Having a high flash sync and also a full-frame 135 format, at the moment this is a rare combination and Sony’s RX1 and RX1R would be your ideal choice. Under f/5.6 you are able to achieve 1/4000s of X-Sync! This machine being equipped with a full-frame CMOS sensor, Zeiss 35/2 Sonnor lens and focal distance as close as 0.2 meters in macro mode, native ISO50 sensitivity, this is possibly the most ideal full-frame camera that is portable with an all-rounded capability.
When used for portrait shots here are a few benefits:
1. Can be used with the aperture wide open with relatively low powered flash. Without the need to use any powerful 1000W flash you are able to achieve the same results thanks to the RX1R’s high speed X-Sync capability, using a regular external flash unit at 1/4000s f5.6 ISO100. This is actually much more than two stops under the sunny 16 rule than mentioned during part one. At f5.6, you only need to remain at over 3 metres and having the settings to your flash at 18GN, this would already be a massive cost saving alternative as compared to the equipment needed to achieve the same end result.
2. With a larger aperture, you are now able to take high-speed flash photos to capture that dynamic shot without having to spend a fortune on high-speed flash units.
3. Without the need to compensate the X-Sync with a small aperture, you are now able to maintain a higher image quality than the diffraction issues you face when you are at a small aperture.
The following are test shots from the RX1R, you can easily turn the sun into a moonlight portrait without using equipment costing you your savings account. However, this is only a way to show you what the RX1R is capable of achieving and this is only one of many ways to shoot photos. As long as you keep within your theme, that’s all that matters.
Here are a few shots to show the different effects achieved under different lighting methods.
Saturday fun! Check out the video below by Ofer Rozenman. He used the 35mm camera that I feel has the best IQ of ANY digital 35mm camera to date, in all situations, the Sony RX1. BUT it is not really a “Video”! It is stop motion without a tripod using over 6000 images. Pretty cool!
Here is what Ofer has to say:
“During September ’13 me and my girlfriend visited (again) our favorite city in the world – NYC. Instead of taking one still of every place we’ve been at, we took 50, in order to make a stop motion video out of it. We’ve ended up with over 140GB and 6K images.”
As part of my coverage of “unconventional” world championships, I took myself off to Lausanne in Switzerland for the Cycle Messenger World Championships of 2013. I had spotted this event a while ago and put it firmly into the calendar as a “must attend”.
Packing for the trip proved more complicated than I thought. Having figured out that Lausanne was a pretty hilly place and I would be walking A LOT, and it was going to be hot, the last thing I wanted to be doing was carting a couple of 1D bodies and big lenses all over the place, as well as various bits of remote flash kit and other gubbins. So instead I decided to shoot the whole event with lightweight compact gear, taking 3 cameras – an Olympus OM-D with 45, 9-18 and 8mm fisheye lenses, a Sony RX1 and a newly acquired Sony RX100 Mark II. This combination would give me a good choice of focal lengths and apertures so I could deal with pretty much anything that came my way. With the RX100 in my pocket, the RX1 around my neck and the Olympus and lenses in a belt pack, I was as mobile as I could wish for. In a small backpack went a laptop, flash, pocket wizards, light stand and mini-octabox.
I also wanted to travel hand-luggage only and the big gear would have surely triggered some weight limit or other. Happily the airline (Swiss) didn’t bat an eyelid and the lightstand and electronic trickery went through airport security without any problems as I tried hard to pretend my bag weighed nothing at all.
Gear for the trip. Manfrotto lightstand, Sony RX1 with viewfinder, Olympus OM-D, Yongnuo YN560-II flash, 2x Pocket Wizard Plus II, Sony RX100 mark II, Panasonic 8mm fisheye, Olympus 9-18 zoom, spare batteries for the Sonys (not needed), cards, clip thing (unused), lightstand attachment thing. Forgot to incude the mini softbox in this pic.
So, an early flight put me in Geneva at 9am on Saturday, and the efficient Swiss train system whisked me into Lausanne in about 45 minutes for me to begin my 2-day walking marathon, with some cycling photography thrown in.
After familiarizing myself with the course, chatting to the organisers and riders, and climbing lots of hills, I needed to make my key decision of the weekend. How to cover the event? I already had some ideas in mind before I arrived, but it quickly became pretty obvious to me that it was all about the people and the “vibe”, and the racing was almost secondary. More than anything this is a gathering of like-minded people who might normally be bracketed as “alternative”. It takes a certain something to be a cycle courier, out in all weathers, always under time pressure, not earning much, very physically fit, and never using any fossil fuels. The camaraderie amongst everyone at the event was obvious from the start. Some competitors had ridden from England down to Paris where they met still others for the 3-day ride from Paris to Lausanne, several on fixed wheel bikes with no brakes (making the mountains on the roads into Lausanne quite challenging!). Lots of them referred to the other couriers as their “family”, so it’s clearly a close-knit group of like-minded people who like nothing better than to get together for a good laugh.
James from Glasgow, who rode down from Canterbury to Paris to Lausanne. Top guy.
And that was the decision made for me. I would shoot the event more like a documentary, trying to capture the people and atmosphere with the race action as a secondary part of the weekend. This also suited my choice of kit as the small cameras are generally useless at catching anything moving fast (or even slow in the case of the RX1) when compared with a pro body like a Canon 1D. It didn’t stop me trying to get a bit of action though. And I also decided to make most of the pictures monochrome because a) I like it a lot and b) it suited a more documentary style look at the event.
A rider toils up the hill as others dry off in the sun after a dip in the “jacuzzi” up by the cathedral.
Started in 1993 by Achim Beier from Berlin, the championships comprise a number of challenges including a sprint, a track stand (longest time stationary on the bike), a cargo race where heavy loads are carried on special bikes, and the main race. The course winds through central Lausanne and includes bridges, stairs, cobbles, narrow alleyways and challenging hills.
The main race simulates the job of a bike courier making numerous drops and pickups across the city by following a manifest or delivery/pickup list. Riders need to check in at specific checkpoints, hand over their delivery and get a new one. It involves a number of manifests to be run in sequence, each involving multiple deliveries. As well as being a test of sheer physical fitness lasting 3-4 hours, the race is a huge mental challenge as the riders need to plot their own route from one checkpoint to the next. Ensuring that they take the shortest or most efficient route is a work of the black arts as far as I could see. It wasn’t unusual to see riders pick up a new manifest and then sit somewhere quiet while they worked out their route and sequencing. To make matters worse, at some checkpoints you may need to deliver one item and pick up three, so knowing what you need to do where is vital to avoid repeat visits. Obviously you couldn’t drop something off if you hadn’t already picked it up somewhere else! This aspect makes the whole thing very different to a normal challenge against the clock and the winner is the person that combines the physical with the mental.
It was hot as well. Did I mention that? I had enough trouble climbing up all the steps and hills on foot – the riders were getting a real beating. It didn’t take long for some of the riders to take advantage of the ancient water troughs that are scattered around the city.
Saturday was practice and qualifying, plus the cargo race which involved carrying large or strange loads. The cargo bikes are bonkers – long things with a load carrying space up front and a linkage from the handlebars to the front wheel. These poor guys had to carry everything from 12 foot long oars to a TV cameraman who wanted a rider’s eye view of the course.
