Compacts


Sony RX100 VI Camera Review

September 8, 2018

By Greg Scoblete

PDN is a member of the Technical Image Press Association which has contracted with Image Engineering to perform detailed lab tests of digital cameras. See here for a full methodological rundown of how Image Engineering puts cameras through their paces. Full res files of every visual in this review are available to download for your pixel-peeping pleasure here

Introduction

Sony’s latest iteration of its RX100 advanced compact, the RX100 VI, boasts a 24-200mm f/2.8-4.5 lens in a body shape that’s nearly identical to its Mark V predecessor (which had a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens).

The RX100 VI’s lens features optical image stabilization good for up to four stops of correction, per CIPA standards.

The RX100 VI boasts a 20-megapixel 1-inch stacked CMOS sensor and can deliver up to 24 fps continuous shooting with autofocusing engaged. The camera can acquire focus in .03 seconds, making it the world’s fastest in its class, according to Sony.

Beyond the longer zoom lens, the Mark VI features improved eye AF tracking (2x better than the Mark V) plus touch focusing and touch shutter on its 3-inch display. The display can be tilted up 180 degrees or down 90 degrees.

There’s still a pop-up electronic viewfinder, but now the viewfinder can be sprung with the touch of a button (vs. pulling it up manually on the Mark V).

The camera has 315 AF points, 4K video recording with S-Log3/S-Gamut3 and a 1000 fps slow motion mode.

The RX100 VI is available now for $1,200.

Resolution

  • Reaches 94 percent of the theoretical maximum of its 20-megapixel sensor at ISO 125 (1708 line pairs per picture height (LP/PH)).
  • Resolution remains good as ISO increases (e.g. 1634 LP/PH, 90 percent of theoretical maximum at ISO 800) up to ISO 1600 (1591 LP/PH; 87 percent of theoretical maximum).
  • The highest ISO s showed poorer resolution (e.g. 1336 LP/PH, 73 percent, at ISO 12800).
  • The predecessor Mark V, which had the same range of ISO , produced images with 1691 LP/PH (93 percent) at ISO 125, and 1611 LP/PH (88 percent) at ISO 1600, and 1360 LP/PH (75 percent at ISO 12800).

This graph shows the loss of contrast (y-axis) as a function of the spatial frequency in line pairs per picture height (x-axis) for different ISO-sensitivities (colored lines). The further to the right a curve stretches before descending, the better the resolution at that ISO. The limiting resolution for each ISO can be found by identifying to the highest spatial frequency which results in a contrast of 0.1, or where the ISO curve crosses the thicker horizontal thicker black line marking 0.1. The vertical pink line is a reference representing half the number of pixels in the sensor height (the Nyquist frequency).

Texture loss

  • At ISO 125, the Mark VI shows an MTF50 of 1624 LP/PH (high contrast) with 23.2 percent artifacts, and 1643 LP/PH in low contrast with 21.3 percent artifacts.
  • At ISO 800, MTF50 is 1566 LP/PH in high-contrast parts of the scene, with 31.5 percent artifacts, and an MTF50 of 1352 LP/PH in low-contrast areas (42.4 percent artifacts).
  • At ISO 12800, MTF50 was 966 LP/PH in high contrast (75.5 percent artifacts) and 871 in low contrast (85.3 percent artifacts).
  • In comparISO n, at ISO 125, the Mark V showed an MTF50 of 1057 LP/PH (high contrast) with 23.3 percent artifacts, and 832 LP/PH in low contrast with 15.1 percent artifacts.
  • At ISO 800, the Mark V produced an MTF50 of 704 LP/PH (high contrast) with 29.6 percent artifacts, and 522 LP/PH in low contrast with 30.1 percent artifacts.

An artifact is an alteration in a digital image due to technology or technique of processing. Artifacts stem from noise, compression, and sharpening. This graph plots the calculated difference in digital signal between two methods (DeadLeavesCross & DeadLeavesDirect). The colored lines represent response at different ISOs and in reference to a high-contrast target and a low-contrast target. Values plotted are the Dead Leaves SFR difference against the spatial frequency. The larger the area under the curve, the more artifacts are present.

