Sony is one of the biggest brands in the camera community. They are best known for their mirrorless camera solutions which are known to be much lighter their competing DSLRs. Their expertise in the mirrorless camera gave them an advantage like no other in the mirrorless game. They are obviously market leaders when it comes to premium mirrorless cameras. That is also because they did not have a proper competitor in the segment until now.
Their know how in high-end mirrorless cameras though gets trickled down to their cheaper entry-level cameras like the Alpha 6000 series with the lastest model being the ∝6500. That proved to be one of their most popular and successful products as well with 4K video recording and great photo quality in an extremely compact and light body. Amateurs and seasoned photographers can enjoy the camera too for its versatility.
Then there is the RX series of cameras. Earlier on they introduced a very interesting RX0 that is designed for high-speed 4K videos without the heft of one. It is designed also to be as rugged as possible so you can take it anywhere and use it in any creative conditions. It is designed for extreme sports and it is not that much bigger and heavier than the GoPro cameras. It is even more durable.
Compact is the name of the game in the RX series and so they have the RX100 series. The RX100V (Mark 5) had the adoration of photographers and amateur filmmakers because of its versatility. It featured a 24mm – 70mm lens with f/1.8-f/2.8 aperture for the best all-round photography experience. With 20.1-megapixel under the lens too the photos come out crisp and clear without losing too much details.
Then the evolution, which is what we have here the RX100VI (Mark 6). The new king of compact cameras? It may look like one with a completely new 24-200mm lens with f/2.8-4.5 aperture lens that gives it an even broader zoom range and even more flexibility. It sets you back about MYR4,899 which is not that much more from the older one too. So is it? Should you buy it? let us find out together shall we?
At first glance you can really tell that this is a Sony camera. Everything about the RX100VI’s lines and creases shouts the philosophy of Sony’s super compact and innovative design. When it is off with everything tucked in the camera looks very clean and compact. It is so compact that it can actually just fit in your pocket and just slightly ruins you jean lines. Yes, the design is a little square; as in you will not find any funny shapes that protrudes out so much it sticks out like a sore thumb. The only thing protruding from the clean, metallic box is the lens housing which is quite necessary since this actually has a super long lens that you would appreciate for a point and shoot.
The moment you turn the Sony RX100VI on and the lens extends, longer than you expect. That is not to say that it is unwieldy though. The whole package, including the battery and SD cards slotted in is light, super light. If you are used to large DSLRs, α7 series, or even the α6000s series of cameras this will feel like nothing in the hands. That may be a little unnerving though sometimes because I was actually quite afraid to drop it from time to time. That is also because the clean lines of the camera body does not allow for an assuring grip when you hold it with one hand. The body can feel slippery sometimes too, especially when it is actually cold out.
The fact that it still stores a pop-up flash and a pop-up Electronic ViewFinder (EVF) in that small body though is super impressive. They are all held just by mechanical latches that you simply toggle on to pop the flash or the EVF module up; very clever. The fact that it is a mechanical latch is great too, so the camera does not have to be turned on to flip the EVF or flash up. Propping up the EVF module turns on the device automatically though, and pushing it down to close it also turns off the camera, very nifty; we are in love with that.
The display out the back of the Sony RX100VI tilts pretty much like any other typical Sony camera. It does not swivel to the side or turn around like the likes of a Nikon D5300 let us say. It does tilt up all the way to 180-degrees so you can actually take selfies or vlogs and still monitor the frame while doing that, which is lovely if you are into that sort of things. I use it as a mirror from time to time, it is a portable and small mirror that you can actually use to take photos if you think about it.
The device is made with what feels like aluminium which feels very solid, just as expected from a Sony camera. The body feels like it would take a beating; perfect travel companion especially if you just need a camera where you can chuck around in your bag without worrying too much. The on/off switch needs as little bit of doing too, there is a satisfying click from switching it on and off using the partly rotating on/off switch. It feels like a properly made product this. Even the latch operation on the pop-up EVF feels so satisfying to do that it became my new fidget cure for a while. If not for the fact that it turns the device on and off everytime I prop it up and close it, I would have done more of it.
