In this article i will compare two of my most favorite cameras, the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II and Sony NEX-6. The first is a new large-sensor premium compact camera, the latest is a Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens camera, a model that sits beneath NEX7, which is Sony’s MILC flagship model. A day after the DSC-RX100M2 was announced it already grabbed the 5th position in Amazon’s Best Sellers in the Camera & Photo category. This just tells us that the market has matured enough to understand that advantage of such camera. No doubt that this camera will be a top seller worldwide, but there are other things to consider as well before blindy going for the RX100 II. If you still haven’t decided yet and having tough time deciding between the two, this is the perfect comparison for you.
As for the time of writing, The Sony NEX-6 price stand on ~$900 with the excellent 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. The Sony RX100 II cost ~$750. $150 separate between a high-end premium compact camera and one of the most advanced and fully-featured Compact System Cameras. This comparison article is intended for those who have a point-and-shoot camera and want to upgrade to a move advanced camera. If you already have a DSLR camera, you probably won’t be the one to buy the NEX-6, unless you are thinking to switch to a CSC instead of a DSLR, some people do that.
If you are new to those types of camera, it’s important to first understand what all the fuss is about, and what so important about the large sensor that everyone seems to rumble about?
A large-sensor describes camera image sensors that are large in size compare to what you get with point-and-shoot cameras, smartphones and tablets. Usually its a 1/2.3″ which measures 6.17 x 4.55 mm. The term large-sensor usually refers to sensors that are 1-inch (13.2×8.8mm) or larger in size, at least when it comes to conventional digital cameras. With smartphones, a sensor like 1/1.2″ (10.67 x 8 mm) counts as very large sensor. This is in fact the size of the sensor on the Nokia 808 PureVuew smartphone. Compare to other phone camera sensors, this is a large sensor. Many camera phones have very small sensor. For example, the Apple iPhone 5 has a 1/3.2″ (4.45 x 4.43 mm) sensor, the Samsung Galaxy S4 I9500 has a 1/3.06″ (4.69 x 3.53mm) sensor.
Both the Sony RX100 II and the Sony NEX-6 utilize large sensors. The RX100 belongs to a large-sensor compact camera’s category and uses a 1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm) sensor. The Sony NEX-6 uses a much larger APS-C size sensor. The larger the pixels on the sensor, the more light that can be gathered by the light sensitive area of the sensor. Even with a resolution like 20MP, the pixels will be much larger compare to a small sensor with less resolution – but that of course depends on the sensor size and number of pixels.
The larger those pixels are, the most light photons can be gathered in each photodiode. This light photons are the data from which the image is constructed, after the light photons ignite an electric charge, and that charge is later converted to a digital signal (A/D, Analogue to Digital). Each pixel is therefore represented with an RGB value, and all those pixels are constructing the final image in a binary format that is saved onto a memory card or other type of storage media.
Those large pixels lead to higher dynamic range, better color accuracy and most importantly, a much better low-light performance and less image noise in higher ISO speeds. Another important advantage that you get to enjoy with large sensors is being able to blue the background around your subject. This is done in a much higher degree compare to a small-sensor camera, in which you must be very close to the subject in order to achieve a defocused background or shallow depth of field. This depends on the distance from the subject, aperture size and the lens focal length. The thing is that with smaller sensors, the lens focal length is much smaller and that has a direct implications on the depth of field. If you always enjoyed viewing photos with smooth creamy backgrounds, you certainly need to get your hands on a large-sensor camera.
Sony RX100 II (RX100M2)
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II is Sony’s latest premium compact camera model. This camera belongs to the large-sensor camera’s category. It features a newly developed 20.2MP 1-inch BSI CMOS sensor, which according to Sony, the light sensitivity has been improved by 40% over its predecessor. This is the first time Sony used a BSI technology on such a large sensor, which is mainly used on smaller sensors. Compare to a front-illuminated sensor where the metal wiring are in front of the photoDiode plate, the wiring on BSI sensors are behind the PhotoDiode plate. This allows more area to be exposed to light and be collected by the photodiodes.
