Sony Cyber-shot RX10 Mark II review - Quality

Quality

Sony RX10 II vs Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 quality results

To compare real-life performance, I shot this scene with the Sony Cyber-shot RX10 II and the Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 within a few moments of each other, using their best quality JPEG settings and at their base sensitivity settings. For this test the cameras were mounted on a tripod and image stabilisation was disabled, the ISO sensitivity was manually set to the lowest available setting and Aperture priority mode was selected for the exposure.

I’d previously determined that the Sony RX10 II produces its best results with the lens stopped down to f4 where it selected a shutter speed of 1/320 at 100 ISO. with it’s smaller 1/2.3in sensor, the Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 produced best results with the lens wide open at f2.8. at which it set the shutter speed to 1/500 at its base 100 ISO sensitivity setting.

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Before we compare the quality of the crops let’s just remind ourselves that the Lumix FZ330 / FZ300’s 12 Megapixel sensor has fewer photosites than the 20 Megapixel sensor in the RX10 II so the latter’s crops show a smaller area with larger detail. The Sony’s sensor is also physically larger at 1 inch compared with the 1/2.3 in sensor of the FZ330 / FZ300. Finally there’s a difference in the aspect ratio, the Sony sensor has 3:2 proportions while the FZ330 / FZ300’s is 4:3.

So, what about the crops? The lighting conditions proved quite demanding, with both models stuggling to maintain highlight detail in the sunlit scene. The Sony RX10 II gets off to an unimpressive start, with a crop from the left edge of the frame that’s very soft. But thereafter things improve dramatically; the next two crops from closer to the middle of the frame are sharp with lots of fine detail visible. There’s a tiny bit of softness creeping back in to the final two crops from this set, but overall this is a great result from the RX10 II.

With the exception of the first crop which looks even softer than the one from the FZ330 / FZ300, the crops from the Sony RX10 II are much cleaner and crisper with more detail in evidence from the RX10 II larger sensor. Overall then a much better performance from the Sony RX10 II at this focal length. You can scroll down to see how these models compare at the middle of their zoom ranges and when fully zoomed in or to find out how they compare at higher sensitivities scroll for my Sony RX10 II noise results, skip to my Sony RX10 II sample images, or head straight to my verdict.

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Above left: Sony RX10 II at 8.8mm (24mm equivalent) f4, 100 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 at 4.5mm (25mm equivalent) f2.8, 100 ISO

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Above left: Sony RX10 II at 8.8mm (24mm equivalent) f4, 100 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 at 4.5mm (25mm equivalent) f2.8, 100 ISO

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Above left: Sony RX10 II at 8.8mm (24mm equivalent) f4, 100 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 at 4.5mm (25mm equivalent) f2.8, 100 ISO

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Above left: Sony RX10 II at 8.8mm (24mm equivalent) f4, 100 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 at 4.5mm (25mm equivalent) f2.8, 100 ISO

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Above left: Sony RX10 II at 8.8mm (24mm equivalent) f4, 100 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 at 4.5mm (25mm equivalent) f2.8, 100 ISO

Sony RX10 II vs Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 quality at 50mm equivalent

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The image above was taken with the Sony RX10 II. As before the camera was mounted on a tripod and stabilisation disabled. The crops are taken from the areas marked in red.

Zoomed in slightly to a ‘standard’ 50mm focal length, the RX10 II once again delivers a very soft result form the left hand edge of the frame. This time however, there’s no improvement as we go down the table and the crops from closer to the middle of the frame fare little better. There’s some immprovement, but not as much as you’d hope for and though you can make out the time on the church clock and there’s detail visible in the stonework, that softness is frustrating. By comparison the crops from the Lumix FZ330 /FZ300 are generally crisper with a little more detail, albeit smaller, than the RX10 II.

You can scroll down to see how these models compare at longer focal lengths or to find out how they compare at higher sensitivities head for my Sony RX10 II noise results, skip to my Sony RX10 II sample images, or head straight to my verdict.

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Above left: Sony RX10 II at 18.2mm (50mm equivalent) f4, 100 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 at 9.1mm (50mm equivalent) f2.8, 100 ISO

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Above left: Sony RX10 II at 18.2mm (50mm equivalent) f4, 100 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 at 9.1mm (50mm equivalent) f2.8, 100 ISO

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Above left: Sony RX10 II at 18.2mm (50mm equivalent) f4, 100 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 at 9.1mm (50mm equivalent) f2.8, 100 ISO

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Above left: Sony RX10 II at 18.2mm (50mm equivalent) f4, 100 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 at 9.1mm (50mm equivalent) f2.8, 100 ISO

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Above left: Sony RX10 II at 18.2mm (50mm equivalent) f4, 100 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 at 9.1mm (50mm equivalent) f2.8, 100 ISO

Sony RX10 II vs Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 quality at 100mm equivalent

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For this next set of crops I zoomed both cameras in to 100mm equivalent – exactly half way through the Sony RX10 II’s range, but only a sixth of the way through the FZ330 / FZ300’s.

