Menu:       All       Influences       Music       Process

Sony RX100ii - Initial Thoughts and iPhone 6s Comparison

As my runs got longer, my sleeping on the side of the highway got more common, and my seeing the potential in my social media posts becoming more serious artistic endeavors I sought to purchase an inexpensive camera that can handle life a little different all while not draining my phone battery which should be used as an emergency contact device. Now while the latter concern can be solved with a power bank of some sort (I have my eye on the GoalZero Venture 70) I still feel limited by the phone camera when it comes to post production and physical reproduction. The criteria for the new camera were as follows: it had to be somewhat light, but more importantly small - and it had to yield impressive results but not be too expensive where I would hesitate to bring it with me on an outing.

For the size category the Fuji and Sony mirrorless systems came up first in my mind. I had heard of the Sony RX100iV and sadly it was far beyond my budget. But as I researched each predecessor I saw that while image quality suffered slightly that every iteration of the camera was impressive. When a RX100ii popped up on Vermont's craigslist at a really competitive price I jumped on the opportunity. I have yet to run, ride, or travel with it yet but it feels solid, is fairly responsive (though it takes a couple seconds to start up) and the zoom range is pretty impressive for a little guy. The menu is a clustered mess as every point and shoot tends to be but manipulating shutter speed and aperture is very easy and intuitive. On KEH the camera sells used for $350-$450 depending on how beat up it is and what the sale includes. You can buy the mkii (along with every other iteration) new still despite it's age for $600. I would not want to buy this camera new for that much as $600 is a lot for a camera designed to be thrown around in a bag or in a pocket. At least for my needs. Not to mention you can buy the mk4 or 5 used for that much if you really want to spend the dough. I picked mine up used without a ding on it in the original box with a second battery and a small grip for $290 (it was listed for $315). This camera was wildly popular and I would guess you could find the mkii or at least a version of the RX100 on your local craigslist. 

The mkii was released in late 2013 I believe, so it is pretty old in digital camera years. I was initially hesitant to pick it up for this reason especially as there were no comparisons between it and the iPhone 6s (most of the comparisons online were for newer versions) but I took the gamble and just shot a number of comparisons. Thankfully, I think the purchase checked out! See below.

This is far from an in depth comparison, but I just needed something to ease my mind. I shot the same scene 3 separate times. One with the Sony. One with the iPhone camera app. And one with the VSCO "raw" app. 

The native resolution of the sony is 5472x3648 @ 300 dpi *and shoots in raw*. The iPhone has a resolution of 4032x3024 @ 300dpi. Resolution wise the sony is far superior. But as an artist who prints fairly small I am more concerned with sharpness and dynamic range. Here are the three scenes uploaded as is with no processing.

Sony with no raw processing.

Sony with no raw processing.

iPhone camera app no processing.

iPhone camera app no processing.

VSCO "raw" app with no processing

VSCO "raw" app with no processing

Perhaps the results are not as clear with these images. After all, color can be corrected (and by god it needs to quite a bit with the iPhone) but to further investigate the differences I wanted to see how each held up at 100 percent in regards to sharpness. To allow for a fair fight, I kept each image in their native resolution. No upressing.

sony

sony

iPhone camera app.

iPhone camera app.

VSCO "raw" app.

VSCO "raw" app.

As you can see the Sony wins without a doubt in regards to sharpness. And that is no surprise (though I was a little nervous). It has a Zeiss lens, larger resolution, and it is a plain old camera and nothing more.

The iPhone was surprising in that the camera app sharpens the absolute hell out of things, I guess we rarely zoom in on our phone photos and the algorithm must be made for mobile screen viewing. The VSCO app countered this problem quite well and will say that if you are planning on shooting on the iPhone (after all carrying a second device no matter how small can be cumbersome) then please for the love of god shoot with the VSCO app. It is free, and won't toast your photos to a crisp. 

All in all I am pleased with the purchase and I am eager to take it with me and put it through its paces. Either it will collect dust and I will lose $290 (for a valuable lesson), I will love it and it will really help artistically, or I will love the concept but feel limited by the camera and upgrade. I see the second scenario being true at least for a while.