The Sony RX1 Digital Camera Review Part 1: An intro to a full frame compact POWERHOUSE

The Sony RX1 Digital Camera Review Part 1: 1st Thoughts, 1st Samples, Auto Focus, and JPEG’s

Welcome to Part 1 of my Sony RX1 Real World Review. This will be the “Meat & Potatoes” of the review with the next installment (part 2) touching on performance aspects as well as the pros and cons of real world use.  By the end of the final part in this review you will have all of the info you need as well as loads of samples from JPEG, RAW, crops, ISO tests, crop mode shots, full size samples as well as my thoughts on durability, lack of an EVF, cost, accesory reviews and much more. 

But any way you look at it this camera is special. It is REVOLUTIONARY instead of EVOLUTIONARY. I will go over it’s amazing abilities as well as areas where it fails. So hold on, sit back and enjoy part 1 which is going to cover the main aspects of the Sony RX1 with some JPEG samples and my thoughts on what Sony did right and did wrong with the design. Enjoy. Part 2 will be up in 1-2 weeks with full size RAW samples and more high ISO across  the entire range from 50-25,600 and EVF/OVF thoughts and images.

PART 2 of the review is HERE

 The whole shebang..the RX1 means business. 

What is the Sony RX1?

It’s a natural-light image-taking motivating and surprisingly sweet MONSTER! Seriously though, for those that do not know what the Sony RX1 is, well, it is the 1st of its kind and no, Canon or Nikon did not pull it off, Sony did. To make a long story short it is a full frame 35mm sensor compact camera with a stellar FIXED 35mm Zeiss lens attached. This has its pros and cons but I like to find the pros for a fixed lens camera and with the RX1 there are loads of them. This camera has a pro build, pro feel and the performance is astonishing. About as good as it gets in 35mm.

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I will say this right now. Personally, I’d take an RX1 over a Nikon D4 ANY DAY OF THE WEEK  (due to size and weight). Regardless of cost. Yea, the image quality is THAT good and the size..well the RX1 can fit in my coat pocket. I had a D4 here for a month and between the size and weight and large lenses I was let down. The RX1 is giving me better results and images than I got with the D4 only because the RX1 would go with me EVERYWHERE. I mean..EVERYWHERE. Please notice the key word in my statement “I’d” – as in ME. I would take an RX1 over a D4. I do not need an elaborate flash system, super wide angle lenses, 400mm telephoto lenses or the things a DSLR brings to the table. This is not what the Sony RX1 is all about. Instead, it is about portability and super high image quality that has almost no compromise when it comes to that image quality. Throw it in your coat pocket, small bag or purse and GO.

This is a camera that no one else has dared make, probably to avoid hurting their DSLR sales. Sony who grew some big balls with the NEX-7 just grew them bigger with the RX-1.


Waiting for a Home – Sony RX1 – f/2 – *from RAW* – click for larger

Sony’s own words on the RX1:

 “Settling for nothing less than the best possible image quality, Sony aligned the bright 35mm Carl Zeiss lens and 35mm full frame image sensor with a precision beyond anything possible in interchangeable lens cameras. The performance of the lens, sensor and imaging engine were also fine tuned to perfectly complement each other to acheieve image quality never seen before in a compact user friendly camera”.

What would a part 1 review be without the basic Specs of the RX1?

Full Frame 24MP CMOS Sensor – and it is one hell of a sensor!

JPEG, 14-bit RAW Image Capture – Nice.

35mm f/2.0 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* Lens – Carl Zeiss. Nuff said.

Xtra Fine 3″ LCD Display – Can see it in bright light as well.

Full HD 1080p Video at 24 or 60fps

High Speed AF – AF is fast but not blazing

Dedicated Focus, Iris and Macro Rings – Love this feature

Full Frame 24MP Bursts at up to 5fps

Hot Shoe for External Flash, Viewfinder

Auto HDR Protects Highlight and Shadow

So while this all looks amazing on paper what is missing is the built in EVF..but more on that in a bit…

The Sony RX-1  – JPEG – ISO 640 – f/2

Intro: My 1st thoughts on the full production RX1

When Sony slipped me the information that they were releasing a full frame compact fixed lens camera with a Carl Zeiss 35 f/2 lens and they claimed it would have a sensor that would be any 35mm format camera on the market my very 1st thoughts were…disappointment. Like many of you I was secretly hoping for the full frame NEX camera knowing full well that if they did this they would need a whole new lens mount and lenses. The current NEX E mount lenses are NOT full frame lenses. They work much like the Nikon DX lenses do for the APS-C Nikon camera bodies, so yea, they would have needed all new lenses made for a full frame imaging sensor.

I was also disappointed in the fact that this new groundbreaking full frame compact camera did NOT have a built in EVF of any kind. But as of today, after trying out the camera for a solid week a few weeks ago and now having a full on production sample in my hands for a while I have changed my thoughts a little bit. No longer am I upset that they did not release the rumored full frame NEX system camera. In fact, I am pleased that they didn’t do this. It would have been a big fat mess with lack of lenses just like we all went through with the 1st year and a half of the standard E mount lenses. There would have also been a question of lens quality. If there were a full frame NEX the lenses would have probably been in the $500 range and very good but not having a true “WOW” factor.

Some would complain of lens softness, slow AF speed, soft corners, etc. The camera would have been bigger and  thicker than a NEX-7 and it would have taken away what the whole NEX system is about. Size.

So instead of going that route Sony decided to do what no other camera company has even come close to doing. That was to create the all new RX1 which is a compact, solidly built fixed lens full frame digital camera. So why is the RX1 so special and SO expensive? Coming in at $2799 for the camera without any accessories is sort of a bold move on Sony’s part..but then again, I think they knew what they had in this little guy that is hard for many of us to understand. Recently Sony released the amazing RX100, which I dubbed the best compact camera EVER. That little pocket rocket was a quite astonishing little teeny thing that pumped out superb image quality. You can read my review of that one HERE.

When they emailed me last week saying “we are sending you a production and final RX1 for review” I was jumping for joy as this is a camera I was waiting for and had high hopes for. I was excited about reviewing this one just because I know what it is all about and it also MOTIVATES. Yea, it is one of those. A motivator. Much like Leica…the RX1 can motivate you to go out and shoot and even try things you would not normally try just due to the no compromise design and performance.

My 1st thoughts when I opened the packaged RX1 was “Ahhhh..there she is..and she feels better than before..more solid“. The camera instantly excited and motivated me..much more so than the NEX5R and 6 that were laying besides it mainly because like I said, the RX1 is revolutionary while the NEX series is now all about “evolution”  – more of the same with improvements here and there.

The RX1 has the gorgeous full frame sensor which means no more compromising on Depth Of Field. No more having to spend $7000 on a Leica to achieve these results. No more having to lug a huge DSLR and lenses around to get the creaminess of a Zeiss 35mm f/2. We now have a choice and while we are limited to a 35 f/2 with the RX1, it is quite the versatile machine. My very 1st impressions out of the box were VERY positive but still, not having a built in EVF was bugging me a little. I mean, if it were included, even if it meant making the camera a little larger…it would have been a super grand slam hit. Without the built in EVF it is still a bonafide home run, and with the IQ that comes from this little magic box I can almost forgive the EVF issue, especially since Sony has a pretty damn amazing one available to add on to the camera (though at an extra cost).

The Sony RX-1  – JPEG – ISO 6400 in VERY low light

The RX1 Build…yea, it’s impressive. 

When I tried this camera for the week in California at the big Sony shindig I was thrilled with the cameras performance. After getting a full production model I am beyond thrilled. Sony has improved the feel somehow and I cant figure out what it is that they did. It feels even more solid and tank like though not heavy. It makes any Fuji X feel like a toy in comparison in the build department. For example, the Fuji X-Pro 1 is large and hollow feeling. The RX1 feels like it is machined from a brick of metal with pieces carved out for the controls. In other words, the build is about as good as you can get in a camera like this. It feels on par with Leica in the build department which is good because it seems Sony was on a mission with this camera. That mission? To deliver what the enthusiasts have been wanting and waiting for (well, almost)…a full frame no compromise image quality monster that also is made to withstand some daily abuse . Even the lens cap has a metal heft to it with screws in the back of it!

In fact, I will put out a spoiler here right now..and it is a bold statement. Remember, I get to use every camera that is made if I desire. I have had all of the big guns in this house..Nikon D4, D800, Leica M9, Leica Monochrom, etc. You name it I have tried it. Even if you do not see reviews for some cameras on this site that does not mean I have not tried them. So what I am about to say is bold but here it goes…I have never had a 35mm format camera in my hands that...wait..why I am saying this now? No, I will wait 🙂 Back on track….

Sony may have left out a couple of things that I really wish were here but after using this camera more and more I realize how special it is and even if it does not have a built in EVF, I have never gotten results like this so easily with any other camera…ever.

RX1 – JPEG – f/2

It’s all about results and creating YOUR vision

Speaking of getting good results with ease. This comes when you do not have to fight a camera to get the results you envision in your head. Much like when you buy a new guitar..some cheap guitars play like garbage..and you have to fight the damn thing to get it to do what you want it to do. Premium guitars play with much more ease and can actually make you sound and play better. The Sony RX1 is sort of like this. It seems that no matter what light situation I was in, no matter what aperture I shot at, no matter what I snapped…it pumped out results I envisioned in my head. In other words, it was expressing what I wanted it to. For example, that Butterfly shot above? Exactly what I envisioned before taking the shot. The RX1 spit it out and said “Is that all you got”? Harsh light, low light, flat light..the dynamic range of this sensor continually pumped out pleasing to the eye results.

I could not do a shot like the butterfly shot above with my Leica because it doesn’t focus as close. I could not get this shot with my Olympus OM-D because I did not have the right lens with me. The D-Lux 6 would have never rendered this scene with this kind of look. A Fuji X-Pro 1 would have been fighting with me to actually focus on what I wanted and by the time it finished the Butterfly would have been gone.

With the RX1, the mix of high Dynamic Range, Crazy Detail and Beautiful Bokeh make this shot. This is one of those cases where the camera DID help the photographer. I snapped many shots of this with the Olympus OM-D and 60 Macro and even my Leica Monochrom with a 50 but none looked like the one from the RX1 which has a mix of beauty, magic and something special that makes for a “WOW” image.

I can say the same for the “EYES” shot at the top of the page. The ability for this camera to focus as close as .2 meters makes it very useful. You can shoot close for some cool effects. Add this with the insane detail and sharpness of the sensor and you have a recipe for some magic. Keep in mind that EVERY single image in this part 1 review besides the very 1st one of the dog was shot as a JPEG which will lead me to this statement that I stand by 100%: I have never had a 35mm format camera in my hands that delivered such beautiful out of camera results. In other words, in my opinionThe Sony RX1 is the best JPEG camera I have ever shot with. Period.

Sony RX1 – f/2

Sony RX1 JPEG output – The best JPEG camera EVER? 

I have to say that I have never seen JPEG output from a camera that is so rich, so sharp and so nice. At this point I have not even looked at any RAW files yet because the only software that supports it is from Sony, and the software sucks. I have downloaded it though and will be processing RAW files for part 2 of the review and I expect the RAW files to blow me away. With JPEGs this good the RAW files have to be phenomenal. So back to the JPEGS I am raving about…they are very hardy files themselves and I would not hesitate to shoot JPEG every day for my family shots and casual snaps. Let us take a look at a JPEG file from the RX1 and the possibilities. For this example I am using an image I shot in “High Contrast B&W Mode”. This will give you an idea of the sharpness, ISO capability, and Dynamic Range of an RX1 file, even with in camera processing applied to make this a deep black contrasty shot. It will also give you an idea of what to expect from this in camera filter.

CLICK images for larger…The out of camera JPEG – contrasty, deep blacks..just as the mode implies. ISO 1600

with some highlight recovery

and a crop from this ISO 1600 JPEG

NOTE: The camera, even inside this very low light restaurant never failed to focus but did hunt a few times. It still locked and gave me sharp results from an OOC JPEG using an in camera B&W filter and has enough DR to pull out plenty of detail. I could have went farther but pulling out too much will cause an HDR effect, which I am not a fan of.  In part 2 I will do this with a standard RAW file to see what we get but I am VERY impressed with the out of camera JPEG files. 

The RX1 Auto Focus – PASS or FAIL?

Happily, the Auto Focus speed has also been improved since I last used the RX1. Gone is the constant lens shifting and moving which Sony told me before was intentional to speed up AF. It was a concern of mine then because I felt it could drain the battery. The good news is that this is gone and the lens is still and silent and no longer shifts and moves trying to focus even when you are not using it. It seems Sony tweaked the firmware and the camera now focuses even faster than it did during that trial week with the camera. If I had to guess I would say it is on par with the NEX-6, NEX-5R and almost OM-D. Once the light gets low though the AF does indeed hunt. But I am talking low light…no contrast light. But have no fear there either..the manual focus implementation is good. Very good. It easily beats the Fuji X line with manual focus. I only use center point focus and that is how I shoot ALL cameras. I do not think that the Sony would be a good camera for tracking fast action but for 90% of photography it seems to work well.

This camera would make a GREAT street camera, even using manual focus. You can set your distance (roughly) on the LCD and fire away. Setting the ISO high, black and white..could be interesting. 

ISO 8000

ISO 25,600

The lens on the camera has the aperture dial and a focus dial. The Aperture dial is nice and firm and the clicks come in with Authority and they stay locked in. It feels like a high quality lens should feel. The focus ring is also smooth and buttery. If you have focus assist turned on in the camera then you will get an exploded view of your scene for easy manual focus and this is when you can use focus peaking as well if you desire.

Video showing the size of the RX1 with a quick AF speed sample

FOCUS PEAKING..yes it is here but only when using manual focus assistance (magnification)

For some reason you can only use Focus Peaking when you use Manual Focus Assist. Not sure why this is but if you turn on focus peaking and set the front dial to MF (Manual Focus) the camera will not “PEAK”. You also have to turn on the manual focus assist for this to work which means you will have an expanded exploded view when using manual focus. This also works and ensures you nail the focus. I have tested it and found it to work just fine but wish that Sony would have added peaking in the normal framing view as well.

So Auto Focus Speed? Very Good but could be faster in super low light. Manual Focus? Easy and implemented nicely – smooth focus ring.

One other thing I noticed is that shooting the RX1 has not given me any false positives..meaning when the camera has locked, it is really in focus. I used to have issues with the NEX-7 in particular where it would say it is in focus but it really was not. So far the hit rate with the RX1 is 100% in regards to accuracy. I will report if that changes as I use the camera more and more.

RX1 – JPEG – f/2

The 35mm f/2 Zeiss – THIS one has that Zeiss Character, and I love it!

When Sony released the Zeiss 24 1.8 for the NEX system I applauded this choice because it gives a 35mm equivalent with a quality lens and aperture. BUT when I shot with it I did not get that “Zeiss” feeling like I do when I shoot Zeiss ZM lenses on my Leica M. The RX1 Zeiss 35 f/2 DOES give me that Zeiss pop and color I expect from a great Zeiss lens. I was thrilled when I saw the color, the details and the 3D pop from the lens and sensor combo. It seems the colors coming out of the RX1 are very Zeiss like instead of very Sony like. This is a good thing.

