BATTLE OF THE RES! Sony RX1RII, A7RII, A6300, RX10III
Was having some fun with the Sony cameras I have on hand here and wanted to see which one, between the RX1RII and A7RII would record the most detail, just for fun. As I drank my morning coffee I sat outside and snapped a few images of a pink water bottle. Nothing fancy or special, but it is revealing and shows the RX1RII, as Sony has said, is at the top of their IQ heap. I have been finding the RX1RII to record amazing detail without being analytical or harsh. It somehow balances between sharpness, creaminess and beauty in the way the 35 f/23 Zeiss lens renders ever so gently with this sensor.
I will be using the RX1RII more and more for personal work coming up soon, though I do recommend a 39mm ND filter as at f/2 you max out at 1/2000s. Check out these quick comparisons…
You must click these to see the real versions with 100% crop. But take a look closely on a good display at the crops. You will see the fine details in the RX1RII shot. They are still there, though less pronounced on the A7RII shot and they start to fade in the A6300 shot (same lens used on A7RII and A6300), and are gone by the time the RX10III gets the shot.
The Sony RX1RII is a gorgeous camera and bests the 1st version quite easily with its EVF, newer sensor, faster AF and all while retaining the size which is small, light and rugged. I love my RX1RII, one of the greats and while Leica has the Q which is serious competition for the Sony, I prefer the Sony’s gentle and organic way the sensor renders over the Q, which I also love for ITS color and pop. But at the end of the day, for me, the Sony wins in Dynamic Range, low light, resolution and versatility (swivel LCD, nice video, defeatable low pass filter, and the lens, which is a lens that beat the Leica 35 Summicron M for IQ (That lens is $3500 alone).
I will soon have a follow up report on the Sony RX1RII, showcasing its strengths, weaknesses and why it may or may not be the camera you have been looking for.
DR, DETAIL, COLOR, BOKEH is all TOP notch on the RX1RII
HUGE SAVINGS! AWESOME Sony RX1 Deal with OVF – NEW for $1695!
WOW! ONE OF MY FAVE CAMERAS OF ALL TIME, the original Sony RX1 is now on clearance at B&H Photo and they are giving the RX1 in addition to the Sony OPTICAL VIEWFINDER, a Lowepro Bag and a 32GB SD Card. $1695 total. This is a huge savings of over 50% off, and its new and with warranty.
So last week I received my RX1R camera… yes its the first version of the camera (second technically as there was asl othe RX1). You may say that I am a bit late in this purchase as Sony has recently announced the RX1R II version of the camera… but the reason I bought the first version of the camera is I intend to use this as a fullframe compact carry around camera and not for work related stuff.
The Technical Details
The RX1R camera has been greatly praised in all reviews I have read, with its amazing dynamic range, very good bokeh and low light performance. The camera comes with a fixed lens 35mm Zeiss prime (f2), a very flexible So the camera had everything that I needed, in a very compact body. Also the camera has a silent shutter – no sound at all when you click for the picture – making it perfect for discreet work.
When I say that the camera has an amazing dynamic range, I really mean it. In fact it seems that it even wins against my A7s and A7ii in the amount of information and detail I am able to recover.
If you are like me, I am always imagining street photography shots as I walk around. It happened to me a number of times that I said to myself that I wished I had a camera with me. Now I am making a resolution with myself to carry this gem around with me, wherever I am and up till today (around 2 weeks of use) I have always been able to take it with me apart from one time when I wore a very tight jacket.
What is missing
What I do miss, more then the viewfinder, is a tilting screen. Since this camera is a street photography workhouse, a tilt screen would have been really useful to shoot from the a low point and not attracting too much attention. I have also decided to purchase a wrist leather strap, since I find the camera grip to be existent and constantly feel as if the camera is going to slip from my hands.
I am here sharing some shots I have taken with this camera up till now.
Well I must say, I am really happy with my RX1R and I feel I will be using is a lot over these Christmas holidays ! :)
In 1988, The Sugarcubes debut album “Life’s Too Good” was getting heavy rotation in my cd player and served as an introduction to the quirky band’s native Iceland. Over the years other Icelandic bands like Sigur Ros and Of Monsters and Men, continued to sonically and lyrically paint an enticing canvas of their native homeland, further cementing the small country on my bucket list of places to visit. So this fall, while friends planned their winter vacation to warmer climes, I pitched the family on an adventure in the land of Ice and Fire. My wife has come to accept my odd predilections and the kids were just happy to get passports so we booked the flights and began our planning.
Anxious to capture the beauty of Iceland, I still had to be realistic about the nature of the trip. This was a family vacation, not a photo tour or workshop so I had to pack light and work quickly. Luckily, a friend was in possession of a loaner Sony RX1RII from B&H Photo and offered it up for use during the trip. This friend is building some impressive 3D printed Arca Plate compatible grips for compact cameras that add almost zero weight. Check them out HERE. – highly recommended.
With the RX1RII secured, I committed to use it for the majority of vacation shooting (everything presented here was shot with it unless otherwise captioned). Some may question why use a camera with only a fixed 35mm focal length but not everyone wants to play the roll of conspicuous tourist sporting a DSLR and zoom lens. On the contrary, the RX1RII embodies the classic concept of a decisive moment camera, similar to film compacts like the Konica Hexar AF that enabled pros to pack a much smaller kit when traveling, without sacrificing quality. The a7RII along with the Zeiss Touit 12mm and a Leica Summitar 50/2 also made it into the travel bag, but the primary test was to determine the RX1RII capabilities in real world shooting under some extreme conditions, not a traditional lab review with test charts.