The camera design looks very similar to the older model. Still featuring a magnesium alloy body but there are a few changes. First of all, there is the “Zeiss” blue logo at the front-right side of the camera. At the top you now have a Multi Interface shoe which was absent on the DSC-RX100. This means that you can connect an external flash or external microphone. Another big change was the addition of a 3-inch 1229K-dots tilting LCD screen. Same high-quality screen as the RX100, but now with a tilting mechanism, which becomes very useful for shooting below hip and overhead for both stills and video recording.
The button layout stayed the same. You still getto enjoy the Fn function button, a movie button on the right side where your thumb goes. Some people have been disappointed that Sony didn’t include an electronic viewfinder. I’m glad that Sony didn’t include one, it would just make the new model much more expensive and add to its bulkiness, I really like the RX100 as it is.
The RX100 II uses the same high quality 28-100 mm (35mm equiv.) f/1.8-4.9 Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T* lens (3.6x optical zoom). This lens was already proven itself in lab test reviews, a very sharp lens. I had to agree with some people that I was expecting Sony to use a bit faster lens, at least at the tele-end. This is not a deal-breaker of course, but with the DSC-RX100 I felt many times that it would be helpful to have a faster aperture at the tele-end.
The good news is that Sony improved the sensors sensitivity, so with the use of both high ISO plus the excellent optical image stabilization, the camera should be able to perform pretty good in low-light situations. We already have compact camera that are much faster. The Panasonic LX7 has a 24-90mm f/1.4-2.3 lens, but uses a much smaller sensor. A faster lens on the RX100 II would force Sony to use a larger lens, and therefore would increase the camera dimensions. No doubt that Sony had made a compromise, but it has chosen a good balance between portability and performance. This what made the RX100 so popular in the first place, so why change that winning formula?
The lens ring as the previous model can be used for controlling the zoom, but Sony has improved it on the RX100M2, and now it offers a Step Zoom function that let you quickly jump between five popular focal lengths (28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 70mm, 100mm) with a slight nudge of the ring or rotate it slowly for better precision.
The Sony RX100 Mark II also features NFC and Wi-Fi wireless connectivity. Near Field Communication (NFC) technology allows the RX100 II to connect to any other NFC-enabled device, whether it’s a smartphone or tablet, by putting them close together. By touching the two devices, a wireless connection is established, without the hassle of complicated configurations with creating nodes, password, and configuring SSID (Network name). Once this connection has been initialized, the mobile devices will be recognized by camera in the future (and vise versa), and there would be not need for reconfiguration. Once the NFC connection has been established, both devices will use the Wi-Fi connectivity to exchange information.
Sony also added a new tab in the menu for the Wi-Fi settings like: WPS Push, Access Point Settings, Edit Devices Name, SSID/PW reset, Disp and MAC address. WPS stands for Wi-Fi Protected Setup. This allows you to easily establish a secure protected setup between the camera and a wireless router that support this functionality, and therefore creating a secure wireless home network. This button can be an actual button or virtual one (in our case is a virtual one). The button has to be pushed on both devices to establish the connection.
The Wireless connectivity on the RX100 II allows you to do a few things. For example, you can easily and effortlessly transfer images and videos onto your home computer, smartphone or tablet device, and you can even control your camera using your mobile device as well. You can actually see in real time what the camera sees on mobile device. This is like having a remote viewfinder, which you can view the scene and trigger the shutter to capture the shot. Just keep in mind that you will need to install Sony free PlayMemories mobile app on your device prior to enjoying those features.
Other features include 1080p60 as well as a new 1080p24 video recording with full exposure control. Up to 10 fps burst, same as the previous model. Sony also added a new Multi Terminal interface into which you can connect the RM-VPR1 wired remote commander (remote shutter release trigger). The camera comes with the same light metering sensor and 25-point contrast-detect AF system.
