aperture now starting at f/2.8 as opposed to f/1.8, it’s not going to perform wonderfully in low light.
What’s more, it’s not even slightly weather-proof.
However, not only does it hit the right design notes, it shoots a staggering 24 fps at full resolution and has an AF faster than you can blink. The tilting screen makes it mega handy for taking subtle close-up street scenes, and it’ll be just as good at sweeping landscapes, making it truly an all-rounder.
And one last but crucial point is that honking great big zoom, which is truly a modern marvel for something so teeny.
It’s the camera that you can find space for, not matter how much stuff you’re carrying.
It’ll do so much of the grunt work with its demonly fast autofocusing, so you can enjoy your holiday and just take great photos. Photos that will look head, shoulders, knees and toes better than anything you’ll shoot from your smartphone.