The pop-up mechanism is pretty much instant and feels strong, like a Sony device should. The camera’s latch looks a little flimsy at first actually with just two very thin spring-loaded metallic arms holding the flash module. We assure you though that it is solid. We actually like using the flash pop-up mechanism because it actually feels good. The whole thing pop-ups nearly the instant you push the latch. It does not turn on the device or even turn it off, so this is one very expensive fidget cube. Even the clicks you get from tucking both the EVF module and flash module in feels so satisfying that even candies does not have a thing against it.
well, that was a whole paragraph just on the pop-up mechanism (worth it). Then there is the rest of the hardware, the buttons, rotating dials, and the tilting display. Good lord this thing screams high-quality. The buttons have great travel to make them feel like buttons, none of that mushy things that some people call buttons. No, there is not a noise you can hear when you press the buttons. But you feel the buttons being pressed, there is a sort of click on each press which feels great. The button’s painted indicators may not last that long but the buttons themselves feels like they are going to last a lifetime, as long as the camera is alive the buttons will work. Even the tilting display feels like it will last the abuse you are going to put the camera through everytime you take a selfie, or even a personal vlog. This is even considering that the tilting display is actually one of the worst parts of the camera.
Drawbacks? You cannot find any 3.5mm in jacks on this little thing, which means you cannot stick your external microphones in for a better audio. The built-in mic is not exactly bad. It is quite good actually. When you need clean audio though, it is a pain to work with. Battery is a little on the tiny side of the spectrum. Of course that is a trade-off for a super compact body and long lens that this thing packs. We would not mind just slightly more heft for a bigger battery though.
|Image sensor||1.0-type Exmor RS CMOS sensor|
|Storage media||SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card|
|File system||JPEG + RAW|
|Tested Lens||(fixed) 24mm – 200mm f/2.8-4.5|
|Auto focus system||Fast Hybrid AutoFocus|
|Shutter speed||1/2000 sec. to 30 sec.|
|Sensitivity||ISO 100 to 12800|
|Exposure control||Program AE, Shutter priority AE, Aperture priority AE, Manual exposure|
|Metering||Multi Pattern,Center Weighted,Spot,Entire Screen Avg,Highlight|
|White balance||Auto, Preset (Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten light, White fluorescent light, Flash), Color temperature, Custom|
|Flash||Retracting, manual pop-up flash|
|Viewfinder||0.39 OLED Electronic Viewfinder w/ Approx. 2,360,000 dots|
|Shooting mode||AUTO(Intelligent Auto/Superior Auto),Program Auto,Aperture Priority,Shutter Speed Priority,Manual Exposure,MR(Memory Recall) [body 3 sets / memory card 4 sets],Movie Mode(Program Auto, Aperture Priority, Shutter Speed Priority, Manual Exposure),HFR Mode(Program Auto, Aperture Priority, Shutter Speed Priority, Manual Exposure),Panorama,Scene Selection|
|Self-timer||Approx. 10 sec./Approx. 2 sec.|
|Playback function||Trimming, Multi image playback|
|LCD monitor||3.0-in. (7.5 cm) TFT colour liquid-crystal monitor, touch sensitive|
|Input/Output terminals||Micro USB, Mini HDMI,|
|Battery||NP-BX1 USB Rechargeable|
|Additional||WiFi 802.11 b/g/n|
The Sony RX100VI is packed with 20.1-Megapixel with a fixed 24mm – 200mm lens that is obvious on the large bump on the body of the camera. Not they are not APS-C sensors, if you are wondering. They are a 1.0-type stacked CMOS sensor that is smaller than cropped-sensor size. It is a normal compact camera sensor though, so it is sort of expected. Still, it is bigger than a smartphone’s camera sensor.
The size of the sensor means that there should be more detail coming from the sensor than any smartphone sensor. It also means that you would get less detail and quality compared to even an APS-C sensored Sony α6500 mirrorless camera. The result though, might surprise you.
