More RX1R shots plus Leica X Vario vs Sony RX1R Crazy Comparison!


More RX1R shots plus Leica X Vario vs Sony RX1R Crazy Comparison!

Welcome one and all and happy Independence Day to those of you in the USA! Today I have something fun for those who asked me to do this. 🙂 This post will have a quick comparison between the Leica X Vario and the new Sony RX1R as well as a couple of new snaps with the RX1R.

The 1st test? Both cameras at 35mm, both at f/4.5, both at ISO 100. Which one will win for Detail? Leica German optics vs Sony AA Filterless sensor? This is a “Just for Fun” test..had both cameras here, both cost about the same…so WHY NOT? As I suspected the Sony with the Zeiss lens and full frame sensor without the AA filter edges out the X Vario, but the X Vario is not too far behind. Then again, this was shot at f/4.5, the largest aperture you can shoot at on the X-Vario when at 35mm. These are different cameras for a different target audience but it does not hurt to show each camera side by side. Besides, they may not be as far off as you would thing when it comes to the versatility of the Zoom.




The Sony is a resolution monster, can go to f/2 and is smaller while still being just as well made. The Sony focuses better in low light, equal in good light. The Sony’s battery life is about equal to the Vario (both could be improved). The Vario has a 28-70mm option though the longer you go the more light you will need. The Sony is a 35mm which means you would need to take a few steps back for a 28 and a click of the button to crop to 70mm in camera.

Any way you look at it, the RX1R is a resolution machine. Take a look at the image below. You can click the pic for an 1800 pixel wide version and see the 100% crop below at the focus point.



NOTE: The Sony EVF is $50 cheaper yet is better than the Olympus/Leica VF2.

The Sony is a serious tool. The Leica X Vario can also be a serious tool.

One thing to note though is that the Sony has been with me through the long haul and I still love it as much as I did on day one. Now with the “R” version offering that little extra detail (it is small but there) I just am in awe of what the RX1/RX1R can do. No, the AF is not as fast as a DSLR or OM-D but it is as fast if not more accurate than most Fuji lenses on the Pro-1 and it seriously has never failed me.

My RX1 /RX1R gallery is here and shows photos taken in ALL kinds of lighting. I post those to show versatility of the camera.

Sony RX1R


The Sony Crop Mode = Leica X Vario Zoom?

Yes, the Sony can do 35mm full frame or a 50mm crop or a 75mm crop. With it housing a superb 24MP full frame sensor vs the 16MP APS-C of the X Vario, this gives it quite a bit of leeway in the crop world. You can shoot the RX1R at 35mm, 50mm or 75mm. The 50 and 75MM are cropped in camera. So basically by the time you are at 50mm it is almost similar to shooting the Vario at 50mm due to the crop and the X Varios APS-C sensor size. By the time you hit 75 on the Sony you are much smaller than APS-C size but still high quality. Let’s take a look at a quick sample. The Sony retains the f/2 aperture because it is just cropping the image in camera.

Both cameras are at wide open aperture to show DOF differences.





What does this sample show? Mainly the DOF differences between the two cameras, even at 70mm on the Vario vs the crop of the Sony where the Sony can still show f/2 DOF, albeit in a 35mm way when cropped to 70mm. The downside is that you can only use the crop mode of the Sony in JPEG mode but it can be useful for those “zoom moments”. Still the X Vario offers full resolution at all focal lengths 🙂

What is to come?

Mark my words. If Sony releases an RX-M (which could stand for RX-Mirrorless) with a new full frame sensor and mount that can take M lenses via an adapter they will have delivered what everyone wanted Leica to bring out. A digital CL. It will sell in droves. ESPECIALLY if it has a built-in viewfinder.


PREDICTION: I have no inside info at all on this but I have a feeling that Sony is going to release something full frame with a fast 50mm. Wether that is an Interchangeable Lens full frame camera with a new 50mm lens (new FF NEX) or an RX2 with a built-in 50mm f/2 remains to be seen but my crystal ball sees something from Sony like this.

