For well over 18 months now I have waxed lyrical about Sony’s fabulous little Cybershot DSC-RX0 camcorder.
When people see it for the first time, it is often mistaken for a GoPro or other “Action Camera”, but as I then tell them, the Sony RX0 is what an Action Camera would like to be when it grows up.
Now Sony has released “Son of RX0”, more correctly called the Cybershot DSC-RX0 II. Similar to the original, it measures just 59mm x 40.5mm x 35mm and weighs just 132g. It is slightly thicker in the body than the RX0 mainly due to a redesign of the screen: it now is on a double hinge system, so it swings out 180° and tilts which is a great enhancement. This also increases the weight by around 20g.
It still fits easily into a pocket however, and due to its ruggedness is ready for whatever environment you want throw at it. The RX0 II is waterproof up to 10 metres deep, dustproof, shockproof up to 2 metres and crushproof up to 200KG force.
One thing has not been what I would call “fixed” though. The cover for the ports on the rear is still in my opinion a half-baked affair, prone to falling off and getting easily lost. It is not permanently connected, instead having as small length of plastic that pokes into a hole.
I lost my first within minutes whilst on holiday in Broome this time last year regular readers many recall. Perhaps Sony should supply a couple of spares in the box.
When shut, it is waterproof as suggested, but it is just too easy to make a mistake and when water gets into electronics, it is often goodnight nurse.
The RX0 II employs a 1” CMOS sensor giving 15.3 megapixels of video resolution. The lens has a focal length of 7.9mm (which is equivalent to 24mm in 35mm-land) and a maximum aperture of f/4. According to Sony, the minimum focus distance has been reduced from the 50cm in the RX) to 20cm in the RX0 II.
It’s a given of course the RX0 II shoots 4K video.
ISO has been slightly bettered with the bottom end down to 80 (from 125) and the high end still at 12800.
A couple of new functions have been added to aid in shooting people in particular with a Soft Skin Effect to improve the “look” of skin and Eye AF which uses the subject’s eyes as a focussing point.
The original allowed slo-mo shooting and the Mark II has continued this ability with up to 1000 frame per second shooting (in HD this is limited to 12fps). There is also time lapse / interval recording, shutter speeds up to 1/32,000.
Picture Profiles let you set the overall tone of movie productions from the camera body, adjusting parameters that affect the final look of your movie. Of course you still get the basics such as Zebra, grid lines, audio level meter, peaking levels, and others (which is a lot to fit on the small 3.8cm screen.
Sony has an app for camera control available. There is nothing too startling in that as most manufacturers now provide such a thing, however in my case with a Samsung Note 7, it simply did not work on the RX0.
This was a pain as the comprehensive – and I do mean comprehensive – menu system is quite tiny and unless you have near as dammit perfect eyesight, is quite hard to read. I had to resort to a magnifying glass more than once.
Thankfully, Sony seems to have recognised this as the new app has been rejigged to cater for this apparent Samsung anomaly.
I often espouse the need to become familiar with your camera’s innards, and this is especially true of the RX0 (Marks 1 and II). There are so many options and functions available to you it can be bewildering. I strongly suggest an afternoon sit down and spending the time getting to know the camera, the menu structure and functionality. It will reap rewards in your enjoyment with this camera trust me.
One function that pros found useful was the ability to control a number of RX0s from a smart phone app wirelessly. There is also now a dedicated control box letting you control multiple cameras via a wired connection from a laptop.
One advantage of this is the immediate transfer of files through the same connection.
Whilst speaking of accessories, I also recommend the usage of the optional shooting grip (Part # VCT-SGR1). Its not cheap at $149 but doers give you huge flexibility and control allowing adjustable shooting angles and even converting into a mini-tripod.
A USB connection also offers you capture and zoom controls on the grip itself and amazingly caters for left and right-handed users!
For deep water divers there is also a 100 metre housing soon to be available and if you of the type that likes your camera mounted in a cage, you can have one of those too (but no pricing available as yet).
The Sony RX0 II is powered by a small lithium battery good for they reckon, 35 minutes in movie shooting mode. This can be recharged via USB but from experience, I ‘d recommend only using the supplied adaptor as basic phone chargers just don’t give enough oomph.
Interface connectivity includes a microUSB port, micro HDMI and external mic jack. Bluetooth and Wi-fi are standard.
How Sony has managed to pack everything they have into this baby camcorder is amazing. There is little technically that a full on dSLR doesn’t have jammed into this tiny body (barring interchangeable lenses of course).
I was put on to the original RX0 by the respected cinematographer by Pieter de Vries A.S.C. and I am glad he did. Since my first play it has been my carry-at-all-times camera of choice. The Cybershot DSC-RX0 II only improves on the original making it even better if that was possible.
Sony has even managed to drop the price by $100 to below the AUD$1000 mark.
If you are in the market for an “action cam” but also want something that is a genuine workhorse camcorder suitable for just about any shooting scenario you can throw at it, have a good, long hard look at the Sony Cybershot DSC-RX0 Mk II.
I guarantee you will not regret it,