The lens protrudes a bit from the body but what many may not know is that the lens is actually almost all the way INSIDE of the RX1 body as well. This is one more thing that makes the camera special and give such amazing performance. The Sensor is matched to the Lens perfectly and therefore will give amazing results every single time. No guessing if the lens is soft, has soft corners or has issues. The RX1 gets it right every time, every snap every press of that shutter button. You never have to worry which lens to bring or if that lens will give you what you need.

QUICK LENS TIP: When you get the RX1 be sure to go into the settings and turn ON the Lens Distortion Correction. For some odd reason it is shipped with it set to off and with it set to off you will get some barrel distortion. Turn it on and all out of camera JPEGS will be corrected. 

When shooting one camera/one lens you grow as a photographer. You learn to see in that focal length and it is a good thing. Also, do not let anyone tell you that a 35mm focal length is no good for portraits or people because it certainly can be. Maybe not head shots but full length works out just fine.

The Zeiss 35 f/2, just going by the JPEGs for now, is incredibly sharp but at the same time very creamy and smooth. It is NEVER harsh of rough and the bokeh, in my opinion, is about as good as it can be from a lens like this. I have NO COMPLAINTS at all from the lens.

If I had to say something negative about it then I could say..well, it makes  the camera larger, but then again, this camera is TINY when you think about what it can do! It’s the same size as a OM-D, slight larger than a Leica D-Lux 6 yet it has one of the best full frame, if not the best full frame sensor currently made. So the lens is actually not large at all. Also, as stated in my “lens tip” above, this lens does have some distortion so it is VITAL that if shooting JPEG that you turn on the Distortion Correction in the menu. If you do not (and for some reason the default is OFF, which is crazy) then you will get some barrel distortion that is noticeable. All of the images posted here were shot with it ON.

Bottom line? This is a great lens for this camera and Sony knew what they were doing when they matched it up. I have no doubt that doing this (matched built in lens to the body/sensor) is what makes the IQ so good. Yes, the image quality is superb and the build of the lens is solid with the aperture clicks and focus feel and the image quality is ALL ZEISS. Color, POP, Detail and Feel.

Usability Factor. Can the RX1 deliver in this oh so important area? 

This is huge because as good as a camera is in delivering the IQ it doesn’t mean squat if it is a pain to use. I spoke earlier about not having to fight with a camera to get great results. Some cameras do just that…they fight with you. They have slow twitchy focus, rattly lenses or they mis focus when the camera tells you it has locked. These cameras usually feel like prototypes and I have come across quite a few cameras like this in the last 10 years. The Sony RX1, so far, seems pretty polished. From it’s build and speed to it’s usability. If it had a built in EVF it would be better and more joyful to use for sure. As it is, I found the external EVF to be pretty fantastic. It makes the camera larger and taller but it is an exceptional quality electronic viewfinder. The user interface and menus are also easy to use and once your camera is set up you can have direct access one button press to any feature you like. Aperture is controlled on the lens and shutter speed is controlled by a dial on the back. Any button on the camera can be customized to perform whatever task you like so for this reason I can say the camera, once set up to your liking, will be a joy to use.

The LCD on the back is huge, crisp and clear. It also is viewable in daylight so it is not like you can not see what you are doing. Yes you can frame your shot though you will look like an amateur with a sexy point and shoot. Again, an EVF built in would have been amazing and I know many who are skipping this camera just because of this missing feature. It is a shame because the RX1 is one hell of a camera and without a doubt would have had many more buyers with a built in EVF. BUT, even how it is right now, without a built in EVF…for ME:

it is my #1 pick for camera of the year 2012. Yes, my #1 pick for Camera of the Year for 2012.

The RX1 is easy to use. It is quick and delivers stunning photographs. It is a camera that will not fight you and it will deliver results better than you expect. It will allow you to be creative and deliver on what you envision. Would it be better with the built in EVF? YES YES YES but for me it is not a deal breaker without one because the external ROCKS and works well. This is a world’s 1st to have a full frame 35mm sensor in such a compact body but it is more than that really..the camera as a whole was made to deliver a no compromise experience. The sensor and lens combo are perfectly matched.

“Weekend Rider” – RX1 – JPEG – f/5.6 – 1/160s

By request: The Sony RX1 vs Leica Monochrom and 35 Summilux FLE

Many have asked me to do a shootout between the Leica Monochrom and Sony RX1. It is not really a “Crazy” comparison but actually a very valid one. Full frame vs Full frame. How can the Sony RX1 do with an OOC B&W vs the Leica MM which is specially made to do just that? Again, these are JPEG files (RAW’s will be coming in a future installment). The Sony comes in at 24 Megapixels with the latest sensor tech. The Monochrom is 18 Megapixels using the same sensor as the M9 with the color filters removed. I can already state one thing, that at F/2 on each camera the Mono/LUX combo is sharper out of the camera as long as you nail focus.

Take a look at the quick comparison shot below:

Click image for larger and full 100% crop. The 1st shot is the $2799 RX1 at f/2. Straight from camera JPEG with crop embedded. 

Below is the $13,000 combo from Leica, again, direct from camera JPEG. 

So there ya go. Can the RX1 compete with the $13,000 combo from Leica? Sure, but you do lose out on the whole rangefinder experience while doing so and still, in this JPEG test the Leica is indeed sharper. With an over $10,000 difference between the two setups one has to ask themselves if they are really that much into the Leica experience. Some of you are indeed, and what can I say..I own the Monochrom as well and love it to pieces and I feel a rangefinder is just my kind of camera to shoot with. But being honest 100%, the RX1 is a giant killer..literally. It can compete and win against camera like the Nikon D800, Canon 5DIII, and even Sony’s A99 at a lower cost and without the need to worry about lens expense and choice, lens problems, focus issues, etc. It’s simplicity is its biggest plus. It just works.



Just as it says above. Many enthusiasts love to see what a lens can do in regards to Bokeh..well, the 35 Zeiss on this Sony is pretty nice IMO. Below are a few samples at f/2 to show Bokeh qualities. Again, click them for larger views. What I see is a molten creamy melting dreamy Zeiss signature all the way. Be sure to click the images for larger!!


The CROP Mode..what is it and what can it do for you?

The Sony RX1 has a unique feature. Since the lens is a fixed (but gorgeous) 35mm f/2 many are saying “if it only had a 50”! Well, Sony has sort of made an odd but cool feature that will allow you to crop to 50mm or 75mm in camera. With a press of the “C” button on top (which is totally programmable to whatever you want it to be) I can go from 35mm view to 50mm view to 75mm view. Now, there are some major drawbacks to using this mode. 1st of all, you can only use this feature when in JPEG only mode and 2nd, you lose resolution and image size. The full frame 35mm file size is 6000X4000. In 50mm crop the image size is 3936X2624 and in 75mm crop the size is 2640X1760.

Sony also had the RX1 apply some trickery to the files in the crop mode so you do not lose IQ or sharpness. To get an idea of what each mode looks like from the same position you can see the three images below, all of which were shot at ISO 1600 indoor. Basically it is like taking the image and cropping it but the RX1 can do this in camera with the press of a button.


Wrapping up Part 1 and what is to come in Part 2 – HIGH ISO TEST, RAW CONVERSIONS, FULL SIZE SAMPLES, HD VIDEO, ACCESSORIES, FLASH and more!

So I will wrap this up because it is getting a little long for a part one review!  Almost 5600 words and I still have to talk about high ISO, full size samples, RAW, HD video, lack of EVF and if it hurts the usability at all,  accessories such as the EVF and OVF (which I have on the way) and all of the other good stuff like pros and cons, etc! So I hope you enjoyed part 1 and my thoughts on the camera from my limited use. There will be MUCH more to come on the RX1 and part two should be posted in 1-2 weeks. It is an exiting camera and so far so good.

UPDATE: New street shots in high ISO B&W – all OOC JPEG

So just some of what will be in PART 2:

Using the camera with and without AN EVF

Full ISO samples – low (50) to high (25,600)


HD Video Quality and Samples

RAW Files and Detail, Lens Sharpness, etc

Pros and Cons

Bottom Line Conclusion

The Sony RX1 EVF, available for order separately at Amazon

WHERE TO BUY the RX1 and Accessories

Those who pre-ordered the RX1 should be getting them in the next 2 weeks or so. If you have not yet pre-ordered I am guessing Sony will have many of them at launch but it is indeed selling very well so you never know.

You can pre-order/order the RX1 at Amazon HERE or B&H Photo HERE if this is something that floats your boat.

You can now pre-order the Electronic ViewFinder at Amazon HERE. The Optical Viewfinder is HERE.


The RX1 magic lies in the fact that it is small, solid, hassle free and creates images that you expect it to. No muss no fuss. No messing or 2nd guessing with lenses, No worries and results you can count on. Add in that special Zeiss magic and the RX1 gives images that will soon be known having as “That RX1 Look”.

Thanks to all for reading! PART 2 of the review is HERE



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  1. my last camera was a Canon Sure Shot Z135 . Could I use a SonyRXI pretty easy? How do you zoom with it? Don’t laugh, I can learn.

  2. I wish I had the funds to purchase this beauty. Everything I have always wanted in a camera.
    Alas, single parent with 2 children… I am lucky if I get new underwear and socks.

  3. 79 Years old. 55 Years experience in photography. Used Olympus, Nikon, Canon, Hasselblad, and other Cameras. Owner of 5DIII 5 lenses, LX7, Love the RX1 best out of the lot.

  4. Steve, quick one for you: RX1 or X-pro1 and 35mm 1.4? That’s my dilemma right now and I would really appraciate your help. Thanks!

  5. To all you “I wish it had a 1.4 lens so I could make a narrower DOF”:

    Please do me a favour: go out at shoot with only 1.4 for a month or two. Yeah, it looks great, but sooner or later you’ll hopefully realize that all you are doing, is creating “bokeh” and not really images 😉

  6. Just a suggestion but I think the comments that are newest should be at the top, not a mile down the page since it makes the article look dated. Besides that IMHO to me while the SONY is a seemingly nice camera, shouldn’t the autofocus be fast and near perfect – given the money? Shouldn’t it have an included evf? I mean it seems like a ton of money for a camera with only one perspective and one lens, to me the ability to reframe via a zoom or at least with another lens is valuable. You can’t zoom with your feet in many instances, and in others such a thing just makes you more intrusive. I have no clue how it is for others, but I can tell you at 6’4″+ close up stealth is like having a yetti shoot the picture while he is in a class of frightened kindergarten students, the only natural “look” that remains on the subject’s face may be one of terror. Hence I think that the photographer needs to consider his or her effect on the subject. While I don’t envy small females, sometimes I wish there was a non-yetti size configuration to use. Maybe I should do a whole street shoot of how the yetti gets the stink eye, it is easy to do since the camera will record the moment with great alacrity.

  7. RX1 FIRST IMPRESSIONS: I received my RX1 yesterday. First impressions are important. For quick comparison, last year I used Leica X1 (great camera); after selling X1 I bought RX100 (still have it). Upon opening RX1 box, I was absolutely struck by how MASSIVE the RX1 is. It’s a small camera, but all the pics of it in the world won’t prepare you for how massive it is. The body is smaller than the X1, but much heavier. RX1 looks and feels like the RX100 on STEROIDS, and I DO mean STEROIDS! It’s built like a tank. Quality all the way. I’ve read quite a few reviews and comments on the web regarding X1, but for all the whiners about the cost, I say this: RX1 is underpriced. I don’t care about the cheap box and lack of EVF (I purchased one) or costly lens hood or cheap manual. I want EVERY CENT of the cost to go into the camera itself, that beautiful body and beautiful lens. My biggest problem now is to figure out how to carry it. I have a beautiful Leica leather wrist strap. Would I want to carry it all day on my wrist? Some kind of shoulder strap? I don’t know…working on it. Well, those are my first impressions. I’m absolutely amazed by this camera, even before taking any pics. No images of it on the web prepared me for what it really feels like and looks like when seen in person. Seems like a poor man’s Leica…

  8. Hi Steve

    Thanks for all the hard (and awesome) work put into your blog. Its really great!

    I have a question. I currently have the Leica X2 which I absolutely love and will never get rid of (coming from the X1). But. There is always a but. Lol. I want some more speed and DOF/Bokeh. I love the 35mm focal length and like shooting people in all sorts of light. I am in between the new X100S and RX1.

    Question: Am I right in assuming that the X100S although caryying the F2.0 badge will be the same ‘crop factor’ as its sensor so where 24=35 then F2.0=F2.8-ish? So in real terms the X100S will be 35mm at F2.8 while the RX1 will be 35mm at F2.0?

    And how important is this really for 35mm DOF/Bokeh? I mean the X100S has some really nice improvements most notably it gets the x-trans, will have phase/contrast AF hybrid, and just looks super sexy.

    Apologies for the noob questions, its something I have been thinking about a lot in making the choice, thank you for taking the time to answer, cheers, Jason

  9. Wish I hadn’t stumbled upon your site and review, as a long time Contax user, who is now pretty much confined to a wheelchair.I now have to find a way to get into the city from the burbs and unload the last of my 35 mm equipment and buy an rx1 and finally tackle digital photography, and oh yeah $$$$. .any way thanks and off to b&h at some point,

  10. excellent post! it’s well written and provided great insight on the camera and it’s functionality. i can feel your excitement about the camera in the post and i am now tempted to look into getting one now…

  11. Just picked up my RX1. All I can say is that Steve is right to rave about this camera.
    This is my camera history, which shows my age…
    Kodak Instamatic / Canon FTb / Olympus XA / Olympus OM1 / Nikon F3 / Linhof Super Technika III 4 x 5 + 127mm f4.7 Press-Xenar / Nikon D100 / Nikon D200
    The RX1 combines all of the advantages of the above cameras from print size to portability. It’s not perfect but it is darn close. My main concern, lack of VF, is turning out to be an advantage as a street / pocket camera; very discrete.
    Gripes: weak baterry and having to wear reading glasses to look at the screen…
    I don’t regret having had to sell most of the above to get this jewel.

  12. Hello Steve! Since you have used the RX1 for some time, how does the body hold up against scratches and paint chipping? I remember reading your review on the RX100 and you mentioned there that the body was prone to minor paint chipping and scratches. I have an RX100 and I can say indeed it gets scratched easily.

  13. Steve, in Part 2 I hope you will comment on the RX1’s contrast auto focus system. I have trouble with my Fuji X100’s contrast auto focus in low ambient light situations. The X100 hunts too much and I lose shots. I was wondering if the same thing happens with the RX1. If so, would it have been better for Sony to incorporate phase detection instead of contrast detection? Recently, when I shot with a D800, the phase detection auto focus worked great in ambient light situations. No hunting. Just lock and shoot. I hope that the RX1 excels with low ambient light auto focus.

  14. “I have never experienced the problem” is definitely an anecdotal evidence. Objectivity? Well, good luck trying to locate proper, scientific, non “anecdotal” materials from Sony or another manufacturer. “Rejecting the reality and substituting it with my own” appears to be common.
    BTW, it is commonly accepted what distinctively different terms “optics” and “cameras” mean, it is not how *I* want to “call it”.