If Sony goes the route of releasing a Full Frame NEX-8, 9  or whatever I think that will be less desirable as current  NEX lenses, the E-Mount lenses, are NOT full frame compatible. Full frame lenses would need a new mount which would mean a bulky adapter if they were using a E-Mount. That could get tricky and I feel it would not offer the IQ of the RX1/RX1R, which is amazing due  to the sensor and lens matching. Then again, if they managed to make E- mount size full frame lenses without corner or color issues on such a slim NEX body then that could also be interesting. All rumors have been saying a FF NEX.


What I would love to see is an IC version of the RX1. But would Sony release this and slow the sales of the RX1? Probably not. So it should be interesting to see where they go with all of this. Rumors say NEX FF. If so, just hope it is not sloppy or filled with issues.

I do know that Sony and Fuji are leading the way in the mirrorless market while Canon, Nikon and Leica are starting to lag behind. Funny how that happens. The big N & C are afraid of hurting their DSLR sales while Leica does not want to hurt the M sales. Sony has nothing to fear and they do not seem to be worried about their DSLR sales. IMO, Sony could create and start the entire full frame mirrorless category with an interchangeable lens RX (NOT NEX). Looking forward to what is in store in 2013!

The RX1/RX1R puts out deep and rich B&W images



  1. have seen this valuable comparison rather late – not crazy at all, given the cropping options of the RX1. But it leaves me feeling very happy I went for the X-Vario! Thanks, Steve.

  2. Canikon didn’t go in this direction.
    Could DSLRs and bad zooms really be that profitable?

    If so, Canon and Nikon could have designed something high end like the RX1, charged $3k and therefore offset any loss of DSLR sales.

    And just imagine a version of the RX1 with ICLs…


    If the X-Pro1 had full frame & AF.

    I wouldn’t sell my D700 for an RX1 but I’d definitely buy one in addition to and take it out with me way more often.

    That’s a great B&W shot Steve, nice review as always. 😀

  3. I love your website and Leica/Sony reviews Steve, thanks so much for sharing. Can’t decide right now over getting a new lens that’s been on my radar (New Zeiss 135ze for my 1DX) or pre-order a new Sony RX1r. I really wanted the new M but not in my cards right now with an upcoming wedding to pay for. The only thing I wish the Sony had was interchangeable lenses so I could put my beloved M mount Zeiss glass on this machine. Not too sure about the quality of the included Zeiss 35. Your thoughts?

    One other big question, in the FIRST photo, what brand is the red camera strap and where can I buy one? I love it!

    Thanks Steve!!

  4. Hello Steve, since you have one, why don’t you put into this “crazy” comparison also the samsung nx300 with the 30mm lens? It could surprise you.

      • 30mm aps-c is 45mm equivalent. Anyway nx has also a 20mm prime (30mm equivalent) and two lenses able to do 35mm equivalent or about that: the 18-55 and the 20-50. Both are not fast, but neither the Leica is.

  5. The only thing I don´t get are the crop options. it is only a simulation of field of view but at “50mm or 70mm” settings you still get the same perspective distortion of 35mm with a tighter frame, which is pointless in my opinion. Would be much nicer a Tri-Elmar kind of lens.

  6. “If Sony releases an RX-M (which could stand for RX-Mirrorless) with a new full frame sensor and mount that can take M lenses…” Steve, they don´t need to. Carl Zeiss is as good or better than Leica, so why bother going the M route? An RX with interchangeable CZ lenses would be the Leica tombstone.

  7. Thanks, great comparison ! The Crop mode of the Sony in 70mm is soooo much more appealing than the X at 75mm, thanks to the wider aperture.. The Leica actually didn’t stand a chance with image quality, low-light, size, resolution.. mmh. Oh yeah, it has a pretty red dot. I still like what you shot at the Palouse with it. I am sure the Rx1r would have been amazing for the landscape work though..

  8. I don’t think that Leica’s main concern lies with not hurting the M sales. The problem is that Leica doesn’t manufacture their own sensors and this can get expensive. Even Sony is charging a formidable price for the RX1/R and they own the sensors. As far as an interchangeable full-frame mirorless from Sony goes: it is much easier to match a lens to a sensor rather than adapting a sensor to several different lenses, especially if you consider how that Zeiss 35 is built “into” the Rx1/R.