The 20.1-Megapixel of the Sony RX100VI produces photos with great details actually. At first glance at least, the photos look crisp and detailed. If you take a closer look at the photos, the quality and detailing is very typically Sony. There is a slight orange and green tint on the photos making colours actually pop and look very vivid.
Some photographers may not agree with the vividness of the photos sometimes but we do appreciate it because that also means there is less post-editing to do with the RX100VI. That is the whole point of the RX100VI anyway; a quick point-and-shoot. With the vivid colours you can just share it on social media quickly anyway. That is especially quick with this RX100VI because of its NFC and Wi-Fi sharing function.
Compared to the α6500 though the photos have slightly fewer details. Well obviously you cannot compare a 20.1-Megapixel to a 24.2-Megapixel sensor. It is even more unfair when you compare a camera with smaller sensor to a camera with a larger one. That is like comparing a Toyota Prius-C to a Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG; two completely different products for two different worlds. Both serve the same purpose though.
Yes, it does not make sense to make that comparison. But bear with us for a little bit here. Of course, if you are considering to have a versatile camera that can do it all with all the benefits of the E-Mount lens system (because they are great lenses) then you should get the baby α7 in the Sony α6500 or the slightly older α6300.
The photo quality from the 20.1-Megapixel compact sized sensor though is quite comparable to the 24.2-Megapixel APS-C sensor. Of course the level of detail is not as great from the RX100VI. That is only noticeable if you print both photos out and take a closer look at both photos. If you are not going to use them professionally at all and only use them for social media and digital sharing, you are not exactly short-changed when you get the Sony RX100VI.
The only issue with the camera though is the lens. We have to first say though that it is a great lens. The 24mm-200mm on the Sony RX100VI makes the camera one of the most versatile compact camera in the market if not the most versatile. The zoom range makes it perfect for even telephoto shoots like taking photo of a concert, or even when you go for F1 races (boo to no more F1 in Malaysia).
At maximum focal length the RX100VI shoots at f/4.5 which is not actually half bad at all. you have to also consider that some of the cheaper zoom lenses shoot at f/6.3 at that focal range. That also means that the lens is actually quite fast and should do well in low-light conditions, and it is made for that too.
At the biggest opening and widest range (24mm) the RX100VI shoots at f/2.8 which is quite a big opening considering the size of the lens as well. It is not a big or long as you expect it to be. But with the large opening, shooting photos in low-light situations like when you go for concerts, or even clubs is not too big of a problem. Photos still come out a little grainy if you do not use the built-in flash.
The built-in flash though is quite bright and can be quite harsh since it is directed right at the subject. But if there is not enough light anyway, you might want to flip the flash up and take the photo that way. That is the best way to get a photo in extreme low-light situations anyway. That way though your photos will come out great without any grains, plus you can shoot that way even when your subject is moving.
You can take photos either through checking your frame on the 3-inch display or you can pop the EVF on and look through that. Whichever way it is you prefer both the displays will feed you with real-time preview of what your photo might look like in the current settings. You can of course turn that off but you ahve to get through Sony’s typically confusing settings menu. It is more streamlined that before though so you are likely to find whatever you need in a jiffy.
Before we forget to mention, the Sony RX100VI shoots videos in 4K resolution at 30fps. Unfortunately we do not have any worthy sample of the 4K video recording because we were more interested in the photo taking abilities of this thing. The 4K video though is very typically Sony. The colours are bright and vivid while being accurately saturated. The only thing we might have to complain is that there is no S-Log shooting profile here which would be nice. But we cannot expect that much from a compact camera right? Still, the 4K videos shot from this thing is great and can be a little bit of an overkill if you are using it just for personal vlogging. There is no 3.5mm jack either which is a little annoying but forgivable with such a small package.
Of course, we know the saying. A Picture speaks a thousand words. So in that fashion here is the photo gallery for you to judge the photos for yourself. We do have to say we really like the long lens though.
