Sony RX100 IV vs RX100 III vs RX100 II

June 13, 2015

 

Sony RX100 IV vs RX100 III vs RX100 II

In this article we’ll take a closer look at the differences between the new Sony RX100 IV and its predecessors, the RX100 III and RX100 II. We’ll start with a short introduction about the RX100 IV and move on to the comparison section.

Sony RX100 IV

The first RX100 camera was introduces in June 6, 2012. The RX100 series is a very popular one. In fact, Sony RX100 are probably among the best compact cameras you can buy on the market right now. The new RX100 IV offers some incremental changes from the RX100 III and is a host of some of Sony’s latest innovative technologies.

Sony RX100 IV camera

On the outside, the RX100 IV looks almost completely identical to its predecessor. The main differences lies underneath.  The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 IV utilizes a 20.1MP 1.0-type stacked CMOS sensor, and it’s the first stacked CMOS sensor that uses a memory-attached DRAM chip.

What is a Stacked Sensor? – well, unlike a conventional CMOS sensor where the photodiodes (light sensitive pixels) and the circuits sits on the same silicon substrate, in a Stacked Sensor, the two resides in different stacks. Compared to a traditional BSI sensor, Sony Exmor RS Stacked Sensor offers some advantages, including better fill factor because of better layer separation and on-board memory (solves some bandwidth related issues). The Sony Stacked Sensor therefore brings some significant performance boost compared to previous sensors. For example, the RX100 IV can capture 4K videos using XAVC S codec, can shoot at 16 fps in burst mode, can capture stills at 1/32,000 sec due to very first readouts and 40x super slow motion videos at up to 960 fps.

Sony RX100 IV EVF

1/32000 sec can be useful in reducing rolling shutter effect in videos and allow more control over exposure. This mean that that you can still get well-exposed shot with fast-apertures when shooting under very bright lighting conditions.  So you’ll still get to maintain that beautiful shallow depth of field, instead of closing the aperture in order to reduce the amount of light.

We still get to have the same amazing Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24-70mm (equiv.) f/1.8-f/2.8 lens. The Electronic viewfinder got a resolution boost from 1.44M dots to 2.36M dots. The rear tilting LCD is the same as before, no touchscreen though for those who hoped for this feature.

Here’s a $K video clip captured with the RX100 IV. In order to appreciate the resolution, you’ll need to watch it on a 4K display. By the way, the 4K video recording on the RX100 IV is limited for 5 minutes.

We’ll get into more in-depth detail soon, but as you can see, it isn’t a huge difference. Sony did want to make the RX100 IV among the first to utilize the new Stacked Sensor and enjoy its benefits. I like the EVF resolution increment, fast burst speed, the 4K video offering and super-fast shutter speed. I have to admit that in some ways I would have expected a bit more, maybe an update to the lens and maybe some changes in the camera design. That said, we can’t deny the fact that there isn’t any compact camera on the market that offers what the RX100 IV has to offer.

 RX100 IV vs RX100 III vs RX100 II

Let’s take a closer look at the differences between those three cameras.

RX100 IV (M4)RX100 III (M3)RX100 II (M2)
AnnouncedJune 10, 2015May 16, 2014June 27, 2013
Build Qualityaluminumaluminum aluminum
Sensor20.1 megapixels
1.0-type (13.2 x 8.8 mm)
Exmor RS CMOS (Stacked)
3:2 aspect ratio
20.1 megapixels
1.0-type (13.2mm x 8.8 mm)
Exmor R CMOS (BSI)
3:2 aspect ratio
20.2 megapixels
1.0-type (13.2mm x 8.8 mm)
Exmor R CMOS (BSI)
3:2 aspect ratio
Image ProcessorBionz XBionz XBionz
ISO125-12800
Expandable to ISO 80/100 / ISO 25600
125-12800
Expandable to ISO 80/100 / ISO 25600

(up to 12800 in movies)
160-12800
Expandable to ISO 100 / ISO 25600
RAWYesYesYes
LensZeiss Vario-Sonnar T* Lens
24-70mm F1.8-2.8 (equiv.)

10 elements in 9 groups

9 aspherical glass elements, 2 advanced aspherical (AA) elements (cemented together, * world's first)

7 circular diaphragm blades

2.9x optical zoom

5cm macro focus range
30cm normal focus range

Optical SteadyShot image stabilization
(5-axis in movie recording / active)
Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* Lens
24-70mm F1.8-2.8 (equiv.)

10 elements in 9 groups

9 aspherical glass elements, 2 advanced aspherical (AA) elements (cemented together, * world's first)

7 circular diaphragm blades

2.9x optical zoom

5cm macro focus range
30cm normal focus range

Optical SteadyShot image stabilization
(5-axis in movie recording / active)
ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T* Lens
28-100mm F1.8-4.9 (equiv.)