  9. If they could do an RX2 with an 85MM (short portrait) lens I will buy immediately to complement my RX-1. If the release an IL version for me to put my Leica glass on I will do a Sony dance on my rooftop!

    • There seems to be a universal agreement that there is a need for a digital CL equivalent. We have seen the GXR with M mount module and both the Fuji X with their adapter as well as various NEX releases with a Leica M adapter.

      All have had success and some issues. The RX1 deals with the short lens mount distance with a wide angle lens with a very large rear element. This works very well with a fixed mount camera.

      Ricoh solved the issues of a symmetrical lens design with micro-lenses in front of the sensor. I think the same solution was used by Leica with the M9. If SONY can solve the issue with symmetrical lens design with a full frame sensor, then a Leica M mount variant of the RX1 is a possibility. It would also create an enlarged market for Sony’s parter Zeiss for their superb ZM series of lenses.

      Ricoh, Sony, and Leica with the M, have shown the utility of focus peaking with an electronic finder. If Leica will not add a M body with EVF as an alternative to the optical rangefinder viewfinder, then Ricoh or Sony should. It will only expand the market.

  10. The tones in that last shot are deep & rich. Really good shot! Is that in-camera conversion?

    As for the next FF sony models to come- I’d buy either a fixed 50/2 model or an ILC model- BUT only if it has a built in viewfinder. I’d prefer an OVF but this is Sony we’re talking about so it’ll be an EVF.
    Imo the lack of a VF is the RX1’s biggest flaw.
    Infact- I’m going to email sony right now and ask them not to exclude it on the next model. They probably won’t listen- but it can’t hurt.

    • I agree. I don’t think there will ever come a time when i spend three grand on a camera without a viewfinder. I don’t like EVFs, so it doesn’t seem like a Sony is in my future, unfortunately.

  11. Agreed, that last shot is a cracker.

    Question, though….. I was impressed by another RX-1r image, and began to seriously consider the camera. But, when i visited dpreview, and looked at the RAW image comparisons, the Sony NEX-7 seems to do considerably better than the RX. In fact, the 7 seems to beat most cameras, even the 5DMkIII in some respects. Am i misleading myself, or is the NEX really that good, despite being over two years old?

  12. What I can say from using the X-Vario for about 2 weeks now is that the IQ is pretty good and leaves nothing to be desired IMO, even though I can imagine that a ff frame sensor and a prime lens do show some advantages in direct comparisons.
    Regarding the comparison image – the X-Vario image shows less dynamic range, but could look better if it was exposed somewhat less. The RX1 image of the lens shows moiree (or whatever the pinkish reflections are).
    It is obvious that the x-vario isn’t really capable of shallow DOF (except maybe very short distances). Therefor its more flexible in regards of the zoom lens. IMO it is nice to have a choice.
    The images from the original RX1 look so sharp that I am not sure if I would go for the version without AA filter (in case I would intent to use a RX1).

  13. This is one of the few times I have seen any camera beat any Leica so badly that you could tell the difference just by looking at un-cropped pictures. Usually, the Leica “look” will offer some advantage, either in color, or resolution, or depth, (or “bokeh”) or whatever.

    This is the first Leica that does not. As far as I could tell, the Sony beat it (visibly) in every category.

    Thanks for the fun comparison. Hopefully Leica will blow up this article and post it on the “announcement” board in their lunchroom.

  14. I have the same feeling with the RX1 as i had with the X100 when i saw the pictures..Beautifull and then again beautiful!!
    Everything i need in a camera(exept the viewfinder then)
    My wallet needs more attention to buy it but that will be a matter of time, i hope.

  15. Hi, Steve – Any chance of putting up some outdoor landscape shots from both cameras to illustrate how the respective “zooms” work in that application (i.e. Cathedral Rock, Lost Dutchman Park, Grand Canyon, etc.)?

  16. A Sony RX1 variant with an M mount (and a sensor with micro-lenses to compensate for a symmetrical wide angle lenses would be superb. With and EVF and focus peaking, but no need for the complexity of a rangefinder or an Auto focus mechanism it would be superb. The exposure system would only need an aperture priority and manual shutter modes. It would be simple and straight forward. I suppose it would also be less expensive than any Leica M camera and should be less expensive than the RX1. With Sony inheriting the Minolta and Konica legacy, production of an “RX-M” would echo it’s own heritage of Leica Mount cameras. Minolta collaborated with Leica with the CL and later produced the CLE. Konica produced the Hexar RF.