    • Sorry, my entry was referring to the topic “145” above. And my apologies to Steve for long winding entries, I will stop hijacking this thread, and keep quiet now 🙂
      cheers, Derek,

      • Try to start from understanding the difference between “optics” and “cameras”, Will, understanding of other things will follow…

  15. DUST EXISTS. And it always eventually will find its way in. The RX1 is not a “sealed camera” (very few cameras are). Protecting against dust getting inside is one issue, but you must be able to clean it, which, once you gain access to the sensor, is very simple process. Note that in all old film cameras one could access the film chamber by design, when replacing the film, and if necessary blow out dust. Obviously not so in digital cameras, the sensor is not removable, and if the lens is permanently fixed, you have a problem.
    Sorry, Steve, while your review is very informative, saying that there is no way dust can get inside is plain silly… it sounds like a child rejecting reality to defend its new toy. OK, so maybe inf your environment you never had this problem – but it does not follow that it does not exist. I experienced it, and so did many other photographers. Google it. I always advocated USER REMOVABLE lens, even if (like in the RX1) a camera is released with one lens only. Removable – not necessary to quickly replace a lens with another one, but to gain access to the sensor for cleaning. With all respect to Sony, this would be a very, very simple to design. Accept it, dust exists, and without means to clean the sensor the design is seriously crippled.

      • Optics? I am talking about dust getting inside a camera body, not inside the lenses, which is a separate topic. Not experiencing something yourself is not really relevant to accept that something does happen. It depends very much on conditions you use your camera in (ever used Leica M series in Iraq?). People often assume that cameras with non exchangeable lenses are somewhat “sealed”, or that dust gets inside a camera body only when you remove a lens, or that post processing can remove the problem with no loss of your time or the photo quality – those views are completely incorrect.
        I do not want to hijack this place with a long proofs and arguing about “can dust get inside a camera if I am a good fellow who would not kill a fly”? Yes, it can. If someone is curious, there are zillions of “proofs” around, the best way is to visit one of many forums and search for this topic, or Google it.

        • Optics, cameras, whatever you want to call it, I have never experienced the problem. None of my fixed lens cameras have a dust problem. I tried Google and there is really just random complaints about random issues that have nothing to do with your claim. And your anecdotal “evidence” is not an argument either.

  16. Sony RX1 Next Generation I’m getting the impression Sony has really made a giant leap to compete agianst Fuji and dare I say Leica (or as close to picture quality vs actual Leica build and Leica glass) I’m happy that the full frame and Zeiss combo works well but I’m hoping Panasonic Leica four thirds system can be the next leap and go full frame and compete agianst the above mentioned brands. I’m assuming this because of the leica poor mans version and love the option of MF lens and adapter combinations.
    So here’s hoping all the pana-leica 4/3 users out there share my dream. Can’t afford Leica M9 or MM but who’s to say whats down the line. I’m thinking of going to the Next Level but prefer options of other lens LV Video HD or close to HD in a D light version easier handeling but imagersults on ‘par’ with pro D cameras. Any fans out there willing to share their low cost alternatives.

  17. I would love to splash the cash and invest in the RX1 but Sony’s reputations as a mass consumer goods company doesn’t bode well with me. I mean with the NEX line and even the RX100 i have read of situations where the cameras stop working for one reason or another. I don’t want to spend this amount of money knowing that a year later it doesn’t work and that beautiful lens goes down the drain with the camera. I wish that i could be rest assured that if i plunk down the cash and get the RX1 i would be able to use it for many many years but god knows how long it would last. That’s my BIGGEST CONCERN really !!! Leicas last for years n years but how long would the RX1 go for?

    • Interesting because Leicas have lots of problems. Japanese companies have a much better track record for reliability. I have Japanese cameras that have lasted years and decades.

      • Well i just meant with life cycles of products these days especially digital cameras. Right now the only thing holding me back is that. If the rx1 goes it takes that beautiful lens with it. I have read NEXs had issues with the camera dying or just stop working. I would really hate to see that happen to the RX1 !!!

  18. Thanks to your site, I finally made up my mind and ordered the RX1 and an extra battery trough your B&H link. Also place an order directly to Sony store for the lens hood and the LCD protector. I sold my Nikon D700 the third one I had since their appearance, great camera. Currently I own the Lumix GX1, Lumix LX5, Olympus OM-D and the waterproof TG1. I am a free lance correspondent so the Sony RX1 will be extremely light and portable, specially when I most travel by motorcycle. I live in Colombia where roads access are not very good. Thanks again.

  19. Yes, I would like to buy a viewfinder for RX1 and please describe the two in your next review. If you have to choose one, how will yoi choose? Thank you

      • Have you been able to use the optical viewfinder as well? Just wondering if it’s any good at all. I’ve never been one for EVFs but the OVF seems kinda pricey for what you get.

        • Just read another comment that answered my question. That fact that you can’t see focus is a huge deal breaker there.

        • The OVF is a no go for me because you can not see anything but the framing. You have no idea what the camera is even focusing on. It is huge, bright and beautiful but I am about usability and the EVF excels in this area.

  20. Please explain the difference between the two types of viewfinder: electronic and optical. Or send me a link for this specific info.

    I would like the “big picture” differences in how these two function and advantages and disadvantages of each.

    Thanks very much Steve for your excellent review of the RX1.


  21. Enjoyed reading part 1. Thanks for the time you invest in this (although you do get to play with cool toys). 2 questions if I may. Is or will there be a diopter lens available for the EVF, and how would you rate the IQ compared to the xpro1 in very low light ( 1 to 10 scale IQ). I have an xpro1 and I’m in the market for a new camera that I can use for night street photography and prefer to leave the bulk of a DSLR behind.

  22. I thought I’d just say that I really enjoyed the images. If a camera can inspire and/or facilitate those images there is merit to it. Whether it’s the right camera for you is another issue.

  23. Because of Steve, I bought my first digital camera, the Leica X1. Because of Steve, I sold it and bought my second digital camera, the Fuji X100. Because of Steve, I will be selling my X100 and I will be getting the So..n…y….R… well, maybe not.

    Not in a long time has Steve waxed so poetic about a camera and I believe him. The RX1 must be some kind of wonder camera. I just can’t stop thinking about how I just hated having the external viewfinder on top of my Leica X1. I just couldn’t possibly sell my Fuji X100 and go back to that again with the RX1.

  24. I’m actually really curious about something… Is it possible to plug the OVF, and switch off the LCD? In order to make it work more like an XP1 for instance where most of the stuff are on only when you press the shutter… This makes the battery last longer and the experience of shooting and “chimping” a bit different IMO.

  25. Hi Steve! Great review – I can’t wait for the second part.

    I’m walking around with a Nex5n these days with an older minolta 50mm 1.2 or 85mm 1.4 most days. I love the 5n because (in my limited experience), its ability to handle low light.

    I’m so very tempted to get the rx1 and want to get your thoughts on (oh jeez this is going to sound so amateur) a full frame rx1 35mm f2 will do compared to an aps-c nex5n with a 1.2/1/4 sensor and how it will handle low light?

    • Well, shot with the NEX-6 and 35 1.8 side by side with the RX1 last night. RX1 killed it for high ISO and focusing speed was also a bit faster and more accurate. I am in love with the RX1, so far it has done no wrong.

  26. Yo Steve. Can we have a serious discussion after you recover from your orgasm? LOL.
    So, you reaaaaalllly love the RX1. Got it. But I have to call you out on the claim that it is better than the Leica. You know damn well that ain’t gonna fly. For one, it will affect your friendship with Seal. And second, you still want Leica to send you the new M with a noctilux to test, right?….

    You can write anything you want as long as Leica stays at the top.

    In all seriousness, the RX1 looks like a winner.

    • I said the files are better than what I get out of an M9, and this is true. I only speak the truth no matter what the outcome. The M9 is an amazing camera, always will be. But the RX1 beats it in DR, high ISO, Resolution, etc. You do not get the “Leica” look but the “Zeiss Look”, so whichever floats your boat. The RX1 is cheaper, smaller, built just as well and with a superior sensor. Thats the facts. You will not get the Leica RF experience though, and that is why many of us shoot RF’s. It has a way of motivating you (the Leica) but so does this RX1. I’ve now shot it is every situation (the final production camera) and it has never failed me. No mis focus, no shut downs, no freeze ups, no over or under exposure…Sony nailed this one. Their best camera release ever. Period. Once everyone starts getting them in their hands we will see loads more of what it can do. 🙂

  27. Steve,

    Great and very passionate review. You should get a cut of Sony’s sale out of this review!

    In any case, two questions:

    1. If the LCD screen is as good as you say it is, why would you need a viewfinder, EVF or OVF? The nice thing about using the LCD screen is that you can simultaneously monitor the surrounding environment while composing the picture. A viewfinder will necessarily limit that.

    2. Can we turn on the barrel distortion correction in RAW mode? You mentioned that barrel distortion seems to work only in JPEG. Just want to confirm this.


    • Thanks for reading! Glad you enjoyed it. You can turn on the barrel correction but it does not apply it to RAW files. Once RAW support is available for Lightroom/Photoshop then it should correct it automatically.

  28. Hi Steve, great review and info on the RX1. Question – is there any advantage or recommendation in using either the EVF or OVF for the RX1? Thanks, Vernon

  29. hi steve, any word on a grip for the camera from sony? i’d actually like a little bit more size on the camer myself and a nice grip would be perfect. just curious.


  30. I can absolutely understand your enthusiasm for this camera! Thanks for review part 1!
    Just two issues:
    1) I find it very reasonable that it doesn’t have a built in EVF, so you can choose between EVF and OVF and it keeps the camera small. Of course a built in HYBRID VF would be nice ;-D
    2) The Monochrom/Lux-combo is by no means sharper! You have to resize the RX1 file so it has the same 18MP resolution, then you will see that they are they same sharp!

  31. Hi Steve. Thanks for the motivating review. I am anxiously awaiting my pre-order. One the best parts of any review the tips, tricks and settings. With today’s minimal manuals and guides I hope you can share more learning with us. In return I will gladly use the links you provide. Keep up the good work.

  32. Your review has sparked a lot of interest, for good reason. I am sniffing the bait. I have a question. One thing I noticed is that the colors in the midday outdoor shots in your review seem off. To me the red and whites have a lot of punch but skin tones seem to lack yellow. Are you seeing the same thing? More to the point, I am really spoiled by the color, detail and autofocus of my Canon 5DIII and 24-70 f2.8 II combination but it is relatively large and heavy and I would love to find a smaller camera with the same or close IQ. Leica M9 is a close second and has outstanding detail but the Canon has better skin tones and its excellent autofocus makes it possible to get 10 or more really good shots of people for every keeper I can get with the Leica (and close ups just don’t work with the Leica unless the person is holding still). I recently purchased a Sony RX100 and love the size and convenience but skin tones seem washed out. Any thoughts or suggestions?

    • I wouldnt judge camera colors by JPEG. These images were shot with a few different “styles” – some vivid, some natural, some standard, a couple “autumn”, etc. In part 2 I will post ONLY RAW files/conversions. So I wouldn’t base color on these JPEGS as they are all using in camera color processing from different color styles.

  33. Excellent review so far, good enough to have me put one on order…I had hands on in Tokyo but no picture taking allowed and I wasn’t sure that it was a final edition as I found the focus only other wish would be for Richard Franiec’s grip such as the one I put on my RX100……as you mentioned…maybe change the “eye photo” in the article header ..a little umm well just change it!

  34. Hi Steve
    Great review. Can’t wait for part 2.

    Quick question
    Macro mode: what is the closest distant?
    Macro and crop mode together?


      • The Japanese catalog lists magnification at minimum focus distance as 0.15x and at the macro range as 0.26x.

        BTW Steve, did you know that a few Japanese web sites quote your site and review conclusions? It seems you have been a good source for the Japanese as well.

  35. With all due respect, lots of people talking here about something they haven’t seen haven’t touched, except images and words. Is this a religious site? Just kidding…

    • Did you not know I started my own church? Hahahah. No…not religious. But this is how people find out about products before they can touch them or use them. I have quite a but of time with this camera and it’s really really good. Is it perfect? No, but it gives results..and does so with ease. BTW, most purchases for many things today are done blind. I do it myself. Not everyone can try out everything before buying because some areas will never even have an RX1 within 200 miles. Review sites like this one just give one impression of the camera and it helps many who can never see or touch or use the product without buying it.

      • Steve, you’re too nice to spend your time answering me. Even if I always keep a critical eye on everything I read or hear, even if it’s myself saying it, I have to say I enjoy your pretty much, and I see its value. I’m still reluctant about going fully digital, keep my M3 and Hassy 503 greasy, although I fell long ago for a Ricoh Grd2, kind of secretly, reluctantly I’d say. So, thanks for your reply, and keep your church up, excuse me, your good work up. Greetings from Spain.

  36. hello Steve,
    i will got through your review and all the comments later on.. here a simple statement from an artitistic pov:

    !!!!!!!!!!the pics are the best you ever realized, totally authentic, dynamic, human, aesthetic etc… !!!!

    it really seems that the kind of gear one uses changes his output! (thats what i experienced when comparing writing with a pencil or on the pc..)

    • !!!!!!!!!!the pics are the best you ever realized, totally authentic, dynamic, human, aesthetic etc… !!!!

      Well, there have been a lot of comments about the functionality of the RX1 and, of course, I too have voiced concerns. But what about the photos? I agree with the above comment. Steve’s photos are just incredible looking. I’m not sure if they are the best Steve has ever realized but they are right up there. Truly special indeed.

  37. This little camera intrigued me from the start. I loved my Fuji X100, but the AF was the great limitation.

    So when I saw this camera announced, I was quite keen to see what it would turn out to look like and feel like …. and what results one would be able to get from it.

    I’m in that constant search for the perfect walk-about camera, and I’ve found it now in the Sony RX-100 … and somehow the RX1 seems like it would be the perfect *serious* counterpart to the RX100, with an amazing optic. It certainly looks like a sexy little camera.

    I suspect the RX1 is going to sell very well because it appeals to certain photographers who’d appreciate its good looks, compact size and fantastic image quality. (Steve, thank you for sharing your experience and images here!)

  38. another great article! your enthusiasm was enough for me to order the RX1. am thoroughly enjoying the e-m5 system, but thought the quality of the full frame and compactness (and high iso) would make a wonderful compliment to the oly.

  39. “I could not get this shot with my Olympus OM-D because I did not have the right lens with me”
    Really? Is this the reason that you cannot get that shot with OM-D 🙂
    Thanks for preview.

  40. Hi Steve,

    I love your website and the RX-1 review!
    Does the RX-1 have “real” auto ISO where one can set min shutter speed 1/250 sec (or faster) with max ISO?
    How large is the buffer when shooting 5 fps in JPEG and RAW mode?


  41. Hi Steve, Sweden here ..
    The battery seems to be a bit small for this large sensor. How long did the battery last. If I buy the camera, should I buy 1, 2 or 3 extra batteries?
    Thank you!

  42. Steve,

    Beautiful review. Does these beauty allow video capture with the ability to shoot a stills without interrupting movie recording? In AVCHD & MP4 format? Thks.



    • Not that I can find. Tried it, searched the menu and see nothing of it. Sony did not send me a manual with the camera yet so can not verify if this is even possible but does not appear to be.

