The RX0 II is clearly aimed at vloggers, with a wide-but-not-GoPro-wide 24mm lens, in-built stabilization, a surprisingly decent microphone and a flip-up screen for selfie shooting. These combine to make it a super-portable waterproof pocket video camera with some neat stills shooting ability.
The camera's slightly smaller than a late model GoPro, but a touch thicker, with a 1.0-type stacked 15.3-megapixel Exmor CMOS sensor, and a BIONZ X image processor. The lens is a 24mm equivalent f/4.0 Zeiss Tessar T, offering wide-angle shooting with a minimum focusing distance of just 20 cm (7.8 in). Perfect for holding up in front of your face, then.
It will offer a different shooting experience to an action camera – 24mm is wide, but if you're belting down a hill on a mountain bike, hanging ten on a surfboard (is that still a thing?) or jumping out of a plane, you're probably going to want the widest field of view possible. On the other hand, those ultra-wide 170-degree shooting angles do produce a lot of distortion, and when you're not in the middle of some crazy action, a 24mm lens like the RX0 II offers is probably a much nicer thing to shoot with.
Where the original RX0 couldn't record its own 4K footage, the Mk.II version can. Only up to 30p, but it does offer 1,000 fps if you're prepared to drop your resolution and bitrate down, and you've got a fast MicroSD card handy. If you want to record uncompressed 4K, you can do so through an HDMI output with an external recorder. Video is stabilized electronically, but there's a further option to stabilize it more in post production through a Sony app.
There's a 3.5 mm microphone input – that's something you need to buy separately for a GoPro Hero 7 – and it allows you to get proper sound into your video. Good sound is even more important than a good image, as any good Filmmaking 101 class will teach you, so that's a significant advantage. Mind you, from samples I've heard online, the built-in mic on the RX0 II is actually surprisingly decent in a quiet environment.
The flip screen goes up a full 180 degrees, so you can frame your selfie shots nicely. The camera's waterproof down to 10 meters (30 ft) without a case, and Sony also calls it dustproof, crushproof and shockproof, so it's clearly fine to throw in a pocket or backpack.
Video professionals will appreciate the fact that you can set up five of these things and control them together for perfectly synchronized recording through a smartphone app. Sometime in Q3 of this year that will increase to up to 50 cameras with an access point, and Sony also offers a Camera Control Box that will let you sync up 100 of them through a wired solution. Bullet time, anyone?
The 24mm lens and lovely Sony image processors will also combine to make the RX0 II a surprisingly capable stills camera, particularly when you shoot RAW and post-process. Mind you, a form factor like this leaves basically no room for buttons, so prepare to wade through menus if you want access to creative controls.
The Sony RS0 II will ship in Europe from May, with a retail price around €800 (US$900) including a shooting grip and bracket.
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