Sony RX100 VI Review in 2021 (Best for Traveler)

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Last updated on December 20th, 2020

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC RX100 VI is that the latest small compact camera to feature a 1″-type image detector. The Sony RX100 VI may be a handy and unbelievably helpful camera. In these reviews, I’m gonna share all of the features of the Sony RX100 VI.

Sony RX100 VI Review in 2021

The Sony RX100 VI may be a high-end compact camera aimed toward execs, enthusiasts, and vloggers. If you’re a traveler and don’t want to carry a camera bag full of lenses, flashes, and audio equipment, then it’s a small but powerful alternative. The $659 price tag might make you scoff at it, but the performance is well beyond what you can get with your phone.

Introduction of Sony RX 100 VI

There’s no other camera this tiny that offers the sheer quality and versatility of the Sony RX100 VI. Yes, it’s very expensive, but this has been designed to be the very best small compact on the market and taking into account its image quality.

The Sony RX 100 VI is a fantastic point-and-shoot camera. But it does have drawbacks, namely low-light performance and grip. If you’re looking for a travel camera or an everyday shooter that can fit in your pocket, the RX 100 VI is a killer choice. But at $659 it doesn’t come cheap.

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: $659
  • High-zoom, 24-200mm f/2.8-4.5 lens
  • Touchscreen LCD for choosing focus points
  • Pop-up XGA OLED viewfinder
  • 1-inch, 20.1MP Exmor CMOS sensor
  • Retractable 2.36M-dot EVF with 0.59x Equiv. magnification
  • 24 fps burst shooting (with continuous autofocus)
  • UHD 4K video at 30p and 24p, 1080p slow-motion capture
  • 5-axis image stabilization
  • 3″ touchscreen LCD
  • On-sensor phase-detection autofocus
  • Wi-Fi with NFC for quick image transfer to mobile devices
  • USB charging

Pros

  • The impressive lens gives sharp images all through its really useful zoom range
  • Very good image quality with reliable exposure
  • Remarkably fast autofocus and continuous shooting means you should never miss a shot
  • Pop-up viewfinder and tilting screen give flexible composing options

Cons

  • The small, slippery body is far too easy to drop without an accessory grip
  • Far too expensive compared to its competitors
  • Tiny buttons can make operation frustrating
  • Comparatively poor battery life

Design of the Sony RX100 VI

The RX100 VI physical design is both hugely impressive and a little frustrating. On the plus side, Sony has effectively tripled the reach of the lens without making the camera significantly bigger. It’s only 1.8mm deeper than its predecessor, but the same length and width.

Sony RX100 VI Review in 2019

Sony’s achieved this by making the lens slower – the maximum aperture now runs from f/2.8-4.5, rather than the f/1.8-2.8 of the previous model. While this may disappoint low-light and shallow depth-of-field fans, others may consider the extra reach worth the sacrifice.

Aside from the lens, Sony has recycled pretty much exactly the same design as the RX100 V. This is a mixed blessing. On the plus side, the metal-shelled body feels reassuringly robust, and the smooth, clean lines make it easy to slip into a pocket, aided by the top-plate controls all being flush to the body.

Sony RX100 VI Review in 2019

Both the flash and viewfinder pop up from the top plate, released by mechanical switches; it’s astonishing Sony has managed to fit them in. It’s just a shame Sony can’t make the camera weather-sealed like the Canon G1 X Mark III.

That smooth body has its drawbacks, though: as usual for an RX100, it has all the assured handling of a bar of soap. At the very least you’ll need a wrist strap to save the camera when it inevitably slips from your grasp, and I’d strongly advise adding the stick-on Sony AG-R2 grip, or one of the multitudes of third-party alternatives.

But it’s ridiculous that you need a $14 accessory just to be able to hold the thing securely. The grip adds nothing to the camera’s size, so should be built-in from the start, or at least included in the box.

Sony RX100 VI Review in 2019

Like its predecessors, the RX100 VI is at times a tricky thing to use too. A good camera should get out of your way and make it easy for you to change all the key settings, but with the RX100 VI, I usually felt like I was fighting against it instead.

At least Sony has now added a touchscreen, meaning it’s finally possible to select the focus point quickly when you’re shooting with either the screen or the viewfinder. You can also double-tap to zoom into images during playback, and then scroll around them to check focus and detail.

Sony RX100 VI Review in 2019

But it doesn’t do anything else: you can’t even change any shooting settings or make menu selections by touch. Compared to Canon and Panasonic’s fully-integrated touch interfaces, this just feels lazy; it’s as if the iPhone never happened.

 Features of the Sony RX100 VI

Still, the RX100 VI is about as feature-packed as compact cameras come – it’s essentially a pocket-sized Sony Alpha. Sony’s full-frame cameras, including the flagship Alpha A9, are built around a Bionz X processor with front-end LSI, and you’ll find the same combination inside the RX100 VI (albeit in the scaled-down form).

Low-light shooters would probably still do better to stick to the RX100 V and its shorter-but-faster f/1.8-2.8 zoom, while videographers will be disappointed by the lack of a built-in ND filter. However, photographers who like to shoot portraits will gain more from the extra zoom than they’ll lose from the smaller f-number.