As in the two previous sets of crops the Sony RX10 II improves after a soft start at the edge of the frame. The second crop shows reasonably sharp edges and a good level of detail in the stonework, but it’s by no means pin sharp. The third crop is a little softer still and the fourth one from closer to the right edge of the frame is again quite blurry. The cables in the final crop from the bottom right corner aren’t as crisp as they were in the wide angle crop and there’s also a tiny bit of colour fringing. So a bit of a mixed result for the Sony RX10 II at this focal length which could be summed up as ok in the middle, not so good at the edges. Interestingly, at this focal length, there’s little to choose between the Sony RX10 II and the Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 in terms of image quality.

You can scroll down to see how these models compare when fully zoomed in or to find out how they compare at higher sensitivities head for my Sony RX10 II noise results, skip to my Sony RX10 II sample images, or head straight to my verdict

lumix_fz330_sony_rx10_m2_100mm_crop_01

Above left: Sony RX10 II at 36.7mm (100mm equivalent) f4, 100 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 at 17.8mm (99mm equivalent) f2.8, 100 ISO

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Above left: Sony RX10 II at 36.7mm (100mm equivalent) f4, 100 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 at 17.8mm (99mm equivalent) f2.8, 100 ISO

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Above left: Sony RX10 II at 36.7mm (100mm equivalent) f4, 100 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 at 17.8mm (99mm equivalent) f2.8, 100 ISO

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Above left: Sony RX10 II at 36.7mm (100mm equivalent) f4, 100 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 at 17.8mm (99mm equivalent) f2.8, 100 ISO

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Above left: Sony RX10 II at 36.7mm (100mm equivalent) f4, 100 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 at 17.8mm (99mm equivalent) f2.8, 100 ISO

Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 vs Sony RX10 II quality at 200mm equivalent

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For this final comparison, I zoomed both cameras in to 200mm equivalent – the maximum on the Sony RX10 II. Zoomed right in, the RX10 II manages a more consistent result – this time the first crop from the left edge is actually pretty good with cleaner edges than we’ve seen at any of the other focal lengths. The other crops are also nice and clean with a good level of detail, though the final one from the bottom right corner lets the set down a little with a return to the bluriness we saw at the shorter focal lengths.

The Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 croips are likewise more consistent at this focal length. However I think the Sony RX10 II has the edge in quality here; the detail in the RX10 II crops is bigger, but I think there’s more of it and, with the exception of the final crop the RX10 II results are also a little sharper.

Next see how they compare at higher sensitivities in my Sony RX10 II noise results, or skip to my Sony RX10 II sample images, or head straight to my verdict.

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Above left: Sony RX10 II at 73.3mm (200mm equivalent) f4, 100 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 at 36.1mm (200mm equivalent) f2.8, 100 ISO

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Above left: Sony RX10 II at 73.3mm (200mm equivalent) f4, 100 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 at 36.1mm (200mm equivalent) f2.8, 100 ISO

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Above left: Sony RX10 II at 73.3mm (200mm equivalent) f4, 100 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 at 36.1mm (200mm equivalent) f2.8, 100 ISO

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Above left: Sony RX10 II at 73.3mm (200mm equivalent) f4, 100 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 at 36.1mm (200mm equivalent) f2.8, 100 ISO

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Above left: Sony RX10 II at 73.3mm (200mm equivalent) f4, 100 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 at 36.1mm (200mm equivalent) f2.8, 100 ISO

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 II vs Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 noise results

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Sony Cyber-shot RX10 II and the Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 within a few moments of each other at each of their ISO settings. Both cameras were set to their RAW +JPEG modes and mounted on a tripod and stabilisation was disabled.

The cameras were set to their maximum wide angle view – 24mm equivalent on the RX10 II and 25mm equivalent on the FZ330 / FZ300 – which provided the same vertical angle of view. The ISO sensitivity was manually set to the lowest available setting and Aperture priority mode was selected for the exposure.

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I’d previously determined that f4 produced the best results from the RX10 II and f2.8 was the optimum aperture on the Lumix FZ330 / FZ300. So with the aperture set to f4 and the sensitivity set to 100 ISO, the RX10 II metered an exposure of 0.6s. The Lumix FZ330 / FZ300, also at 100 ISO metered 1/4s at f2.8.