  43. Hi Steve

    Another great review. What a camera, I think it is just about everything I want from a camera, small, well made, fantastic fast 35mm lens shame price is probably (working on that one) too expensive for me to justify, I can just hear my wife saying “How much!!!!”

    Looking forward to the in-depth review in due course.

    By the way how close to swapping your M9 for the RX1 are you?



  44. I think this little Sony fit well with most of today’s enthousiasts photographers needs.

    – Small and light
    – FullFrame
    – Bright and wide normal lens
    – Great IQ
    – Great Isos
    – Reasonable price considering what you get for the money

    Would I buy it ? No because I don’t have faith enough into these kind of full electronical cameras anymore.
    I had a Sony Nex5 and a Fuji X100. Two cameras which were “state of the art in their own kind and category” and they both broke after few thousands of pictures by electronical failure.

    I am for all of those amazing cameras out there today, but when you spend hundreds or thousands of dollars into a camera You hope you could get more reliablity than just few month of Life overall.

    At this price point I would be much more confident buying a second hand M9 with a 500$ check and a warranty + a full mechanical lens + rangefinder instead of a camera which fails so easily.

        • > … and a M8. …

          Wait until the LCD fails. And wail thereafter:

          Someone close to me had that problem – as of last autumn, there were no more spares at Leica DE, and with the LCD manufacturer out of business, the failure seems to be rendering the M8 useless…

          Good luck with yours…!



  45. Steve, great review! Love to “hear’ your passion and enthusiasm in your writing. I read through the comments and didn’t see my question answered, so I’ll go ahead an ask it now. Would you mind checking your manual and figuring out what speed SD card the RX1 is capable of supporting? There are so many great sales on memory cards right now and Sony hasn’t published the RX1 manual on their site yet. Hopefully, it won’t take more than a minute or two to figure out. Thanks in advance for your help!

  46. Thanks for the review Steve, I understand your enthusiasm for what you can get out of the rx1.

    Is there any way we can persuade sony to implement peaking in non magnified live view? Maybe with a firmware update, seems weird to only have peaking with magnified viewing.

    • I have heard conflicting information about it getting fixed. One person in Japan asked, and received an email that purportedly says that it is currently as designed. I went to a Sony event at B&H and the rep called an engineer who told him it was imminently about to be fixed. I find both versions hard to believe.

      • I was at the B&H event in NYC. When everybody else left, I was left with one of the reps and asked him this very question. He went into the menu system and proceeded to shut off the assist feature (zoom) and peaking worked wonderfully. He said he hated assist with peaking as well. For the record, I THINK that the model he was using (they had 4 of them I believe) was also a pre-production model which was also capable of continuous focusing.. The final production models have that feature removed unfortunately.


        • Peaking tied to magnification has to be a regression bug that crept in, as it wasn’t this way for pre-production cameras. My guess is the code problem snuck in or is related to the change of the front focus mode button from four position to three position. It should be an easy fix for Sony to do. Trivially easy. Those are the best kinds of bugs to fix.

          Here’s a question for Steve which may shed light on the problem – when focus peaking is enabled in video mode, does it also force magnification on? If so, that’s an even worse bug – how can you use magnified view when shooting real time video?

          Either way, if folks like Steve get the feedback to Sony, this one issue should be a slam-dunk easy fix for Sony to put out.

  47. Love the the review, and big thanks for it.
    I’ve owned a Sony sacd1 since erly 2000.
    Twelve years yet to be replaced by the sacd2.
    Nor need be.
    Personally love every compromise.
    Thank you vermuch.

  48. Sony will be killing Leica with the RX1. Well, unless you find it really important to walk around with a camera with the famed Leica logo, that is. I recently bought the Leica X2 (yes, I love the Leica logo 🙂 ) and also use the Sigma DP2 Merrill (amazing!) and the results are really great, but… not as good as what Steve showed us here. I was actually skeptical at first. It’s Sony, cyber-shot (terrible name), expensive. But now I know Sony has done something revolutionary. The big question is: Will you keep your Leica camera(s), Steve? I don’t think you’ll need them anymore with the RX1. I will save and save and save until I have the cash to get one. Thanks for Part 1 of your review.

    • Interesting point Ron. I was going to purchase a second hand M9 before this camera was announced. Was very close and had taken some sample files with the camera and a 50 lux for $7500. I decided to wait and see how this camera goes as was a more affordable way into the FF.

      I am going to buy the RX1.

      Those that love their RF camera and experience won’t be changing too quickly. And fair play to them. Great camera and lens choice.

      Those that were thinking of entering the small mirror-less FF (was only Leica as an option), this will certainly take some sales from Leica.

      Those that have an M9 and not using enough or thinking of selling better do it soon with the new M coming out as well having this option.

      I have witnessed (in Australia) an M9P, brand new on eBay (buyer decided to go with M9) sell for $5100…thats $2000 less than RRP (it got 4 bids). I have also see M9 and 35mm Cron not get a bid, and other Leica’s not moving. There are not a lot of these around so you’d think they’d be snapped up.

      I know this is a very small sample but certainly starting to see a trend. The new M will playing a bigger part in this I suspect.

      Those that love the CCD sensor….they’ll hold on with the trusty M9.

      • It’s not about the M9, it’s about the lenses. Leica M is very costly (in terms of cash out), true, but but not expensive as a system (in terms of vaue lost). There is not one single m-lens I own, which I couldn’t sell today at a (significantly) higher price than what I paid. The appreciation in value of my lenses is much higher than the depreciation of the M8 I had and M9 I currently own.
        Try selling a USD 3700 (incl VF) RX1 in 5 or 10 years time, no matter its decent lens.

        • true….but you value those more than others and sounds like you are passionate Leica user…which is great. I was talking more generally in the decision making process.

          • I’m a critical M user. If Sony is coming out with a FF NEX or Fuji with a X FF with good performance with m-lenses, focus peaking and priced below USD 3000 I see no reason to pay USD 7000 for a Leica body anymore. The way Sony is pushing boundaries recently with the RX100 and RX1 I hope to see a FF NEX in 2013?

  49. Sorry Steve… Just seeing those B & Ws and colors, IMHO I just can’t see any viable justification for Leica Monochrom or M9, beside emotionals 😉

  50. Steve , how’s the RX1 shutter sounds compare to the RX100 silent shutter ?
    If you could indicate the shutter sound level, that would be great.


  51. I like this camera, but surely one can make smaller fixed full frame lenses. I am thinking similar to a Leica Minilux or Contax T2. Sure, they are film, but the frame coverage is the same and only half a stop worse in light. Am I missing something?

    • Yes. (As in yes, you are missing something)

      Film handles, with ease, the sharp angles of light coming off the back of a close lens element.

      A digital sensor does not handle oblique light hitting it, with ease.

      Add to this the need for faster shutter speeds (Contax T2 only 1/500th vs 1/4000th RX1) ; fast (enough) autofocus; macro / close focusing – and lens assemblies grow bigger and wider.

      The alternative answer: Lens makers are making them bigger not because they can’t defy the laws of physics and sensor properties but because they know the lenses irk us and that’s their private mission – to irk one and all.

      • If the issue is the angle light hits the flat sensor plane, have sensor manufacturers experimented with attempting to make curved sensors?

        • Sony has. Don’t expect those any time soon. Not only would they be a manufacturing nightmare, but they require radically different lens designs.

  52. Steve, I wonder if you could comment on how well weather sealed the camera appears to be. I know that it is not rated as a “weather-sealed” camera, but would you be reluctant to use it in a dusty environment (i.e. backpacking in Arizona) or if it was drizzling out?

  53. Hi Steve. Thanks for this initial review.

    I have a question about how to change the ISO setting on the RX1. Can you change it directly using the rear control (btw, is that another wheel, or just a 4-way controller?) or do you have to press a button before changing the setting? It would be awesome if the 3 exposure controls were available directly just by turning the wheels (or the lens ring in case of aperture).

    • You can set the ISO setting to any button you want on the back or top. I have it set to one of the back buttons. Everything is customizable to however you want it. You can assign a number of functions to any button. AF/MF, ISO, Creative Style, Size, etc

      • So you press one of those buttons and then turn a wheel to change de ISO value? Is it the same wheel used for shutter speed or can you use the other one?


  54. Steve,

    While most people are complaining about the “limitations” of this camera. I honestly believe that this is perfection for my situation. I am working on a shared budget with my wife and shared usage of the cameras. I had a 7d that my wife rarely picked up and would never use because it was too big and bulky. I downgraded to the smaller/lighter T3i and still doesn’t use that much. This is the PERFECT camera for both of us. She can use it like she would a point and shoot and get fantastic photos and I can try and push it to what I think it is capable of. It will travel extremely well and we are both happy. There isn’t another camera like it and IMO it is a bit pricey but the amount of use it will get by both of us will make that point moot. I am thrilled about getting it as family present for the holidays. Thanks for the review!

  55. BTW, about the sharpness comparison, looking at your Black and white images from both camera, it seems the focus point of the RX1 is more toward the tip of the leaves, while the focus of the monochrome is a little further back. Not a completely fair comparison.

  56. Steve. Thanks for the review, can’t wait for the part II 🙂

    I have a question to ask. Hope you (or anyone) are able to advice. I am an apsc user all these time, from Sony A100 to A700 to Nex7 currently. I have not yet consider a FF camera because of its size + cost. And I shoot for fun, travel etc and not for job. But I do enjoy good quality photos than anything else.

    The RX1 really makes me thinking to jump into FF. I find myself to be a prime lens user cause I prefer the quality of the prime.. so having a fix lens doesnt bother me that much, as long as the photos are great!

    My original plan was to get NEX 7 + 24mmF1.8ZA (future purchase). To be honest I still couldn’t figure out, in what way a FF sensor camera better than an aps-c sensor camera. Is it because the depth of field produce by the FFsensor will be shallower than those coming from an apsc sensor (even though the apsc camera may have lower F number) or some other factors like character of the lens?

    When looking at a photo, can one really able to tell if the photo is taken with FF or Cropped sensor? The reason I ask this is because I don’t know if there will be any significant differences between photo taken with:

    Nex7 + 24mmF1.8ZA & RX1 + 35mm F2

    Both will have similar focal length.. but I assuming the F2 in RX1 will have much shallow depth of field/nicer bokeh compare to F2 in Nex7. Please correct me if I am wrong. I’ll like to know if there is any other factors which makes the image taken with FF camera more superior. If possible, I will really like to see a side by side photos comparing between the 2 combos above. My request may sounds stupid to some, but forgive me as I am not familiar with FF.



    • The 24 1.8 will give you a 24 field of view but cropped to 35mm. You will get 24mm depth of field as well as it is a 24mm lens. So your FOV will be different and your depth of field. The sensor in the RX1 will also give you better dynamic range (and by quite a bit) as well as much improved high ISO performance. There is more sensor for those 24MP so the pixels can be fatter, which is always a good thing.

      So the RX1 and 35 will give you better DR, noise control, the DOF of a 35mm lens and better IQ (imo). Also better build.

  57. ONLY issue i have with Sony is that they will release RX2 or similar FF in next year or so with all the missing features such as builtin EVF, WIFI, tilt screen etc…then what am I going to do with my RX1 (remember I spent $3200).. Same thing happened with NEX 7 (in just one year they released better NEX 6), A77…..this is not the case with Leica, Nikon, Canon DSLRs or even olympus…

      • Jay, it’s the price of being an early adopter. I paid $1700 for an XPro1 and then less than a year later Fuji released a XE1 with identical image quality…and no OVF (which I don’t use anyway due to innacurate framelines).

        Bottom line is it’s the price to pay being an early adopter. It doesn’t mean that the manufacturers shouldn’t constantly put out newer/better (and sometimes cheaper) products. I for one hope that Sony DO come out with a newer/better version of the RX1 in the next few years.

        I’m betting on an interchangeable lens version of the RX1….Sony may be stealing a page from the Fuji book. (X100>XPro1 )

    • Jay – that’s the funniest complaint about any maker I’ve ever seen!

      And inaccurate too. Nikon’s D series has been one long serious of continual improvements. All makers, all models, do this – some a little more often, some a little less often. Do you not buy Nikon because one day the D700 will begat the D800 which will begat one day the D900? Oh the horrors! Better products down the road!

      The inhumanity of it all.

      Tip: You don’t have to buy every single product evolution.

      Observation: Sony is breaking some rules and are innovating a lot, and that means iterative design will spit out new and improved products. Don’t complain about this, applaud innovation.

      Guess: Sony might release a RX2 with a built in EVF, or they may stick to their guns, but I think they designed the RX1 as a keeper, one that like a D800 doesn’t need to be revised with a new product in 2013. Or maybe not even in 2014.

      This camera will still be going toe to toe with new cameras next year and the year after, easily.

      • I have to say that what he says kind of makes sense and it is your answers to him which are a bit funny 😀

        Do you really think Sony is just “improving” its products ?
        Common… While this RX1 will be ready to buy…they’ve already prepared what the RX2 will be. Simply because we call that a Marketing strategy.

        What is funny is that everyone is waiting for “THE” perfect product. It will never come because then what else will you buy ?

        When a product is designed…, by Sony or other Brands, it is always designed with small flaws which have to be adressed in the next model (while this new model include new other small flaws also) to make sure you feel the need to switch to the later product. That’s how things have been working for ages didn’t you know ?

        Think a minute. Do you really think a company like Sony is producing a type of camera without knowing what they will make next ? It doesn’t make any sense that a marketing plan of a company like Sony is based on a 6 month life span camera only 🙂

        As a conclusion…I do think camera do not “improve” their products. They just follow their cash machine plan 🙂

        • Sony is certainly guilty when it comes to the NEX series. The NEX5 was introduced in mid 2010, the 5N in mid 2011, and the 5R in mid 2012. In the same period of time, Nikon went from the D3100 to the D3200.

          In all fairness, though, both Sony and Nikon left features off their low-end cameras for no other reason than to make the high-end cameras worth more. Do we really suppose that exposure bracketing would have added too much to the cost of the D3100? (Or that the 5N lens correction software was too expensive for the C3?)

          Every company that makes consumer electronics has a strategy to get people to upgrade as often as possible. Remember that the first iPad was released in April 2010, about the same time as the NEX5.

        • Gui, perhaps you should re-read my response to Jay again – my whole point is that EVERY maker does this, not just including Nikon and Canon which he specifically cited in his original post but especially those makers.

          Sony produced a high end no-holds-barred camera but made some design decisions because they valued size as an important camera attribute. They did not scrimp on important aspects of a camera like sensor performance or fast leaf shutter speed.

          If they bring out a RX2 with an integrated viewfinder how does that make the RX1 with the external EVF any less valid or useful as a product? It doesn’t, but Jay implies that it does, and it’s that sort of sillyness I refer to in my response to Jay.

          I do understand the examples Dave put forward like the NEX-5, 5N, D3100 – D3200. Or how about the D600 which as a lower top end shutter speed than the D8000. Some products are intentionally crippled.

          But look at the RX1. Show me where this camera is crippled. Please. Deciding to not include a viewfinder is a design and marketing decision for sure but it doesn’t make the camera any less “high end”. Should a RX2 come out with an integrated viewfinder it’ll cost about the same and will still be exactly as capable as the RX1 with the external EVF. That’s quite a different story than shipping a lower end model with crippled or no AE bracketing.

