aNewDomain.net — You can’t see it, you wouldn’t know it, but I’m packing a concealed weapon these days. In my pocket.
My concealed creative weapon is a Sony RX100, a model Sony introduced last year. In my view, it’s the best travel camera ever in both form and function. That’s saying a lot because I see a lot of cameras. But now Sony is tugging at my heart and purse strings with its improved RX100 II.
Shown above, the Sony RX100 II. Image credit: Sony
The Roman numeral suggests a pedigree — that it is heir to some dynasty. That is true in a sense. Most reviewers pegged the RX100 as the best camera of its kind in 2012. I was among them.
The new II, or the Mark II as it is called, adds some hocus pocus called backside illumination that, according to Sony execs, makes its one-inch sensor 40 percent more sensitive.
The wiring is placed behind instead of in the front of the sensors on the chip allowing more light to pass. It is a camera technology already found in Apple iPads and mobile phones, but Sony has adapted it to a larger sensor.
The Mark II adds a tiltable viewfinder for high and low-angle shooting and Wi-Fi and Near Field Communication (NFC) connections that let you transfer pictures to your phone or tablet. In the case of NFC, you just tap the two devices together: Tag, you’re it. It’s possible to use your device as a remote control — so that what the camera sees streams to its screen. The II also adds a hot shoe for attaching a microphone, electronic viewfinder (which is more than half the price of the camera) or flash.
This little camera is looking serious.
But Holy Mother of Ansel Adams, its costs $750.00 U.S. — ouch. I winced when my wife presented me with last year’s $650 model for my birthday. So much for the new dishwasher. But oh, did she get a big hug. The cost was well worth it.
Photo above of Ft. Ross, CA. This was one of my first shots with the Sony RX100 Photo Credit: Russ Johnson, connectedtraveler.com
A couple of years ago I slashed my travel gear to a single DSLR, an extra lens and a little Panasonic pocket camera as a backup. I shot stills and video with both. I often, however, ended up leaving the DSLR in my hotel room and tucking the little point-and-shoot in my pocket as I wandered the wonders of some strange place.
The Panny was light and pocketable, the quality was adequate and I could shoot on the sly.
The DSLR was … BIG. I was an ox with a yoke around my neck. Many of Henri Cartier Bresson’s famous Paris candids were shot with a tiny Leica, just a little bit bigger than today’s point-and-shoots.
A 20 megapixel photo cropped to 8 megapixels. Photo Credit: Russ Johnson, connectedtraveler.com
Now my Sony travels with me everywhere. Its one-inch sensor, like that of the new model, packs 20 megapixels. I know, more megapixels can be like more cheese on a pizza. Not necessary and often unhealthy. More pixels can mean more noise, but the Sony’s picture holds up. That 20MP also makes up for the camera’s short 28-100mm zoom range. I shoot knowing that I can crop later. The lens opens up to F1.8 at its wide angle setting. On my DSLR I would have to switch lenses to get that speed. That would mean carrying a camera bag.
New York Street: Sony RX100 1/80 sec, F1.8, ISO 1600. Photo credit: Russ Johnson, connectedtraveler.com
The new model, like its predecessor, also has a menu setting that turns off the shutter sound, which helps when you are shooting in, say, a cathedral, where the echo of a DSLR is sure to induce a scowl from the preacher. Once a priest in an English church tried to grab my camera while shouting, “Copyright infringement!”
While the RX100 II does offer attractive new bells and whistles, some professional touches and a slightly improved sensor, I am going to hold off judgment until I can actually hold one. The old RX100 pushed the limits of pocketability. The RX100 II is 1/10 inch fatter and 1.4 oz heavier. That doesn’t seem like much, but will it replace the old model as my pixel packin’ mama?
Click here for the specs.