While light was at a premium, what was available (about 5 hours per day around Christmas) was wonderfully diffuse and photography friendly. The weather in Iceland is quite variable with multiple daily changes in climate and conditions as we roamed the countryside. Unfortunately, there was record snow in December and persistent cloud cover so the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) were hidden from view, but that didn’t stop us from hitting everything else on the itinerary. With good planning, you can easily maximize the available winter light and complete a full day of activities. Based for part of the trip in a small coastal town named Stokkseyri (pop 445) we managed to drive our rental car to Gulfoss, Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls, the wreckage of an American DC-3 on the black sand beach of Sólheimasandur, the Dyrhólaey promontory, Vik, Geysir, Seljavallalaug swimming pool, the Jökulsárlón glacial lake area and of course Reykjavik and the Blue Lagoon.
Must click on the photos in this report to view them correctly. Also, all images are from the RX1RII unless noted. Some are from the A7RII.
Image below…a7RII 50/2 Summitar
Back to the RX1RII Shots
Reflecting back over the week spent with an RX1RII as a primary tool, there are few cameras that would have been more satisfactory for the task of vacation photography in this environment. The compact size allowed for easily accessible stowage in a jacket pocket, a more challenging prospect for big brother a7RII or even the Leica Q. Why was this important? While the camera was well protected from the weather – see below for thoughts on its weather handling – I still wouldn’t want it exposed to the cold and rain if needn’t be. Second, for many activities, not having a camera or bag swinging around or in a difficult to access backpack was a big plus. The fixed lens meant no concern for switching lenses in extreme cold, humid or dusty conditions and by using a small hood I was able to keep most of the foul weather off the front lens element. The RX is also by nature of its small size and with the new flip screen, extremely inconspicuous, perfect for street scenes and easy low perspective photography.
Autofocus is greatly improved over the original RX1 with advanced modes like object tracking and eye-AF that are not just gimmicks to be ignored. Being able to lock-on to my subject’s eyes or face with the push of the button is a useful feature that enables a more effortless and accurate off-center composition, compared to a traditional focus and re-compose technique. Sony claims a 30% improvement in AF speed and that figure feels about right – maybe 40-50% in some circumstances. Really we are at a level of AF performance with these cameras that is beyond good enough for most purposes.
Since the majority of my work takes place in front of a music stage, I don’t normally expose my gear to the elements in a way they were in Iceland. Both the a7RII and the RX1RII were used unprotected in significant exposures to rain, snow, waterfall spray and sub freezing temperatures. I came away with new found confidence in the weather handling capabilities of these cameras. On the RX1RII I even used the EVF in the rain which I was initially worried would expose the camera to water due to the pop-up mechanism. The one criticism I can lay on the RX is the poor battery performance in cold weather. The little battery just couldn’t hold the juice when the temperature dropped below the freezing point. With a pocketful of spares, I never ran out of power but the hassle of swapping batteries in -15 C was not an overly pleasant experience. There are solutions available, such as using an external power pack via USB and I may look closer at those options if I was to use the camera extensively in such cold environments again. Comparatively, the a7RII battery held up quite well and I never once had to change it in the field.
The Zeiss Sonnar 35mm f2 lens that the public and reviewers raved about in the original RX1 makes a return in the new camera matched to the resolving power of the 42mp sensor first introduced in the a7RII. The Zeiss was magic on the original and none of that mojo has been lost on the RX1RII. The Zeiss renders almost like a Planar design, with softer/smooth bokeh, while retaining a Sonnar’s critical sharpness in the center wide open and across the field when stopped down – an almost perfect recipe for a 35mm lens. No one should call this Zeiss clinical, but rather images have an organic feel that is hard to come by in modern designs. The lens appears to be resolving every single one of those 42mp, especially evident in scenes with a distant subject such as a landscape. I am simply staggered by the level of detail this combination is resolving in many of the Iceland scenes. Even more impressive was the few handheld panoramics I attempted. The results were beyond expectations; the 42mp sensor in the tiny RX1RII is capable of generating impressive high megapixel stitched images. One shot on the Svínafellsjökull glacier tongue resulted in a 162mp file with levels of detail unheard of in a camera this size.
Image below…Sony a7RII 50/2 Summitar
A7RII and 12mm Zeiss Touit
All images here are shot in RAW so I can’t comment on JPEG performance but working with the Sony files in post is a pleasure. Dynamic range is as expected – stellar – and having continuity between my a7RII and the RX1RII is a big deal as it can be a challenge to match output on a shoot from different camera models. Color is subjective and easily manipulated but I enjoy working with the base Sony color space. So far there haven’t been any surprises or ugliness in terms of how the files react to edits -no artifacts or banding, just rich malleable data.
To wrap it up, if I measure the RX1RII based on the resultant images, the satisfaction while using it and the desire to keep using it, this field test in Iceland can only be categorized as a success. As groundbreaking as the original RX1 was, expectations were high for the new camera and if my experience can be used as an indication, Sony delivered a worthy successor.
Camera talk aside, I hope it is obvious that we fell in love with beauty of Iceland. Thanks to Steve for sharing our little trip and if interested please visit my site where I have a full day-by-day travelogue with details of each stop.
Here we are at the last edge of 2015 and about to head into 2016. YES! We are NOW in the future! Remember back in the 80’s? Well, if you are old enough you do..when many TV shows and movies would be set in the future..like 2010 or 2020 and the vision of earth was always full of either flying cars or spaceships or the world was already gone due to nuclear wars. One thing they always tried to predict was technology, and usually it was way over the top. In any case, as we launch into 2016 we have cameras that beat the pants off of cameras that were launched just 2 years ago. Technology is here, and it is good. While not “Buck Rogers” kind of good, this new Sony is beautiful, but I never doubted it would be anything but.