Having learned the course through walking a lot and getting blisters, taking a bunch of pictures and figuring out what was going on, I was ready for the evening party. These guys party well. The event had been going on all week with a party every night, so they were well-practiced by the time I turned up. Hosted at the Casino Montbenon overlooking Lake Geneva, I had a horrible thought that it would be a dress-up suit and tie job, but then realised that there was no way on this earth that the majority of the riders would get anywhere near a suit other than to deliver one. And so it turned out that it was a very cool event in a club under the casino, with most people out in the open air as the temperature dropped and the sun set over the alps.
The party game me a chance to break out my little octabox. After some fiddling with Pocket Wizards and the RX1, I got everything working fine and went off in search of interesting suspects, of which there were plenty. I’ll say this – these guys are just so friendly and open – lovely people. Here’s two of them…
So the RX1 turned out some beautifully detailed pictures, but occasionally had brain fade and wouldn’t focus properly even though the focus assist light was on. You’ve just got to be quite patient with it when shooting at night, and give it time to get focus and the square to go green before you hit the button. It’s worth noting that after turning on face detection my results improved significantly.
Cleverly, the organisers hadn’t scheduled any early morning starts, with riders needing to be at race HQ by 11am (though quite a few dragged in after that). This allowed ample time for at least 4 hours sleep to let the beer work its way through the system. Free carrots were available to all competitors.
The start itself was mad. The 100 riders (men and women) all started at the same time. The high qualifiers from Saturday got to be at the front of the “grid”. Well, they weren’t at the front, their bikes were. All the bikes were laid down in the road, the first package and manifest was put next to each bike, and the riders were ushered 50 yards back down the hill. At the appointed time after some general un-Swiss fanning about, they were off! The riders had to run up the hill, get to their bike, read the manifest to plot a route, and then head off. With different manifests the riders headed in all sorts of directions, so a few wisely took their time to figure out the best route as there’s nothing slower than riding in completely the wrong direction, especially as the course was one way and if you got it wrong you’d need to go round again.
There followed all sorts of madness as riders hurtled about. I walked some of the course before stopping and sending a set of pictures to the UK newspapers. Once that was done I walked the course a bit more and took some more pictures. Here’s a few of them…
I had in mind some key shots to get at the end of the race. Obviously the winners, but also I wanted pictures of riders immediately they finished. I rigged up the RX1 again and used my flash held off camera with a simple diffuser on it, triggered by pocket wizards again. The high flash sync speed of the RX1 came in handy here as well as I wanted to drop the ambient light a bit so was up at 1/500th or more.
Obviously I’m not as practiced with the RX1 interface as, when people moved from shade to sun I was often too slow to adjust settings (I was shooting in manual) and had to resort to just switching to aperture priority and letting the camera sort it out. In frenzied situations when people are moving about all over the place it’s vital to be 100% practiced with your camera of choice, which I wasn’t.
And that was it. Race over. Party time (again) followed by a very early flight out on Monday morning.
What can we glean from the gear selection for the event? The cameras did their job, but are no way as good when you absolutely must get the shot as a pro-spec body and lens. There were times when I wished I had a 1DIV and L lenses with me. The speed of focus is the main thing. I could have nailed far more portrait shots after the race with a 1D, even with the relatively slow focusing 24 1.4 lens. However I’d have been stuck with a slow off-camera flash sync speed. I’d also have been knackered hefting all that gear. I watched the 2 or 3 agency guys that were there as they lugged their gear about and felt delighted that I was running such a light setup. Also, people didn’t seem to mind when I got in really quite close with the little RX1 either. Sometimes it’s good to have big cameras to shout that you know what you’re doing (sort of!), but at other times it’s good to be a bit more under the radar.
Looking at my stats for the weekend, I shot most pictures using the RX1 with 242, then the Olympus OM-D with 197 (though there were a lot of 9 frames per second disastrous panning shots), then 41 with the RX100 mark II. Out of that lot, 140 made the final edit. Each camera played its own part, as I used the RX1 when I wanted really high quality and shallow depth of field, the OM-D when I wanted a bit of lens choice and high frame rate, and the RX100 when I lost the plot and just wanted to get a picture, or when I had the wrong lens on the OM-D. The different menu systems and buttons and dials is enough to drive me crazy though as I’d get aperture & shutter mixed up, ISO would be all over the place and so on. What I really want is something the size of the RX1 with pro-spec speed of focus and camera responsiveness. The OM-D is fast, but not fast enough when tracking focus. In any event though, I tried to shoot within the limitations of the cameras and make the best of what I had available.
Just to finish off this unusually long post I have to say what a superb event it was. If you ever get the chance to go in 2014, then do it. Support these guys and girls – they are simply an excellent bunch of people. And should you come across them in some big city somewhere, just be aware that they know exactly what they are doing, are fit as anything, and don’t earn much.
I’ve been following your site daily for a couple of years now. Your site often inspires me to just go out & shoot! Unfortunately, it also inspired me to go out & buy new gear on several occasions. About 8 months ago, I put an end to my G.A.S. by picking up a Sony RX1.
Well….it worked! I absolutely love this camera, and have no desire to change or upgrade. As you stated in your review, this camera just nails it 99% of the time for me. It suits my style of photography perfectly, and because it’s so compact, it goes everywhere with me! I couldn’t ask for more (except maybe a built-in evf).
I’ve included a few photos I’ve taken over the summer. I try to shoot a wide range of subjects & dabble with as many styles of photography as I can, so I had a hard time picking just 3 images to submit. Hope it’s ok that I included a few more :)
The images below include some landscapes, a panorama, a shot of the milky way, a portrait of my sons w/ a wirelessly triggered off camera flash through an umbrella, and a few candid shots. All of the photos have had some degree of post-proccessing. I’m a graphic designer by trade, so I enjoy the post-processing almost as much as taking the photos!
My name is Hawk, I’m a Chinese guy living in Shanghai, I visit your website twice a day since last year, I’m a huge mirrorless camera fan. and your review let me made final decision to buy the amazing RX1, thank you! I was hesitated for a long time that days, I told my wife and my dad about this camera and the price, they just think I am crazy and stupid. But after I get this camera and take some photo showed them, they feeled amazing too, understand why this tiny camera are so expensive. I think I made the right decision to choose the RX1,thanks again for your review and inspire.
I used to have a NEX3 and adapted a CONTAX G45 lens, which is also quite amazing, I’m looking forward to use this lens on the coming soon full frame NEX. But now I carrying just the RX1 for my daily use (Street Photography). The RX1 is quite good for streetshot, it won’t get noticed or made people annoyed. You can take your photo easily and silently , but the result is really amazing .
Here are some photo of my strreetshot in Shanghai and my trip to a Chinese ancient town“Xi Tang”, I only shot in RAW files, use lightroom to convert some to B&W and make little adjustment .
How are you doing? I’m Nguyen from Viet Nam. First of all, I want to say thank you so much, after watching your Sony RX1 review, I decided to sell my Canon 5D Mark 3 and bought a Sony RX1 which is just awesome and I took it with my Leica M7 to Italy one week ago, I can say I’m addicted to RX1 because of the color rendering its self, fast focusing, friendly looking and the sharpness of the photo result.