          In my opinion a camera like the RX1 is far more upgrade proof than most compacts we’ve seen to date. Leaving off an EVF doesn’t change that one bit, since I can, and have, ordered the EVF.

        • Back in the late 50s, the term “planned obsolescence” was coined, referring to cars, which suddenly changed styles almost yearly and didn’t hold up as well as they used to. That culture made American cars vulnerable to German and then Japanese competition. Today, styling aside, “planned obsolescence” is gone from American cars for the same reason that Sony is not able to play that game. Sony is way behind Canon and Nikon in sales and reputation. They can’t afford to intentionally leave features out to get us to come back next year. If they leave features out, they won’t attract anyone away from Canikon in the first place. They’re number three and they have to try harder. Corporately, Sony could buy and sell Canon and Nikon simultaneously ten times over, but they’re trying to improve their foothold on a slippery slope. Of course, in their current financial situation, immediate profitablity is a big part of the decision matrix.

  58. As has been stated above, the RX1 uses contrast auto-focus. It would be interesting to see how the RX1 focuses in low, ambient light. Would phase detection be better?

  59. I require depth-of field markings on my lens barrels – I like to make my own decisions regarding the focus point and the focus range. I understand why Sony can’t do this on the barrel, but it is a vital feature in the rangefinder experience. Same with the optical viewfinder.

    The inability to use flash (with EVF) as was stated above is another weakness for me. I have the same complaint about the digital M-bodies in a way. All of the film M-bodies had a PC connection for tethered flash (useful for when the hotshoe has an external viewfinder attached); that is missing in today’s M iterations.

    This is a very interesting camera, and a really good review. For me there is less where I want more, and more where I want less. There are always shortcomings with any camera, so I’m not really complaining here, but at $2,800.00 this is far, far from my wants.

  60. So, what are the odds of Sony coming with an RX-M (as in M mount), preferably with built-in EVF (à la NEX 6/7)? I know there could be sensor-lens mating issues, but I’m sure a lot of people would be happy to deal with them.

    I tried the NEX, GXR and m43 systems with M lenses, with varying success, but a full-frame RX-M would make a lot more sense.

      • Well, in fact there is the NEX-VG900, with the same FF sensor and NEX mount which can be mated to numerous adapters.

        Not exactly practical for still photography, but I’d be interested to see the results… I’m willing to test it for you if you haven’t the time 😉

    • I would applaud this too. And jump on it immediately. And I believe it would be a huge success, since so many people look upon M-mount lenses as a standard. But I also think/fear that Sony will never do that.
      But if a lot of guys make enough noise… would Sony maybe change its mind?

      • Not a chance. Never.

        The only one that might come out with a full frame digital M mount camera might be Ricoh, given they have experience with the GXR / Mount A12 which like Leica’s cameras was designed specifically for the needs of M mount lenses. If Ricoh decides not to do this (no one knows just what Ricoh/Pentax is up to these days), it is *highly* unlikely that anyone other than Leica will ever again produce a digital camera specifically tuned for M mount glass (and it needs to be).

        In that case, the only alternatives to digital Leica Ms will remain cameras like the Sony NEX and Fujifilm X line which by happy accident happen to have shorter flange focal distances than the M mount such that adapters can be made. As has been seen with many other cameras that are used this way, M glass performance is highly variable, kind of what you’d expect. SLR glass on the other hand tends to work better as their mounts have almost double the flange focal distance.

        My prediction is that after this diversion with rangefinder glass use on NEX and XPro et al, many photographers will go back to using proprietary designs provided the makers come out with good quality primes – and that does seem to be the trend, doesn’t it?

        Back to the RX1 – what really floats my boat is that it is at once an autofocus camera that was also designed – unlike the Fujifilm X100 as an example – to be used successfully in manual focus mode. Two great tastes, same filling on the inside!

  61. If I did not already have a complete line of M lenses I’d be seriously tempted. The Sony RX-1 new is cheaper than what used M9s go for!

    One thing to keep in mind, though, is that that fantastic lens is stuck to a camera which, like all digital cameras to date, will at some point become obsolete and eventually fail… I know it is still probably a good deal considering the competition but…

  62. Feel very tempted. The price of the RX1 with an EVF and other accessories would come close to a second hand M8 with 28 Cron (equivalent to 35mm F2). Steve, would it be considerable to switch those packages, leaving the aspect of rangefinder experience aside?

    • hi brille99,

      i know youre asking steve here, but i simply had to comment:

      ive had several different digital m’s (8,8.2,9 & now mm) and currently shoot the 28’cron as my primary lens on leica monochrom and i can tell you that this particular lens is worth alone in imaging quality much more than all the rx-stuff you can pile on top of eachother;-)

      no, seriously its really an amazing lens that will last you a lifetime – probably not so much the rx1 that when worn out or broken or what not will have taken the fixed lens with it to its japanese ‘heavens’…. my 28’cron i have used on all my m’s and its still in PERFECT shape;o)

      offcourse, these things can be and are highly subjective and i dont wish to insult anyone. these are just my opinions. but at least my argument of reusability of the lens through various bodies as one grow as photographer is both relevant and a fact to consider as you so clearly already do.

      please forgive me for breaking into a question directed towards steve.


      ps. btw the m8’s and its incarnations are GREAT cameras as well especially for b/w-work…

      • +1, one of Leica’s best lasting a life long and then some. And by the way on focus numerique’s web page one can see some distortion from the Zeiss lens.

    • You bet! The 28mm Cron is a fine lens. New it also costs substantially more than the RX1 and still needs a camera on its back, but yes you get to re-use it.

      But compare the RX1 with a 28 Cron mounted on a M8? That really makes no sense unless the only thing you are trying to match up to is a certain size without regard to all the other dimensions of each camera. The M8 is a no-longer-produced 1.3X crop camera with a nice sensor that will produce fine results but it isn’t a camera that can go toe to toe in all aspects with the RX1.

      The closest comparison would have to be against another full frame live-view “compact” camera with a modern sensor, and in the Leica product line there is only one: the new Leica M typ-240 ($7K USD) plus a 35 Summicron ($3.2K USD). For more than $10K next year when it starts to ship you’ll get a fine lens and a great camera where the body costs 3X the RX1 price and will itself eventually be outdated… but the kit will be more, uh, flexible.

      If you simply want a fairly small compact camera with good IQ, there are a ton of choices to make, but none of them look quite like the RX1.

      Comparisons are useless because there is no other camera quite like the RX1, available today. If its specifications and qualities *today* fit your needs no doubt you will find it a rewarding tool to use. If it doesn’t float your boat, then there’s bound to be something else that will, or you’ll have to wait for that day when someone makes the camera you wish Sony had made.

    • Thanks all for the replies,
      Yes, the 28 Cron is a superb lens. Will keep it for sure, but the M8 I am not sure about it anymore since it gives me sometimes too much headache (went already three times to service). Am using the Ricoh GXR with Leica Mount more since it is just a more reliable and smaller camera for trips over several days. Perhaps selling the M8 with the 28 Elmarit to fund the RX.

    • Import it from the US to Germany but don’t forget to add US sales tax and German import VAT to the US list price and be surprised how the price difference becomes insignificant.

      • It is not my intention to import this camera from the US to Germany.

        My calculation is as follows: 2798 dollar without Tax in the US = 2175 euro in Germany + 19% German VAT = 2590 euro. I think a fair price in Europe. But 3100 euro is absurd.

        Another, but real example: a Nikon D600 with Nikon 24-85 mm kit lens cost at Amazon-USA 2496 dollar.
        At Amazon-Germany cost this camera with kit lens 2209 euro including 19% VAT

        • If you import into Germany, you will have to pay import duty in addition to the VAT, and the VAT will be calculated on the price including duty and transport cost. And remember to add the cost and time to go to the Zoll to collect the package.

          • Again, it is not my intention to import this camera from the US to Germany.

            My point is that this camera is too expensive in Germany.
            The selling price in the US as a starting point, converted to euros + 19% German VAT is much more reasonable.

  63. If they can build a fixed lens FF mirrorless camera by burying half the lens in the camera body, is it then possible to create a “mount” that buries a portion of the lens in the body for an interchangeable lens mirrorless? ie Is there some reason that a mount has to be flush with the front of the body?

  64. Great review and a seriously desirable camera. I have just got an RX100 and love it, so the RX1 is a serious object of desire for me.

    Do you know if Sony plan to produce some really high quality lens adaptors for it – maybe an ultra wide angle screw on for example?

  65. Thank you Steve for this great review. That butterfly shot is astonishing. Can’t wait to get that camera.

    I was wondering about the barrel distortion compensation, do you mean that in RAW mode the default setting is off and you have to turn it on the have it enabled for JPEGs or does it take effect in RAW mode too?

    And I’ll also give my point about the EVF. I think it is actually OK to leave it as an option, especially if it can be tilted. A fixed EVF could not be tilted and actually to have it as an option brings more versatility. That’s what I want in the end. That optional EVF is expensive though, probably a way to compensate for the RX1 relatively low price.

    • The lens correction only works in JPEG and when they ship the RX1 it will be off for some reason. It needs to be turned ON. Not even sure why they made this an option. Should be on 100% of the time.

  66. Nice review.
    Sony made great stuff before. Remember the R1?
    For the time it was great in some aspects. Photo aspects.
    The Zeiss lens was going into the camera, up to 2 mm from the sensor.

  67. OK, I think I’m on-board. Now can we ask Sony to get rid of the logo or a complete black version…I’m not advertising for them. They should have made this model a little more discrete for street photographers etc.

  68. Great stuff so far Steve! Just want to share something with you, that I learned from one of the Sony reps over at the B&H event the other day. I stuck around when everybody else left, playing with the RX-1 a bit more, and came to the conclusion that I didn’t like the focus assist feature at all, especially since all I wanted was focus peaking. I asked the rep about that, and he said that he hated that too, but that it IS indeed possible to have focus peaking on, and shut off the blow up assist feature.

    To be honest, I can’t remember where in the menu system he went to, but rest assured, you can do it! After that, it was great with peaking. A couple other observations, and perhaps you can test this out as well…

    1. Auto focusing in macro mode in lowish light seemed to be hit and miss. I was trying to focus on some lenses they had there, and my distance from them was far more *but within macro range* than from a different subject *woman’s face* earlier on. I got pretty much in her face and it focused very well, in better light. This brings me to the question of why Sony decided to omit the same type of “on-sensor phase detect” which the A99 uses. Even one of the reps had a hard time answering that one. *Mike was his name I think? He was one of the dudes who went to your house.. older gent with a grey beard* As for how I know that, when he thanked me for coming, I told him it was you he had to thank….

    I’m more than willing to bet that if there is an RX-2 that it will have an built in EVF, and probably phase detect AF built into the sensor. The impression I got was that it has more to do with leaving something to do in the future that would ensure they sell more units than it is about not having the ability or needing to sacrifice much right now.

    But man, I totally understand the rest of why they did what they did in terms of it being a fixed lens, and am really impressed with the R&D that went into this camera. It’s really amazing. If there’s one negative thing I can say about it from my very short time spent with it, is that I can already foresee being uncomfortable with it for prolonged usage. The lack of a grip already started putting a bit of a dent in my palm due to its shape. The NEX-6 is MUCH more comfortable for me, and I really wish the RX-1 had such a grip.

    Speaking of the NEX-6.. I gave it a try while there with the E mount 50 1.8 and HOLY COW is that lens a slow dog! Totally unacceptable AF performance, I couldn’t believe it! Put the 17mm after that and total night and day difference! The 17’s AF is instantaneous as far as I could tell. Anyway, looking forward to pt II


  69. > in this JPEG test the Leica is indeed sharper

    Yes, it is, but from what I can see, this is at least partially because the Leica image was artificially sharpened. The dark halos around the leafs are a clear tell-tell sign. There are no such halos around the leafs in the Sony image which means that the Sony image probably wasn’t sharpened.

    Steve, how does the per-pixel detail level of the RX1 compare to the Sigma DP-M you reviewed a while ago? From the images I’ve seen so far, the Sigma has amazing per-pixel details. I’m wondering if the RX1 can compete with that? It would be great if you could compare the RX1 to the Sigma, seeing as the Sigma also has a fixed prime lens and is also compact and also delivers great image quality in a compact form. Although, of course the Sigma has a lot of problems which the RX1 does not have.

    • These were OOC JPEGS. The DP-M has a totally different look and feel than the RX1 images and the DP-M is a camera you really have to fight with to get results. Usability plain sucks but the IQ is gorgeous. At the same time the IQ is a little sterile. You could never get the RX1 look from a DP-M and vice versa. Me, Id take a RX1 any day over the DP-M as it is a joy to use and the results are just what I like. Some will prefer that DP look but unfortunately Sigma can not seem to make a DP camera that has any kind of speed or fast lens. I liked the DP-M but it had too many faults for my tastes. I love the RX1.

      • I’m sure you’ll eventually buy a DP 1 or 2 Merrill, Steve. It’s just too hard to resist. Forget about how slow it is. The IQ is truly amazing and the colors… oh, the colors! The only thing one needs is a bit of patience.

      • I had a DP2 yes IQ was its strong point at low iso decent light
        BUT i didnt keep it as i was fighting too much.
        I have got rid of other cameras i just didnt feel connected to.
        Connection is a big thing for me and i can understand why the RX1 would make a photographer feel connected.

        Having said this just for landscapes, still life, museum piece archiving, DP2M is a killer.

  70. Steve: This review is a true tour de force—the most compelling camera review I’ve ever read by far and, imho, your best writing ever. Thank you. I only regret that your writing is such a danger to my bank account.

  71. About that second photo… (The whole shebang..the RX1 means business.)

    Sorry to put a dampener on things: but though there’s a lot of kit shown there’s only one lens. 🙁

  72. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for the part-1, almost excellent and outstanding camera you have there. I’m curious about retail package and what else Sony is going to offer along with this beauty. It would be fantastic to get EVF with this price & in-box but it does not seem so :((

    Anyway once your review is completely released I’m going to place my order through your links, you spent so much time and effort to bring this up all together and “I” believe it’s not fair to leave it without gratitude…

  73. Steve,

    should be the same sensor like the one in the D600. Really a hell of a sensor, in this small package. If I could afford it (besides my Nikon) I would buy it and take it everyday with me wherever I go…

    Wonder what would happen if Sony removes all the (color)filterstuff from the sensor and offers a true b/w-special edition. The sharpness would be awesome and it could be the even more perfect street camera. 🙂

  74. Great review Steve! Great passion (didn’t sony want to hire you straight after reading this page;)

    I read or saw somewhere that you’ll also get the Fuji X-E1 soon. Could you do a bit of compare between the two?

    I think a lot of people (at least I do) would consider the Fuji option; losing ‘a bit’ of IQ and handling but gaining versatility in lenses as you can buy a X-E1 with the zoom kitlens plus the 35 mm and about €1000 to spare…

  75. Steve,

    I might have missed this being asked before – what is the low ISO performance vis-a-vis D800/5DmkIII? I love my RX100 but something similar in size with low ISO ability hopefully better then D800 would be really welcome. As a carry everywhere camera I think it’s winner for Sony.