Edge contrast / sharpening

  • At ISO 125, the Sony RX100 Mark VI produces an overshoot along high-contrast edges of 3.5 percent with 3.1 percent undershoot ; along low-contrast edges, the overshoot produced is 9.2 percent and undershoot 3.6 percent.
  • The predecessor Mark V produced more sharpening at ISO 125: 8.9 percent undershoot and 1.3 percent overshoot along high-contrast edges, and 17.6 percent overshoot and 8.7 percent undershoot along low-contrast edges.
  • At ISO 1600 and above, sharpening in the Mark V was a lot smaller than at the lower ISO s. For example, at ISO 1600, overshoot along high-contrast edges was 7.4 percent, with an undershoot of 1.0 percent. Along low-contrast edges at the same ISO , The Mark V produced an overshoot 7.5 percent and undershoot of 4.3 percent.
  • At ISO 1600, the Mark VI produces 5.0 percent overshoot and 4.3 percent undershoot along high-contrast edges, with 7.5 percent overshoot and 3.8 percent undershoot along low-contrast edges.
  • At ISO  12800, sharpening is non-existent (0.0 percent) along high-contrast edges. A mild sharpening of 1.2 percent overshoot and 1.1 percent undershoot is applied along low-contrast edges at this ISO  (12800).

This graph shows the degree of sharpening in the image by representing an over- and undershoot along contrasted edges. The colored lines represent measurements at different ISOs and in high- and low-contrast situations. The size of the dip before the edge (in both depth and breadth) indicates the degree of undershoot; similarly, the amount overshoot is indicated by the height and breadth of the peak. Thus, larger dips and/or peaks indicate that a sharpening effect is visible.

OECF VN / visual noise

  • Visual noise scores are good at ISO 125: 0.9 in VN1, 0.4 VN2, and 0.5 VN3.
  • In Viewing Condition 1, noise would be apparent at all other ISO s (score 1.3 at ISO 400, 1.6 at ISO 1600), quickly becoming disturbing (3.0 at ISO  6400 and 4.7 at ISO 12800).
  • In Viewing Condition 2, visual noise would not be very noticeable at ISOs up to ISO 3200 (score 0.9). At ISO 12800, the noise would be disturbing (score 2.0).
  • In Viewing Condition 3, visual noise in images captured at lower ISOs (ISO 125 – ISO 1600), would not be noticeable (scores 0.5 through 0.9).
  • Images shot at ISO 3200 would include noticeable visual noise at ISO 3200 (score 1.1) up to levels that would be very disruptive at ISO 12800 (score 2.4).
  • Noise is most visible in the darker grey tones.
  • The Mark V produced very similar visual noise scores at ISO 125 (scores 0.9 in VN1, 0.4 VN2, and 0.4 VN3), and similar thresholds for the ISO s at which visual noise would become noticeable (ISO 400 in VN1 (score 1.2), ISO 6400 in VN2 (1.0), and ISO 6400 for VN3 (1.2)).

This chart shows the noise behavior at various ISO-sensitivities (colored lines) as a function of the brightness of the target image, which is indicated by the relative darkness of the circle on the outer edge of the diagram (noise in shadowed areas are above, and in highlights below). The larger the area inside a curve, the stronger the noise. The degree to which noise disturbs the appreciation of an image, depends on the image size and the viewing condition. The right-hand side of the chart shows the visibility of the noise in an image that is displayed 100% on a monitor (VN1). The left-hand half shows the visibility of noise in a 40-cm tall print (VN3).

This chart shows the noise behavior at various ISO-sensitivities (colored lines) as a function of the brightness of the target image. The perception of noise is represented by the area that is encircled by the curve. The larger the area, the stronger the noise. How much the noise disturbs the viewing of an image, depends on the image size and the viewing distance. This chart shows the noise visibility for an image that is displayed 100% on a monitor (VN1).

This chart shows the noise behavior at various ISO-sensitivities (colored lines) as a function of the brightness of the target image. The perception of noise is represented by the area that is encircled by the curve. The larger the area, the stronger the noise. How much the noise disturbs the viewing of an image, depends on the image size and the viewing distance. The chart shows the noise visibility for an image that is about postcard size (scaled to a height of 10cm) viewed at a distance of 25cm.

Dynamic Range

  • Dynamic range ranges from 9.6 f-stops at ISO 125, to 8.9 declining to 8.7 at ISO s 400 through ISO 1600.
  • At the higher ISO , dynamic range is poorer, 7.0 f-stops at ISO 6400 and 6.6 at ISO 12800.