The RX100 VI should give greater background blur than the RX100 V, along with a more flattering perspective, if you can take a step or two back from your subject and zoom to 100mm or longer.

Sony claims the RX100 VI’s hybrid optical device system brings the world’s quickest AF for a 1in sensing element camera of simply zero.03sec.High-density Tracking AF clusters focus points around moving subjects for increased accuracy, while Sony’s much-touted Eye AF is also onboard for shooting portraits. As usual from Sony, the RX100 VI has an impressive video specification.

It can record 4K 3840 x 2160 footage at 25fps with full pixel readout, which delivers highly detailed footage with no field of view crop. There’s a raft of additional advanced features, including Hybrid Log-Gamma for HDR recording, and super-slow-motion video at 250fps, 500fps, or 1000fps.

Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile app for Android and iOS does at least provide full remote control of the camera complete with live view display, and allow you to transfer images to your phone or tablet for sharing. But it’s comparatively awkward and unintuitive and is currently trying rather dated.

For example, you have to fire up specifically the remote control mode from the camera itself, and can’t simply take control from the app. You also have to choose between being able to push images from the camera to your phone using the Fn button, or being able to browse the card from your phone – most other brands happily let you do both.

Performance of the Sony RX100 VI

Sony has re-used the same AF system that we’ve seen before on both the short-zoom RX100 V and the RX10 IV bridge camera. I was extremely impressed by it on the latter, and it continues to work in much the same vein on the RX100 VI. It acquires focus on static subjects in the blink of an eye; indeed it’s noticeably quicker than the Panasonic TZ200, which is absolutely no slouch.

It’s when you point the camera at a moving subject that the system really comes into its own. It can keep track of a moving subject, and more importantly keep it in focus, while shooting faster than any interchangeable-lens camera on the planet. Like the RX10 IV, it will occasionally drift away from perfect focus for a frame or two, but it’ll quickly snap back.

This kind of continuous-AF performance is outstanding for a pocket camera. With all the processing power it has onboard, you’d expect the RX100 VI to be an exceptionally snappy performer, and in most respects it delivers.
It powers up in about a second, and from then on responds pretty snappily to all of the controls. In particular, its high-speed focusing and shooting mean that you should very rarely miss a shot.
One real weakness of the RX100, though, is battery life. The small NB-BX1 battery is rated for 220 to 240 shots per charge, depending on whether you use the LCD or viewfinder. But to get anything close to this in real-world use you’ll probably need to configure much more aggressive power-management settings than Sony’s defaults, and obsessively power the camera off after shooting.
Even then, I’d certainly recommend buying a spare battery and an external charger to make sure you can get through the day. We’ve seen this sensor and processor combination in several Sony cameras now, so it’s pretty much a known quantity. As in the RX100 V and RX10 IV, it delivers highly-detailed images at low ISO settings, while keeping noise fairly well under control at sensitivity settings up to ISO 1600 or so.

Sony RX100 VI Review in 2019

The RX100 VI’s lens is an excellent performer considering its relatively long-range. Like most extended-range zooms it’s very sharp in the center wide open, but less good in the corners, and you’ll want to stop it down to f4 or f/5.6 when shooting scenes such as landscapes where there’s detail right across the scene.

Sony RX100 VI Review in 2019

In the middle of the zoom range, the lens is simply stunning, giving excellent sharpness from corner to corner. Likewise, at the telephoto end, the center is still very sharp, although the corners are a touch soft at maximum aperture.

Sony RX100 VI Review in 2019

In my side-by-side comparisons, the RX100 VI’s lens is so much sharper at 200mm and f/4.5 than the TZ200’s at 360mm and f/6.3 that in good light, you can get almost the same level of detail from both cameras when shooting distant subjects. One word of warning though; I’d avoid the minimum aperture of f/11, as it gives very soft images due to diffraction.

Summary

The Sony RX100 VI may be a high-end compact camera geared toward professionals, enthusiasts, and bloggers. The successor to the RX100 V, it shares the same 20 Megapixel 1in sensor with confident phase-detect autofocus for stills and movies, 4k video, 24fps shooting with autofocus, and a wealth of slow-motion video choices at 240, 480, and 960fps.

The small but sharp OLED viewfinder now pops-up and pushes back down in a single convenient motion, while the 3in the screen can now angle both up by 180 degrees to face the subject or down by up to 90 degrees and finally gains touch sensitivity.

There’s also Bluetooth to complement the Wifi and a raft of pro video features, but the biggest upgrade is the lens range, up from the 24-70mm of the Marks III, IV, and V to a new 24-200mm zoom in a body that’s only 1.8mm thicker than before.

There’s an inevitable drop in aperture from the f1.8-2.8 of previous models to f2.8-4.5 here (not to mention the loss of the built-in ND filter), but the lens remains brighter than Panasonic’s rival TZ100 / ZS200 or TZ200 / ZS200 models and while it lacks their longer telephoto reach, the optics are sharper and the focus tracking and burst shooting are more confident.

Dedicated vloggers may remain better-served by the lens on the previous model (now mildly updated as the RX100 VA), but if you’re after a do-it-all pocket travel camera, the RX100 VI has taken the crown.

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