Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II Ken McMahon, August 2013

Sony RX100 II vs Fujifilm X20 vs Nikon COOLPIX A quality RAW

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To compare real-life RAW performance I shot this scene with the Sony RX100 II, the Fujifilm X20 and the Nikon COOLPIX A within a few moments of each other using their RAW settings.

The Sony RX100 II and Fujifilm X20 were set to their maximum 28mm equivalent wide angle field of view to match the 28mm equivalent fixed lens on the Nikon COOLPIX A.

All three cameras were set to Aperture Priority exposure mode with the senstivity set manually to the base ISO sensitivity setting.

  Sony RX100 II results
1 Sony RX100 II Quality JPEG
2 Sony RX100 II Quality RAW
3 Sony RX100 II Noise JPEG
4 Sony RX100 II Noise RAW
5 Sony RX100 II Sample images

The image above was taken with the Sony RX100 II. The RX100 II was mounted on a tripod and SteadyShot image stabilisation was turned off. Aperture priority mode was selected with the aperture set to f4, which produces the best result from the fixed lens. With the sensitivity set to 160 ISO the camera metered an exposure of 1/2000. At its base 100 ISO sensitivity setting the Fujifilm X20 also selected 1/2000 at f4. The fixed 28mm lens on the Nikon COOLPIX A produces its best quality results at f5.6; at that aperture and at its base 100 ISO sensitivity the COOLPIX A selected an exposue of 1/1000. The cameras were left on their default settings for this test and, as usual, the crops are taken from the areas marked by the red rectangles.

I processed the files in Adobe Camera RAW using identical settings: Sharpening at 70 / 0.5 / 36 / 10, Luminance and Colour Noise Reduction both set to zero, and the Process to 2012 with the Adobe Standard profile. These settings were chosen to reveal the differences in sensor quality and isolate them from in-camera processing. The high degree of sharpening with a small radius enhances the finest details without causing undesirable artefacts, while the zero noise reduction unveils what's really going on behind the scenes.

Before we look at the crops, it's worthwhile reminding ourselves what we're comparing here in terms of resolution and sensor size. At 20.2 Megapixels, the Sony RX100 II has the highest resolution sensor of the three models compared here, but its 1 inch sensor isn't physically the biggest, that title goes to the Nikon COOLPIX A which has an APS-C sensor the same size as found in most consumer DSLRs. The COOLPIX A's sensor is lower resolution than the Sony, though, at 16.2 Megapixels. So the Sony RX100 II has more pixels packed into a smaller space than the COOLPIX A. Finally, the Fujifilm X20's 2/3 inch sensor is the smallest of the three and also, at 12 Megapixels, the lowest resoIution. The other thing to bear in mind is that the X20 sensor uses Fujifilm's X-Trans design which has a radically different architecture to the Bayer-type sensors used in the RX100 II and COOLPIX A.

Overall these crops closely reflect what we saw in the JPEG results. The Sony RX100 II sensor is recording a good level of detail with results that are better than the Fujifilm X20, but not quite as detailed as the larger sensor in the Nikon COOLPIX A. With the high degree of sharpening applied here, you can see more detail in the RX100 II RAW crops than was visible in the JPEGS. You probably wouldn't apply this level of sharpening ordinarily, and noise reduction would soften the edges and blur finer detail but what's interesting about these RAW crops from the RX100 II is that, despite the zero noise reduction there's very little evidence of noise in the crops. That means there is scope for producing sharper more detailed images from the RX100 II's RAW files, than you can get from the in-camera JPEGs. It also means that for JPEGs you can increase the contrast and sharpness a little without worrying too much about noise, at the base ISO sensitivity setting at any rate.

Now see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my Sony RX100 II Noise results.


Sony RX100 II RAW
Fujifilm X20 RAW
f4, 160 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f4, 160 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f4, 160 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f4, 160 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO

Sony RX100 II
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

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