7 elements in 6 groups

4 aspherical elements, 1 advanced aspherical (AA) element

7 circular diaphragm blades

3.6x optical zoom

5cm macro focus range
50cm normal focus range

Optical SteadyShot image stabilization
(3-axis)






Built-in ND FilterYes
1/8 (3 stops)
Yes
1/8 (3 stops)
No
LCD3-inch
1228.8K-dots

Tilting (up approx. 180 deg., down approx. 45 deg.)
Great for selfies

WhiteMagic TFT-LCD

Not touchscreen
3-inch
1228.8K-dots

Tilting (up approx. 180 deg., down approx. 45 deg.)
Great for selfies

WhiteMagic TFT-LCD

Not touchscreen
3-inch
1228.8K-dots

Tilting (up approx. 84 deg., down approx. 45 deg.)

WhiteMagic TFT-LCD

Not touchscreen
ViewfinderBuild-in EVF

2359K-dots

OLED type
100% coverage
0.59x magnification

ZEISS® T* coating enhanced clarity

Eye-sensor
Build-in EVF

1440K-dots

OLED type
100% coverage
0.59x magnification

ZEISS® T* coating enhanced clarity

Eye-sensor
Optional
Shutter Speed40-1/32000 sec30-1/2000 sec30-1/2000 sec
Pop-up FlashYesYesYes
External FlashNoNoYes (via Multi Interface shoe)
Burst16 fps

(Speed Priority)
10 fps

(Speed Priority)
10 fps

(Speed Priority)
Exposure Bracketing±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)
AE Bracketing±3±3±3
WB BrackeringYesYesNo
Video2160p30
2160p24
1080p60
1080i60
1080p24

720p60
720p30
720p24
720p120

High frame-rate (HFR)
1080p240
1080p480
1080p960

5-axis image stabilization

MPEG-4, AVCHD, XAVC S

* Supports XAVC S / 50Mbps bit rage. SDXC card with Class 10 or higher is required for XAVC S recording

Clear HDMI output (Preview)
1080p60
1080i60
1080p24

720p60/30/24/120

Stereo sound

5-axis image stabilization
(first in the series) and Sony's frame analysis technology

MPEG-4, AVCHD, XAVC S

* Supports XAVC S / 50Mbps bit rage. SDXC card with Class 10 or higher is required for XAVC S recording

Clear HDMI output (Preview)
1080p60
1080i60

Stereo sound

MPEG-4, AVCHD

Clear HDMI output (Preview)


Microphone Port/
Headphone Jack
No / NoNo / NoNo / No
WirelessWi-Fi / NFCWi-Fi / NFCWi-Fi / NFC
AF Points25 contrast-detect AF points

Fast Intelligent AF
25 contrast-detect AF points25 contrast-detect AF points
Eye AFYesYesNo
PlayMemories SupportYesYesYes
Battery Life280 shots (CIPA)320 shots (CIPA)350 shots (CIPA)
Weight298 g (0.66 lb / 10.51 oz)290 g (0.64 lb / 10.23 oz)281 g (0.62 lb / 9.91 oz)
Dimensions102 x 58 x 41 mm (4.02 x 2.28 x 1.61″)102 x 58 x 41 mm (4.02 x 2.28 x 1.61″)102 x 58 x 38 mm (4 x 2.29 x 1.51″)

As you can see from the above RX100 IV vs RX100 III vs RX100 II comparison table, the RX100 IV has several benefits over its predecessor. Sony also improved the AF system in the new version. According to Sony official site, the new autofocus system is an improved version over the A7 series and incorporated predicted AF range and accelerating lens drive to further enhance AF locking speed. Unfortunately, Sony didn’t add a touchscreen, the lens is still the same as in the RX100 III, there is no option to connect and external flash.

That being said, we can’t deny that there isn’t any other camera on the market that offers such a huge arsenal of advances features in such a small compact body. It is in no doubt, one of the best, if not THE best compact camera on the market today. It’s super versatile and offers a wide range of advanced technologies that will help you capture beautiful moments without limiting your creativity.

The Sony RX100 II is still a very good choice for those who search for a great compact camera for a lesser price. It costs around $400 less than the new RX100 IV and you get a slower and less wider lens (although with slightly more reach), an older sensor, the LCD cannot be tilted 180 degrees as in the M4, there is no built-in EVF (optional buy, can be attached via the accessory shoe), it has lower max shutter speed and burst, limited video functionality with no XAVC S codec offering and it uses an older generation Bionz processor.

I personally think that the RX100 IV or RX100 III are well worth the extra price over the RX100 II. For $100 more you can buy the RX100 III, which is already a significant step forward. Between the RX100 IV and the RX100 III, it depends whether you are convinced with the new feature and intend to use them.

Conclusion

If you are searching for the perfect compact camera, the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 IV is as close as you can get.  A camera that you can carry everywhere you go. You can count on it to capture brilliant stills and videos every time and not limit your creativity when you need it the most. It’s the perfect family camera that every family member can use. It’s small and elegant, yet boasts some of the best of what the imaging industry has to offer. It’s amazing in low-light as it’s in daylight and all in all, it’s very hard to resist, every when comparing it to interchangeable-lens cameras. If you are searching for an ILC alternative in a compact body, this would be it – Highly recommended!

You can order the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 IV camera from B&H Photo here.



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