As for the time of writing, the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 Mark II costs $100 more than the DSC-RX100. It’s is not a replacement for the RX100, but rather a second model that will be sold alongside the previous model. The Sony RX100 II brings many new useful features and improvements that should make it the next big thing – another excellent large-sensor premium compact camera. The Sony RX100 II is already at the top 10 in Amazon Best Sellers in the Camera & Photo category and first place in the Compact System Camera category (although it’s by definition a CSC, should have interchangeable lenses) It was 5th yesterday and in the 8th place when I last checked at the time of writing these lines. This just shows us that there is a very large demand for this camera, and at the time of writing it’s only for pre-order (Item model number: DSC-RX100M II on Amazon).
Here’s a RX100 Mark II first look video by What Digital Camera.
The Sony NEX-6 is, in my opinion, one of the most attractive mirrorless Interchangeable lens cameras on the market as for the time of writing. It already grabbed many Editor’s Choice awards and got very high rating across many camera reviews websites. The NEX-6 sits below the NEX-7 which is Sony’s flagship model.
The two main attractive features on this camera are its very large sensor and eye-level electronic viewfinder. The Sony NEX-6 features a 16.1MP APS-C size sensor, a sensor that is much larger in size compare to the 1-inch used by the RX100. This sensor size is used in many mid-range digital SLR cameras. This helps the camera perform better in high ISO speeds with lower image noise.
The NEX-6 also sports a XGA 259K-dots Tru-Finder™ OLED Electronic Viewfinder. A very high-quality EVF with 100% coverage. An excellent EVF that will help you get more intimate contact with your subject which you are shooting, and help you get better visibility when shooting in bright daylight. This is a feature that many photographers just can’t live without. It makes you feel that the camera and you are one atomic entity. This is something that you can only understand when you shoot with both options (LCD and Viewfinder). than your realize how important and useful it is having an eye-level viewfinder, optical or electronic in that matter.
As opposed to a fixed-lens camera, the Sony NEX-6 has support for interchangeable lenses. This means that you can mound different type of lenses on the camera. This greatly enhance your creative possibilities. You can choose from various type of Sony NEX lenses, including ultra-wide angle lenses, Macro lenses, telephoto-zoom lenses, fast prime lenses, etc. You are not limited by the functionality of a single lens. If you are serious about taking your photography to a new level, you probably should be looking into a camera that support interchangeable lenses, this can be a Compact System Camera or a DSLR camera.
The Sony NEX-6 also features a fast Hybrid Autofocus system. A combination of both contrast-detect and phase-detect sensors. The phase-detect sensors are embedded on the sensor surface, allowing the camera to utilize the advantages of both mechanisms for faster and more accurate focusing. Phase-detect AF also measures the subject distance from the lens. This helps the camera focus faster and lock onto a fast moving subject, especially when the subject moves away or towards the camera. This is used for both stills and videos and provided photographer yet another enhanced features that can really help in certain situations.
The NEX-6 has a built-in Wi-Fi which let you transfer photos onto your home computer, smartphone or tablet. As with the RX100 Mark II, you will have to install PlayMemories app on your mobile device. The great thing about being able to connect the camera with your phone is that you can easily share the great photos that you have taken with your camera with friends on Facebook, Twitter , etc. Furthermore, you can use that for backing up your photos and upload them to a secure location using many of the available online cloud storage service, or image sharing services like Flickr or Picasa.
As with the RX100 II, the NEX-6 also utilizes the same Multi-interface Show that allows you to use a wide range of Handycam accessories. Sony don’t need to create accessories for both its handcam and digital cameras separately. Furthermore, if you already have accessories that you’ve bought for your handcam camcorder, you can use it on your RX100 II or NEX-6 and vice versa.
Sony NEX-6 enjoys a very wide range of features, including many picture effect modes, auto portrait framing, Clear Image zoom, Auto HDR, Sweep Panorama, 6-image layering ( 6 images combined into a single image), face detection, Smile shutter, D-Range optimizer (improves result with backlit subjects), creative styles and Full HD 1080p60/60i/24p video recording.