RX1RII – Also some PP work with this one ;) (Blur, Contrast, Smudge)
Yep, but back in the day we would shoot film. Remember the cheap disc film or the 110 film? AWFUL quality but those cameras and film were had for cheap, and they fit in your pockets ;) Today top end cutting edge digital cameras are made for professionals, enthusiasts and serious hobbyists. They have to be as these things are costing more than they ever have it seems. A Leica SL for $7500 without a lens. A Leica M for $5600, no lens. A Sony A7RII for $3400, no lens. A Leica Q for $4300 which is a single fixed lens camera, and now this…ladies and gentleman…I give you the long-awaited…
Enter the new Sony RX1R Mark II
When the original RX1 was released it quickly became my #1 favorite go to camera for SO MANY reasons. I put up with its faults simply due to the fact that it gave me the best image quality I have seen up until that point. Rich, creamy, full of life, detailed, sharp, gobs of micro contrast, nice bokeh and an overall character that approached the look of Medium Format. It was the 1st 35mm full frame digital that I felt this way about and it even beat out my then previous 3 year love affair, the Leica M9. I suggest reading or refreshing with that old review HERE to see the main character and feature set of the RX1R II as it is mainly the same as the old version with a host of new features, all of which I will talk about here.
Somehow Sony created a 35mm full frame camera in that original RX1 as it gave and produced output VERY much like Medium Format but less sterile, as in, it was almost perfect but still had plenty of character. This was my view on it and it quickly became my all around take everywhere camera. After the RX1R (R stands for RESOLUTION as it had No Low Pass filter) was announced and I reviewed it, I then fell in love again even though the camera was the same, just without an AA/Low Pass filter for even MORE detail. It boosted the RX1 up a bit with more of everything that made it great.
Click this for a larger and detailed version of this. The file quality is amazing with this camera!
Unfortunately it (The RX1R) also kept all of the things that frustrated most about the camera..AF speed was dog slow and the lens looked like a 90 lb weakling trying to push 300lbs. It was slow but most who loved the RX1 and RX1R loved it for what it rewarded their patience with. Some of the most beautiful IQ ever seen in 35mm. The original has sort of collected a cult like status with users who own them vowing to NEVER give it up.
All three image below are from the new RX1R Mark II. Click them to see them correctly.
Kurt Kamka – Lunch Meeting in Phx AZ
My son Brandon sleeping in until noon..
My beautiful Debby once again helping me test cameras ;)
Then there was the Q
In mid 2015 Leica announced and released the Q, which is a camera that aimed directly at the Sony RX1 and RX1R. It is sort of small (though the Sony is quite a bit smaller) has a 28mm f/1.7 lens instead of a 35 f/2 like the Sony and well, it is a Leica. It has the red dot and all and is assembled in Germany. Coming in at $4300 which is $1000 more than the Sony, many felt it would be a Sony killer, and to be honest, it was. It took on the original RX1 and upped the ante with a BUILT in damn good EVF of which the RX1 lacked. It also has a touch screen, a beautiful LCD and has VERY fast AF. It’s a snappy all in one camera that also manages CRAZY GOOD IQ. Now, I do not feel the IQ can match the medium format look of the Sony but it is up there with the best there is in 35mm.
Overall, the Q beat out the old Sony and many were quick to fork over $4300 for the Q, and many still are. It’s one of Leica’s more popular digital cameras of the last 3 years or so. The 24MP sensor in the Q is stunning, so much so that they use it in the new top end SL that comes in at $7,500 (and won my Camera of the Year for 2015, see my review HERE). You can read my Leica Q review HERE.
So how would Sony answer Leica’s RX1 clone, the Q? And would it beat it?
Enter the Sony RX1R Mark II!
It’s HEEEEERRRREEE and BOY, were MANY waiting for it. This camera has made my inbox explode more than any other camera in recent memory. Most of you know I am a HUGE fan of the original RX1. I consider it a legend already due to the IQ alone. Now that we have the Mark II version with a FEW new things, it’s closer to perfect that it has ever been, and for me, this new R2 beats the Q. This will not be a huge LONG review as this at its core is still an RX1. Same body design, same feel, same lens, same controls, etc. So this review will focus on real world use while sharing thoughts and images from my 3 weeks with the camera that I have had the pleasure of shooting for the past few weeks.
All images in this review should be clicked on so you are seeing the correct version
The RX1RII and its 42 MP sensor deliver “delicate detail”. It’s never analytical in its rendering but instead it offers what I like to call an ‘Organic Flow” to the rendering. For example, in the boring image below look at the screws, the web, the areas between what IS and what is NOT in focus. It’s falloff is fantastic and that is thanks to the Zeiss 35 f/2. This is a powerful camera that fits in my coat. Wow.
Color & Light
Click on this one to see the beauty in the rendering.
Lovely Blues from the Sony Sensor…
Sony did not rest and now RX1R Mark II is here. That’s a mouthful, so I will call it the R2 from now on this this review.
The new RX1R 2 looks the same, feels the same and yes, even smells the same as the original RX1 and RX1R. Upon closer inspection you will see the built in flash has been removed (not many used the flash, including me as this kind of camera does not need a flash) and now we have a very nice and sleek built in EVF that at first glance looks like an afterthought but in reality is a very nice powerful EVF, slightly improved from the A7RII!
So we now have the camera with a built-in EVF and most importantly faster auto focus which was the main #1 complaint on the original RX1 from those who used it or owned it. The new R2 has 30% faster AF, and I believe it as it is much much snappier than the old one, and even competes head to head with the Leica Q in AF speed. Also, I had no AF issues with the camera.
So what is new in the new R2? All of the below!
New backlit 42MP full frame sensor. Yes, the same sensor as the A7RII!
New built-in and pop up EVF that is slightly better than the A7RII EVF!
