The Sony RX1 in B&W by Steve Huff and other RX1 owners
The Sony RX1 has been out for a few months now and many owners have been happily shooting with the camera, myself included. Sure, I have access to just about any camera out there on the market but for my personal use I keep 2-3 cameras on hand and lately, my RX1 has taken the #1 spot for my personal shots, family use, etc. It is a jewel of a camera and I have been using it almost daily since it arrived to me and I have yet to have any issues with the camera, no matter what my situation.
That is not to say that if the new Leica M 240 is everything it is cracked up to be that it will not be added to my arsenal, but I can state with 100% certainty that this RX1 is here for the long haul, much like my M9 was.
It is just such a joy and pleasure to use and while not perfect (no camera is) the results that come from this little guy are so damn pleasing. I have recently found out that due to the dynamic range and high ISO capability and sharpness/character of the Zeiss lens that has been matched and attached to the camera that when shooting plain old B&W JPEG with the camera set to B&W the output is quite amazing.
In my review I touched on how easy and simple it is to get results with this camera..without having to fight it for those results. When you mix that with everything else the camera offers, your JPEGS come out looking GREAT and if you want that last ounce of performance then shooting RAW will take you there. I have been hearing from many owners of the RX1 who feel the same way as I do and they also love shooting it in B&W and for the most part, these shooters are just like me, enthusiasts who appreciate great cameras and gear but also LOVE shooting and capturing those memories.
Just a few days ago I noticed that many of the photos posted in the RX1 group on facebook were being posted in B&W. It seems others were coming to the same conclusions that I was..that the RX1 is a great B&W shooter and a fantastic street camera as well.
It also happens to be amazing in color and if you have not yet seen the shots over at the RX1 files HERE or my RX1 gallery HERE then take a look 🙂 Yes, it is expensive. But it does what it is advertised to do and it does it very well while being very solidly built and like I said, it has never given me one issue.
Direct from camera JPEG. Had the camera set to shoot in B&W with lower contrast by 1. Click it to see a larger image, and yes, this is my Son Brandon. Time flies huh?
and how about one at ISO 25,600 in a dark restaurant? With Todd Hatakeyama
EXIF is embedded in all photos and you must click them for larger views or to download them
Others who own and shoot the RX1..
“Due to the extremely high tonal/dynamic range achieved by the RX1 sensor, B&W output from this tiny wonder is producing results that are so rich and mesmerizing, it redefines the genre altogether!”
BTW, There’s a link to DXO labs that I setup which you may find helpful –http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Cameras/Compare-Camera-Sensors/Compare-cameras-side-by-side/(appareil1)/833%7C0/(brand)/Sony/(appareil2)/793%7C0/(brand2)/Olympus/(appareil3)/695%7C0/(brand3)/Fujifilm . It’s comparing RX1, OMD-5 & Fuji X100 head to head. As this is a B&W review, please click > Measurement > Tonal range. As you move the mouse cursor to the vertical color bar on the right, it shows how having a great Tonal Range vs ISO affects the B&W output.
Why I like the RX1:
I love having a compact camera that allows for stunning captures in any light. Despite the drawbacks, it is simply the most enjoyable camera I’ve ever had a chance to use.
“Full frame goodness in a small package.”
Steve, the shot with your Fiancee is Fabulous Bokeh !
What an effect ! A singing Zeiss . . . Stop teasing us !
Hey Steve, I am in the market for a new camera as I am selling my 1D Mark II.. I need something more compact and fun to use and I’m tired of using such a large heavy camera. I shoot landscape, sports and portraits and I’m trying to pick between the RX-1 and the RX-1r. I’m wondering if the absence of the filter in the RX-1r makes that big of a difference. I really need help deciding as I’m used to shooting medium format film and my 1D mark II.. Please help me I’m overwhelmed.
There is a difference but it is not a huge one. If deciding between the two, Id go RX1R for sure. Same cost.
After writing to you I bought the RX1R, I get it tomorrow. You’re reviews are spot on. Thanks for being so thorough with your reviews..