This camera was made to impress the enthusiast photographer. A really impressive specs that made this camera a best seller (Currently 3rd position in Amazon best sellers in the Compact System Cameras category). This camera is aimed for photographers who really want to step up their photography skills. Those who tried and felt quite limited with what point-and-shoot cameras have to offer and need a more versatile camera. A large sensor on the NEX-6 also means being able achieve much shallower depth of field, especially when using fast lenses which are available to you in the NEX lenses’ lineup.
Relatively Compact, but not Pocketable
Even with all those advantages, for some people, buying the NEX-6 is not such an obvious decision. It’s a relatively small camera in DSLR terms, but one that you cannot put into your pocket. Many people want a pocketable camera as they believe, and I totally agree, that the best camera is the one that you take with you. This means that you can come home with many great photos that otherwise you would have missed.
The RX100 II costs around $750 (as for the time of writing) and the NEX-6 costs the same BUT for body only. You’ll need to purchase a lens too. The NEX-6 + 16-50mm Kit lens costs ~$900, so that’s extra $150 for the 16-50mm lens when bundled with the camera. This of course makes the NEX-6 more expensive, but in exchange, you get the option to enjoy a camera with expandable features.
This brings us to the second part of this review, comparing the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II versus Sony NEX-6.
Sony RX100 II vs Sony NEX-6
In this section we’ll take a look at the differences between the Sony RX100 Mark II and Sony NEX-6. It will help you better comprehend difference, cons and pros of each camera. It’s worth spending a few minutes going over this comparison table and understanding what you are actually getting with each camera. Many of the buying decision ends here, although I highly recommend also reading the image quality section too.
|Sony RX100 II||Sony NEX-6|
|Announced||September 12, 2013||June 27, 2013|
|Body Material||Corrosion-resistant aluminum alloy|
|Plastic with magnesium top plate|
|Camera Type||Large sensor compact||Compact System Camera / Mirrorless|
1-inch (13.2 x 8.8 mm)
Back-illuminated CMOS (BSI)
APS-C (23.5 x 15.6 mm)
|Theoretically, the NEX-6 should performer better in terms if image quality due to its much larger pixels (see IQ section for in-depth analysys).
Sony has chosen an optimal balance between resolution and IQ in my opinion. I personally dislike sensors with 20MP+ resolution. Most people won't take advantage of it anyway and it just produce very large files (you can change that though) and pixels are smaller, reducing the sensor's sensitivity.
BSI sensors are more sensitive to pixel bleeding but helps the camera perform better on low-light situations. This pixel bleeding is caused when signals from different pixels are effecting nearby pixels. This still needed to be thoroughly tested, but even if it does, I don't see this as a real issue and, arguably, I think that the pros outweigh the cons.
On the other hand, at low ISO, you can expect very detailed image with the RX100 Mark II, same as the RX100. This gives you more cropping freedom and more data to manipulate using photo editing software.
|ISO||Standard: 160 - 12800|
Expandable: 100, 125, 25600
|Standard: ISO 100 - 6400
Expandable: up to 25600
|Metering System||Multi-zone metering|
(didn't find any information about the number of zones)
|1200-zone evaluative metering|
|The two cameras have light metering systems that works quite differently. The fact is that the RX100 light metering system is optimized specifically for its non-interchangeable lens, and many photographers concluded that it's more center-weighted.|
|Image Stabilization||Built-in optical image stabilization|
|lens-shift image stabilization, not built-in - relies on the lens for OIS|
|With the RX100M2 you don't need to worry about whether the lens has or doesn't have OIS, you have only one lens and a built-in sensor-shift OIS.
With the NEX-6 you need to check whether the lens that you want to buy has this mechanism or not. OIS is very important when shooting with telephoto lenses, but also helps when shooting static subjects in dim light, because you can shoot in slower shutter speeds approx. 3 times less than the optimal one and still get a sharp image.
|Lens||28-100 mm (35mm equiv.)|
Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T*
3.6x optical zoom
|Big difference here. The RX100 Mark II has a fixed lens. No matter what you shoot, you need to adapt yourself to the limitations of the lens (ie. focal length, aperture).