The Lens Connection
For photographers, the make or break factor of most cameras is the lenses. To be specific it is mostly the choice of it. For the RX100VI, there is no choice but to go with the stock lens that it comes with. You cannot even detach it so it already loses out in terms of lens variety. That also means photographers will not go for it. Right?
It does seem like a lousy choice for enthusiast, yes. The thing is though this is a perfect secondary camera for photographers, both enthusiast and professional alike. The RX100V came with a 24mm-70mm lens that is considered to be one of the most versatile range in a lens. That worked wonders with any photographers because the lens is so versatile.
That versatility on the older Sony RX100 was the reason why it did not need any other lens to replace it. The fixed lens was also the reason it was so light and easy to store and carry around anyway; perfect secondary camera for when you need to just fire up a camera quickly and take a shot, in tight spaces or hard to reach spaces.
The sixth generation of the RX100 comes with an even longer range of 24mm-200mm lens. That gives you even more range options. That also means that the RX100VI is even more versatile than all the RX100 that came before.
This is important because the RX100VI is not an interchangeable lens camera. It was designed to be as compact as possible and as fuss free too. That also means that any interchangeable lens mechanism is out the window. Not to mention having an interchangeable lens means you have to carry extra gear; not great when you want to travel light.
Having a 24mm-200mm is the best option for the RX100VI then. It makes it super versatile and easy to work with. We mentioned also that this lens is not exactly slow with the f/2.4-4.5 range. That also means this is quite the perfect lens for any sort of photographer to work with. Why did we need any other lens again?
The Sony RX100VI launched together with the shooting grip for RX cameras. As with the RX cameras, the shooting grip are made to be as compact as they can come. Most of it is plastic construction but we have never felt that the shooting grip will fall apart anytime soon.
The shooting grip is very sturdy and does not actually feel all that plastic at all. The hinge mechanism that tilts the camera seat feels so sturdy like it would stand the weight of an elephant (do not try it, we are just messing about with words). To tilt it you have to press a locking button to unlock the hinge.
The grip also doubles as a mini tripod to put on a table or a chair. This is very handy especially when you want to take group photos. The way the grip transforms into a tripod is very clever too. It folds into the grip and looks very natural actually.
The grip is lined with some rubbery material that feels like faux leather too. That makes it a lot more comfortable to use. Plus, the grip has zoom control, shutter button and video recording button. Of course you have to attach the microUSB cable to the RX100VI to control it.
Sony Play Memories App
This is probably the most unpleasant part of the Sony RX100VI. We say that, but it is just a very small thing we have to complain about. We only have to complain about its speed and crashes from time to time. You cannot blame us for using a cheap smartphone too; we were on a Samsung Galaxy Note9 mind you.
The Sony Play Memories app is quite brilliant in implementations actually. On larger, more complex cameras there are ample of controls to customize the shutter speeds, aperture, or even ISO settings. Of course the camera has to be in Manual Mode for you to play with all of that. Oh, and make sure you are set to auto focus as well for a complete hands free experience.
On the RX100VI you get the same sort of controls from the app itself. The best part about the RX100VI is that you can just pair it with our smartphone with just a touch because of magic. We are kidding, it is the NFC built into the side of the Sony RX100VI that does the job. With that, the set up is basically seamless; you do not really have to do anything other than opening the app and choosing to pair via NFC really.
On other smartphones with no NFC you would have to do it manually which can be a nuisance. That does not mean that pairing a device via Wi-Fi is hard though, it is as easy as connecting your smartphone to any other Wi-Fi. The only issue is to turn on the Wi-Fi on the Sony RX100VI itself. You have to dive into the settings for that. Lucky for us though the Wi-Fi settings is simple enough to find and very straightforward to set-up.
Controlling The RX100VI via the smartphone means that you cannot take any videos remotely though so you would still need to press the record button on the camera for that. Photo taking using the smartphone as a remote device is a breeze. You can stand up to 10 metres away and still take a photo, perfect for group shots. The fact that you are able to see what your camera sees on your smartphones as well is a blessing when it comes to remote photo taking.
