When Sony first introduced the DSC-RX100 last year, people were a little confused. A so-called 1-inch sensor in a body that small? A tiny lens that manages f/1.8? And the high (for a point and shoot) price of $650? Well, who would be willing to buy such a camera? The answer is - a lot of people. Considering its mostly pocketable nature, the RX100 was capable of exceptional performance; so much so that it replaced much bulkier cameras for many amateur photographers, and become a stalwart secondary for many pros.
Not bad for a point and shoot, right?
Today, they've addressed some of the issues that customers had with the RX100, and introduced the RX100M2. The first model took a few cues from Canon's portable design, while the second one takes a bit of their naming schema.
While the screen on the back stays the same: a 3-inch Whitemagic LCD, it now tilts up and down by 84° and 45° respectively. Not the tilt and swivel some hoped for, but it should make getting those above-the-head and down-on-the-ground shots a lot easier.
The new RX100M2 also adds a hotshoe - though Sony refers to it as a Multi Interface Shoe, and Sony has a bevy of accessories ready to use it.
Among them include the EVF built for the RX100's bigger brother, the RX1, though at $400 it's going to be a hard sell for many RX100 users since it costs more than half the cost of the camera itself. What may interest some, however, is a slick new stereo microphone that fits into the MIS and provides a boost to the little camera's audio recording ability. Sony did a great job with the video recording on the RX100, but leaving out a mic input was a mistake, and this goes at least a little way toward correcting that.
Speaking of video, the RX100M2 will additionally be able to capture 1080P video in 'film-like' 24p mode.
Other accessories for the RX100 and RX100M2 include a new grip add-on, an adapter that will allow the use of professional camera filters (and a lens cap!), new bags and body wraps, and compatibility with the Sony USB remote trigger.
Sony is also introducing a new sensor with the RX100M2 - while it's largely the same with respect to the sensor used in last year's model, this new version is backside illuminated. As far as we know, it's the first sensor of this size to feature the technology, and Sony figures it can score a least one stop better low-light performance; given that the RX100 relies on contrast detection for auto-focus, this also means a slight boost to the camera's AF capabilities.
One of the biggest pluses to the original RX100 was its sheer size; for packing so much performance, Sony did a heck of a job. Adding in a tilting screen and hotshoe, however, means that they needed to bulk up the camera a bit. While the first model came in at 101.6 x 58.1 x 35.9mm, the Mark II will hit the streets at 101.6 x 58.1 x 38.3 - exluding protrusions, as Sony likes to say. While those numbers don't seem like much, the RX100 is just barely a pocketable camera for many, and this may be just enough to turn a few away.
The good news? Sony took the RX100 and made it better. The bad news? Well, it's not going to be cheap, either. Sales of the RX100 are doing well enough that Sony is keeping it on the market, and introducing the RX100M2 as a premium option - where the original will still sell for an MSRP of $650, the new RX100M2 will retail for $750, a premium of a hundred bucks.
That's a lot of money for this camera, even for one as capable as the RX100M2. Given that the accessories are likewise no slouch with regards to pricing, and you very quickly get into DSLR territory.
The RX100M2 will start shipping mid-July 2013, with some of the new accessories (all of which, save those requiring a hotshoe, work on the RX100) available now.