The new Af is 30% faster than the old RX1 series. This is evident as soon as you use it. 399 Phase Detect Points.
Swivel LCD screen this time around
Adjustable or Defeat-able Low Pass/AA filter! This is now an RX1 and RX1R in one body!
Eye AF now in this model
WiFi and NFC inside
Uncompressed 14 Bit RAW
Multiple Aspect Ratio Support
Smart Zoom to crop in camera without losing quality..use this with Macro mode ;)
The Sony RX1RII uses the same battery system as the old RX1 and RX100 line. It is one of the weaknesses of the camera so be sure to invest in 2-3 more batteries (you can get generic versions VERY cheap) to get you through the week.
The more I shot with the RX1R2 the more I was falling in love again, just as I did with the original. But at the same time, I have shot with the competition, THE competition that copied Sony and made a better camera than the old RX1 (Mark I). That would be the Leica Q.
The Leica Q vs the RX1RII
While the mighty Q beat the old RX1 and RX1R in just about every way, how will the Q stack up against the latest and greatest from Sony? With this top of the heap technically advanced 42MP backlit sensor, how could the Q compete? Well, lets take a look..but 1st, see my video on the RX1R II vs the Leica Q:
NOTE: I incorrectly spoke at one point with the Leica Q in this video. I said it will stop down the lens automatically when closer than 1M. I was thinking of the X. The Q does not do this but will stop down when in Macro mode.
So at the end of the day, for me, I prefer the new Sony but it’s VERY close. My main reason? The Sony is $1000 less expensive and gives me slightly superior IQ, or at least “different IQ”, and is smaller..and I prefer 35mm to 28mm… though I have no issue with the size of the Q. But do not take my word for it, let’s see some comparisons. Who knows, you may prefer the Q!
Away we go…
1st up. ISO
Let’s get this one out-of-the-way 1st. High ISO. Let’s face it, below these high ISO’s both cameras are comparable, but how do they stack up at 50,000 ISO? Let’s see…
Sony RX1RII – RAW – ISO 50k – MUST CLICK IMAGE!
LEICA Q – ISO 50K – RAW – MUST CLICK IMAGE!
Sony wins, the Leica has banding at its max ISO, and Sony still has steam pushing along to ISO 102,000..Sony Wins the ISO here.
Portrait? These are all good IMO. One is from the Leica Q, one from the RX12 and one from the Leica SL with 50 APO (which is easy to spot). Can you spot which is which? EXIF info is in the photos..
Same shot. The 1st one is the RX1R 2 as you can tell from the longer focal length of 35mm over the Q’s 28mm.
Sony is handling the color better so far…also, bokeh effect will be more pronounced on the Sony due to the longer focal length.
Boots…1st up, Sony
Coming in at $4300, the Q is expensive but hey, it’s a Leica. People love the idea of Leica and when they released the Q, and it exceeded expectations, well, the old RX1 kind of became forgotten. It was much slower than the Q and was dated in comparison. As you can see above the Sony delivers the goods. Some will prefer the Sony rendering, others the Leica. There is no wrong choice here but for me, the RX1R II delivers the goods in a bigger way while being smaller and less expensive by a grand.
Now there are areas of the Q that beat the Sony. For example:
The Q has a 1/16,000 shutter speed so you can shoot wide open in full sun, Sony does not
The Q is a bit snappier to AF but only by a little
The Q menu is simpler than Sony’s
The battery life is better on the Q
The Q has a touch screen, not on the Sony.
With that out of the way, the Sony has some things to like over the Q…
Latest sensor tech with the 42MP Backlit sensor from the A7RII Flagship delivers stunning results
Swivel LCD which is NOT on the Leica
Smaller size, can indeed fit in a coat pocket, Leica Q can not
Better high ISO performance means better night time shooting
files have more of a medium format look over the Q’s harder look
More dynamic range from the Sony
$1000 Less expensive than the Q
You can turn on or off or adjust the AA filter. Want to avoid MOIRE? turn it ON. Want max detail, turn it OFF!
What I tell everyone when they ask “Which should I get” I say “go with what you feel would make you the happiest and don’t look back”. There is no perfect camera but they are getting mighty close these days! The new Sony RX1RII is a stunning machine with power that you would never think could come from a camera this small. I had people looking at some of my sample shots telling me “did you use the Pentax 645”?!? It’s something that Sony is doing these days but the images that come from their latest cameras do indeed have a medium format feel to them.
And the black and White conversions can be stunning!
Remember, this guy packs the 42 Megapixel sensor of the top of the heap FLAGSHIP Sony A7RII (See review HERE). That is FORTY TWO MILLION pixels in your coat pocket! That is the draw to this camera, not “Which one is better”. This is the smallest full frame camera you can buy as far as I know, and according to Sony, it offers the best IQ of any camera they currently produce. This is the top of the heap for IQ when it comes to Sony full frame. At the same time, it is not the best for video, and even Sony will tell you this. This camera was designed for the enthusiast and passionate shooter who wants a no compromise camera – one they can shoot day, night or anywhere in between all the while getting top of the line quality that will beat just about any full frame camera around well past its price point.
The camera also has an adjustable AA filter meaning if you want MAX RESOLUTION turn it OFF and you have an RX1RII. Turn it on and you have an RX1II. Adjust it and you can customize it to your needs. Me, I left it OFF at all times as I am ANTI AA filter. I RARELY EVER have Moire issues, so always leave it off.