Thanks for your reviews. I like them so much. I’m so happy with the Sony RX-1. I think it is a very good camera for street photography. The must of the pictures on my website i took with this, the rest with the other fanatastic camere Olympus OM-D. http://www.streetfoto.ch
wow, these pictures are amazing! of course, credit to all you guys who actually took the photos, but the camera itself seems to be fantastic. i’d love to get my hands on one, even if it’s just for a few days to test it out and review it – but yeah, these new Sony’s seem to be really making an impression. I love my Sony RX100 to death!
ah, time to start saving…
awesome photos, and thank you to sony for building a gem of a camera
. . . “but I can state with 100% certainty that this RX1 is here for the long haul, much like my M9 was.”
Was? Steve, does this mean that the Sony has surpassed the Leica your estimation? Or, at least, that you use it more than your M9?
Thanks for the great update.
Sold my M9-P months ago as I wait for the 240…I cant afford to keep an M9-P AND buy an 240. 🙂
And a monochrom .
Way so much B&W pictures in 2013 ??? Something is wrong with you guys. If You want to shoot BW Just use film. !! Digital is for color, lást of The great pictures You see from The masters are BW because It was The Only abailable film.
Just get Overseas It. And start creating The Master pictures for The 21 century.
I’m not against the digital B&W photography (or any other digital film simulations), but it doesn’t look cool to me. I don’t see any difference between them and Photoshop oil painting SFX, and from formal aesthetic point of view, they are probably worthless.
80% of B&W film images I see are worthless from an aesthetic point of view – most are dull, flat, washed out, overexposed or just a total mess because mahy have no idea how to properly shoot film, they do it for the cool factor. Would love to see your work, but I would wager you will not dare share a link to it. Or will you?
My last entry was in response to another’s text critiquing the lack of tonal range in the above images which has since been deleted
The image is being conveyed to a array of computer monitors. Considering that, what sort of dynamic range were you hoping for?
The above were artistic endeavors and should be considered as such.
I suppose renditions of tonal test graph paper could have been submitted but again, they all end up interpreted via the quality of your monitor.
It’s also being conveyed to an array of eyes, artistic bents, interests and neural interpretive systems
I certainly appreciate quantitative analysis. And for some things it is the gold standard. But as you say, these are artistic endeavors.
You want shots of tonal graphs? Isn’t that easily available at dpreview?
Not very artistic alas, but I do like art…
The RX1 continues to please…
What with the enhanced resolution of the LCD, is either the EVF or OVF essential for viewing and composing in bright sunlight?
Anyone here opted for the Voightlander 35mm OVF?
I heard from a RX1 shooter on Flickr who was using a OVF from a Ricoh GRD. Being as that supposed to for a 28mm equivelent and the rectangle is oriented to a totally different sensor, it didn’t seem to make much sense.
I haven’t seen the Zeiss OVF but I think the Voigtlander 35mm OVF is super. I’ve been using one on a Leica X1 for a couple of years. My only issue with it on the RX1 is you can’t turn off the LCD (at least I wasn’t able to, and a call to Sony confirmed that).
Thankfully, they finally started shipping the EVF and mine came this week! I do wish you could use a “Thumbs Up” simultaneously with the EVF, but at the end of the day, the performance of this camera/lens combo far outweighs my minimal ergonomic concerns!
I really like the RX1 I think it’s one that I will hang onto for a long long time.
Ahh yes…my crystal ball sees me buying a barely used RX1 in a couple of years for roughly $1400…and me being a very happy camper. The only thing not to like about the RX1 is the price…but really you do get a lot for the money. This camera will be VERY popular on the used market in the years ahead.
It does great bw. Here’s a snapshot.
Well that didn’t work. Sorry.
I too love the B&W shots in this posting. However I too will also wait for the next generation Sony, which I hope will have a built in EVF, and whatever upgrades to follow.
I just sold my Fuji x100, and will more than likely jump on the x100s band wagon once its released.
Love your site, keep up the good work.
With street photography are you zone focusing or using autofocus? How easy is it to zone focus the RX1?
Wow, wow, wow! As a set of photos, these here are the most magnificent B&W photos I have seen on this site. I have never seen photos that look like pure velvet and, at the same time, have such supple grey tones. I want this camera so bad but, alas, the same issues prevent me from buying it; the lack of a built-in veiwfinder and interchangeable lenses. I have a very limited income and I will probably get the X100S and then save for the next iteration of the Sony RX1. The image quality from the RX1 is unlike any compact camera I’ve seen before.
