To compare real-life 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 best quality JPEG settings; RAW results will follow on the next page.
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.
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 exposure of 1/1000.
The cameras were left on their default settings for this test. On the RX100 II White balance was set to Auto, DRO was set to Auto, and the Creative Style was set to Standard. On the Fujifilm X20, Film Simulation was set to Standard, White balance was set to Auto, and Dynamic Range was set to Auto. On the COOLPIX A White balance was set to Auto and Active D-Lighting was off. The RX100 II JPEG file measured 8.55Mb and, as usual, the crops are taken from the areas marked by the red rectangles.
Before we look at the crops, it’s worthwhile just noting 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.
Looking at the crops, the Sony RX100 II’s results look very good. There’s a high level of detail in the first crop, you can make out the individual panes in the window on the end wall of the chapel as well as the detail in the stonework. In the second crop, the lighthouse is a distinct white column with the lamphouse visible at the top. The chimneys and window frames in the foreground are a little soft though, and you can’t make out individual roof tiles in this crop. The third crop from close to the edge of the frame has quite a bit of coloured fringing but the edges are crisp and the level of detail is still good. Finally, in the fourth crop, from close to the middle of the frame, there’s not a lot to find fault with, crisp edges on all the window frames and balcony rails and fine detail you can clearly make out in the tile and brickwork in the foreground.
Compared with the smaller X-Trans sensor in the Fujifilm X20, the Sony X100 II has a small, but significant advantage. It’s recording a higher level of detail than the X20, though its results are a tiny bit softer. You can clearly see the finer detail in the RX100 II crops – in the stonework in the wall surrounding the chapel, the foreground roofs in the second crop and the balcony rails and roof tiles of the fourth crop. The difference in detail in the building and parked vehicles in the far distance at the top of the fourth crop is also revealing. The processing, and possibly the lack of an optical low pass filter on the X20’s sensor results in sharper, punchier detail though.
Conversely, compared with the Nikon COOLPIX A, the Sony RX100 II crops look softer and a little less detailed. There’s more detail in the chapel stonework and the foreground roofs in the second crop and everywhere in the fourth crop from the COOLPIX A. Mostly, I’d put this down to the lower density of photosites on the COOLPIX A’s sensor – it has fewer pixels spread across a larger area than the Sony RX100 II. Another factor will be the lack of an optical low-pass filter on the COOLPIX A. Most digital cameras include an OLPF to reduce the moiré effect that can be caused by the de-mosaicing process, but lately a number of manufacturers have decided that with higher reolution sensors you can get by without it, resulting in improved sharpness and detail with little or no risk of increased moiré.
We can only speculate what kind of quality the RX100 II would produce with a lower resolution sensor and no optical low pass filter. As it stands, though not quite up to the standards of the COOLPIX A, the Sony RX100 II’s image quality is very good indeeed and only marginally falls short of what you could expect from a DSLR or compact system camera.
You can see how these differences are reflected in the Sony RX100 II RAW quality results on the next page. Alternatively you can see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my Sony RX100 II Noise results.