But let’s see some shots with 100% crops to check details…
These bricks…this is a JPEG but click it to see the full 100% crop
…you get the drift…
corner to corner this camera is sharp..this is an OOC JPEG
Any reports you may have heard about the Sony RX1RII’s image quality not being as stellar is it was hyped up to be..well, not sure what to make of those (must have had a stinker) as I think the camera is as good as it gets in this class of camera. It bests the old model easily in speed, usability, and image quality. It’s more versatile with the nice pop up EVF and delivers a fantastic experience. In all other ways it is the same as the 1st version. Same menu system, same size, same style, same lens, etc. So there is nothing to report on there.
I did hear something about Sony stopping production for a few weeks but I have not confirmed this nor do I know what it is about (I do not go by rumors or “he said/she said”). If this is the case, and fact, then the issue is not in my camera that I have here.
-For me, my three full frame references are the Leica SL, Sony RX1RII and the Sony A7RII. To me, these are as good as it gets in 2015, heading into 2016 for cameras that deliver the goods. Expensive? Yes, very. Worth it? Only you can answer that one.
Is the Sony RX1R II for you? Maybe..maybe not! My Final Word.
Think about it like this. The Sony RX1R II is like having an A7RII and 35 Loxia with AF in your coat pocket. Tiny, small, but uber powerful. There is nothing not to like on the Sony RX1RII. It’s beautiful in build, feel, and the EVF is fanatstic, even besting the one in the A7RII and it easily hides away when you do not want it. It delivers the best IQ of the Sony line due to the matched lens to sensor (which I talk about in my original RX1 Review HERE). It’s as good as it gets in an all in one, with the Leica Q right on its heels.
I love this camera as I loved the original, and it has earned a place at the top of my “keeper heap” in the Huff Household.
But I have many cameras. Many here will be using this as their one and only camera, so if this is the case I would say to make sure you are OK with only shooting 35mm as that is all you will get. There is no zoom on this guy, but that is the beauty of it. In many ways, using only the 35mm focal length for a year can greatly improve your photography, so for many this could be a welcome change from those big huge DSLR’s.
If you like what you see here from the camera then you will love it when it is in your hands. It’s a superb upgrade to the Mark 1 and while not a huge revelation when compared to the old one, it is a very nice step in the right direction for this series.
One more detail shot using an OOC JPEG! Click it for the larger version with 100% crop.
Where to Buy?
If you are interested in the RX1R Mark II I recommend the dealers below 100%:
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UPDATE: My RX1RII Review should be up within 7-10 days..
A few have been asking me when my Sony RX1RII review will be up and it has been delayed due to the comparison with the Leica Q, which many have asked for. It has been very hard to get a hold of a Q, even the rental houses have been out of stock, and I did not feel like buying one to do a comparison ;)
LensRentals finally received the Q back in stock, so I rented it for a few days (over $200)! so I can compare with the RX1RII for the Sony review, which is what the delay was about.
But so far I can say that the RX1RII is stunning. The IQ for me, edges out the A7RII and Sony did tell me the RX1RII is their best image quality camera they have ever produced, beating even the A7RII. If one is OK with just a 35mm f/2 (and what a lens it is) then the RX1RII is well worth a serious look.
Iin comparison to the Leica Q the Sony is smaller, actually has a true F/2 lens (Leica will stop down no matter your manual setting when closer than 1 meter), even when in Macro mode, has a pop up very nice and very good EVF (much better than I expected and improves on the A7RII EVF) and offers a tilt LCD, 30% faster AF than the previous version, an adjustable or defeat-able AA filter, and superior low light and high ISO performance.
The RX1rII also “feels” more solid than the Q which is a very lightweight body, especially for a Leica. For example, the Q feels NOTHING like an M in the hand. The RX1RII is also about $1000 less than the competing Q. Does the Q offer you $1000 more of a camera? In this case, I will say no. The RX1RII can beat the Q in overall technical IQ, dynamic range, ISO, etc so it is all a matter of taste.
Will one prefer the high contrast bolder color look of the Q or the higher dynamic range and gentleness of the RX1rII sensor? They both are full frame and both are gorgeous capable cameras but the RX1RII does offer more for less IMO.
I’m in a constant dilemma when photographing people: shoot first or ask first? While asking is more polite and avoids awkward situations, I find that a lot of times it ruins the moment. In this case I shot first and got busted, which luckily ended up sparkling a very interesting conversation. I showed the picture I just took of her and she liked it, I hope you do too.
NOTE: This is not my review, just a 1st look. My full review will be in 2-3 weeks and no, the title shot above is not banding. It is window blinds :)
Wow. So I have had this new Sony RX1RII for only three full days and it is just as magical as the Mark I but with faster AF, a unique beautiful pop up EVF (that bests the A7RII’s EVF) and the new A7RII Sensor giving us 42MP of full frame power that will fit in a coat pocket. The RX1RII is SMALL, just as the original was and this is good as it is discreet, and thin and so easy to take anywhere. It’s about the size of an Olympus E-M10 but packs a 35mm f/2 lens inside with that full frame sensor (perfectly matched btw), powerful EVF and even an adjustable low pass filter. Yep, with the MKII you can turn on your low pass filter or turn it off and even set sensitivity so it defeats the purpose for the non R version as both are now in one! Pretty cool. Having a Moire issue? Turn it on. Want maximum detail? Turn it off. Easy and Brilliant.
The new MkII has the same body and lens as the original but now with Sony’s current best sensor that now resides in their top of the line full frame A7RII. Superb high ISO, superb dynamic range, a beautiful EVF that slides up so nicely when needed (and we do not have to pull it out as we do with the RX100 IV) and one of the best 35mm lenses ever made (that bests the Leica summicron yet the RX1RII camera costs the same as just a Leica 35 summicron), the RX1RII is here to take on the Leica Q for king of the fixed lens full framers. It has been three years since the original RX1, so I am happy to see the new model arrive.