  76. Steve,

    Great review. I’ve had my Rx1 on order since your very first posting when Sony pulled it out of the bag for you to see. For ten years now I’ve dreamed about when we would have a high quality full frame compact camera. After all, I thought, we had multitudes of compact “full frame” 35mm film cameras back a decade ago. I wondered if it would ever happen. This is it!!!! Wow. The only thing I can’t understand is what they were thinking at Sony in deciding to exclude a built in EVF. I bet if they had nixed the flash they could have almost fit it in there with barely any need to enlarge the camera. Much more sense to have to depend on a small external flash for those times it’s needed. This would also have allowed for more camera flexibility around external flashes while having the EVF to boot. So I think this was a very bad design decision, like someone just had a brain warp when conceiving of this part of the camera. Id love to hear your thoughts on if you agree that 95% of photographers who would buy this would not have preferred the above described set up.

    Oh well, can’t wait to get mine despite this flaw.

    Thanks for a great, inspiring site. Keep it up.

    • @Leo:

      The A99 is a tad bit more noisy (light loss for the SLT mirror and AF) – not a big issue, though…

  77. I’m a lucky amateur who happen to own the RX1 (I live in Japan), XE/XPro and the DP1 Merrill. I took them to a two-day trip last weekend in Kyoto to shoot the autumn leaves. I’d say I’d agree with everything that Steve had said regarding the RX1 (Steve, thanks for the peaking/MF assist tip. I found that out only after reading your article). The quality of the lens (sharpness & bokeh), and the dynamic range are already worth the money IMHO (I do not own any Leicas). In case you’re interested, I’ve included a link to my very limited photo stream (about 10) on flickr which contains samples of the RX1. I shot RAW and the photos are lightly edited in lightroom (exposure, a bit of colours and highlight/shawdows). I did not find a lost of quality jpeg vs Image Converter tif. There’re two nearly identical shots with one from the DP1. Although the DP has incredible details, it’s very painful to edit due to its much lower dynamic range, with eaily clipped highlights (I did not shoot bracket) and heavy vignette at 2.8 (I can only get rid of them in photoshop via cloning, not in lightroom). Before the RX1, I shoot with the XPro which I love very much, but it’s depth (or 3D-ness) is still a bit behind the RX IMHO. The night shot of the temple is at ISO6400 I think.

  78. Steve

    Could you please suggest to your contacts at SONY could they perhaps make an EVF with thumb grip built onto it! Slide it into the hot shoe and bingo you can use both features.



  79. Why does everything goes from big to small? I like things BIG! But nowadays everyone wants everything as small as it can be. Is that Apples fault?

    I´m sceptical about this camera. Especially for that price when you can get the new Canon 5D Mark3 for almost the same price. Where I live anyway.

    • If you want BIG then you shouldn’t even be looking at this camera 🙂 I cant imagine why any non pro would choose a big DSLR but everyone has their own likes and dislikes. I like small, and to my eye, this beats the 5D and 35L (Ive owned the 35L and the 5D) in IQ and is MUCH smaller and lighter.

  80. Steve, what a wonderful, PASSIONATE review! Just from your overall tone, this camera just has to be an amazing little gem. I have a pre-order on this RX1, can’t wait. However my only concern is about skin tones. The picture at the top of your review is artistic, but has terrible yellowish skin tone unless that was your intention. In fact any people pictures here, even the hand holding the iphone does not have realistic skin tones. Not sure if you added a bunch of saturation or something. The big man’s face is too red, a woman’s face has too much magenta. I have not seen any Fuji like accurate skin tones here…Am I the only one who noticed this? Sony to me has never been very skin tone friendly..EXCEPT the RX100 is super with skin tones, my Nex5 and 7 also suffered from Sony skin tones. Ok enough about that I guess hope I’m wrong.

  81. Awesome. Just jaw dropping from essentially a little mirror less compact camera.
    I also look forward to what this boasts for the Nex series in years to come. Sure the lenses they have produced for e-mount are only apsc but I have read on many a website that the mount does I fact cover full frame. Coincidence? I hope not. I dream of a future full frame nex to which I can mount all my classic glass. That would be my dream camera, I believe it would be for many others too. I take comfort that Sony keeps pushing the boundaries and kicking goals. I was a Minolta man before they acquired them and Iam happy they are continuing thier fine photographic tradition. Secretly Iam kinda waiting for them to release a special line of Sony Minolta lenses that are of a premium quality, to cash in on the name that still holds so much prestige. Thanks so much for another great insight into what is the future of this pastime we all love. 🙂

  82. Except for the picture taken in high contrast B&W, I wonder about the B&W pictures you show in this post and the preceding ones about dthe RX1. They are gorgeous. Are they converted afterwhile in software or out of the camera B&W?

  83. I think one of the most impressive things with this is its weight. 480g. The zeiss EF 35mm f2.0 alone is 530g, the canon 1.4 is 580g.
    If you were shooting a 5d3 with the zeiss 35 f2 you would be lugging around 1.4kg.

    Thats not a problem for me 99% of the time, my camera bag weighs 5-6kg without my tripod. And I still take it around with me. But for going backpacking or bike packing If I had the cash I would look seriously at something like this.

  84. Although , this is just part 1 … but im left speechless , this is a MONSTER of Compact full frame !!!!!?? (is there such thing?) , Anyway the pics look awesome , Thanks mr.huff and waiting for less Expensive NEX-6/5R Review , ( i thought i was speechless 😀 😉

  85. Dear Steve – Thank you so much for this review!

    I have one simple question: Is it possible to set one of the buttons nearest your thumb to start autofocus? I never use the shutter to start autofocus, so this is really really important to me.



  86. There is always a lot of hype when a new product comes on the market. Rightfully so, this is the first “pocketable” full frame camera for under $7000, and it deserves praises. I followed the hype when the Fuji X100 came out to find out that it was too slow in the street and useless to me (kept it a year and made less than 300 shots with it). The lack of integrated VF is absolutely a deal breaker for me. Adding the EVF on top is limiting the interest. You might as well pick a D600 (the same sensor??) with the 35mm f2 and not be that far different in term of size. But then you will sacrifice a bright prism for an electronic device.

    A RX1 with a VF like the X100 would be something else (weather sealed as well). It just feels so weird to shoot full frame like a point and shoot.

    • Mike i am making the move from x100 to this…..agree re those aspects but time to embrace it and also the moveable EVF. I’ve started taking photos differently of late with the live view on X100…..once you start doing it more and more (like anything) you end up getting more out of it.

      But i agree in the sense it is a big change for people who have done photography for some time and like composing their images through the VF.

      • I am sure the IQ will be amazing. But, I will wait for the right thing. Someday (soon?) a FF with a view finder will come, like the Nikon SP. Then I will jump!

  87. Damn Steve another amazing review! Your making me second guess my Fuji xe1 with reviews like that! Lol By the time I buy the upcoming 23 and 56 I might as well get the rx1. Good times were living in indeed oh have to say I love my xe1 can’t wait for your review

  88. All you have to do is read the passion in which this review is written to know they NAILED it. I haven’t heard Steve freak out over a camera this much since the Monochrome came out and I think that’s saying a lot.

    Would people rather Sony make a D600 clone? Just buy a D600 it’s already there. If your Nkonnon D5MkV with your NK50mm 1.2L takes a better picture, good for you. A medium format yada yada will take an even BETTER picture than your camera so there.

    It’s like cars, there is always some car that’s faster than yours. If you have the fastest car, congratulations, you will lose a race to an average Motorcycle.

    Fact is, the Rx1 is an incredible camera any way you slice it. How it can be a rip off at 2700 US, and a Lecia isn’t at 10K with lense, well your just showing your lunacy if you think that!

    I love it, and I love Sony for saying “you know what…we’re gonna let Nikon and Canon play DSLR drag racing….we’ll be over here in the mountains enjoying all the curves”

    • p.s. I’m going to buy it in the USA and have someone send it to me out of the packaging. That way I can get it for a reasonable price and I can buy it via Steves link and support this site. I’m not going to pay $1000 more to buy it in the UK, friends, would be InSaNe.

      • Thanks so much Eric. Glad you saw the Passion 🙂 This happens when I get something so good that I truly fall in love with it. It comes through in what I write. Thanks for reading and being here!

  89. Steve you are in big trouble now. When my wife saw my pre-order notification, I told her that Steve Huff said I had to buy an RX1. I would just stay out of the New England area for a while. Nice review. Gotta go clean the dog house.

  90. Steve thanks for the review.

    I am probably different to a lot of people here, in that I am looking to use one camera only. This would not be a back up. I have sold my DSLR gear and would not compliment the camera I choose with another system (e.g. M9 with ICL’s and this OR OMD with this, etc).

    I jumped into the mirror-less world about 2-3 months ago and purchased an x100. It is a fantastic go anywhere camera and very happy to have purchased that over the Xpro 1 at the time. I’ve really enjoyed not worrying about changing lenses.

    I found the announcement on this camera the week after I purchased my x100!!

    To stay in this format but have FF and RAW capability along with a better manual focus system, macro like adjustment (though have got some good results with x100), an EVF which is adjustable (I photograph my children growing up and looking forward to this feature….getting into “their” perspective rather than mine) is all good. Built in EVF…of course is icing on the cake (or a tilt LCD).

    I am intrigued by the RF system (and the OMD) and marvel at some of the great photographers that use that system, but probably not intrigued enough if I am been honest with myself to pay for M9 and Cron lense. Not at this stage anyway!

    So from what I have seen and read so far this is looking ideal for ME….

    It will not be without it’s faults/nuances, as with any camera but now can’t wait to get my hands on it!

    Looking forward to part 2 and all way from Australia to anyone in your part of the world hope you have a great Thanks Giving!

    PS Really loving the B&W’s coming out of this camera. You would need to work harder with the x100 files (IMO) in PP to get a similar feel. Colours also have punch.

      • I am 69 yrs old and have been an avid photographer since the early 60’s. I have owned/used simple box cameras to 4×5 (still own). I do not have this camera yet, but will have it soon. I am a still photographer. Get rid of everything in this camera that is related to making movies and put in an electronic viewfinder! If I want to make movies I will get a movie camera. Great review Steve, but liked your review on the RX1R and thats the one I will be getting.

  91. For size wise comparison sake can you post a picture of it next to one of your Pen cameras, and the Leica Monochrome? Thanks

      • IF you have a FF DSLR with a 35mm Prime, I’d like to see it next to THAT!!!! It’s a pretty big deal, the size of this camera!!! I think people dont’ understand just how small it is. A friend just got a D7 and a Ziess 35mm 1.4. The Lens alone, is almost as big as my entire Next with Voigt’ 35m 🙂 not to mention the weight!

  92. I think it is a very wise decision to give the RX1 an external EVF, as Sony could very well be aiming at outdoor people. For hikers, climbers and cyclists, the trade-off between image quality and weight is seriously important. As you don’t really need an EVF/OVF, it is better to leave it at home and replace the saved grams by chocolate 🙂 Also, it is of little use when shooting single-handed, which is often done because you need your other hand to secure yourself or simply control your bicycle.

    Sony now offers this amazing image quality below the 1/2 kg barrier, and the empty weight a hair below the 1 lbs-barrier for the avoirdupois-countries. This could be really really big in the outdoor communities.

    • I don’t agree. Sony needs to leave the hot shoe available for external flash cords, triggers, and other options. The only way is to have a built-in EVF.

      • You don’t have to agree, as you are probably not the type of guy who drills out his toothbrush. What I am trying to say, is that Sony might be aiming at a large group of people: those who do cut out the labels of their clothes to save weight. This group can be won over to buy a big and heavy camera like the RX1, but only if the IQ/weight ratio is stretched to the limit.

        As a cyclist and hiker, I would never even consider packing the options you mention. They are heavy and useless to me. Even if the camera had no hotshoe at all, I’m not sure it would be a dealbreaker.

        Horses for courses.

  93. This is one of the most detailed reviews I have read from you Steve. You were not joking when you said this camera inspired you, lol.

    I must admit, just as with the Leica Mono, I was just as intrigued when they announced this one. The lack of an EVF was a let down at first but when I thought about it…it was the only thing that was a “let down”! I will hold my judgement until part 2 to see what are your thoughts about it.

    Thanks for the review, the photos are amazing and the colors incredible.

  94. Steve,

    Thanks for the great review part #1. I am very impressed with these features you had addressed in this review. Looks like it’s a great camera to have for a lot of occasions.

    Since RX1 is not an ILC. I have a question about the sensor cleaning. What happened if there is dirt accumulated on the sensor surface. Before some reader on this blog had reported excessive dirt accumulation on M9 sensor. Same thing happened on the new Nikon D600. But they are ILC so one can use the blower to blast off the dirt from the sensor.

    Thanks for your review again.

    • Given it is not ICL you have a closed system. Can’t say it won’t happen but less likely to have this issue than with ICLs.

      • Even though the RX1 is not an ILC, it seems likely that at some point dust will find its way on to the sensor. And when it does, it would seem that there is no way of removing it. At which point you have a rather expensive defective camera…..

        I would be interested to know if there is, in fact, any way to clean the sensor of a fixed-lens digital camera?

          • Hi Steve,

            Firstly thanks for a very enjoyable and informative review.

            My reason for raising the subject is that there are reports of other fixed lens digital cameras getting dust on the sensor, although it seems to be rare, and the fact that the RX1 is sealed would obviously help to obviate the problem. However dust can be very pervasive over time. I would imagine that if dust did get on the sensor it would have to be returned to a service centre. Apart from that concern, the RX1 looks like a fantastic camera; I have a Nex-7 and am still waiting for a lens as good as the Zeiss on the RX1 – I’ve not been impressed with reports on the e mount Zeiss 24mm. If Sony had included a viewfinder on the RX 1 it would have been the perfect camera for me.

  95. As much as I want to buy this camera, US$2,799, CAD 3,000, €3,299, I don’t think that Sony Europe is going to get my money. Presumably, the European price includes sales tax, which unfortunately is 23% where I am. I get the distinct feeling I’m being ripped off.

    • I live in Switzerland and the camera is announced for 3800 CHF, that’s 3800$ taxes included. I’ve calculated that if I order it from BH, it’ll end up costing 3100 CHF, shipping, costums and 8% GST included. Sony Switzerland isn’t getting my money either! I still don’t understand the price difference…

  96. 🙂 … i have a carl zeiss sonnar f2.8 40mm sitting on a rollei se 35 body. the lens on that one collapses beautifully into the body. the few pictures i shot using my rollei had come out looking very beautiful and the size of the rollei was just so right. unfortunately i never really got round to using more often as film was getting too expensive for an amateur hobbyist like me.

    reading steve’s review here i wonder if the rx1 might become a classic as the rollei se 35. i so like this camera now that i just want to buy it and own it … but probably will not… atleast not in the immediate future. i’m looking forward to buying a oly om-d or a fuji x-e1 … for now …. but mayb some day …. i might be able to grab and rx2 …. 🙂

  97. Maybe it is only me, but I don’t see the WOW factor in these images. At least not compared to the price. The only thing that is interesting is that somebody besides Leica has a FF mirrorless. Perhaps the other camera makers needs to adjust their strategies. Hopefully, better and AA-free FF compacts/ILC cameras will come in the future. And hopefully better low/normal ISO.