Once again, a reminder that the Lumix FZ330 / FZ300’s 12 Megapixel sensor has fewer photosites than the 20 Megapixel sensor in the RX10 II so the latter’s crops show a smaller area with larger detail. The Sony’s sensor is also physically larger at 1 inch compared with the 1/2.3 in sensor of the FZ330 / FZ300. Finally there’s a difference in the aspect ratio, the Sony sensor has 3:2 proportions while the FZ330 / FZ300’s is 4:3. One other thing to note is that the Sony RX10 II has an extended ISO range that provides 64 and 80 ISO settings.

It’s hard for the FZ330 / FZ300 to look good in the company of the Sony RX10 II which, though it has a higher pixel count also has a physically much larger sensor resulting in visibly superior noise performance across the sensitivity range. The 100 ISO crop from the RX10 II looks much cleaner and crisper than the one opposite from the FZ330 / FZ300, there isn’t a speck of noise to be seen anywhere.

Like the FZ330 / FZ300, the RX10 II noise increases by a small margin with each step up the sensitivity scale, which with the very low base ISO noise characteristic means great results right up to 1600 ISO. Even at 6400 ISO – the FZ330 / FZ300’s ’emergency use only’ ceiling, the RX10 II crop is looking very good indeed. Plus the Sony offers a 12800 ISO setting and, if you switch to Multi Frame Noise Reduction mode a top setting of 25600 ISO. Incidentally, Multi-frame noise reduction, which shoots a short burst of frames and produces a low noise composite from them, is available right through the sensitivity range from 100 to 25600 ISO.

So it looks like a hands down victory for the Sony RX10 II’s bigger 1 inch sensor. But before we move on, how much of the Sony’s superior noise performance can be attributed to processing? The second table below compares RAW reults from both cameras processed in the same way. All the RAW files were processed in Adobe Camera RAW using the same settings: a high degree of sharpening (50 / 0.5 / 36 / 10) and zero noise reduction. 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 – as such the visible noise levels at higher ISOs will be much greater than you’re used to seeing in many comparisons, but again it’s an approach that’s designed to show the actual detail that’s being recorded before you start work on processing and cleaning it up if desired.

In actual fact, these RAW results don’t reveal anything surprising, but confirm what we saw from the JPEGs. The Sony RX10 II’s sensor is producing much cleaner images with a lot less noise than those from the Lumix FZ3300 / FZ300. The bottom line is if you want clean images at high ISOs, a bigger sensor is always preferable.

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Above left: Sony RX10 II JPEG at 64 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 JPEG 64 ISO not available

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Above left: Sony RX10 II JPEG at 80 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 JPEG 80 ISO not available

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Above left: Sony RX10 II JPEG at 100 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 JPEG at 100 ISO

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Above left: Sony RX10 II JPEG at 200 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 JPEG at 200 ISO

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Above left: Sony RX10 II JPEG at 400 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 JPEG at 400 ISO

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Above left: Sony RX10 II JPEG at 800 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 JPEG at 800 ISO

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Above left: Sony RX10 II JPEG at 1600 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 JPEG at 1600 ISO

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Above left: Sony RX10 II JPEG at 3200 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 JPEG at 3200 ISO

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Above left: Sony RX10 II JPEG at 6400 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 JPEG at 6400 ISO

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Above left: Sony RX10 II JPEG at 12800 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 JPEG 12800 ISO not available

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Above left: Sony RX10 II JPEG at 25600 ISO. Above right: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 JPEG 25600 ISO not available

Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 vs Sony RX10 II RAW noise results

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Above left: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 RAW at 64 ISO. Above right: Sony RX10 II RAW 64 ISO not available

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Above left: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 RAW at 80 ISO. Above right: Sony RX10 II RAW 80 ISO not available

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Above left: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 RAW at 100 ISO. Above right: Sony RX10 II RAW at 100 ISO

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Above left: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 RAW at 200 ISO. Above right: Sony RX10 II RAW at 200 ISO

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Above left: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 RAW at 400 ISO. Above right: Sony RX10 II RAW at 400 ISO

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Above left: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 RAW at 800 ISO. Above right: Sony RX10 II RAW at 800 ISO

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Above left: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 RAW at 1600 ISO. Above right: Sony RX10 II RAW at 1600 ISO

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Above left: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 RAW at 3200 ISO. Above right: Sony RX10 II RAW at 3200 ISO

lumix_fz330_sony_rx10_m2_6400_iso_raw

Above left: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 RAW at 6400 ISO. Above right: Sony RX10 II RAW at 6400 ISO

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Above left: Panasonic Lumix FZ330 / FZ300 RAW at 12800 ISO. Above right: Sony RX10 II RAW 12800 ISO not available

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