I love the original RX1 and RX1R. I love the Leica Q. For me, the Q surpassed the Sony RX1R (1st version) due to the EVF and speedy AF as well as the gorgeous IQ of the Q. So how will the new Sony RX1RII stack up to the Q? In my full review that will come within 3 weeks, I hope to find out as I will shoot them side by side. My early gut feeling tells me the Sony may edge out the Leica Q, and at around $1000 less. The Sony is smaller, feels heftier, has a gorgeous 35mm Zeiss lens, a swivel LCD, very nice EVF, superior low light capability, and that massive sensor from the A7RII inside. It also shoots video but Sony says the RX1RII is more of a Photographers Camera than a video camera, so do not expect A7RII or SII video quality here, it will not beat them. But for photos, it can indeed surpass the quality of even the A7RII.
The RX1R II is meant for the streets, everyday life, portraits, still life, and even some close-ups with the macro mode of the lens. It’s for the photographer on the move who doest want to worry “what lenses shall I bring”. The RX1RII says “Get in close” and “Zoom with your feet” and using it is quite the joyful experience.
In my early shooting tests I am LOVING the image quality, ease of use, joy of use and the faster AF which I would say is about 30-35% faster (Sony says 30%) than the original RX1 and RX1R. It’s a noticeable improvement for sure. But the files from the RX1RII can and will beat an A7RII with 35mm lens attached (so says Sony and ME) as the lens of the RX1RII is matched perfectly with the sensor, so it was tweaked for amazing output. The files are sharp corner to corner, and it is quite amazing how well this lens and sensor work together. Sony showed me some large prints with perfect sharpness across the entire frame.
I am shooting this camera daily right now and will have the review up in December (which is soon). For now, enjoy some snapshots I took during my 1st 24 hours with the RX1RII…nothing serious just yet but this camera builds on the now cult status original and improves it in all the areas we wanted it to be improved. AF, EVF, and even Sensor. Oh, it also now has continuous tracking AF (will test this in my full review) and it is accessible from the front dial with the other focus modes.
The RX1R II next to the Leica M (Top) and OM-D E-M10 II (Bottom) – Smaller than both.
With all of these amazing new cameras hitting (Leica SL, Leica Q, Sony A7RII, SII and RX1RII, Olympus E-M10 II)..not sure which one is going to make my “Camera of the Year” for 2015 just yet!
You must click the image for a larger and MIUCH better view and rendering! All are OOC JPEGS! This camera is incredible as nothing out there can touch it for size..hard to believe this packs a 42MP full frame punch in the size of an E-M10 II with a nice solid build. Wow.
YOU MUST CLICK IMAGES TO SEE THEM CORRECTLY! IF YOU DO NOT, YOU ARE NOT SEEING THEM AS THEY SHOULD BE SEEN.
You can order the new Sony RX1R Mark II At B&H Photo or Amazon at the direct links below. Starts shipping November 25th! It’s not cheap but quality never is.
Last year I’ve decided to start a Project 365, one picture a day every day. I didn’t know that was such an effort coming up with a new image everyday, it became a great exercise I’m more aware visually and I carry a couple of cameras with me 24/7. Shooting this project with a mirrorless system was an easy decision but I was surprised that the RX-1 became the best option, the small size the full frame quality and the fast built-in lens makes this camera almost unbeatable for street and travel photography. Here are few images from my project, I hope you’ll enjoy.
The subject of this write-up is the magnificent Sony RX1R and some of the places I’ve taken it so far. Every photo you see here was shot in RAW and edited in Adobe Lightroom.
Positive points and general comments
Going to New Zealand was something I wanted to do for a very long time, and in late 2013 I finally had the means and time to do it. My trusty Canon Eos 450D was becoming unreliable after five years of heavy use, and I took this opportunity to go out and get a new camera. The logical choice would be a new Canon, as I had accumulated two nice lenses and a great flash. Mostly thanks to the raving reviews on this site, I checked out the Sony RX1R as well, and ended up buying it, to my own surprise.
It was either this camera, or an EOS 5D Mk. III. That’s not an easy choice to make, but I’m ultimately glad I went with the Sony. I was a little anxious about limiting myself to one lens, especially for the monumental price tag that the camera has (I bought it when it just came out, too), but that turned out to be unwarranted, as I never enjoyed a camera more than this thing.
New Zealand was the maiden voyage of the RX1R for me, and boy was I glad I took the plunge before going. This country has many sights that are truly awe-inspiring, and I recommend anyone visiting it at least once in their lifetime. I felt very small there many times. It is a humbling, unforgettable experience.
Besides the incredible image quality of this camera, I absolutely love this thing for its size and weight (or rather, the lack thereof). It is also built like a tank, which gives confidence to carry it all over the place. And I do. Because it’s so easy to take everywhere, I take it everywhere. I left my EOS 450D at home many times when I shouldn’t have, because I didn’t feel like lugging it around, and that’s even a small DSLR. Another advantage about its size is that it is an unintimidating camera to subjects. When you point a big, professional-looking camera with a large lens at people, they sometimes get self-conscious. The RX1R looks more like a cool-looking hobby-camera than the full-frame monster that it is. The shutter is completely silent, too. Most people have no idea what it is (including those who have nice cameras themselves), and some even think it is an analog camera. An older gentleman I met commented that it looked like his Leica M6.
At low to medium ISO settings, photos are incredibly clean. That said, the high ISO performance of this camera is one of the reasons I fell in love with it. I can take it out at night, and take hand-held shots without having to use flash in pretty much any situation. The results are great, and photos still look alive and punchy at ISO 6400 and even 12800. Things naturally get more grainy once the ISO goes up, but it’s nice-looking grain, almost film-like. I leave luminance noise-reduction completely off in Lightroom. With a tripod and long exposure + low ISO, it really shines, too.