This is where the NEX-6 real advantage come into play. You can choose which lens to shoot with, the one that perfectly fits the subject being photographed.
For example, you can buy a ultra-wide angle lens, a 1:1 macro lens or a very fast prime lens - those options are not available for you with the RX100 and the RX100 Mark II. A great advantage for serious photographers who want to exploit the most of their talent and creative possibilities available for them, without any rough limitations that they cannot overcome.
|Autofocus System||25-point contrast-detect|
0-23 EV sensitivity (at ISO100 equivalent, with F2.8 lens attached)
|Hybrid AF (phase-detection AF / contrast-detection AF)
99-point phase detection and 24 points contrast-detection
0-20 EV sensitivity (at ISO100 equivalent, with F2.8 lens attached)
(0.3 - 3.0m)
(0.3 - 3.0m)
|Another important difference here. The NEX-6 enjoys the advantage of having both phase-detect and contrast-detect AF points, allowing the camera to perform better when tracking moving subjects, as the AF sensor of the NEX-6 also measures the distance to set the focus correctly.
In practice and in regular use, many photographers reported no difference. It really depends on the specific scene. If you are shooting static subjects, you can expect the same performance more or less,
The main advantage you'll see if you need more precise manual focusing (MF).
You can't have it all, especially not with a camera like the RX100 / RX100 2. If you are buying the RX100 for carrying it with you at all times and for some occasional shooting, the different in AF performance and flexibility shouldn't bother you. If you search for flexibility and more accurate AF performance for subject tracking, the NEX-6 is the way to go.
If you own either cameras and have an option about their AF performance, please share your feedback by commenting below. Thanks.
|Macro Focus Range||5 cm (1.97")||Based on the lens|
1229K-dots Xtra Fine LCD
Tilting (up 84-degrees, down 45-degrees)
921K-dots Xtra Fine LCD
Tilting (up 90-degrees, down 45-degrees)
|Both cameras utilize a high-quality, high-res 3-inch tilting display. The RX100 II has a higher resolution display but tilts up 6-degrees less than the NEX-6.
Overall it's nice to see that the RX100 II now features such a high-quality tilting display. Both will offer you great visibility in bright daylight and enhance the experience of viewing photos on the display, also great for checking focus and sharpness.
This is even more crucial for the RX100 II because it doesn't employ an eye-level viewfinder.
|Eye-level Viewfinder||No (optional) accessory||Yes, Built-in
1.3 cm (0.5 type) Electronic viewfinder
2359K-dots XGA OLED
|This is probably among the biggest advantages that the NEX-6 has over the RX100 II and RX100.
The NEX-6 features a very high-quality OLED EVF. The EVF is part of the camera itself, and therefore you don't need to buy it separately nor it extends the height of the device.
I'm sure that photographers will prefer having it built-in than attaching the large optional one on top of their camera, although you have the advantage of being able to tilt the optional EVF upwards up to almost 90-degrees.
An optional viewfinder adds to the cost and adds to the size of the camera, but greatly enhanced the experience when shooting outdoors. That the reason why I personally prefer having it in the camera rather than buying it as a clip-on accessory.
The RX100 II optional viewfinder(s) attaches to the multi interface shoe.
|Shutter Speed||30 - 1/2000 sec||30 - 1/4000 sec|
|Pop up Flash||Yes (15m)||Yes (6m)|
|Exposure Compensation||±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)||±5 (at 1/3 EV steps)|
|AE Bracketing||3 continuous or single shots in 1/3 or 2/3 EV steps||With 1/3, 2/3, 1, 2, 3EV increments, 3 frames|
|Wireless||Wi-Fi + NFC|
(NFC Forum Type 3 Tag compatible, One-touch remote, One-touch sharing)
|RX100 II offers easier and faster connection initialization using NFC - just touch the two devices together, no need for a complex setup process.