    Meanwhile I’m enjoying the DP1 and DP2 Merrill.

  98. Thanks for another great RX1 addiction fix Steve.

    I absolutely agree with you about the character of the lens. I shoot nothing but Zeiss ZM rangefinder glass from 18mm on up and I really did not like the look of the Sony 24/1.8 for NEX as it was so different to what I’ve come to expect from Zeiss glass. Different is ok, but that’s not what I was looking for so I cancelled my NEX-7 order last year.

    Unlike the ZA24/1.8, the RX1 ‘s Sonnar 35/2 is really delivering… I have to say that I generally prefer the output of the RX1 35/2 Sonnar over my Zeiss Biogon ZM 35/2 (great lens). The way the RX1 lens renders out of focus areas is just so…. nice. Calming. No nervous looking bokeh, just smooth and creamy transitions. What’s not to like, it’s just darn pleasing. And mated with this new Sony sensor – well this is a camera for the long run.

    As for the lack of viewfinder gripe – I do understand this. Once upon a time I wouldn’t buy cameras without a built in eye level finder, but I’m glad I’ve looked past that. Sony made some decisions in order to keep the camera small and honestly, I’m glad they did. Had they put in a finder, then they might also have added a tilt LCD. Both would have grown the size of the camera. On the plus side, by making the finder external, you get tilt finder functionality, something cameras like the Fujifilm X-E1 and X-Pro 1 don’t offer at all.

    Bonus: For those of us who are forced by eyesight to be left eye shooters, a central-shoe mounted EVF helps keep our greasy noses away from the rear LCD. I was forever cleaning the back of my X100 and it’s little things like that which make using a camera less enjoyable.

    Looking forward to the next RX1 fix in Part II. Even more looking forward to my RX1 arriving!

  99. Congratulation Steve, great work.

    Just one consideration: sony jpg engine could be worst than the leica one… does make it sense to repeat the comparison (monochrome vs rx1) using RAWs (converted with the same engine –> LR)?


    • Well, IQ wise..with the character of the Zeiss lens it beats the OM-D for my tastes. BUT..I love my OM-D and it is another giant killer with gorgeous native glass. Id keep both. OM-D when I want wide, macro, or tele and the RX1 for anything where I want that look and quality and capability. For someone considering the RX1 they have to be sure they can live with 35mm only. Ive done it before for over a year and loved it but it is not for everyone.

      • Agreed. I can see myself carrying an RX1 and an OMD or EPL-5 with the 45 attached for a nice travel combo…with superb IQ.

  100. So which is the revolutionary element? Modest AF? Lack of VF? Price point? Still a 35mm format and not medium format?
    Wait a couple o’ months and ebay will be flooded with supercheap RX1s, I guestimate a drop to 2 to 3 grands. Then it could be a buy.

  101. I have to say I’m still torn. I pre-ordered the RX1 the day before annoucement, so am hoping to get it pretty soon. But I honestly worry that without a built in EVF I won’t find a good place for it in my workflow.

    I will probably pic up the external EVF, but it looks to add 50% to the height, and makes for an awkward shape.

    I suppose I can always return it or sell it on, if I don’t like it.

    • give it a go….see how you adjust….but if you get the EVF I’d say use when needed and not use it, when you do not really need it. It is designed to be a versatile feature and I would say you will enjoy the camera more treating it like that.

    • Having used the EVF accessory on my NEX 5N, I’ve been suprised how great the accessory can be. I can travel on business and stick the camera in my brief case without with EVF for compactness of bring it along seperately or have it attached if I know I will be in a more defined shooting situation. As Andy says, the versatility this robustly made metal EVF adds to the camera is quite suprising. Never mind the shooting flexibility added due to its articulating feature.

    • Starts up in just less than 1 second. Did not time it but after turning it on (power on button is solid) it takes less than 1 second to pop on and be ready for use.

  102. Thanks Steve.

    Have you run into any issues with the max shutter speed limitation? Have you run into this while shooting in bright sunny conditions?

    • If you have the firstly announced 1/2000 max shutter speed in mind, then Sony has changed this to 1/4000 for the final production versions (this was officially announced I believe). Just in case you had not heard this. This means that the RX1 has a more standard max shutter speed like the Nikon D600 e.g..

  103. using a F2 Canon L Glass Lens on a 5D mk3 well the full frame Canon will Produce better IQ than that Little RX1 and the Canon G1X and Fuji X100 will Produce better IQ than the RX100.
    enough said.

    • And a Zeiss lens will always be better than a Canon Lens, no matter how many L’s there are written on it. Period. Same counts for the Sensir, the Sony will always be better at the same size. You will have to live with it, sorry.

    • @jim Seekers:

      My experience tells me otherwise: Comparing the 5DII + 35 f/1,4L with the RX1, no matter how I turned and twisted things, the RX1 (with EVF) has always delivered superior RAW files and superior IQ… only advantage in the 5DII was the AF speed and tracking… and (but to me this is not really important) higher burst rate and the ability to have a viewfinder AND and a flash triggering device available at the same time (shooting the RX1 without EVF is not my thing…).

  104. Great review Steve and love the warmth from that Zeiss lens. I was wondering why the 50mm and 75 mm work in jpeg only mode or am I missing a basic operating capability here. That said you can still get 50 and 75 mm by walking closer. I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking……interchangeable Zeiss lens mount+built in viewfinder = Digital CL

    • What the 50/75 crop mode does is allow you to have the same *perspective*, which you lose when you move closer or farther from a subject, and sometimes perspective matters a great deal. You can of course achieve the same crop effect while maintaining perspective by performing the crop in post.

      That crop mode only modifies JPG files isn’t a big deal at all, and I’m glad Sony implemented it this way. Shoot with the camera set to save both JPG+RAW and you get the best of both worlds – equivalent 50/75mm field of view at a touch of a button, with that view reflected in the LCD or EVF, while still having a full resolution raw file in case you have need to reframe the shot in post, perhaps saving your bacon after the fact.

      With 24 megapixel output, and the detail this camera can capture, the files will allow for plenty of options when it comes to cropping (either in camera or working with raw files) and still allow large, detailed, glorious prints.

  105. Why oh why would a camera this geared towards enthusiasts use a mode dial instead of a proper shutter speed control? odd…

    • Yes, a shutter dial looks cool, but on modern cameras mode dials on the top is important too, if not more important. On the RX1 you can’t make it bigger just to be able to accommodate for another dial.

      In the older days you did not have modes and your only way of getting the shutter speed readout was to look at the dial. Today you get the thumb wheel for the shutter and beeing able to quickly flick between mode A, M and maybe the custom 1 and 2 should not be underestimated. On top of that you get some quite useful JPEG “modes” as well, like sweep panorama and handheld twilight.

        • Mode dial..doesn’t bother me at all. BUT!! Would I have been happier with a shutter speed dial instead? Yes, of course. Would have put it that much closer to the “perfect” all in one camera. But this is Sony..they need a mode dial for their panorama modes and extras. In any case, there is a dial in the back to change shutter speed so no big deal.

      • Agree…..the cameras used by most professionals today (DSLRs) do not have shutter speed dials on top. Life has moved on! I don’t disagree with you completely (yes it’s a nice feature..I own an x100) but not that bad! I know on my old DSLR I would have thought it was backward if it was there.

        • Again, there is a shutter speed dial on the back so when you shoot in full manual you use the lens for Aperture and dial in the back for shutter speed, which is by your thumb.

  106. Wow nice review I would buy this for travel and carry
    Around in 2 seconds if it wasn’t so pricey and had a built in
    EV a 3100 dollar camera that’s set up like a point and shoot is
    The killer of this deal 3700 with the EVF NOPE I really like the color
    Rendering they just pop and the broken seems good
    Black and white looks great maybe the next incarnation thanks Steve

    • I concur. The RX1 is revolutionary, for sure, but I too will have to wait for a built-in EVF. The RX1 costs too much money when I’m certain that, in the near future, Sony will include a built-in EVF for their next full frame, small body camera. I don’t want to be kicking myself. So for now, my Fuji X100 is still the train that could.

  107. Very good review. Sony, however, should have made the lens removable at least. Imagine what are you going to do with the Zeiss lens several years down the road when the camera becomes obsolete.

    • Why on earth would it be obsolete? There are still people shooting digital from 10 years ago. What does one do with the lens on the Leica X2 when it becomes obsolete? A camera never needs to be obsolete as long as it can tackle any situation. This camera can and does. Cant imagine what else one could ask it to do.

  108. Hi Steve, Thanks for the first part of your test. It was exciting to read and I’m looking forward to the second part. In Germany, it hails criticism about the concept of RX1. Much of the criticism of the price is 3100, – and € 400, – for the FFA. I hope it meets my needs on a 35 mm camera. The OLY OMD is too overloaded with the ineternen software. What I however like the B & W and the setting of Graduation in the camera, so I can do without almost to RAW. As you said in your test is the result of JPEG RX1 fantastic. Would you see it on the OLY OMD? What is your impression of plasticity of the RX1? That’s what I miss very many cameras, except for some Leica.
    I can hardly expect your second test. Thanks yet again and best regards, Klaus

  109. I have two questions, Steve.
    1) Please make some further comparisons between RX-1 and MM. But please, also include other apertures than F2. You write the Leica has more sharpness. I’m sure it has – at F2. I have compared a few times (not that often) Leica M with Zeiss ZM lenses and found that the Leica had more sharpness wide open, but the Zeiss clearly more at say F5.6 to F11 (roughly speaking). Please Steve, remember that a lot of your readers don’t always go for shallow depth of field. Youre site has been a great encouragment for me in pursuing a shallow DOF (sometimes), but still I often take pictures that I want to be as sharp as possible with large DOF. So please, also make comparisons at F8 or so.
    2) Concerning the 50/75mm function, please be so kind to come up with a demo with large DOF. And if possible show us how the perspective is related to a 50mm lens on your Leica M(M). I’m very curious to know this, not only for landscapes but also for objects (like for instance a sound mixing table – to stay in my branch).

    • Hey Steve. Just arrived in Turku, Finland and before goin to sleep, I need to write a few lines.
      Concerning the 50/75mm function. I guess that switching it to 50mm will be quite comparable, as far as perspective is concerned, with what I get, putting a 35mm M-mount lens on my NEX-7 (with its APSC sensor crop, resulting in a so called 52mm equivalent). If so, you don’t need to waste your time in comparing the RX-1/50mm with the Leica M – I can do that myself. But a simple “yes” (it’s comparable) would be reassuring. BTW, I guess the same goes for the DOF.
      My other request, concerning a comparison on sharpness with the Leica at F8 very much stands. I really hope you can do that.
      A language/translation issue: in my comment above, I meant “2 requests” instead of “2 questions”. 🙂

  110. Question: Do you think Sony will release a top quality wide angle lens adapter like fuji? with a 24, 35, 50 and 75 equivalents, this would justify the buy now!

    I’ve been waiting for this review to hit for so long, awesome you put the kind of detail and real-world use thoughts into it that make your site so enjoyable! I’m in the middle of Gear Acquisition Syndrome for a smaller pro-quality setup, just sold all my Canon collection and I’ve been torn between X-pro1 and this, hoping your review would send me one way or the other…

    • Thanks so much for reading! I have no idea if Sony plans on wide angle attachments but I could see them doing it. Would be cool to have one wide and one longer. But I have no idea.

  111. I’m currently an NEX c3 user who has been mulling over getting NEX 6 (I think the price is still reasonably within my reach). However… that butterfly shot….really trigger my lust over the RX1. Where do I find another 2 grands to fund this purchase?

    Please keep the reviews coming Steve. I live in AZ too. I’m always amazed at how you find great shooting places or subjects in this desert.

    • Lol, Az is the toughest place for ANY camera reviewer to live. Trust me. If only I lived in NYC or LA… would make my jobs o much easier and probably more enjoyable to look at as well! One day 🙂

  112. First off all, happy birthday. Maybe you will cover this in the video part of the review I was wondering wether the crop mode also works in video mode and if so how does that effect the resolution.

  113. Wow! Aaaaahhhhhrrrrrrrr!
    It’s 7:00h PM right now, here in Belgium. Came home half an hour ago. Was on the outlook for this review for quite some days now. But I have to leave for Finland tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM and still have to pack. And exactly at this moment, you publish this review, Steve! Great timing. 🙁
    Anyway, I wanted to read it first. And again: Wow! I’m flabbergasted. This is the IQ that I always have been dreaming of, at a price that I can afford. But no EVF, no IC – yes we all know it. Still indeed there are quite some big advantages to this fixed lens concept too, I agree. The ease of use, portability, IQ. And there really are some extra’s that make it super interesting: the 20cm focus distance, maybe the 50mm an 75mm function. So this review gave me a firm knock on my head, and I’m feeling dizzy right now. Give me some more time please…

    • I hear what you saying!
      I left from Brussels to Barcelona yesterday. X100 with me as usual.
      How I would love to have this little gem with me instead. No viewfinder? So what!

      • Hey Andre, I guess I’d take the optional EVF with it. You know I’m really tempted. The cruelty is that we can’t look into the future. I’m pretty sure that eventually, Sony will come with a mirrorless full frame camera. But first of all: how will it’s IQ relate to the RX-1’s? And, like you suggest, it’s really tempting indeed to be on the road with just the RX-1 and that’s it! It’s without any doubt the most versatile fixed lens FF camera of all time – IMO. But it’s such a pitty for all those nice lenses that I got. I also think it’s fun to choose one or two lenses for a shooting session. Kind of inspiring too…
        Got a lot of thinking to do. And empathizing.

  114. Steve, Great Camera!!! And a terrific review. Last week I made the decision to invest in the NEX-6 with the kit zoom. I will wait for the 35mm f/1.8 fast prime the whole deal about half the price of the RX-1. So awaiting your review of that camera as well. Beautiful images here. Thanks.

      • 1) with the nex6 review, please test it with wide angle leica lenses…

        2) the RX1 is a very special camera.
        Instead of a full frame Nex, could the RX1 be the first camera in a series of no compromise full frame 35mm fixed lens matched sensor cameras? As an example, could the second camera be a 50mm f1.4 camera? other suggestions would be a 90mm portrait/macro camera or a 21mm ultra wide angle or even a specialize perspective control camera …

      • I am also looking forward to your review of the NEX6. Although the look of the RX1 photos are amazing, the price is slightly out of reach for me.

      • I love to pub crawl with camera in hand. At some point, lugging around a dlsr all night just became too much. I bought a XZ-1 and thought I was onto something, but the noise is hard to live with. Along came the RX-1 and I had my CC out ready to order, but then I read Sony made the peak focusing available only with magnified focus assist. I look forward to se what you have to say about the NEX-6, the camera I fell back to instead of the RX-1.

  115. Hi Steve, amazing review. Very close to oredering one… I would love to see a vid with a front view where I can see how visible the shutter is in the lens. I sometimes find it distracting when a leaf shutter is visible to the model.