The only issue we have with that is the slow response time of the camera and the app. The image that you see on the smartphone as it is connected to the Sony RX100VI is a little delayed and stutter-ry at best. The image delays at nearly a second (we are only guessing) and that can be long enough to mess the shot up. The jittery image does not help too when subjects keep moving. Even the shutter press only registers about one second later on the camera. Well, it is nice you can review the photo on your smartphone too after the shot. But it would be nice if it responds faster, especially since it is on Wi-Fi direct connection.
Overall though, having an app where you can rip everything off the camera and share them via your smartphone is great. There is no need for you to lug around a laptop to see what photos you have taken. Instead you only need to pop your smartphone up, download the photos you and your friends like, and share the photos with them via whatever file sharing app or messenger app there is. There is obviously the choice of sharing these photos on social media.
A Must Have
So, the age old question; should you buy it? Or not? Well, in our humble opinion; you should, if you have an extra MYR4,899 lying around somewhere. Is that a little on the expensive side? Yes, it is.
No matter how you look at it, the Sony RX100VI is an expensive piece of kit to have in your camera pack. At just shy of MYR5,000 justifying the camera is going to be a little tough. You are not even getting an interchangeable lens camera for that kind of money. That kind of money can get you interchangeable lens cameras from other brands if you look at it. This one is a compact camera with a lens that is not even the size of a cropped sensor APS-C.
Now the question of; “in what world would I buy it then?” pops up. It does sound like a bizarre concept; buying a compact camera for just below MYR5,000. We must be crazy.
The Sony RX100VI though is not just another compact point and shoot camera that you can buy, shoot and play around with it for a while, and then you replace them for another cheap point and shoot. The RX100VI is not really targeted toward beginners too if you think about it. Yes, it is simple to operate and is at its best when you put it on Auto mode. It takes the best natural looking photos in those settings anyway. Its operations are also simple enough for beginners to learn.
To get the best out of it though takes an experienced photographer. We can tell you that it is the most versatile lens range in the industry because it is what every other experienced photographer says. The 24mm-70mm is what most photographers would go for in terms of purpose and range. The 24mm-200mm lens is even more versatile for photographers. The issue with those types of range in a single lens is the weight though. The Sony RX100VI packs that very same zoom lens in a package that is lighter than a body of the Sony α6500.
The lightweight compact camera can really punch above its weight though with performance comparable to plenty of the entry-level APS-C sensor cameras. Then again, plenty of entry-level DSLRs come at lower prices than the Sony RX100VI compact shooter. So, what about looking at it as a high-end compact camera for the enthusiasts?
It is a high-end piece of kit, this Sony RX100VI. It is an engineering marvel with no real rival products in its class. It is built with the highest Sony standards for the most serious photographers. The flexibility that the Sony RX100VI is nothing but amazing. It provides flexibility and choice to shoot like no other in the market. Its versatility is nowhere near comparable to other compact cameras. For a DSLR to match the versatility of this RX100VI, you would need to get that expensive lens that would cost about as much as the RX100VI already.
Its lightweight and compact design would make you shy away from DSLRs most of the time when you go for your travels just because you can pack much lighter without worrying about getting the photos you need or want. Even when you have a full-fledged interchangeable lens camera with you, you might still reach for the Sony RX100VI just because it is so easy to use which makes it fast to deploy when you need it. It still packs the high-quality photo that a Sony camera should, if I might add.
So would I buy this piece of hardware? Same answer as before; I will if I can find a spare MYR4,899 lying around under my bed. If not though, I can barely afford this luxury.
Do not get us wrong though, we do think that this piece of kit is more of an investment. If you get it before getting an interchangeable lens camera it works very much as a good starting platform to start your photography journey. Even if you have an interchangeable lens camera, what is wrong with keeping the camera as a spare, or secondary camera?
Also published on Medium.