You'll need Sony PlayMemories app to be installed on your mobile device in order for the camera to exchange data and to be able to use remote functionality.
|External Mic Connector||yes|
Attach an external mic to the multi interface shoe (e.g. Sony ECM-XYST1M)
Attach an external mic to the multi interface shoe (e.g. Sony ECM-XYST1M)
|Remote Control||Via Wi-Fi/NFC or Multi Terminal Interface (using RM-VPR1 wired remote commander)||Via Wi-Fi or Infrared
NEX-6 doesn't have the Multi-terminal interface (don't be confused with the multi interface shoe)
|Battery Life (CIPA)||350 shots||360 shots|
|Dimensions||102 x 58 x 38 mm (4 x 2.29 x 1.51″)||120 x 67 x 43 mm (4.72 x 2.64 x 1.69″)|
|Weight||281 g (0.62 lb / 9.91 oz)||345 g (0.76 lb / 12.17 oz)|
|Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II is 15% (18.3 mm) narrower and 13% (8.8 mm) shorter than Sony NEX-6.
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II is 10% (4.3 mm) thinner than Sony NEX-6.
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II [281 g] weights 19% (64 grams) less than Sony NEX-6 [345 g] (*inc. batteries and memory card).
You can easily put the RX100M2 in your shirt pocket. For the NEX-6 you'll need a small camera bag to carry it around (don't forget that you need to attach a lens to the camera).
This what makes the RX100 II such a great compact camera. You can carry this camera everywhere you go, you don't need to worry about whether it's appropriate or is it comfortable to carry it with you. It's compact and discreet. You can come home with great photos that otherwise you wouldn't be able to capture if you left your camera at home.
There are so many times that I have no other way but leaving my DSLR camera behind. There are times that I wish that I had a camera with me, but not a phone camera, one that can capture very high-quality photos.
The RX100 II is the perfect camera for those who feel the same as I did. The RX100 II can serve as a primary camera as well as a secondary camera for your DSLR.
|Step Zoom Function||Yes||No (might be depends on the lens, but I don't recall any NEX lens that has this feature)|
|Burst||10 fps||10 fps|
|HDMI Output||HDMI® (Type D micro)||HDMI® (TypeC mini)|
|USB|| USB 2.0 Hi-speed (mass-storage, MTP)|
|USB2.0 Hi-speed (mass-storage, MTP)
|Auto Portrait Framing||Yes||Yes|
|Digital Level Gauge||Yes||Yes|
|Manual Focus Assist|
(Magnifies the viewfinder image when you touch the focus ring)
Menu → Settings icon → MF Assist → desired mode
8.6x enlargement, up to 17.1 when pressing the circle on the control wheel.
(pre-focuses as you compose your shot)
Sony NEX-6 Advantages:
- Much large sensor
- One stop higher native maximum ISO speed
- base ISO 100 (vs ISO 160)
- More advanced metering system
- Being able to mount interchangeable lenses – choose from a wide variety of special lenses
- Hybrid AF (both contrast-detect and phase-detect AF system)
- Slightly more flexible LCD tilting arm, can rotate up 90-degrees compare to 84-degree on the RX100
- Built-in eye-level Electronic Viewfinder, and a high-quality one!
- Faster maximum shutter speed
- Slightly better battery life
- (?) Large, can be easier to hold an stabilize the camera for people with large hands and when mounting long and heavy lenses
- Faster start up time (200ms)
- More AF points (99 vs 25)
- More versatile exposure compensation
- Install PlayMemory apps (free & paid) – see playmemoriescameraapps.com
Sony RX100 II advances:
- Better build quality (aluminum alloy)
- Higher resolution (20MP vs 16MP) – can be a disadvanteg, depends on the IQ performance
- Built-in SteadShot OIS
- Fast wide-angle lens and Carl-Zeiss optics
Carl Zeiss lens with fast aperture will be very costly with an interchangeable lens
- Higher resolution LCD (1229K vs 921K)
- NFC for fast wireless connection binding between two NFC-enabled devices
- Much Smaller - pocketable!