I use the RX1R for landscapes, portraits, and as a walk-around camera. The dynamic range is really something else, and it’s possible to achieve some amazing results. Colors are wonderful, and black & white is rich and deep. It’s easy to pull tons of detail out of shadows and highlights, and I’ve never felt the need to pull tricks like multiple exposure HDR. RAW files have an incredible amount of headroom. After having owned and used the RX1R for two years, I still get blown away every singe time I load the files in Lightroom. The image quality is absolutely staggering, still in 2015.
Settings & usage
I shoot in Aperture Priority (the ring is nice) or Program most of the time, and I use Manual for long exposure shots and stitch-panoramas. The exposure compensation dial on top is a useful tool for quick adjustment. I assigned the little C-button on top to ISO-settings, which I usually leave on auto with a range of 100-6400. Sometimes I lock it when I want to go for a specific look. All 5 buttons are programmable, as well as the four-way buttons under the wheel on the back. I set metering to multi-metering, and it is generally accurate. The auto-focus does a great job most of the time. It sometimes has a little trouble in the dark, but it usually catches what I want after a try or two. I set it to one focus point in the middle. Focus speed isn’t super fast, but fast enough for me.
I never really use the flash (not needed) or video mode (I’m a photographer, not a video guy). The only accessories I have in my bag these days are a GorillaPod and an extra battery. It really feels like everything I need now.
The Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm f/2.0 lens is incredibly sharp at every f-stop, and it seems to be at its sharpest at f/5.6 and f/8. The photos are so sharp in fact, that Adobe Lightroom’s default sharpening-setting of 25 is too high and creates harsh edges. Usually I end up setting it around 10-15. Having a 35mm prime lens is easy to get used to, especially when it’s as great as this one. I love primes in general; they force you to get creative and walk around to find a good angle.
The battery-life is not great. I immediately turn the camera off after I’ve taken a shot, and I don’t spend much time reviewing photos already taken. I have an extra battery, but since Sony doesn’t include an external charger (at this price point, I’d say that’s strange), I need to switch them around while the camera is hooked up to charge them. The camera has a standard micro-USB port for file transfer and charging, which means it is compatible with pretty much every standard phone charger out there, which is convenient.
Manual focus is useless without a viewfinder (save for forcing infinity focus), as focus-peaking only works with a magnified view. I don’t know why this is, as the Sony A7 cameras are able to do this on the overview view. Another little quirk is that the camera always returns to infinity focus when it wakes up or turns on. This is something I’d like to be able to lock when I’m waiting to take a shot of something that moves. Both these things are fixable with a firmware update, but Sony doesn’t seem to do those with this camera for some reason.
I miss having an infrared shutter release. That seems like a more logical choice to build into this camera than an external mic-input.
The prices for accessories are ridiculous. I’d like to have the viewfinder (partially because using a circular polarizing filter is almost impossible with the LCD screen), but I’m not paying 500 bucks for that. Even their simple metal lens hood costs 200 bucks (check eBay for knock-offs for 1/10th the price). The only official Sony accessory I bought for it was the leather case. Although that hurt my wallet, I’m glad I got it. It provides good protection, and it really emphasizes the old-school cool look.
I’ve never been this happy about a camera, or any electronic device I’ve ever owned. It is not perfect (no camera really is), but the positives easily outweigh the negatives. The more I use it, the more I love it. The Zeiss lens, overall image quality, build quality and size, make the RX1R nothing less than a masterpiece.
I would probably still love this thing if it gave me an electric shock with every photo I take.
I will visit Australia in the near future and many other places after that, so keep an eye on my website and social media pages for new photos soon. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or comments, I’m always more than happy to talk.
Many thanks again, Steve, for allowing me to send this in. Keep the website going, I enjoy the hell out of it.
Soon I will be moving out of Mexico and wanted to share with you and your readers some of my pics from my stay in this wonderful country.
Mexico is great city for street photography, people is warm and definitely like their portrait been taken. It’s a huge city, in which it only takes a bit of luck to bump into something interesting to shoot. I focus mostly in street portraits, but also managed to get some other things :).
I used different kinds of cameras Nikon DF, Sony A7ii, and Leica M240. No specific reason for the cameras, I just love all of them :)
Exif data should be intact. Hope your readers enjoy these pics as much as I enjoyed Mexico, and if anyone is thinking of passing through here a few days, please don’t doubt it, you will be surprise how great it could be.
I have been a very frequent reader of your wonderfully informative posts and reviews (via Facebook mainly) over the past few years.
In fact, I bought an x-pro 1 after reading your excellent review back in 2012 (cannot believe it was that long ago). Something about the camera really attracted me to it from the word go…probably its Leica looks along with auto focus (and a great choice of prime lenses). The camera literally pulled me out onto the streets to take pictures! Through past few years I have stuck with it (quirks and all).
The images attached here were taken in London (Shepherds Bush Empire) last year, when I was invited to see a friends band (My Life Story) play a reunion gig.
I wanted to concentrate on the backstage atmosphere (last-minute rehearsals etc.) as there were plenty of photographers to capture the show from the auditorium.
All were shot as RAW files, and the BW conversions were made using photo-shop plug-in silver FX. These were all shot around 1600 ISO using auto focus. I made frequent use of the exposure compensation dial, whilst looking through the viewfinder at the EVF to see the results instantly.
So far I have been very temped to switch to the A7s or the RX1, but have decided to wait a little longer (although fast losing patience) for the x-pro 2 release date and reviews as I have invested in lenses for this system.
Thanks for all of the great work you put into your site.