Color Reproduction

  • Color reproduction tests show the reproduction of only five colors deviating strongly from the original, of which three are reds.
  • ∆E is between 10.3 and 10.8 at all ISOs tested.
  • The Mark V showed similar, although slightly smaller, ∆E: 9.8 at ISO 6400 and 10.1 or 10.2 at all other ISO  settings tested.

Color reproduction is shown here in two ways. The upper figure is a chart comparing a reference color (right-hand half of each color patch) directly with the color reproduced by the camera (left-hand half of the color patch). Below is a table that lists the DeltaE of each color patch. Red cells indicated strong color deviations, light green cells represent colors with noticeable deviations, and a dark green field represents a moderate deviation.

Don’t Miss: The Best Cameras for Color Reproduction

Automatic white balance

  • Automatic white balance is good only at ISO 800 (0.1).
  • At most ISOs tested, automatic white balance was measured at 0.5 (ISO 400, 1600, and 3200).
  • At the top ISOs measured (ISO 6400 and 12800), automatic white balance was poor (1.4 and 1.6, respectively).
  • Improved over the Mark 5, which showed consistently poor automatic white balance at all ISO  levels, with scores from 1.2 at ISO 1600 to 2.1 at ISO s800 and 3200.

Video

  • Resolution in frames grabbed from videos shot at low ISO  (ISO  125) is 1108 LP/PH, 103 percent of the theoretical maximum. Resolution is nearly the same at ISO 1600, with 1093 LP/PH, 101 percent of the theoretical maximum.
  • Sharpening in video is much greater than the sharpening applied to the still images: at low ISO, 23.4 percent overshoot and 22.0 percent undershoot along high-contrast edges, with 28.1 percent overshoot and 21.6 percent undershoot along low-contrast edges.
  • At high ISO, video stills show less extreme degrees of sharpening: 10.2 percent overshoot and 10.0 percent undershoot, respectively, along high-contrast edges, together with 10.4 percent overshoot and 6.9 percent undershoot along low-contrast edges. The proportion of artifacts is high, up to 40 percent at high ISO  in both low-contrast and high-contrast conditions.
  • Visual noise would be noticeable in all viewing conditions at both low and high ISO . In VN1 (1005), the noise would be disturbing (scores 2.1 at low ISO , and 3.5 at high). At high ISO, the noise would be disruptive in all viewing conditions (score in VN2 of 1.9, and 2.2 in NV3).
  • Dynamic range is good: 8.3 f-stops at low ISO  and 8.0 at high ISO.
  • Automatic white balance is poor: scores of 2.2 at low ISO , and 1.3 at high ISO.

This chart shows the noise behavior at two ISO-sensitivities (ISO100 and ISO1600) as a function of the brightness of the target image. The amount of noise perceived is reflected in the size of the area encircled by the curves. The larger the area, the stronger the noise and its perception. The degree to which the noise disturbs the viewer, depends on the image size and the viewing distance. This chart shows the noise visibility for a video frame that is displayed 100% on a monitor (VN1).

This graph shows the loss of contrast (y-axis) as a function of the spatial frequency in line pairs per picture height (x-axis) for two ISO-sensitivities in video mode (colored lines). The further to the right a curve stretches before descending, the better the resolution at that ISO. The limiting resolution for each ISO can be found by identifying to the highest spatial frequency which results in a contrast of 0.1, or where the ISO curve crosses the thicker horizontal thicker black line marking 0.1. The vertical pink line is a reference representing half the number of pixels in the sensor height (the Nyquist frequency).

This graph shows the sharpening in the image due to an over- and undershoot along edges. Depending on the size (based on width and height) of the additional emerging area, a lower (shallower additional area) or stronger (higher and narrower additional area) sharpening effect is visible.                                                                                          

Start-up time

  • Starts up in 1.4 seconds, compared to 2.2 seconds for the Mark 5.

Continuous shooting

  • Shoots 23.7 frames per second in JPEG format, until the card is full, which is similar to the 24.3 frames per second recorded for the Mark 5.
  • Burst shooting in RAW format is just as fast: 23.7 frames per second until the card is full. 
  • The Mark V could shoot 15.8 RAW images until the card was full.

Autofocus (300lx) Live View

  • Autofocus time in bright light took 0.1 seconds, for a total shooting time of 0.3 seconds.
  • In comparISO n, the Mark V took 0.17 second to focus in bright light.

Autofocus (30lx) Live View

  • Autofocus in low light took 0.2 seconds for a total shooting time of 0.4 seconds.
  • The Mark V was slightly slower at 0.23 seconds.