Woops, one more thing. Steve, you said, “Direct from camera JPEG. Had the camera set to shoot in B&W with lower contrast by 1.” Can you explain to us how that works on the RX1 and perhaps show us where the controls for this option is? Thanks.
It is like with most other cameras. When you choose the “B&W” option (same area as “vivid”, “neutral:”, etc. there are options to adjust the contrast and sharpness. Very very simple.
Thanks for posting this, Steve. I really do appreciate your images, and the others’ images, too. The RX1 is one of the factors that is turning me from the path toward a new Canon “full-frame” DSLR purchase later this year. Not that I will abandon DSLRs, of course, but it is clear my creative digital full-frame photography need not be done with either DSLRs or Leicas.
I am actually pretty amazed at how great the B&W is on the RX1. This is a really film like looking B&W. The lens has great IQ, bokeh and sharpness. This is really a great camera. Thanks Steve for all these samples.
The pic of the waterfall really puts it in perspective. Really great camera.
I’m saving my pennies… Wonderful! 🙂
I have recently purchased the Olympus OMD (still within my 30 day window of return). By the time you outfit this camera and purchase a couple of decent lenses its probably a little more expensive than the RX 1. I am an “enthusiast” photographer. Would I be better off returning the OMD or do you see the RX 1 as a “complementary” camera.
Love your site and visit daily by the way.
I’m not Steve, obviously, but here my thoughts:
If you can live only with a 35 mm lens, Rx1 is probably the best digital interpretation of the concept, so it can be a good choice.
A budget of 2700 on OMD, gives you lower IQ than Rx1, but a lot more of versatility, you can build a good setup for almost every situation.
IMHO, Rx1 is a complementary camera, E-m5 with the right lenses can be the only camera you need, but depends on your shooting style.
Are you using the RX1 for B&W or your monochrom now?
Wonderful set of photos! Well done! The RX1 is truly an amazingly capable little camera and it is perfect for everyday use. Always been tempted to get it someday.
Is it possible to shoot mono JPEG + color RAW with the RX1?
Sure, that is how I shoot but I usually end up using the B&W JPEG 🙂
Steve, are you sure about this? Once I select RAW+JPEG in the menu, the BW option becomes greyed out. In fact no picture effects are available with this setting. Also no tweaking of contrast, saturation a sharpness are available with RAW+JPEG.
I am 100% sure as you are not choosing a “picture effect” but the “creative style” – this is where you choose B&W. Your JPEGS will be B&W and your RAW will be RAW.
Thanks. Got it!
As far as I am aware only mono cameras are able to capture mono-RAW files!
Some camera settings such as styles/effects only affect the JPEGs. As the name suggests RAW files contain… well… ‘raw’ sensor data – or at least as close to being raw sensor data as possible while still being a convenient format. If you have a colour camera, your RAW files will contain colour and essentially be images pre-JPEG rendering. Styles and effects are applied as the camera renders the RAW files into JPEGs.
Here is a handy Sony tip:
Since live view systems are often run off JPEG systems, you can use the JPEG rendering system to assist in the mechanics of taking an image. An example of this is using focus peaking. As good as focus peaking is, it can be difficult to use if the image has lots colours the same colour as the focus peaking highlights. Another situation where it might be difficult to see the focus peaking highlights is when the scene has poor contrast or illumination.
If you are willing to work with RAW files, you can increase the visibility of the focus peaking by shooting in JPEG + RAW with the B/W creative style enabled. Delete the B/W JPEGs after you transfer your images and recover the colour image from the RAWs.
So long as I am rambling…
There is also a caveat emptor with live view systems! In manual mode I meter my images using the live-view histogram. If find this to be an extremely useful tool BUT only with the knowledge (opinion) that the displayed histogram is the green channel. If used verbatim, you could over/under expose the other channels.
Very useful comment for other things than the RX1. Thanks: I shall squirrel it away.
All of you have done a wonderful job with your photos showing what this little camera can do. Thanks for sharing! I especially like the baby on the rocks with the nice background bokeh!
me too, when I see that baby
on white heelseverything around is a nice background boke
Okay, when I read “baby on the rocks” I just had to laugh… sorry… 😉 But it IS a very nice picture! I love B&W.