  17. The in camera zoom really adds to the versatility of the Sony. No doubt you can just crop later too if you want to shoot RAW.

  18. Hey Steve,
    Great fun comparison.
    As far as your prediction that Sony will not release a ff nex, instead a rx-m mirrorless? Why say this?
    They already have the vg900 which is ff mirrorless camcorder in e mount and they officially signed a deal with Zeiss for the release of 4 new ff e mount lenses for release in early to mid 2014.
    The ff nex is coming, it will be here end of this year start of next year, there are two pro types already in the hands of testers, a 24mp version and a 38mp version. It will likely be the nex9 i believe, following sony’s numbering trend, eg. A99 ff dslr, vg900 ff mirrorless nex camcorder, makes spence for ff nex to be nex9.
    The rx line of cameras to me seem to be a line into themselves of fixed lens cameras.
    …and as far as you mentioning Sony being the first to create the digital CL, is that nor only fitting since Sony acquired Minolta and built their cameras and lenses around Minolta tech. Minolta made the Leica CL for Leica and sold it for themselves as the Minolta CLE, I like to think it is very fitting if Sony would bring this full circle and be the first to create the digital equivalent of the Leica CL/Minolta CLE

    • It was not a prediction of them releasing a FF RX camera, it was a wish. I said I would prefer a FF RX over a FF NEX. I know RUMORS point to NEX but I feel they would have had better luck taking the RX to the IC world. Just my opinion. I have a feeling a FF NEX will have issues with soft corners, distortion, etc. But time will tell. The APS-C NEX had issues with wide angle Leica lenses, a FF NEX will be even worse. Hardly a digital CL. If they managed to fix these issues, then it will be quite amazing. We shall see!

      • Thanks for clarifying on your point of view. I guess we shall see in time. I know they fixed the wide angle rangefinder lens problems from the nex5 to the nex5n so hopefully we will see this in the possible ff nex. I know personally for me, as someone who has a substantial classic lens collection, that a fullframe e-mount nex is my dream camera.

      • I so agree. I have never spent more than $1200 for a camera body, but a FF ILC in the RX series? Assuming they incorporate new fast AF into the mix, I think I might spring for big bucks.

    • Minolta produced the Leica CL for Leica, the Leitz-Minolta CL for the Japanese market, and the Minolta CL for Minolta distribution. The M-Rokkor 90mm f4 was manufactured by Leica and had Leitz co-branding on the lens. The M-Rokkor 40mm f2 was of the same optical design as the 40mm f2 Summicron. After the agreement between Leica and Minolta expired, Minolta continued production of the Minolta CL followed by the updated Minolta CLE.

      • Minolta also made the 16mm 2.8 fisheye for Leica, as well as the 21mm 2.8 rectilinear and the 24mm 2.8, Leica and Minolta also collaborated on the Minolta 35-70 Marco zoom which was also sold as Leica, again the same with the infamous Minolta 70-200. There is a lot if history between the two companies. 🙂

          • Even now. The electronics are from Jenoptik, the sensor from CMosis,… (I’n not going to say anything about the credentials of these companies, certainly not in the camera world, but…?) Precisely that is what keeps me from buying Leica, it might eventually kill the entire beautiful story as their R&D competences are almost microscopic in comparison to Sony, Fuji, Nikon,… surely when it comes to engineering & design of electronic stuff. Times have changed. A FF RX/NEX with interchangeable lenses will already be far beyond this way to expensive M, and that’s only the beginning. Over two years, we will see organic sensors that have twice the dynamics of this CMOSIS, opening an entirely different world. I’m curious what Leica will do. They will just have to follow the mainstream market dynamics and be begging to the market leaders like Sony to buy this type of cutting edge sensors or they will die in peace. The problem is that others won’t be prepared at all to deliver this kind of materials as Leica is some kind of competition after all. I’m almost sure that even now this is the reason why there is no FF Sony sensor in the M. Precisely that kind of ‘running behind the facts’ company strategy has no chance.

