Sony RX100 VI packs 8.3x optical zoom

Sony has a new high-end compact camera, the RX100 VI, targeting travelers, vloggers, and those wanting a whopping 8.3x optical zoom that their smartphone camera can't match. Sixth in the Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 line that first launched back in 2012, the new camera has a ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T+ 24-200 f2.8 – f4.5 lens and a 20.1-megapixel sensor.

They've been paired with an upgraded BIONZ X image processor, and a new Fast Hybrid AF system. The latter gets 315 point phase-detection AF, with Sony claiming it can lock focus in as little as 0.03 seconds. The AF points cover approximately 65-percent of the frame.

In combination with the phase-detection and contrast-detection autofocus, there's also High-density Tracking AF. That, Sony says, concentrates the AF points around the subject of the shot, so as to improve both tracking and accuracy. Eye AF is also included, with around twice the performance of the current RX100 V. Alternatively, you can just lock focus manually using the touchscreen as a trackpad.

Along with 20.1-megapixel stills, the RX100 VI can also shoot 4K video. There's 24 fps burst photography at full resolution and with continuous autofocus and auto-exposure tracking, too. Up to 233 images can be stored in the burst buffer before the camera will need to pause.

It's the lens which is likely to be the most interesting feature to photographers considering the RX100 VI, though. The goal, Sony says, was to combine the flexibility and power of both 24-70mm and 70-200mm lenses into a single design. As such, it's a complicated sandwich of two extra-low dispersion aspherical glass elements and eight aspherical lens elements including four advanced aspherical lenses, just to squeeze everything in.

Nonetheless, Sony has still managed to find space for optical image stabilization which, the company claims, is equivalent to a 4.0-stop faster shutter speed. That will have to make up for the fact that you're actually losing more than a stop at the low-end from the RX100 V's f1.8-2.8 lens.

On the video side, there's 4K HDR support, and super-slow motion at 250 fps, 500 fps, and 1,000 fps. There's manual control over AF drive speed and tracking sensitivity, too, and Sony says there's no pixel binning.

As for the overall design, there's a 2.45m dot XGA OLED TruFinder digital viewfinder, which retracts into the body of the camera. The zoom lever has customizable speeds, and the LCD can flip 180-degrees up or 90-degrees down. Turn it off with the automatic setting, however, and Sony says you can potentially take up to 30-percent more photos on a full battery.

WiFi, Bluetooth, and NFC are all included. Unfortunately for those hoping Sony would finally have got the message, there's still no microphone input. Guess we'll have to wait and see if the RX100 VII gets the message on that one.

Sales of the Sony RX100 VI kick off later this week, though deliveries aren't starting until July. It's priced at $1,200.