I traveled in Italy for 9 days and I found out that Italians are so fun and cute. I went to Roma, Florence, and Venice, the people from these cities are quite different from each others. Here are some photos that I want to show you.
“All roads lead to Rome”, and yes, Rome was my first destination.
I met a lot of Italians in here. Although I’m not a native English speaker but Italians were so cute with their “broken-English”. I found a Roman woman in a colorful dress on the way to Termini station, when I asked for a couple of photos she said she doesn’t speak English much, so I asked her with a slow and simple English accent and I also used my body language. She smiled and agreed. Later I met a huge group of people who were demonstrating near the Termini Station. I joined them and asked some people what their demonstration was about, and didn’t forget to ask them for some portrait photos. They found out that I was interested in taking photo so they happily let me take a couple of photos. When they explained something to me, they tried to explain it in a funny way and it was so funny. I’m addicted to Italian accent.
I stayed Rome for 3 nights before moving to Florence, and hell Florence is awesome, the city is noted for its history, culture, and it also contains numerous museums and art galleries. I went out on the street from early morning, met a sleep-walking old man, street cleaning staffs, oh, these guys saw me when I was taking photo of some mannequins, and they ask and grinned:
“Are-rr you ta-king phodo?”
“Yes, Can I take a couple of photos of you guys?” – Asked me and pointed my camera at them
They look so happy and let me took some wonderful photos with their vehicles, I strongly like these photos.
I stopped at Venice and spent 3 nights there, I lived in a hotel near Ve Mestre. This station is about 20-minute away from Venice by train, but I went to Venice twice a day, and got lost many times in Venice. I met an Italian man on the water bus, first he found out I was interested with my camera and he asked: “Ciao, Photographer?”
He looked older than 35
I said: “Buongiorno Ciao, No no Photo-shooter”
“Film ca-me-rar?” – Said him
I like the way Italians speak English. It’s simple, honest and they aren’t embarrassed. – LIKE ME LOL, just make it simple.
And he met a friend of him was driving a GONDOLA, he said sorry to me, then called his friend for 3 times before his friend recognize him and they spoke loudly some Italian which I didn’t understand.
“Italians are so fun” – Said me
“Yeah i see” – an UK woman said
“Sorry, meet friend, so happy” – Said him
“It’s ok, I understand” ” Are you married?” – Asked me
“No no, Im girl” – he answered
“What? What do you mean “Im girl”?, you mean you love guys”? – Asked me again
“Yes, I don’t love girl” he answered
“But you can marry a girl and have children, kids are really cute” – Said me
“But I don’t like girl, I cannot marry, I’m stupid” – Said him
“Common, its ok. It’s fine. – I said
“You so nice, your eyes are nice too, I like your eyes” – Said him
“Really? Thank you but I don’t think it’s that nice” – Answered me
“It’s nice” – Said him
He was a really cute guy.
I took a lot of photos in Venice by RX1 and also M7, but I’m still waiting for the film development and I will update film photos as soon as possible on my blog.
1st Look at the Sony RX1R Camera! A few detail shots.
Just took possession of the new Sony RX1R and RX100II cameras, both of which are additions to the RX line instead of replacements. No, Sony is not discontinuing the original RX1 or RX100, they will be sold side by side with these new offerings for those who want a choice. I thought that was odd seeing that the new RX1r is the same price as the RX1 but offers a bit more detail. Who wouldn’t choose the new R?
Will you see a difference between the RX1 and RX1R? Click the image below for a full size from RAW file at f/2
I highly suggest looking at these on a nice display. iPhone or iPad viewing will not show you what this camera is capable of.
When asked why someone would take an RX1 over the new RX1R, seeing as they are both the same price and same camera except for the AA filter missing in the RX1R version, I was told that those who shoot JPEG will not want to upgrade as they will really not see a difference. The new “R” model is for those who want that last ounce of detail from the camera, which will only be visible when shooting RAW. In other words, it’s all in the processing. If you are a serious shooter and shoot and process RAW files and want the most detail you can get, the RX1R will be for you.
Below is almost a 100% crop from a full image
one more with crop…the detail is staggering. Again, you must click it for large size and 100% crop. High quality display is recommended.
The RX1R will still have the same IQ, same high ISO capability, same color, same lens, same sensor, same body and same everything as the RX1. It does not focus faster nor does it have anything new besides the missing AA filter which does indeed give more details when viewing at 100% or printing large. In other words, if you own an RX1 there is no need to sell for an RX1R as you will most likely never see the difference and due to the missing AA filter you may even see some moire pop up in some situations.
The RX1s has fantastic color just as the RX1 does
If buying new today I would take an RX1R just to have that extra ounce of performance as moire does not bother me in the slightest and in my quick sample shots I have not seen it pop up at all.
After testing the RX1R out for a few shots on the beach and in lower light at dinner, I am blown away by the sharpness and detail of what this little guy can do. It is no secret in internet camera land that I LOVE the RX1. Now I love it even more with the R version just because it gives us that little bit of more bite and detail. The original is no slouch in the resolution department but the R just gives that little bit more, just as the Nikon D800 vs D800E does.
I will do a refresh review very soon as I use the camera more including a side by side with the RX1, same scene, same shot, etc. I have this loaner for a little while so I hope to show the difference, which is indeed slight, but there.
Take a look at the 1st few shots below taken with the RX1R, the 1st one is full size, saved as a “9″ JPEG in CS6. Click it for full size and check out the detail where I focused, on the big toes. This was shot at…f/2. Wide open. So the softness you see on the sides is where the shallow DOF comes into play by shooting up close and wide open.
Click for full size image. This was at f/2, wide open and up close. I focused on the big toes where you can see the detail in the sand grains.
This shot is cool as you can see the sand detail and rich tonality.
The overhead pelicans – click it for larger! Converted this one to B&W.
Another full size image – shot at f/4 – you must click it to see the full size.
and a few more snaps throughout the day with the RX1R
ISO 12,800 at night at an outdoor pub, B&W JPEG from camera
and one in color at ISO 6400…at night
You can Pre-Order the Sony RX1R at Amazon HERE or B&H Photo HERE. It is expected to ship in 2-4 weeks. The RX1R comes in at the same price as the RX1 at $2798.
The camera has a full frame sensor, a fixed and amazing 35mm Zeiss f/2 lens all in a compact solid and pro build metal body. This RX1r is the same exact camera as the original RX1 minus the AA filter for enhanced detail. I will be doing a full refresh review with side by sides with the RX1 and tripod landscape style shots. I see no reason to buy the original RX1 if you have not yet splurged for one yet if you did buy an original RX1, I see no real reason to sell and upgrade. Both will deliver fantastic results as they are.
More soon and I will do a refresh review of the RX100II as well. Stay tuned!
The new Sony RX1R and RX100 II! The R stands for “Resolution”
Wow, now this is a superb release! We all knew it was coming but now it is official. The new Sony RX1R and the new RX100II. Both will look and feel the same but both will have improvements and the exciting news is that Sony took a cue from Nikon and decided to release a “Special Edition” RX1 that will be without an AA filter for ultimate image sharpness! As if the RX1 was not sharp enough, this one is going to be spectacular.
These are expected to start shipping on July 15th, in just about two weeks.
I will be reviewing the RX1R in a comparison against the original RX1 to see just how much different it is. Stay tuned!
