Everything in this post was shot with a SONY RX100 M2 which I got off of ebay (used) for under 300 dollars. It’s worth mentioning that most of my youtube videos of late have been shot with this camera as well. Less space and time to fiddle around with bulky camera setups and a greater need for functional diversity (video AND photo) drove me to get some smaller and lighter gear. I wouldn’t call this a review as such–many people online write much more technical pieces about how everything works. For me this is just an opportunity to share what I’ve been fortunate enough to create and hopefully reach others who are looking to create but may not have a huge budget to work with.

Some impressions of the SONY RX100 M2 performance:

  • Night Sky: surprisingly good for a camera with a sensor the size of a tic-tac. I really loved editing these shots and posting them to instagram. It was really easy to shoot, transfer to iphone, edit on the phone and post–plus the small size of the image on mobile doesn’t really reveal the high ISO noise that is more obvious at larger sizes. On my computer, using Lightroom I noticed that these images (shot at 3200 ISO) become pretty noisy. These were 15 second exposures–and I could have probably improved things by shooting 1600 ISO for 25 seconds. I may experiment further with this. This isn’t an astrophotography rig. It’s not going to capture a billboard photo–however for social media, blog and other light and fast needs, you can convey a good sense of the place you’re in with this camera. I got this camera specifically for long climbs where I’d need to go light but want to be able to get some shot in almost all circumstances.
  • Low light: I put the camera on auto-ISO and shot all of these handheld. I really was impressed with the sharpness and detail that came out of these shots. I didn’t run into any unseemly noise issues when I was tweaking the raw images in Lightroom.
  • Landscape: Once you stop the aperture down it gets quite sharp. My landscape shots were handheld at F8 and I was pleased with them. I think this is one category where this camera really excels. It’s useful to manual focus and use the focus-assist feature to make sure your shot is really on the money–the focus peaking is not really very precise if used on its own.
  • Portraits: It’s not the same as my Nikon 105 mm f2 prime but again, the strength to weight ratio is impressive in my opinion. It’s hard shooting people without it feeling awkward and forced. Having a smaller camera helps mitigate that and lets you get more shots. Good lighting is obviously key here!
  • Summary: This is an easy camera to bring with you anywhere. It’s cheaper than the newer generations and really an outstanding performer for the money it costs. It’s not going to replace a DSLR rig for specialized shooting situations but it’s looking like a great tool to easily increase the creative quality on blog and social media feeds where perfection is less useful than a quick turn around on a story. With careful attention to detail and if you play to the cameras strength I’d say that it can do work that will rival a setup costing more than 10x as much. I still won’t be getting rid of my full-frame Nikon system any time soon, but these days when I head out of the trailer to go and do some climbing or exploring–I’m reaching for my SONY RX100 M2 to bring along.


Ok. So here’s where I’d like to hear from you. I am always open to ideas, questions and comments about this post or any of the work we do!

Speak up, your voice matters! steve@livingvertical.org