The RX100 series of cameras has been around for about six years. They fit into a front-pants pocket, they’re utterly reliable, and on enlargements up to about 13x19”, they produce beautiful prints if your image includes the entire frame.
Each year Sony borrows from the technologies they’ve introduced in their newest full-sized cameras and migrate some of the most exciting innovations to their newest RX100 model. This year’s M6 model has done something most people thought impossible: Fit a 24-200mm (equivalent) f2.8-4.5 lens, in a body that’s only one-inch thick. To accomplish this feat, both the lens and the EVF viewfinder disappear into the body.
This year Sony also borrowed its latest one-inch 20.1-megapixel sensor, and the BIONZ computer chip that came from their A9 $4000 cameras body, and put them both in the M6. The images you get are razor-sharp and the focusing speeds are ultrafast. Also, whereas the M6 weighs 10 ounces and costs $1100, the cameras with which it competes weigh 3-5 pounds and cost from $1500-$9,000. Like all RX100s, the M6 doesn’t accept interchangeable lenses. But with a f2.8-4.5, 24-200mm zoom lens, what other lenses do you really need?
The tiny size and huge zoom range make it a street shorter's and wildlife photographer's dream. Also the camera is becoming popular with vloggers because of its refined 4K video capabilities and flip-up selfie screen.
About the only thing the M6 is lacking is weather-proofing, a faster lens and a larger sensor. If you need these, you will probably have to get them in a second, larger camera that you bring out when necessary. If you're like most travel photographers, this will be less than 20% of the time. The rest of the time you'll blaze away with the M6. For tips on what this second camera should be, see my article on second travel cameras.
When I revise my book, Choosing Great Cameras for Cruises & Tours, later this year, I’ll give the Sony RX100-M6 the top-rating until something better arrives on the scene. If you’re still lugging around 15 pounds of bodies and lenses when you travel, maybe it’s time to join the 21st century by bringing the M6, and one body with two lenses, with you. The entire outfit should weigh no more than five pounds, and your shoulders and back will thank you profusely. Also, your photos may actually be better thanks to the stealth capabilities of this camera and the speed with which you'll be able to move.
--Steve Frankel, www.CruisesAndCameras.com.