In Depth

The Sony RX100 Mark VI is the latest in an annual renewal of a Sony 1” point-and-shoot with relatively many features. The resolution produced with the 20-megapixel sensor is good: the camera reaches 94 percent of the theoretical maximum at ISO 125 (1708 line pairs per picture height (LP/PH)). Resolution remains good as ISO increases (e.g. 1634 LP/PH, 90 percent of theoretical maximum at ISO 800), up to ISO 1600, where the camera reaches 87 percent of the theoretical maximum in recording 1591 LP/PH.

Images made at the highest ISOs showed poorer resolution (e.g. 1336 LP/PH, 73 percent, at ISO 12800). The predecessor Mark 5, which could capture images in the same range of ISO , showed similar resolution: it produced images with 1691 LP/PH (93 percent of theoretical maximum) at ISO 125, 1611 LP/PH (88 percent) at ISO 1600, and 1360 LP/PH (75 percent at ISO 12800).

One aspect of image quality where one sees improvement in the Mark VI compared to its predecessor, is in texture reproduction. Less texture is smoothed in images made by the Mark VI than the Mark V at the lowest ISO s. So, for example, images made by the Mark VI at ISO 125, show an MTF50 of 1624 LP/PH in areas of high contrast with 23.2 percent artifacts, and 1643 LP/PH in low-contrast areas (21.3 percent artifacts). In comparISO n, at the same settings, the Mark V resolved only 1057 LP/PH (MTF50), about 35 percent less than the Mark VI (in areas of high contrast with 23.3 percent artifacts), and 832 LP/PH in low-contrast areas (49 percent less, with 15.1 percent artifacts). Interestingly, the results for the Mark VI are similar from parts of the image reproducing high- and low-contrast areas.

At ISO 800, the Mark VI records an image which gives an MTF50 of 1566 LP/PH in high-contrast parts of the scene, with 31.5 percent artifacts, and an MTF50 of 1352 LP/PH in low-contrast areas (42.4 percent artifacts). The Mark V at these settings performed poorly in comparISO n: it captured 55 percent fewer line pairs per picture height in high-contrast parts of the scene (MTF50 of 704 LP/PH with 29.6 percent artifacts), and 61 percent fewer in low contrast (522 LP/PH with 30.1 percent artifacts).

At the highest ISO speed tested (12800), the Mark VI produced an MTF50 of 966 LP/PH in high-contrast areas (75.5 percent artifacts) and 871 LP/PH in low contrast (85.3 percent artifacts). At this ISO , the poorer performance of the Mark V is not as dramatically different.

Sharpening is mild in the Sony RX100 Mark 6: at ISO 125, it produces an overshoot along high-contrast edges of 3.5 percent and an undershoot of 3.1 percent; along low-contrast edges, the overshoot produced is 9.2 percent and undershoot 3.6 percent. The predecessor Mark V produced more sharpening at ISO 125: 8.9 percent undershoot and 1.3 percent overshoot along high-contrast edges, together with17.6 percent overshoot and 8.7 percent undershoot along low-contrast edges.

Sharpening in the Mark VI remains similarly mild at the lower range of ISO s; it increases at ISO 1600 (5.0 percent overshoot and 4.3 percent undershoot are produced along high-contrast edges, with 7.5 percent overshoot and 3.8 percent undershoot along low-contrast edges). At ISO 1600 and above, the sharpening in the predecessor Mark V was a lot less than at the lower ISOs. For example, at ISO 1600, overshoot along high-contrast edges was 7.4 percent, with an undershoot of 1.0 percent. Along low-contrast edges at the same ISO , the Mark V produced an overshoot 7.5 percent and undershoot of 4.3 percent.

At the highest ISO  of 12800, sharpening is non-existent (0.0 percent) along high-contrast edges in images produced by the Mark 6. A mild sharpening of 1.2 percent overshoot and 1.1 percent undershoot is applied along low-contrast edges at this ISO  (12800).

Visual noise would not be very noticeable in images captured by the Mark VI at ISO 125, in any viewing condition (scores 0.9 in VN1, 0.4 VN2, and 0.5 VN3). In Viewing Condition 1 (modelling viewing the image at 100 percent enlargement on a standard PC screen), noise would be apparent at all other ISOs (score 1.3 at ISO 400, 1.6 at ISO 1600), and quickly becomes disturbing (score 3.0 at ISO 6400 and 4.7 at ISO 12800). In Viewing Condition 2 (modelling a small, postcard-sized print or mobile screen), visual noise would not be very noticeable at ISO s up to ISO 3200 (score 0.9). At the highest end of possible ISOs, e.g. ISO 12800, the noise would be disturbing (score 2.0) even with small images in this viewing condition (VN2).