The new RX100II ups the ante on the original with an all new sensor and sensor tech. This will be a camera with the worlds 1st 1.0-type back illuminated sensor. It is approximately 40% more sensitive in dimly lit situations compared to the existing RX100 model. This is good news as the original RX100 was fantastic so I am looking forward to what this camera can deliver. A review will be coming for this one as well.
Both solid releases from Sony and while nothing really crazy new with the RX1, it will be yet another choice for this camera and to those who want the ultimate in detail. You can read the official details below as provided by Sony.
You can already Pre-Order the new Sony cameras at B&H Photo or Amazon:
Sony Adds Two New Premium Compact Cameras to Acclaimed Cyber-shot® RX Line
New RX100 II model adds Exmor R™ CMOS sensor and connectivity; New RX1R full frame camera with enhanced resolution and detail
NEW YORK, June 27, 2013 – Building on its lineup of acclaimed compact cameras, Sony is introducing two new additions to the Cyber-shot RX series– the RX100 II and RX1R models.
Based on the same sleek, stylish design as the existing RX100 model, the new RX100 II features a new 1-inch back-illuminated CMOS sensor, enhanced system expandability and adds Wi-Fi® convenience with NFC One-Touch compatibility. With an identical camera body and design as the existing RX1 camera, the new special edition RX1R model has had its optical low pass filter removed for increased resolution and detail.
“Sony continues to redefine the levels of performance for a pocket-sized, fixed lens camera,” said Patrick Huang, director of the Cyber-shot business at Sony Electronics. “Now, with a total of four models in market in our Cyber-shot RX line – each with its own unique value proposition – consumers have more options than ever to experience the ultimate balance of size, imaging performance and imaging power.”
New Cyber-shot RX100 II Camera
Designed to increase sensitivity in low-light conditions and reduce overall picture noise, the new Exmor R sensor in the RX100 II camera is the world’s first 1.0-type back illuminated sensor. It is approximately 40% more sensitive in dimly lit situations compared to the existing RX100 model.
The powerful sensor is paired with an exceptional F1.8 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens to deliver exceptionally sharp, natural still images and Full HD video in any shooting condition – from bright daytime scenes to night-time landscapes and everything in between.
Additionally, the new RX100 II model is equipped with Wi-Fi capabilities and is also the first ever Sony camera to include NFC (Near Field Communication) technology, giving the extra convenience of instant, one-touch wireless transfer of content between compatible devices. Its Smart Remote Control functionality lets users preview images and control shutter release directly from their connected phones or tablets.
A Multi Interface Shoe on the RX100 II model allows users to add optional accessories including an electronic viewfinder, powerful external flash and clip-on LCD monitor. A Multi Terminal lets users add a shutter-release remote control.
The camera features a bright, detail-packed 3.0-type White Magic™ LCD display that tilts upwards (up to 84 degrees) and downwards (down to 45 degrees), giving shooters greater freedom to compose shots from overhead and low angles.
Additionally, the RX100 II model has expanded Full HD video capabilities with the addition of 24p shooting for cinematically styled movies. Other refinements include a step zoom function that lets users instantly choose any of five popular focal lengths for handy scene framing. Shooters can select 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 70mm or 100mm focal lengths using the camera’s control ring, giving them an intuitive and fast alternative to zooming in and out.
The new camera is also compatible with Sony’s TRILUMINOS Color technology, ensuring richer, more natural color reproduction when connected to the new BRAVIA televisions featuring TRILUMINOS Display.
New Special Edition Cyber-shot RX1R Camera
The new Cyber-shot RX1R full-frame compact camera is designed to satisfy even the most critical photographer’s desire for sharper, more detailed pictures and enhanced resolution. The model’s ‘R’ suffix denotes a further improvement in the pocket-sized camera’s already spectacular resolution.
In common with many digital cameras, the original Cyber-shot RX1 camera features a multi-segment optical low-pass filter (OLPF) in front of the sensor to suppress unwanted moiré and color artifacts. The enthusiast-oriented RX1R model removes this low-pass filter to realize the full resolution potential of the image sensor and bring new levels of realism to landscapes and other finely-detailed subjects.
Additionally, to take advantage of the OLPF removal, the camera’s processing functions have been optimized to maintain image sharpness without compromising lens/sensor performance.
While weight and dimensions remain the same as the ground-breaking DSC-RX1, the special edition RX1R is also now compatible with TRILUMINOS Color technology, allowing for the ultimate image playback experience on compatible BRAVIA televisions.
Pricing and Availability
The new Cyber-shot RX100 II and RX1R models will both be available next month for about $750 and $2800 respectively.
“In my recent trip to Spain I’ve tested the Sony RX-1, Spain is an amazing place for photography, there’s always something going on the streets.
The RX1 is a very interesting small size wide-angle fixed lens camera, actually the total opposite of a what a studio photographer uses, I’m so used to big heavy cameras and having a choice of a wide choice of lenses.
For me was very cool been able to carry a full frame camera everywhere, I was “loaded” all the time and working with only one lens only was fun and challenging, I was forced to work with a much wider angle and include more of the surroundings, actually the human form (what is my main subject in my beauty and fashion work) became secondary but not less important because you always need it to tell the story.
I was really impressed with how easy and fast I was able to shoot, “real” under/over exposure button next to your thumb and aperture ring that you can change your f/stop without going through 3-4 menus was very refreshing, battery life was pretty good, the only wish I had was a little more grip, I even purchased the thumb grip accessory which helps but it comes out of the body very often, you need to be careful otherwise you’ll loose it.
The 2.0 Zeiss lens is amazing I love the shallow depth of field and the macro mode come very handy too. The picture effects are great, many different looks – warm toy and high contrast black + white are my favorites, overall I really enjoyed the RX-1 the best portable camera I ever used and for sure will be always in my back-pack.”
USER REPORT: A Sony RX1 Review by Michael Osei-Ampadu
Actually I promised Steve this review for February already (it was 90% done by then) but I had some urgencies distracting me. Anyways – I had more to time to use the RX1 and some more to add.
I’ve always wanted a Leica for it’s compat-fullframeness so obviously the RX1 caught my attention when the first rumors hit the Net. I’ve been pondering a lot but now I’ve finally done it. Owner of the camera that Steve is praising so much, Ken Rockwell hates so much and ‘normal’ people shake their head about. It’s also the camera that Sony wouldn’t let me play with at photo plus NYC “non working prototype” and that hardline Leicaristi only smile at “haha, dude – not even close”…
I’ve actually decided before not to get it and stick with the X100 because the simple answer to the simple question “will it improve my photography” is “hell no”. Maybe that’s why I got it or maybe just because I sometimes feel that I’m victim of my logic brain and need to do something irrational.
I’ve been a Sony user (maybe fanboy – mostly because I think the Nikanon war is sooo stupid) and I’m glad that Kai Wong finally made a video about me. I use the a850 for my “serious” stuff and I’ve owned the NEX-5 and NEX-7 – and also the DSC-V3 back then…
I deeply believe in prime glass (therefore this wasn’t a hurdle) and (candid) street photography was my first love. Before getting the RX I used NEX’s (w/ Voigtlander M-Mount glass), the X100 and the Sigma DP2. Liked all of them, hated something (different) on all of them.
