Sony RX100 VI Announced

Sony introduces the newest member of their highly acclaimed RX100 lineup - the Sony RX100 VI
By Bryan Chu

Sony has just announced the new model in their premium compact RX100 lineup - the Sony RX100 VI. Along with the fantastic image quality, burst shooting speed, and other impressive specs of the RX100 V, the RX100 VI brings with it a few key upgrades: a telephoto lens, improved autofocus, improved video capabilities, and a touch screen.

The US retail price of the RX100 VI is $1200, and it is available now for pre-order at BlueWater Photo

Key Upgrades from the RX100 V

  • 24-200mm f/2.8-4.5 lens (vs 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 lens)
  • 0.03 sec autofocus (vs 0.05 sec)
  • High Resolution 4K Movie Shooting with full pixel readout and no pixel binning - plus 4K HDR for instant HDR workflow

Implications for Underwater Photography

Drawbacks of Increased Zoom

Although increasing the lens zoom range to 200mm could in theory provide significant improvements for macro photography, the larger physical size of the lens when fully zoomed in creates challenges with underwater housing dimensions. This could nullify any potential gains. 

When zoomed out, the RX100 VI body has the same width and height as the RX100 V, but has 1.8 mm more depth; hopefully, this will be a small enough difference that RX100 IV/V housings can be used with this camera. But the real issue occurs when the new lens is fully zoomed in, because at this point it extends out farther than the lenses of previous RX100 models. So, to allow the RX100 VI zoom to fully extend, a new housing/port design which provides this extra space for the lens would be required. However, a change like that would reduce the ability of the camera to take wide angle photos. This is because the extra housing/port length would extend significantly beyond the end of the lens when zoomed-out for shooting wide angle. A longer port could get in the way of wide angle photography with the native lens, as well as prevent the use of a wet wide angle lens due to optics issues.

Potential Fixes

There are a couple of options to deal with this. The first is to have two separate ports for the RX100 VI housing; one very similar to the RX100 V housing dimensions for wide angle shooting (and macro shooting with wet diopters), and one that accommodates the fully zoomed-in lens for macro shooting only, while precluding wide angle use. The second option is to keep the housing dimensions the same or very similar to the current RX100 V housings. The first option seems like it may be more hassle than it is worth, while the second option would mean that the RX100 VI will perform almost the same underwater as the RX100 V. This means that, although the telephoto lens is exciting for topside use, the improved autofocus is likely the best and only significant improvement for underwater photography.

Is It Worth the Price? 

This brings us to the biggest downside of the RX100 VI - the price tag. At a retail price of $1200, it is significantly more expensive than the $1000 cost of the RX100 V (now marked down to $950 on the Sony website). This pushes it up into the price range of mirrorless cameras, for what may amount to relatively paltry improvements for underwater photography usage. So if you are looking at this camera primarily for underwater use, you will get better value with the RX100 V, RX100 IV or Canon G7X Mark II. But if you are looking for an improved compact camera for heavy topside use, the telephoto lens, autofocus, and touchscreen control could be worth the hefty investment. After all, although this camera is priced like a mirrorless, it is still a premium compact camera which you can fit into a modestly sized jacket pocket. 

Who Should Consider Purchasing this Camera?

As with any upgrade, Sony had a specific market in mind with it's new upgrades - street photography. The significant increase in zoom is perfect for street photographers wishing to remain inconspicuous while taking close photos of their subjects. Although it might detract from underwater photos, this camera could be perfect for underwater dive trips with a lot of topside excursions or animal life such as whales, dolphins, and birds. The excellent burst shooting capability will further enhance quick action topside wildlife photos when combined with the telephoto lens. 

Check out the RX100 VI Camera at our sister company, BlueWater Photo!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryan is an assistant editor for the Underwater Photography Guide. He loves any activity that takes him out into nature, and is especially fond of multi-day hiking trips, road trips to National Parks, and diving. Any kind of diving. He discovered the joy of underwater photography on a Bluewater trip to the Sea of Cortez, and after "trial and erroring" his way to some level of proficiency, has been hooked ever since. He has not done nearly as much diving as he would like, but has so far taken underwater photos in a diverse range of places, including BC, the Sea of Cortez, Greenland/Iceland, Northern Norway and the Galapagos. 

After working as a chemical engineer at a major oil & gas corporation for 9 years, Bryan finally had enough (and it didn't help that he was living in landlocked Edmonton, Canada with frigid winter temperatures and no real diving to speak of). He and his girlfriend decided to pack up their things and travel the world; they will start their journey mid-2018 and visit a number of great dive locations along the way. He is very excited to expand his underwater photography experience and skills while experiencing new cultures and exciting parts of the world. Though he is also a bit worried about the following equation that has so far defined his dive travels: Corporate job ($$) = Dive travel ($) + Underwater Photography ($). Taking away the left side of that equation seems like it might put things a bit out of balance. But as he reasons, what's the point in life if you can't take some big risks and have some fun along the way?

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