- Weight 64 grams less than the NEX-6
- Step zoom function
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100M2 and NEX-6 are completely different cameras and both are aimed to different segments. Having said that, there are people who don’t currently have a quality camera and know how to appreciate the advantage of shooting with a large-sensor camera. Some of them might had a DSLR camera before, or at least had a chance to shoot with one. For them, buying the RX100 over a Compact System Camera or a DSLR camera is certainly a viable option.
The Sony NEX-6 is a more versatile camera, we can’t argue about that. There are times that you wish to have an ultra-wide angle lens or a telephoto zoom lens above 200mm, this is something that you just can’t get with the RX100 II, and it’s good that you understand its cons. With the RX100 II the photographer will need to adapt to the camera’s limitations in order to make the best of it, especially if this is your primary digital camera.
The best thing about the Sony RX100 II is that you can carry this camera everywhere you go. No excuses to leave your camera behind and miss out those great moments. You can capture memories that otherwise would have been lost forever.
On the other hand, the NEX-6 is a great photographic tool. You will be able to come home with much more artistic photo, because nothing will stand between your and your perfect shot. Yes, lenses don’t come free, and you need to pay hundreds of dollars for owning more than one lens. It really depends on what you intend to shoot, some people will be more than satisfied owning only the kit lens (16-50mm).
However, until you had your hands on a fast prime lens or an ultra-wide angle lens you don’t know what you are missing. This changes everything for the photographer. It opens a whole new world of creative possibilities that just ain’t available for you with the RX100 II. This is something that you should consider seriously before jumping on the RX100 II.
One of my personal favorite features on the NEX-6 is the fact that I can use fast prime lenses that will help me completely blur the background out of focus. This is something that can be achieved with the RX100 II, but in a very low degree compare to what is achievable with the NEX-6 and a portrait lens for example.
Another thing that is not less important is to see how the two cameras perform in terms of image quality.
Image Quality / High ISO Performance
The main advantage of the Sony NEX-6 is its larger sensor. The Sony RX100 II has 2.4 microns size pixels, the NEX-6 has 4.8 microns size pixels. So you read it right, the NEX-6 pixels are twice as large as the one on the RX100 II. This is a huge difference and something that should certainly be noticeable in lab test comparisons. Having said that, the sensor technology and image processing algorithms also have an impact on how the final image looks.
I turned out to imaging resource comparometer tool in order to examine sample images myself and see the differences in my own eyes. Here are the results of my observation after comparing the Sony NEX-6 versus the Sony RX100M2 sample images side by side.
- ISO 100 (Expnded mode in the RX100 II, native to NEX-6) – NEX-6 image is much sharper, the RX100 II is on the soft side. It seems like Sony has applied much stronger sharpening on the NEX-6. The RX100 II with its extra 4MP just don’t match the detail resolving power of the NEX-6. Both images are very clean as expected. The NEX-6 image also appears slightly more saturated out of the box. Regarding pixel bleeding, this is something that can be seen when you look at the color board where there is a high-contrast difference between the two colors. On the NEX-6 the squares edges are tack sharp and on the RX100 II most of them aren’t. It seems that the red color has more issue as the red square appears washed out. Overall great image quality for both cameras, but the NEX-6 certainly has the edge.
Advantage: Sony NEX-6
- ISO 200 – same results here as ISO 100, NEX-6 certainly outperforms the RX100 II in terms of sharpness and detailes. It doesn’t make the RX100 II image looks bad. I think that the RX100 II lens just cannot resolve such high resolution, but it’s doing a pretty good job nevertheless. Really like the output of both cameras, super clean image but again, NEX-6 wins here.
Advantage: Sony NEX-6
- ISO 400 – Noise start to appear in the RX100 II images, slightly visible in the dark and mid-tones. ISO 400 doesn’t pose a threat to the NEX-6 at all, it looks like ISO 100.
Advantage: Sony NEX-6
- ISO 800 – ISO 800 is where you can clearly see the difference between the two. RX100 II image still looks very good, but noise is certainly more apparent. The NEX-6 image is surprisingly clean – WOW!