A lot of talk about me but that’s because I want to put my views into perspective.
2800 on the table – boom here we go. Stupid that the accessories are so effing ridiculously overpriced (does someone think he’s Leica…) and that the EVF was unavailable everywhere for the first 2-3 months. I got mine at as a bundle at Adorama with some extra swag and I finally got the EVF now a unique photo.
I don’t want to repeat what Steve et all said before (I’m afraid, I’will) but I think I have some points to add.
I used to shoot a lot candid street and whatever comes to in front of my lens when I walk around and that’s what I’m using the RX1 for. I also do portraits and fine art but that’s not my main use case for the RX1. I shot some street photography in San Francisco and Vegas and I also took the RX1 for a trip to Barcelona. I actually ended up using it for a actor portraiture assignment because I don’t have a 35 for my DSLR and wanted to shoot him in front of a graffiti in a narrow street…
After that I’m afraid that I cannot get a 35 for my DSLR anymore because the ZEISS LENS IS SOOO BRILLIANT.
My experience and feelings
I did use the X100 more… I got mine for 600 dollars and just took it everywhere and put it in my bag… pulled it out when I saw something. I hate myself for being like that but you just act different with a 600 dollar camera than you act with a 2800 dollar camera.
Other than that I’m pretty happy with the camera overall and could just repeat what Steve already said. I’m still blown away by the lens – also by the sensor but the lens is just great. Super crisp at f/2, beautiful bokeh and color. Great contrast.
As Steve also mentioned, the image quality get’s a bit weird in long distances. The lens has some distortion but Lightroom’s preset perfectly (YES PERFECTLY – way better than X100) kills that.
Focus by wire sucks but at least we’ve one of the better implementations here. I don’t get why so few people complain about this new focus by wire trend. Everyone who has ever manually focussed with a Leica glass knows what I’m talking about. It’s a different world…universe.
Build is top of the line. Fuji, you better hide – but it’s not Leica. Sorry. Maybe it’s the plastic lens barrel…
Alternatives for me?
I actually thought about selling the RX1 to free some money for a 2nd DSLR but I ended up not finding an alternative. After you’ve used the Zeiss lens you REALLY HAVE A HARD TIME going back to the X100(s) lens that is just too soft above f/4. In my opinion the only camera that is similar right now is the Fuji X100(s).
What NOT to like (Sony read this!)
1. Unclear Positioning:
Who pays 2800 for a camera? Serious folks and rich people with money to waste who think a expensive camera makes them a photographer (it actually makes them an expensive-camera-owner). Who is Sony’s target group? Obviously not the serious people… Otherwise I missed the reason for…
The menus are totally amateurish. Wish it had some more hardware buttons plus the A900 software. I understand that a lot of rich kids will buy this camera, make photos of themselves in the bathroom and then complain that it doesn’t have enough “filters” and no Facebook upload but they could’ve at least done a expert mode. This mode would remove all the things that the serious photographer never uses – such as smile-detection…*cough*… At the end of the day it’s still annoying but you get used to it and it doesn’t really affect your pictures.
But there are also things that are clearly missing. Auto-ISO gives you no control at all. You cannot set ISO and shutter limits which is – amateurish again. It always goes for 1/80 and never goes above 6400.
Sony: Force one of your product people to use a X100 or a serious DSLR and talk to a photographer…
1.2 Hardware Buttons
Again: Why is there a mode dial but no shutter speed dial?
I don’t get why Sony put it under the Cybershot brand. Ok – also the NEX and the whole SLT-Range has a lot of stupid stuff in their software but this one is a bit more stupid. Also the missing viewfinder – again…
2.0 View Finder:
Ok, this might sound weird: I got the EVF and I have mixed feelings. On one hand I highly recommend it because “Long-arm” shooting does not only look stupid but is also less “fixed” than pressing it against your head and costs you at least 2 stops. This makes the high-iso sort of irrelevant. Practically I get better low light results with the X100 than with the RX1 without the EVF. I can easily shoot 1/15 without blur – can’t with the RX1. Also there is the LCD vs. direct sun issue.
On the other hand: I never use it. You can’t really store the camera with the EVF attached so you remove it and attaching it again is so much fiddle that you end up not using it if you don’t absolutely need it. Not to mention that it’s overpriced and bulky.
BUT: The worst part is, it blocks the hot shoe. And that really really sucks. You’ve got a leaf shutter that syncs flash at every speed but you cannot use it because your viewfinder blocks the port and you don’t have a PC sync jack either.
I’ve made a little mockup how I’d have designed the external EVF if I was the Sony product manager (and someone would have forced me to make the EVF external).
3.0 Hot Shoe
Everybody kept blaming Sony for not using a “Standard HOT Shoe” for years… Well… there is no such thing. Of course there is the ISO hot shoe standard which is essentially just the dimensions plus the contact that shoots the flash. Everything else is proprietary and if you have Nikon you buy a Nikon flash and if you have a Canon you buy a 580 EX II because you want to use all the TTL and so on features. A $500 Nikon flash on a Canon (or Sony) can only fire (in manual mode).
So now Sony hot shoe is ISO? No it’s not! It’s sort of ISO but different. It’s slightly wider and has a extra contact panel in the front which blocks some “ISO standard” accessories to fully lock on. So it’s kind of a gamble. The Yongnuo flash won’t work, the Cowboystudio Wireless Triggers sometimes and I’ve heard mixed results for other stuff. The same issue exists with the new HVL-60 flash – most wireless triggers won’t fit and it does not have a PC sync jack. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pG_jywhbMeg) Congrats…
Also: Sometimes there is a weird delay in firing the flash. Some NEX-6 users reported the same issue.
Honestly: I prefer the old Minolta hot shoe. This was a clear thing: You need an adapter, you buy the adapter: Works.
I’d have preferred the NEX-7 design which give more grip when holding it in one hand – or two ;). I also liked the asymmetrical lens placement. Not to mention the integrated EVF. OUCH… again…
Black and White
The black and whites are incredibly beautiful. A lot of contrast and depth. Clearly wins over the X100 and is close to the Sigma DP2 (which is a different league because of the Foveon sensor)
It’s a nice camera and a brave move from Sony which I highly appreciate. It is the best compact at the moment and in terms of IQ in a league with all the top players (D4, D800, 1dx etc.). Period. There’s a lot to love about this camera. The lens and sensor are just amazing – it’s “vehicle” is also good but could use some improvement which sounds awkward because making the lens and the sensor should be the hard part.
Do you need it? No, but you might want it because you want to be irrational. If you’re on a budget I strongly recommend getting the X100(s). The main reason for me over the X100 is clearly the lens – not the FF sensor.
Why do I have it? I want a camera that I can carry around and that does not get me in a situation where I say later “That was THE shot and I want to use it for XY but can’t because the IQ is not good enough”.
Crazy Comparison – Leica M, Sony RX1 and Fuji X100s
You all asked for this so here you go. I have three sets of images here, all full size direct from RAW from each camera without any PP, just right from camera results. You can click any image for the full size file.
Here is how these were done. Same aperture on each camera, same focal length or equivalent in the case of the X100s. Processed from raw using Lightroom 4.4 and exported as a JPEG without any PP.