I first entered photography with a manual 1960s honey-well Pentax and 50mm lens in medical school. It was my uncles and an easy way to collect some credits. I soon expand to a canon 40d, and then the 5d mark II (85 f1.2 lens). However that 5000$ system would often sit at home and only taken out occasionally. I then read your article on the RX1 and RX100 and bought both of those at once with the slush funds of selling my previous canon system. I really loved the RX1, but longed for a little flexibility in interchangeability.
I then switched to the sony A7 and Leica summilux 50 f1.4. But for some reason I couldn’t shake my nostalgia for the RX1 and its images and feel of the camera. The Leica A7 combination felt imbalanced to me (literally b/c of the lens weight and artistically), and i re-invested in the Rx1 and sold the A7. I kept the leica lens though, maybe it’ll get me into the next leica system.
I am a Otolaryngology head/neck surgeon and recently returned from a medical missions trip in Peru. Medicine has really inhibited my interested in the arts, but photography is easily included for documentation purposes. So i hope that you guys enjoy some of my photos, with minimal touch-up and cropping. I think that the operating theater is a place that few people ever get to see the joys and awe of. It’s a place where the lighting is dramatic and where a lot of miracles happen.
Thank you for all that effort of keeping the site up and running. I take a lot from your site but unable to return much cause
none of those sites ship to my city. But your site has helped me buy several cameras and recently it’s the RX1.
I guess many of the photos here are done in low light which I think is where RX1 is most amazing. Journey was here and could only get the 100ft away seat and it still did pretty respectable at ISO8000. I was at Disney on Ice show and was about 120ft away and again I thought what came out were pretty good for a wide-angle lens with 100% cropped photo in low light. Shutter was 640secs as they were move fast and ISO was pretty low at 2000. All shot handheld with high shutter speed to compensate action and handshakes. The old man at the Journey concert
was a cheeky shot from the back at I didn’t realise iso was 12,800 and it is still usable.
There are two shots from Japanese cemetery, almost at sunset. So it was not a lot of lights but it came out OK, a
Putting an old CZ 432/35 optical viewfinder bought from eBay for $100 also helped make the camera more fun to use. Overall I love this camera and what Sony is becoming. I just bought a Vivitar 0.47x wide angle converter just to have more fun with it, so I will share more images if I can get some I think are worth sharing.
By the way, I’m not a photographer by any standard, not an avid nor an enthusiast, so I apologise if the images don’t have artistic value in them.
Many of these images have very high ISO which is the point of this post, the low lights level capabilities of RX1.
My name is Wim Arys, I’m a music producer from Belgium. I’ve been an avid reader of your excellent site for some time now, and enjoy reading your hands on tests of new cameras and equipment. I was very interested in photography as a teenager, but strayed towards music production after high school. My teenage passion was rekindled some years ago when I bought an Iphone 3S, and started taking pictures again.
After a while I became dissatisfied with the image quality and bought myself an EPL5, then an EP-5, a Fuji X100S, a Sony RX1 and earlier this year an Sony A7. My girlfriend and I have a non-profit travel blog www.freeasbirds.com, so we travel as much as possible, exploring the world whilst sharing our mutual passion for photography. For our latest trip to Kenya, I wanted to try out the A7 with a zoom lens on safari. Since there was no E-mount full frame zoom available, I decided to go for the Sony SAL 70300G f4.5-5.6 SSM A-mount with the Sony LA-EA4 converter. Not the fastest zoom, but designed to a high standard, as the G mark indicates and available at a reasonable price point.
I’ve read comments about a zoom lens on an A7, saying that this defeats the purpose of a small(er) mirror-less full frame camera, but this combo is very light and surprisingly easy to handle. I had no problems carrying it around all day and it balances well in hand. Photography on safari has many challenges: the savannah is very dusty, the roads are bumpy and the drivers hardly give you time to frame and focus your shots.
Everything in Africa is supposed to go Polé Polé (take it easy) but these drivers race around the parks like madmen. The SAL70300G with LAEA4 adapter luckily has contrast AF and phase AF on the A7 and our driver John quickly became used the sound of cameras snapping away. The AF is very fast, the only quibble I have is that all the focus points are in the centre of the frame. So if I wanted to focus off-centre, I had to set focus and reframe, which was almost impossible in these conditions. Another problem is the lack of image stabilisation on all A-mount lenses (because the Alpha range of cameras have in camera IS). All my pictures came out a bit bland too (perhaps due to all the dust in the air), but I always shoot in RAW, so with the nice A7 full frame sensor, it was no problem boosting the colours/shadows in post. I normally use Capture One for this, but it seems not to be a good match with the A7. Lightroom did the trick.
I always carry my trusted Olympus E-P5 too, preferably with the fantastic 75mm f1.8 or Panasonic/Leica 25mm. This is still my favourite street camera, although the A7 with 35mm allowed me to take different kinds of pictures when we visited a Masai tribe. After going through my 4000+ pictures at home, I started missing the image quality of my RX1. The sensor and lens combo on this little gem are amazing. It is off course a fixed lens combo, so I never could have gotten these shots with that camera.
The SAL70300G, although a descent lens in good to average lighting, does have its limitations, especially at 300mm. I like the ergonomics and styling of the Sony A7, the ‘loud’ shutter sound does not bother me at all. I think the idea of a stealth camera has become obsolete nowadays, you are fooling yourself if you think people don’t know what you are doing. The autofocus could be faster, compared to the E-P5 but I would not consider it slow. Perhaps just a bit faster than the Fuji X100s. This camera is not a DSLR killer either, I’m guessing in will take a few more versions until Sony (or another brand) gets there.
What the A7 delivers is top image quality in a compact size, though I might return this one and go for the A7r for the added resolution.
If you would like to submit your own guest article, review, or just talk about your experience with anything photographic, send your idea to Steve HERE. You can also read how to do it HERE.