Advantage: Sony NEX-6
- ISO 1600 – RX100M2 we get more prominent image noise in id-tones, starting to lose those fine details in the text. Sony NEX-6 just refuse to let noise in. A slightly more noise in shadows, but come on.. this is ridiculous how clean the NEX-6 image is at this ISO. Look at the Benissimo pepper oil bottle and you can see what I mean. There is probably two stops difference between the two cameras, in favor of the NEX-6 of course. Even so, the RX100 II performance considering its sensor size is also very impressive. Let’s not forget that it’s a 1-inch sensor, not APS-C.
Advantage: Sony NEX-6
- ISO 3200 – This is where we can finally see the NEX-6 surrendering the forces of nature. Noise is more evident in mid-tones but you still be able to makes some very usable A4 prints – impressive. The RX100 II held on very well, no doubt that some sophisticated NR algorithms are taking place here, helping maintain good IQ. In fact, when your resize the image a bit, it’s hard to notice image noise at all.
Advantage: Sony NEX-6
- ISO 6400 – neither produce good looking images and ISO 6400 is probably the end of the road for both cameras, at least if you want to make larger prints and hate seeing noise in your images. RX100 II uses much stronger NR, NEX-6 maintains details much better.
Advantage: Sony NEX-6
In my observation, both cameras produce beautiful images but there are significant differences between the two. The RX100 II produces images that are a bit soft. I think that Sony didn’t apply strong sharpening, which gives photographers more options to tweak the image later on. The RX100 II performs incredible well considering its sensor size / pixel size up to ISO 3200, I was really surprised to see it hanging on so well. I did notice some color bleeding which was quite obvious when viewing areas of the images with sharp edges and high contrast. This is something that should be brought up by lab test reviews. This is a trade-off when you use a BSI sensor, you get better low light performance, but pay with some image artifacts (although I’m not 100% sure that it’s because of the sensor’s technology, but many comments on the web suggest so).
The NEX-6 wins hands down when it comes to high ISO performance. Really an impressive performance!
There is a price that you pay for having such a high resolution on such a small sensor. The RX100 II performance is very good, don’t get me wrong, but it just makes you wonder what if Sony has used 10MP instead of 20.3MP..mmm…
So which is the better camera of the two? – depends on what you need. If you are searching for a pocketable camera, and that the most important feature, you don’t need me to tell you to get the RX100 II. In this comparison it’s important to understand the benefits of shooting with an interchangeable lens camera and learning to appreciate having a built-in viewfinder in your camera. Many enthusiasts just won’t make this compromise and having such versatility for them is a must to expand their creativity and improve their skills as photographers.
What the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 mark 2 does best is keeping an optimal balance between size and performance. This is what RX100 did best and RX100 II continues its tradition. This is the best compact camera on the market right now. A perfect camera for those coming from point-and-shoot and want a pocketable camera to carry everywhere they go. It’s a digital camera that will outperform almost all of the smartphone cameras out there (didn’t compare it to the Nokia 808 PureView though). If you care about image quality and want a compact camera with DSLR-like image quality, don’t look any further, you are viewing the best of the best.
If you want my opinion, I would probably be getting the RX100 II. I already own a DSLR camera. There are so many times that this camera just stays at home because I just don’t want to carry it around with me. I usually take my DSLR when I go out especially for taking photos. There are so many times in between that I always wished that I had a high quality camera with me. This is where the RX100 II shines. I missed so many great shots leaving my DSLR camera at home. With the RX100 II I know that I will come home with many more photos and memories to keep. If you feel the same or whether you own or not owning a DSLR, the RX100 II is probably the camera for you.
If you decide to buy the Sony NEX-6 and this is the first time you are purchasing an interchangeable lens camera, I recommend getting it with the 16-50 mm kit lens. Just start to shoot with it and in time you’ll know if you need a second lens and what type of lens you should get.
It’s worth mentioning that the RX100 II is still available and you can get it for $100 less than the RX100 II. You can find our more on my RX100 vs RX100 II comparison.
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