The Leica M was shot with the Leica 35 Summicron ASPH, a $10,000 combo.
The Sony RX1 was tested as it comes out of the box at $2799
The Fuji X100s is a $1299 camera.
Let us take a look a couple of files..
The Leica M – 35 Cron at f/4 – No PP at all – flat light mid day image – click for full size. I tried to match WB as close as I could.
The Sony RX1 at f/4 – No PP at all – take seconds after the M image above – click for full size
The Fuji X100s – f/4 – no PP – taken right after the RX1 image above – For $1299 this is the bang for the buck champion without question!
Let’s take a look at one more but this time with each lens at f/2, wide open.. I let the cameras color character come through here. Base ISO on each camera, no PP
The Leica M with the 35 cron at f/2 – click it for full size – base ISO of 200, f/2, AWB, in camera metering – from RAW
Sony RX1 at f/2 – click it for full size – Base ISO of 100, f/2, AWB, in camera metering – from RAW
Fuji X100s at f/2 – click it for full size – Base ISO – f/2, AWB, in camera metering – from RAW
and three more:
When wide open you can see the softness of the X100s lens and when viewing on a decent moniter you can see it is a bit more “flat” than the other two (this is what I am talking about when I say the X-Pro/X-E can look flat at times even though this was taken in flat lighting, it is flatter than the other two). When you take into consideration of the costs of these cameras the X100s is a winner but in the house shot above the X100s does have some funkiness going on in the details when viewed at 100% (leaves) but this is due to LR 4.4 not fully supporting the X100s yet. But remember the costs! $10,000 vs $2799 vs $1299! ALL cameras these days are highly capable.
But for the shoe shot, for me, the Leica wins easily as that 35 cron character shines through with some nice Bokeh and depth. The Leica look is real :) You who have been reading my site for a while know that I much prefer “character” to “perfection” which can be sterile at times. Looking a these shots side by side the warmth, 3 dimensional feel and smoothness comes through in the Leica shot. I showed these three to my son side by side without telling him what was what. His fave was from the M by a mile. My mom picked the Leica M as well and my niece picked the Sony. All thought the Fuji was dull compared to the other two.
The RX1 is a resolution monster as well and seems to beat the Leica M here for sharpness/detail but again, on a nice display it appears flatter than the Leica and lacking in any kind of character. It is colder and more sterile. Still, it appears the Zeiss lens beats the cron for sharpness, which may come as a surprise to some.
In the house shot I see the RX1 is the sharpest across the frame to the corners.
These have had no PP at all and appear a little dull out of the camera but that is how the files come out without any adjustments. When it comes to PP, the M and RX1 files hold up extremely well, better than the X100s files.
One thing that is not shown in these images is the fact that the M can take other lenses. A 24, 28, 50, 75, 90, etc. The other two are fixed 35mm cameras so they are less versatile than the M. If you are mainly a 35mm shooter, you have choices :)
A quick look at 4 cameras: The Leica M, ME, Sony RX1 and Fuji X100s (Video)
Just a quick look at these 4 camera side by side. More than anything just to see size differences and the EVF on the Leica M. In this video I take a look at the Fuji X100s, Sony RX1, Leica M and Leica ME (which is the M9). Enjoy!
I was in my office this morning and saw the dog on my office chair. It was very dim in the room so I figured I would test the RX1 in B&W JPEG mode at higher ISO to see if the camera focused correctly and to see how the noise would be with an OOC JPEG in B&W. These are untouched direct from camera JPEG’s and the camera was set to B&W. Focus was spot on and in the 2nd shot the camera chose ISO 6400 in Auto ISO to get to 1/80s. It was that dim in the room though you can not tell it from these photos. That is what a good lens will do..brighten up the scene which in turn, adds dimension and depth to the photo.
Take a look at the snaps below. You can click on the image for a larger 1800 pixel wide version (resized without sharpening) and BTW, Noise reduction was OFF in camera. The grain from the high ISO shots is not offensive at all in the images. The RX1 could easily make for a great B&W street shooter, even at high ISO.
ISO 5000. Click on the image for a larger size to see the detail, even at this ISO and the image being a JPEG. Below the image is the 100% crop.
Here is one at ISO 6400 and 1/80s. Focus was quick and locked on (use center point, not spot!) and again, the noise at ISO 6400 in this B&W JPEG is not bad at all!
Here we are again but for this one I had more light coming in so it was taken at ISO 1600. I think I will be shooting the RX1 in B&W JPEG mode for a while to see what comes of it. I am digging it for sure.
I always speak the truth of what comes from my experience with the cameras I use. The RX1 is a beauty and like I said in my full review, it just works and it always seems to give me beautiful results, even if the scene is nothing exciting. It inspires one to use it so once again I say THANK YOU to Sony for building this camera. I just have one request for the RX2..built in EVF and $1000 less expensive so more people can enjoy this jewel :)
UPDATE – For those who said the RX1 can not do high ISO with COLOR, there is one image below I snapped in color at ISO 5000. There are also quite a few in part 2 of my full review of the RX1 HERE.
ISO 5000 – OOC JPEG – Click image for larger with 100% crop
I have had numerous requests for this one but 1st off let me say HAPPY FRIDAY to all! Another week has flown by and as I sit here at my desk I am in a happy mood. Why? Well, the weather here in Phoenix is warming up and getting into the 70′s and the weekend is here! Time to relax, maybe go see a movie, and spend some quality time with loved ones.
But back to the cameras…
I have had a Fuji X-E1 on hand for a few weeks and have been shooting it with the SLR Magic 35 T 1.4 lens (which I like more than the Fuji 35) as well as the Fuji 35 1.4 lens. Of course, my own camera, the Sony RX1 has been with me as well for most of this time and over the past few days I decided to take a few shots side by side. Nothing super scientific. Just snaps like most of us use these cameras for. If I shot the X-E1 at f/2, ISO 200 then the RX1 would be set the same way.
I did notice that the X-E1 I have here tends to overexpose quite often. It exposes a scene much different from the Sony does and of course the color is different as well. There were times when I would shoot a scene with the Fuji only to look and see that it totally overexposed the scene so I would have to go in and manually take over to avoid that. Not sure if it was just this copy (which was a brand new in the box untouched loaner) or if they all tend to do that. The Sony on the other hand seemed to be either spot on or a teeny but under at times, but I would say the Sony RX1 metering is one of the best I have shot with. Seems to nail it every time.
Build wise, that goes to the Sony. It is a solid little brick of a camera as I have stated. It is small but solid. It feels very well made. The Fuji can feel a little hollow though it is also built just fine. The Sony almost feels like a mini Leica in build and quality of construction. The Fuji X-E1 feels much like the X-Pro 1 and X100.