In Viewing Condition 3 (modelling viewing a large print), visual noise in images captured at lower ISO s (ISO 125 – ISO 1600), would not be noticeable (scores 0.5 through 0.9). Images shot at ISO 3200 would include noticeable visual noise at ISO 3200 (score 1.1) up to levels that would be very disruptive at ISO 12800 (score 2.4).

Noise is most visible in the darker grey tones.

The Mark V produced very similar visual noise scores at ISO 125 (scores 0.9 in VN1, 0.4 VN2, and 0.4 VN3), and similar thresholds for the ISO s at which visual noise would become noticeable (ISO 400 in VN1 (score 1.2), ISO 6400 in VN2 (1.0), and ISO 6400 for VN3 (1.2)).

Dynamic range in the Mark VI is good, ranging from 9.6 f-stops at ISO 125, to 8.9 declining to 8.7 at ISOs 400 through ISO 1600. At the higher ISO s, dynamic range is poorer, 7.0 f-stops at ISO 6400 and 6.6 at ISO 12800.

Color reproduction by the Mark VI is pretty good, with only five colors deviating strongly from the original, of which three are reds. ∆E is between 10.3 and 10.8 at all ISO s tested. The Mark V showed similar, although slightly smaller ∆E: 9.8 at ISO 6400 and 10.1 or 10.2 at all other ISO settings tested.

Automatic white balance is good only at ISO 800 (0.1). At most ISO s tested, automatic white balance was measured at 0.5 (ISO 400, 1600, and 3200). At the top ISO s measured (ISO 6400 and 12800), automatic white balance was poor (1.4 and 1.6, respectively). However, this is improved over the Mark 5, which showed consistently poor automatic white balance at all ISO  levels, with scores from 1.2 at ISO 1600 to 2.1 at ISOs 800 and 3200. The automatic white balance was a poor as 2.7 at ISO 12800.

The Mark VI is faster than the Mark 5. It starts up in 1.4 seconds, compared to 2.2 seconds for the Mark 5. Autofocus time in bright light took 0.1 seconds, for a total shooting time of 0.3 seconds. In comparISO n, the Mark V took 0.17 second to focus in bright light.

Autofocus in low light took 0.2 seconds for a total shooting time of 0.4 seconds, while the Mark V was slightly slower at 0.23 seconds.

The Mark VI shoots 23.7 frames per second in JPEG format, until the card is full, which is similar to the 24.3 frames per second recorded for the Mark 5. Burst shooting in RAW format is just as fast: 23.7 frames per second until the card is full. The Mark V could shoot 15.8 RAW images until the card was full.

Video

The Mark VI offers video capability of full HD video as well as 4K. Resolution was good in 4K: frames grabbed from videos shot at low ISO (ISO  125) showed 1108 LP/PH, 103 percent of the theoretical maximum. Resolution is nearly the same at ISO 1600, with 1093 LP/PH, 101 percent of the theoretical maximum.

Sharpening in video is much greater than the sharpening applied to the still images: at low ISO , 23.4 percent overshoot and 22.0 percent undershoot were measured along high-contrast edges, with 28.1 percent overshoot and 21.6 percent undershoot along low-contrast edges. At high ISO , video stills show less extreme degrees of sharpening: 10.2 percent overshoot and 10.0 percent undershoot, respectively, along high-contrast edges, together with 10.4 percent overshoot and 6.9 percent undershoot along low-contrast edges. The proportion of artifacts is high, up to 40 percent at high ISO  in both low-contrast and high-contrast conditions.

Visual noise would be noticeable in all viewing conditions at both low and high ISO. In VN1 (1005), the noise would be disturbing (scores 2.1 at low ISO , and 3.5 at high). At high ISO, the noise would be disruptive in all viewing conditions (score in VN2 of 1.9, and 2.2 in NV3).

Dynamic range in video is good: 8.3 f-stops at low ISO  and 8.0 at high ISO . The automatic white balance is poor, showing scores of 2.2 at low ISO , and 1.3 at high ISO.