  116. Steve,
    This looks like a sweet little camera, I wish I had the funds to get one for myself. I’m interested to hear your thoughts about the RX1 compared to the Fuji X100. There are some basic similarities between the two (fixed lens, 35mm focal length, portability) that make me think one of your “crazy comparison” pieces are in order. I don’t doubt that the RX1 is a better performer given the sensor and lens, but is it really worth the $1600 premium over the Fuji (or about $2000 if you add on the view finder option)?

    • Yep, $2k over an X100. A huge chunk of cash. Is it worth it? That is up to the shooter. Depends on if you want a full frame sensor that is capable of just about anything 🙂 The RX1 will beat the Fuji in build, speed, lens quality, file quality and video. The results the RX1 puts out with RAW files is better than an M9 with Zeiss glass IMO, and it focuses closer. The cost is high but when put into perspective it is well worth it for those who have been waiting for this for years and years. The fuji X100 is also an amazing camera with its own look and feel. All comes down to personal pref and of course $$$.

  117. Great write up and review, Steve. I can’t wait to read more about this camera, which will always have a hallowed place in the annals of digital photography for what it is. For my part, it’ll get down to what I see in the RAW files, though certainly the JPEG’s are promising. Ultimately, as the RF system is my primary tool, I’ll have to decide whether to invest in this beauty or keep my XPro-1 around for the versatility factor, when it comes to my AF work. Output looks great, but would you say that JPEG engine is better than what Fuji has employed? Fuji’s JPEG’s for the XPro-1 and XE-1 are acclaimed, while the RAW output has been a struggle….

    Anyways, thanks for the fantastic write up. I am sorely tempted by this powerhouse of a bitty camera. At the very least (as full frame was to SLR’s), it heralds a new era of full frame cameras in smaller bodies. To me, this camera may well be the Konica Hexar AF for our era…

  118. Great Part 1 Review of the Sony RX1. The images are downright AMAZING to my eyes. Now I need to bust open the Piggy Bank! Looking forward to Part 2.

  119. FYI if anyone wants to process RX1 raw files with ACR or Lightroom, you can fool Adobe into working with the files by renaming one of the EXIF tags from DSC-RX1 to SLT-A99V (same sensor). Use the free “exiftool” and instructions (for Windows users – it won’t be hard to do on the Mac if so inclined) I put together here.

    ACR/Lightroom do a slightly better job at extracting the last bit of resolution out of the files than Sony’s Image Data Converter but that doesn’t matter… jpeg, raw, whatever, this camera is capable of crazy-high resolution but more importantly just beautiful results. Can’t wait until mine arrives.

    • I actually seem to remember a hack on the mac where you can edit a plist where you can copy and paste the raw decode parameters for one camera and just rename the camera name and bingo you have a new raw decoder available to apple aperture. I did it for a samsung gx20 so that I could use the raw decoder from the pentax k20d.

      Here is a link to a blog post I did at the time to save the info for posterity.

      No idea if it works for RX1, but might be worth a try.

      • The relevant tag that needs to be modified is:

        SonyModelId: DSC-RX1 -> SLT-A99V

        Files load up fine then in ACR or Lightroom and they are still identified as RX1 files (there is another “Model” tag which can remain unchanged).

        As a short term work around until Adobe releases an update to ACR and LR4 it’ll work fine for the impatient, like me.

  120. hi steve,

    i know its just jpeg’s but theres some nasty blotches/artifacts in the shadows area of the RX1 image in the Monochrom vs RX1 section of your ‘almost-over-the-top’ enthusiastic review of this little beast;o)

    i applaud that someone finally has managed to release/develop a fullframe-camera in this segment although im not as thrilled to pieces as yourself… but i hear what youre saying and appreciate that its been made. the lens looks good and it should be!

    thanks for your insights/impressions. keep up the good work and enjoy your little baby (im pretty sure youre gonna hold on to that one if possible – hahaaha).


  121. “Personally, I’d take an RX1 over a Nikon D4 ANY DAY OF THE WEEK.”

    I feel you, Steve, but there is an achilles heel with the RX1. By not including a built-in viewfinder, you are forced to use the hot shoe for the EVF. This means that the hot shoe can not be used for wireless flash triggers and external speedlights. Say what you will about Nikon but professional photographers need speedlights and Nikon’s SB-910, its wireless commanders, and Pocket Wizards are an instrumental part of contemporary photography. The Nikon D4, D800, and D600 all support wireless flash photography. The RX1 does not support wireless flash photography. I do hope, Steve, that you can cover this subject someday.

    • You seemed to miss the part where I said “I’d” – meaning “Me” – I am not a pro who uses flash triggers and speed lights and never will be. I never ever ever use flash. So for me that is a non issue, which is why I said “I’d take an RX1 over a D4” and I would. I had a D4 here for a month and was not a fan for what I use cameras for. If I were a pro who relied on flash triggers and strobes I would take a D800 or something similar.

      The RX1 is not a camera made for pros who require flash features. That is not what it is about AT ALL. Thanks for reading.

      • Sorry Steve, no, I did not miss the point about the RX1 being “your” preference. Also, I am glad to learn that you never use flash and that you’re not interested in flash triggers and speedlights. Honestly, I did not know this but it explains why you never comment on this area of photography and why I never read reviews about this subject on your website. I do feel, however, perhaps in the future, someone who is passionate about this subject can be a contributor here. I have learned a lot from you, Steve, and I hope my comments have not offended you in any way. All the best.

        • No offense at all! As for the RX1 and flash, it would not be my choice if I was doing studio or needed flash just like I wouldn’t use a Leica for this. It can be done, but there would be better choices in this area. Sorry if I came off a little harsh, did not mean to be. I think I am so used to answering so many e-mails every day I am sort of “short” in my replies if you know what I mean. To be clear, big DSLRs are not for me but they have their place for sure. Many will only shoot with big DSLR’s because they need what they offer. The RX1 is more about simplicity, portability, street shooting, natural least that is how I see it. Much like a Leica M but without the RF and IC lenses.

          • I use external flash and pocket wizards a lot for my work. I’ve recently taken to using my OM-D instead of my Canon 1DIV cameras and the OM-D works fine with a PW stuck on the top.

            I’d anticipate that the v.high sync speed (1/2000th??) of the RX1 will be extremely attractive for off-camera flash people like myself. Unfortunately you’d lose any of the Canon/Nikon style in-camera tweaking of flash levels but there are third party flash controllers that sit on a hot show and can do that for you.

            If I can get my hands on an RX1 I’ll be happy to do a write up on external flash usage. Having read this review I’m trying to keep my credit card in my wallet….I may have one sooner than planned.

          • Thank you so much for your response, Steve. It means a lot. I just adore you and your website. You are a true treasure to the photography world.

            Andrew, this is news indeed! Using a PW on the top of your OM-D? I have never heard this before and, yes, a write up would just be so great! I am sure we can all learn something. As far as the RX1 is concerned, I just see the hot shoe being useless for a PW if you want to use an EVF. I was wondering, though, if the RX1’s built-in flash can be used as a trigger. To me, this is such an interesting subject. These small cameras, starting with the Leica X1, then the X100, and now the RX1 have made such strides in collapsing the superioity of DSLR’s but, at the same time, none of these companies are yet addressing the subject of external flash options. I hope some day in the future, these companies make these small cameras compatible with PW’s and external speedlights, just like their big boy DSLR’s.

          • Hei David, these small cameras allready work well with the off camera flashes. Some even better than the DSLR cameras. For example Fujifilm X100 is able to sync with the flash @ 1/500 of a second at any aperature. Here I use cheap Yongnuo RF603 triggers:
            All the info in description 🙂

            Also the new Fujifilm EF-X20 flash is able to sync off camera at all shutter speeds, even @ 1/4000 of a second @ F8:

      • Love the butterfly pic. LOVE IT. Looking at the verge sample shots really shows the talent you have Steve. Your pic of the girl at the piano blows theirs away. Just one example. Also I seem to remember a great little post by you on what you could do with a cheap simple single flash set up. Some great pics in that post using flash;)

  122. it’s going to cost me 1000$ more USD to buy in the UK, than the USA. 🙁 Anyone want to ship one to me. 🙂

    • No..with video it has electronic steady shot but for photos, no. I found it doesn’t need it. 35mm doesn’t really need IS. Probably would have made it larger as well.

  123. Hi Steve,

    I’ve only just scanned this first review, but if I didn’t already bought a M9, I would shurely go for this little beauty.

  124. Many thanks for the review. Very informative. However, you seemed to write about using the external EVF a lot. That’s fine, but I’d like to know more about your impressions using the camera with no EVF. To add this option is about another $500, so learning more about ease of shooting without this accessory would be useful to hear about.

    • For the entire part one, what you see here, I did not even have ANY VF..EVF or OVF. I am not getting those for a few days. I had zero issues using the camera with the LCD. It is visible in even the full AZ sun. I much prefer the EVF (I used it in California a few weeks back and it is VERY good, best EVF made to date) but the camera is very quick, silent and easy to use without the EVF if you do not mind shooting in that way.

      • Steve,

        Thanks for the quick response. Well that’s great to know! I can see carrying the camera around casually without an external EVF, but buying the external later for special uses.

        I certainly could not afford both an external EVF and OVF. If you could only buy one of those, which would it be and why? And what makes the EVF in general so darn good on this camera?

        • Note that there are a lot of third-party 35mm optical viewfinders (on the used market) that would work, would be much smaller than the Sony/Zeiss viewfinder and probably be MUCH cheaper as well.

          If you want an EVF (with peaking, focusing aids, info display…), then there is no alternative to the Sony model.

          • fiatlux: Thanks for the info! If I get the RX1, then I’ll probably go with the EVF. Looking forward to more details in Steve’s Part 2.

            I don’t like the extra expense of the EVF, but I do like being able to put it on and off. Sometimes, with street photos, it really helps to look like you have a small P&S. Other times, I’d really like an EVF.

    • Correct. The new EVF (which will probably show up as an accessory for future NEX cameras as well) uses a standard physical hot show mount (with Sony contacts et al to make it work). The 5N EVF has that clunky thumscrew attachment which made it difficult to slip on and off in a hurry. Thank goodness they’ve ditched that design.

  125. Steve. Great first review. I hope to try one out at some point. So far I have been using the Sony Nex 7 and the biggest issue I have, coming from a M9, is that the screen is good but not great for focusing and the electronic viewfinder is better for focus but not great to see expressions in people’s faces. The M9 rangefinder always gave me a nice, clear view and I could always tell if someone had the eyes closed, or made an expression worth capturing. With the small screen or the electronic viewfinder I don’t really get that anymore and I assume that this is similar with the RX1. I am really missing the M9 while waiting for the M. I even thought about buying this old friend again on the used market. D!RK

  126. Thanks for this review.

    The rear LCD appears to be fixed (not articulated) is this right?

    Do you know if the lens is made by Zeiss in Germany or by Cosina in Japan and branded Zeiss?

    How does the shutter lag compare to the NEX-6?

    • My understanding is all lenses for Sony cameras are made by Sony, including the Sony/Zeiss lenses. These will be made to Zeiss specifications, possibly under the supervision of a Zeiss technician. Personally I would not be concerned about where the lens is made. Zeiss would not allow another company to use their name if that company could not consistently produce lenses to Zeiss specifications.


  127. Wow Steve, passionate review as always and your excitement has me sold. I know a lot of people look down on Sony, which is strange sine they’ve been in the imaging buisness for quite some time. The fact that this camera can produce amazing images does not suprise me at all. And I for one, could care less who made it, I’m just glad someone did.

    I used to lug a DSLR around, and I would only take pictures on dedicated photo trips. When Sony came out with the NEx-7 it was the camera of my dreams. I can take it everywhere with a 35mm Voigt’. But the more I use it and see results out of a full frame camera, the more i’ve been wanting one. I’m not going to hold 11ty kilos of camera gear on me, it’s just not going to happen.

    And here it is….a piece of electronics that is going to pry thousands of dollars from my COLD DEAD HAND. For me, for what and how I shoot, there is no better camera on our planet.

    If it had an EVF would it be better, sure.
    If a Nikon D800 were smaller would it be better, OF COURSE!
    If my NEX7 was full frame would it be better, I THINK SO!
    If Lecias were cheaper I would also like that better.

    Things can always be better, but good lord, Sony has made something nobody else has (or can?) and I’m going to buy me one and I can’t FREGIN WAIT!!!!!

    I’ll rent a D800 when I go to my next Formula 1 race, the other 363 days of the year I know what will be in my coat pocket.

    • hi johhny,

      why would you want that? i mean there’s plenty of object separation already if thats your thing and also it obviously performs admirable in lowlight situations as steves photos clearly shows… the camera would end up being a brick around your neck with a 35/1.4 i fear. 35/2 is a classic.

      for me the dealbreaker is the simple lack of a builtin evf. unfortunately the current solution with a ‘telescope’ on top simply doesnt cut it for me… and im NEVER gonna go zombiestyle – does not work for me.

      best klehmann

      • truth. what’s sad is that if you sandpaper off the sony name, and put “canon” on it, and change nothing else. it will sell 100x more sales.

      • klehmann, exactly! If I was playing “guess the aperture” with the first 2 photos (dog and “eyes”) I’d have guessed f/1.4. That this f/2 lens has such extraordinary bokeh is what blows me away. If I’d seen minimal creamy bokeh (sounds like a soup doesn’t it?) I’d be calling for an f/1.4 lens as well but, this is really something. I use an X-Pro 1 with the 35 and I’d have to say that by looking at those particular photos, I doubt that this very nice Fuji 35 would get similar results although I am quite happy with it.

        The good news is that Sony has now thrown down the gauntlet. I hope Fuji is taking the challenge on this one and makes a full sensor 35 in an X-100 style body. Maybe I’m not alone when I say my thoughts immediately started to be “Oh great! What do I have to sell to get this Sony!”. I’m impressed.

        • The bokeh look “great” or exaggerated because most of them are taken close to minimum focusing distance. It’s still good at f/2, but it will be the same bokeh AMOUNT as any FF 35mm f/2 lens, which is to say, not a lot in most shooting situations. The crop mode certainly helps though, although you can do that in post anyway… curious if crop mode offers anything extra.

    • LOL. Poor camera companies, they can never satisfy anyone. If they made a 1.4 someone would be asking for a 1.2. If they made a 1.2 someone would ask for a 1.0. If they made a .089……

        • The DOF advantage of having full frame get lost compared to APS-C because it’s only f/2. You choose full frame not only for the IQ but also for the shallower DOF impossible to get with cropped sensors.

          Now you can match the same degree of shallow DOF on this full frame by putting a 35mm f/1.4 lens. That is a problem.

          Another problem is the strange decision to not have a built-in viewfinder. For that price, it’s just plain stupid.

          • The DOF advantage isn’t “lost” – the RX1 has a narrower depth of field advantage at every single f/stop. The larger sensor in the RX1 will also have a diffraction limitation advantage too, and a noise advantage as sensitivity is turned up.

            But none of that matters. What matters more than any of this is the end result in practical use. If the camera suits the photographer, it’s a great bundle of features and capabilities in a very small package.

            If it doesn’t suit, then there are plenty more to choose from.

  128. even if it does not have a built in EVF, I have never gotten results like this so easily with any other camera”

    And that is really the key to me. After years of photography I’ve come to realize that no matter what the tech specs or features which seem to be missing on any camera, it all comes down to the pictures one is able to take with it.

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