Speed. This is the one most are curious about. The Fuji line has had a rep for slow focusing and operation. Just yesterday I downloaded the latest firmware for the 35 1.4 lens and the X-E1 I have already has the latest FW loaded. After downloading the fastest FW for the lens it did in fact seem faster. The fastest I have seen this lens shoot on an X body. So THAT is good. If you have the 35 1.4 lens make sure you download the latest firmware for it here as for me, it does seem snappier. (but my E-X1 combo here is having trouble with ACCURATE AF it seems)
The RX1 vs Fuji X-E1 in AF? Well, I have no issues with the RX1 AF at all. It just does not mis focus (for me) but I also do not use spot AF (which can lead to mis focus). I use center point AF and it always locks on and is correct. During my time with the RX1 to date I have had 1-2 mis focused shots out of a few thousand. THAT is impressive for a mirrorless camera. It is not as fast to AF as the Olympus OM-D but it is also not slow. It slows down in low light but I always still get a lock. Unfortunately I can not say the same for the X-E1. Just in the past two days it has mis-focused on me several times with a back focus on many occasions. But this has not happened since the firmware update on the lens though I admit I maybe shot 20 frames since the FW update.
All in all, the RX1 and X-E1 are neck and neck in AF speed in good light. In low light, and I just tested them side by side in my office with no lights on, they are actually just about the same with the edge going to the Sony. The Fuji has improved greatly from the early days of its super slowness and as of today, January 18th 2013 it is much speedier and snappier in low light. Even so, testing them side by side they are equal in AF speed in low light. Both locked in and locked on with the about same speed.
See the video below of these two cameras side by side as well as a low light AF speed test.
So if you watched the video above you would have seen that in dim lighting these are about neck and neck with AF speed now that the Fuji has upgraded the 35 1.4 lens firmware. Both locked on and were accurate.
So build goes to Sony, AF is a draw and, cost goes to Fuji and what about the IQ? Take a look at some comparison snapshots below:
You MUST click on the images to see them larger with the true 100% crop.
The 1st shot was in low light in my house. ISO 2500 on both cameras with each lens set to f/2. The Sony uses the built-in Zeiss 35 f/2 and the Fuji had the 35 1.4 Fuji lens attached.
1st up, the Sony RX1 shot
and now the Fuji X-E1 shot.
The 35 1.4 gives a 50mm equivalent so framing will not be exact. The Sony is giving a true 35mm FOV
For me, this one was no contest. The Sony file is richer and sharper. NR was turned off on both of these and both are converted from RAW using Lightroom. The Fuji softens up the files at higher ISO and the Sony keeps them detailed.
I shot this one 4 times and each time was the same result. The RX1 was sharper. This was at f/2 and ISO 500. The cameras were set on a table so there was no chance of motion blur.
1st the RX1
and now the Fuji X-E1 and 35 1.4 combo
Again, the RX1 is sharper and gives an overall “smoother” presentation.
Image #4 – FULL SIZE FILE
These are from RAW and full size so you must click them to see the full size files. The Fuji X-E1 back focused every time for me on this one (before new FW) so I presented it just as the camera gave it to me. Make sure you update the FW on that 35 1.4 as it did make a difference in AF!
Both are at f/2 and you can see the Sony is giving a more shallow DOF here with massive background blur
The Fuji at f/2
Image #5 – BOKEH
Both look good here. The sharpness looks great on both cameras in this one – Fuji focused correctly here :)
High ISO – 6400
Both of these were shot at ISO 6400 with both cameras – processed from RAW with no NR or editing. Click images for larger. I also placed the full size crops below each image so you can see them 100% without clicking.
1st the RX1 at 6400
and now the X-E1 at 6400
So while the RX1 is giving more noise it appears the X-E1 is smoothing the image somehow, even with NR turned off. The RX1 holds it detail which reminds me oh so much of the Leica M9 except the M9 can not do ISO 6400. Overall, with the RX1 you will get better build, astonishing built-in Zeiss lens, full frame sensor and DOF, better in camera metering and no muss no fuss operation. The RX1 leads in build, holding detail at high ISO, having a richer look and very deep files while editing. The Fuji gives us a lower cost for the body, a built-in EVF (which is good) and the camera and 35 1.4 set comes in at $1599 which is $1200 less than the Sony. If you count the Sony EVF the Fuji is just over $1600 less. I can say the EVF for the RX1 is also much nicer than the one in the X-E1 (which is the old NEX-7 EVF). The new Sony EVF is the best EVF on the market, hands down.
This comparison the Fuji did focus correctly, on the lens barrel of the Sony.
OOC JPEGS – Standard Color mode on both
Snapped a quick JPEG by request - both lenses f/2, both cameras at base ISO, both OOC JPEG without editing. Full image below is from the X-E1
The RX1 JPEGS are much sharper than the Fuji’s and have that more “robust” look to them as well. The Fuji focused correctly here.
AND ONE MORE JPEG – OOC FULL SIZE AT F/8
Click for full size OOC JPEG at 6000X4000 from the Sony RX1 – THIS again, is a JPEG. Very sharp.
Now the Fuji at F8 – click for full size OOC JPEG – Again, VERY sharp!
So at F/8, each camera can produce a sharp JPEG. That is a given, especially when lighting is used. In fact, if I were shooting in a studio, the X-E1 would be my pick over the RX1 due to the different lenses available. That is not even a question. If I were wanting ONE for street, it would be RX1 hands down. To me I get better IQ in low light, better color, more depth and a sharpness the Fuji lacks at high ISO. The Sony has that Zeiss pop in certain situations but at f/8, both cameras are plenty sharp.
More JPEG tests with Lighting
Zombie Part 2
My 1st test using the Zombie was invalid as the Fuji mis focused, so as promised I redid this test with the Fuji in Manual Focus mode. I still used AF on the Sony. Here are the results which show the Fuji doing much better than last time though the Sony still eeks ahead for detail. Again, these are JPEGS. Why? Because that is what you guys wanted due to issues with Fuji files and Adobe.
The RX1 seems to like to keep exposure on the UNDER side of the equation and the Fuji goes for OVER. I suggest when shooting the Fuji you dial in -1 on the compensation dial. Here is what to expect exposure wise from each camera. Both at F/2, ISO 6400, low light and OOC JPEG.
The RX1, ISO 6400, f/2 – Aperture Priority mode – This is how the RX1 exposed the scene. OOC JPEG.
The E-X1 – same settings on the camera – Aperture Priority mode f/2, ISO 6400 – This is how the camera exposed the scene
After shooting them both and handling them both and processing files from both, for me the winner is the Sony. I much prefer the feel, build and lens on the Sony RX1. I also enjoy almost limitless DR and amazing sharpness in my files. I love the shallow DOF and the “Zeiss Pop” from the RX1 and with the Gariz case on my personal camera it feels like a work of art. I also enjoy the EVF that swivels and the controls on both cameras are good, no complaints. Both feel like real cameras and both deliver results like real cameras. Both operate like real cameras and both have all the dials needed to enjoy the experience. Aperture dials on the lens, shutter speed dials, Exposure comp dials, etc.
The Fuji is also excellent. IMO, the best of the X bodies but still will occasionally miss with AF. If I were buying an X body it would be an X-E1 over the Pro 1 for sure but I will not buy one due to the sloppy AF performance (accuracy) with the 35 1.4 lens. The new X100s will have even more improvements so looking forward to testing that one as well. But with the X-E1 you have more options due to the available lenses such as the 14, 18, 35 and 60 as well as the new 18-55 Zoom. Either will get you where you want to go. The Sony for the extra $1100 will do it in a more slick and polished way with improvements to what you get with the Fuji in almost every area. Full frame is full frame and the Sony matches output from cameras like the D800, A99, etc. The Fuji is at the top of the APS-C heap. Take your pick.
