The Sony RX10ii - Video Swiss Army Knife
Posted April 11, 2017 from Bob Krist's submission
The RX10ii is a dream machine for the traveling multi-media photographer who has to produce and pro quality video (and great stills) with one compact, lightweight, weather-sealed, well-designed camera with a built in 24-200mm f/2.8 (in 35mm equivalent) Zeiss T* lens!
Sony RX10ii at ISO 1600 @1/125th of a second on the Boardwalk in Wildwood, NJ Photo © Bob Kris
The RX 10ii has a built in mic jack, headphone jack, and built in 3 stop Neutral Density filter---three of the “Holy Grail” features that are often missing in DSLR and mirrorless video cameras at much higher price points.
Out for an evening drive in Bucks County, looking for pictures with my pal Reid in his vintage MG….it’s all good! Photo © Bob Krist, RX10i
But that’s not it, there’s more:
1. It shoots beautiful 4K video internally. No external recorders needed. You get gorgeous, 100mpbs non-artifacting 4K in a very compact footprint.
2. It shoots amazing slow-motion HD footage up to 900+frames per second. It’s true that these faster frame rates-960, 480, 240–are shot at lower resolution than HD and up-rezzed, and you can only record about 2-4 seconds of footage at a time, but still, the creative possibilities are amazing. And the 240fps setting is just slightly less than HD resolution and looks sensational blown up (and that’s a 10x slow mo that is buttery smooth).
3. But the 120fps HD slow motion setting is just a normal mode and you can shoot it all day with no time limit. This is, again, a very fast bit-rate (100mbps) non-pixel binning HD video that looks great and is much easier to shoot than the higher frame rates, which are shootable in two-second clips only. But now for sports, wildlife, etc. you can get amazing slo-mo all day.
4. It now accepts the Sony Playstation apps so you can do timelapses. Yes, if the original RX10 had an Achilles heel, it was its inability to do timelapses…the camera wouldn’t take the app,and there were no wired intervalometers available that would do it throughthe remote terminal. Now, you can use the much improved Sony timelapse app, or there are now also new third party wired intervalometers that mate up with this camera (and the A7 series).
5.There’s now a selectable zoom speed! Since Sony really spec’ed this camera out for video, in the first version, there was a very smooth, but often painfully s-l-o-w zoom action, whether you used the rocker switch or the zoom collar on the lens. The new model thankfully has a “zoom speed” option in the menu…set the “fast” setting (it’s still not lightning fast) and you’ll be a happy camper.
There’s an easy, heavy duty battery solution for long timelapses and event coverage. Much has been made of how the Sony NP-FW50 batteries for the A7 and RX10 series cameras are not as powerful as one might want, and how you need a few of them to get through the day. This is less of an issue with this camera than its A7 series big brothers, but if you want to run an all-night timelapse, or you have to cover hours-long events (poor you:-), you can now power this camera (as well as the mark II series of the A7s and A7r, and the RX100iv) using the USB port when you select USB Power Supply in the menu.
This is a big deal, because it means you can use that same battery pack that you use to recharge your smartphones on the go to run your camera…no more buying expensive battery solutions that have dummy FW-50 shaped battery modules attached to huge batteries, taking the battery compartment door off, etc. etc. This is clean and simple.
I got two of these 10,000 mAh batteries for $14 each from Amazon (tip of the hat to fellow Sony Artisan Dennis Biela for the lead) and they are relatively compact and will run the cameras all day and most of the night, not to mention power up and charge my iPad and iPod if needed.
A couple of other “unsung” aspects of the RX10 series; it is about the most weather resistant camera in the Sony line…I’ve used mine in pouring rain in Iceland, blowing sand in the Kalahari desert, dirt and dust in a Gobi Desert horse race…you name it and the camera holds up. And video shooters, this is, well, again “yuuuuuge”—it’s a fixed lens (albeit an equivalent 24-200mm f/2.8 zoom) so you never have to worry about sensor dust!
So, downsides? Yes, there are a few. It’s expensive $1298…but think about the lens range (and the straight f/2.8 aperture) you get with the camera and price it against a DSLR or mirrorless with detachable lenses and think about what you’d spend to cover that zoom range at that speed, and suddenly, you’ll see that it isn’t that expensive.
And although the new backlit 1″ sensor is even better in low light (I’ll shoot the RX10ii happily at up to ISO 3200, a full stop higher than its predecessor), it’s still tricky to get that creamy soft bokeh out of this camera…you need the right conditions. As you know, the smaller the chip, the greater the inherent depth of field, but in the right circumstances (see below) you can get really smooth bokeh…just not as easily as with your full frame or APSC chipped cameras.
Shot with the RX10 last May. In the right circumstances, you can get nice bokeh with this camera (shot in Rich B&W mode) Photo ©Bob Krist
So there you have it, my admittedly subjective appreciation of my workhorse camera for most of my video work Do I love my A7sii and my A7Rii? You bet I do, but for run and gun travel video and stills, this is the camera I reach for first.