As always thanks for reading and looking. In today’s world, it is tough to buy a digital camera that will not give you great results. The thing is to GET OUT THERE AND SHOOT and enjoy what you have. Learn with what you have. Bond with what you have and then results will come.
With that said, my Fuji X-E1 and SLR Magic 35 T1.4 Review will be up next week, and the SLR Magic lens rocked it.
I ordered the Sony RX1 in September 2012 from Amazon and expected delivery in December. Departure for India was set for the 15th and it seemed likely that the camera would not arrive in time and I would be “forced” to rely upon a NEX-7 and/or the Sigma DP1/2M cameras that I had recently acquired. Happily, the camera came on December 3rd giving me some time to use it before leaving and to become accustomed with its behavior in different situations.
The camera is weighty-feeling and very solid. It feels like a miniature M9. I was unable to obtain the EVF so used, in addition to the LCD, an optical viewfinder. I found after a few experiments that the Voightlander 28 mm finder gave the best match for the 35 mm lens field of view. I’m sure the Zeiss finder made specifically for the RX1 is nice but I think it somewhat over-priced. I fitted the lens with a 49 mm B+W clear filter and purchased a very inexpensive screw-in vented lens hood on Ebay for around $10. These two served to protect the front surface of the lens throughout 3 weeks of travel. The lens cap (solid metal) was never used at all. While a wrist strap would be quite comfortable with this device I prefer the 60 cm Lance loop-type strap which allows the camera to lie diagonally across my chest and rest on my left hip, making it quickly available yet at the same time unobtrusive and fairly safe from being snatched or damaged.
The ergonomics are pretty good. It never slipped or dropped and was never uncomfortable when shooting in any position. The EV adjustment dial lies at the top right of the body and is fairly firm. I did accidentally dislodge it two times in three weeks. The movie button lies laterally and below the EV dial. While not as bad as the NEX-7 I did inadvertently actuate the video mode once or twice as well. Otherwise, I didn’t use video so have little to say about it. This camera is really small, almost too small for my hands. The shutter is nearly silent but for shooting with an OVF, I used the focus confirmation sound (unavoidably linked to an imitation shutter noise.) This noise was not a problem on the street and generally did not draw any unwanted attention. You quickly start to know where the focus point in the OVF is although I experienced plenty of misses as well. I experienced focus misses with the NEX-7 and the RX1 is faster and more accurate. The lens is large but feels solid and substantial. The markings are engraved rather than painted on. The aperture control ring which encircles the lens is also very solid feeling but lies adjacent to the camera body. For me this makes it somewhat hard to adjust. There is a macro mode ring at the far end of the lens which allows close focus (~22 cm.) I never used this and would rather have the aperture ring in this position as with most Leica lenses, making it more accessible and more usable.
Battery life is acceptable for my type of shooting and generally I would get more than 250 exposures when fully charged. I always carry a spare but needed to use it only once or twice. The camera will shoot slightly more than two frames per second so one tends not to shoot many frames at a time. Rather one or two and then moving on. As has been mentioned numerous times, Sony requires that the battery be charged in the camera. I find this inconvenient and so purchased some spare generic batteries as well as an external charger. Several types are available and Steve just posted about a particularly nice one. Parenthetically, the non-Sony batteries worked perfectly well.
The only other feature of the camera I would describe is the fact the when using aperture-priority along with auto-iso, which I do much of the time, the camera always tends to a shutter speed of 1/80; rather than lowing the f/stop it will raise the iso and keep the shutter speed at 1/80. Given the pixel density and, perhaps, personal issues such as age, eyesight, balance and steadiness, I would like to be able to set a minimum shutter speed, perhaps 1/125, but the camera doesn’t allow this. Annoying. While you can use shutter priority instead, you get f/4 almost all the time. Again, pretty annoying. The only way around this is to go fully manual but I’m not too adept at it and I generally find it too slow for rapid street use.
All of the above being said, this is a wonderful camera: lovely in feeling, fast in focus (without the accessory lamp,) quiet in operation, smooth and threaded shutter release (as opposed to the halting Leica,) wonderful high iso performance (out to iso 6400 if not beyond,) great malleable files fully supported by Lightroom (unlike the Sigmas,) and ultimately, very small, compact, unobtrusive and with a huge sensor. As has been said elsewhere, you can set the camera to aperture priority, the auto-iso from 100 to 6400 and go out and shoot anything and everything without any problem.
Travel to India was a goal for me for a number of years. I have experienced tourist travel in western Europe, Argentina, Japan, Hong Kong and China and of course the US as I’m a native New Yorker. I assumed the experience would be challenging but rewarding. In this I underestimated India. It was extremely challenging and rewarding but also revelatory, invigorating, infuriating, spiritually awakening, amazing and wonderful. There is a sense of life and vitality in India that I’ve not felt elsewhere. And this in a place with tremendous poverty, social and legal problems (witness the recent rape/murder,) and dramatic disparities in education, economics and social equality. One sees women in saris using primitive hand tools while working on construction projects. One can walk down a street in Udaipur and see a gleaming, black Audi A6 next to a cart carrying the freshest produce pulled by two water buffaloes and guided by a partially toothless old man looking straight out of the 14th century. Driving is a nerve-wracking, chaotic dance of continuous darting in and out, weaving around animal-powered carts, vehicles traveling the wrong direction (even on the few significant highways,) truly horrible roads and passing and endlessly tooting one’s horn. Frequently I was told that driving in India requires a good horn, good brakes and good luck. It also requires nerves of steel, white knuckles and continuous vigilance.
Mumbai is the city in India that evokes the most usual sense of urban life in me. It has a population of about 21 million and at any given time more than 57% live on the street and are, strictly speaking, homeless. This does not mean that a large percentage of the homeless don’t work and to support them, as well as all the other Mumbai denizens, are vast systems of services such as outdoor laundries, lunch box delivery services and all manner of unbelievably inexpensive goods and services. A vegetarian Indian “burger” sold on the street that costs 5 cents and is wildly popular; shoe shines in the railroad station (that of “Slumdog Millionaire”) for 2.5 cents; street-level haircuts, shaves and dental extractions! India has to be the most entrepreneurial nation on earth. Everybody is selling everything and something. Everything has some value and is recycled and sold by someone who can earn a living from it one rupee at a time. All this, also, from a people who quite generally are curious and friendly with foreign travelers. There is often a sense of over all gentleness that Indians project but, of course, all generalizations such as this are easy to prove false in at least some regard.
Chaos, dirt, clutter, litter and crowd anxiety can be a deterrent to many contemplating travel to India. Also, fear of contagion, e.g., Delhi-belly, dengue fever, malaria or worse. I experienced no illness or inconvenient health problem while there for three weeks of travel from the north of the country to the southern tip although admittedly I was careful in my habits, never ate street food (as India has the world’s highest rate of toxigenic E. Coli enteritis,) avoided raw vegetables and fruit everywhere but in the best hotels and drank only carbonated water, beer, sodas or wine. If you can overcome some of these common anxieties then India offers an unequaled travel, photographic and personal experience and I would encourage all who are intrigued to take the plunge.
The photos that accompany this article were all taken with the RX1 rig described above. I hope they convey some of the emotions and raw beauty of the people and the country.