  19. you are absolutely right about Sony! And I applause them by doing so.
    he most stupid move is Canon M. For a big Camera company to come out with such a useless product leaves me flabbergasted ? Nikon on the other side has also made a strange Russian Roulette move with their One system and the D800.
    Their One system is fast but far lagging results to the Sony RX100 No f1.4 lens what so ever.
    They could have come out with a M600 model using the D600 guts and Bam big sale for Nikon.

    If Nikon isn’t coming with a new M full frame model end of the summer, then they are too late to compete with the other Big boys.

    • Grant…I agree with you about the EOS M….but do you know how cheap it is now? There’s a sale till July 9th at B&H where you can get the M with the 22mm pancake f2 lens for $300…..that is crazy cheap for an APS-C camera. I’m sure Steve could put the link here so he gets the click commission…

      For that kind of money it’s a no brainer if you already have other Canon lenses.

    • Geez, settle down, the big two are still going to be the big two, don’t you worry about that. How many people do you see on the streets with mirrorless as apposed to Canikon? 3 grand for a FF little mirrorless? Man, I don;t know what world you live on but money down here don;t grow on trees. And Canikon knows that, even I know that, and I don;t need to do a survey to know. Until mirrorless costs less than its more feature packed dslr fathers, it will never replace dslrs. People want to pay less for more, not more for less. You take out the mirrorbox and ovf and voila, you have a better camera that costs just as much or more? HA! That’s like buying pizza without the cheese and charging the same price. Nikon isn’t going to make a stupid FF mirrorless camera just so 200 people can afford to buy it. That’s not their business model, nor is it Canon’s.

  20. Hi Steve, nice comparison, I like very much – your idea! What would interest me as RX1 owners: How’s your rating of the properties of the B & W derKamera in Jpeg Fine mode? Compared to VX and compared to the MM!

    Thank you and many greetings from Berlin


  21. I have always argued with people who say Leica cameras are over-prices but looking at the X-Vario I myself agrees that its overpriced.

  22. I am so pleased with my RX1. In fact, I tend to take two or three shots for every shot I take with my M-E (sort of M9). That tells me something… So, I pre-orderered an X100 II which will replace my LX7 because I can use my RX1 EVF (and batteries!) with the II. Sweet

  23. If Sony releases an RX-M (which could stand for RX-Mirrorless)

    Then I would buy an M again, but this time not from Leica.

      • For us newcomers (not pros) and foreigners it would be good if you can display a list of ALL abbreviations used? E g this example above; IC, IMO, et cetera. This ‘list’ should always be available in regard to your blog?

        • There is a problem with mirror less cameras. I think I have seen at least 5 different abbreviations. Early on EVIL was quite common, now ILC Is probably the most prevalent…

          • Yes and no. EVIL has always stood for Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens where ILC stands for Interchangeable Lens Camera.

            EVIL as a concept has existed for long, there were few DIY (do it yourself) attempts few years back.

          • forgot to add regarding EVIL – it was always meant as ‘going forward’, once digital sensors with ability of live view appeared, the next step after pentaprism/mirror based cameras.

          • , I think I was really looking for CSC, which is the most interesting category in my eyes. EVIL often seemed to be used for these cameras in the past even though the abbreviation doesn’t really say anything about size. Letter commissions are often only meaningful for those using them on a daily basis to talk and write faster, and is maybe more of a abortion of the stress in our society as well as a secret language for people in the know. My personal preference is to write it out fully first time mentioned in a text with the letter combination within brackets afterward and then using the letter combination in the remainder of the text…

  24. interesting photo closeup of the lens. look at the color flecks in the silver rim of the lens in the sony shot, not present in the leica shot. this may be due to chroma noise or even moiré of some kind.

    • Maybe you are right, but i guess it is rather due to the surface structure of the chrome, which shimmers colorful in reality too. This effect may be visible at the hight resolution of the RX1 only. OR, could it also be some kind of moire, which is not visible with the XVario?

    • Agreed.

      It has timeless beauty about it…

      which is a testament to the photographer’s eye, as much as it is the choice of camera.

      Nice work Steve.

    • OMG, that last picture is indeed impressive! But like somone else said before, there is still a little fear, that with Steve’s ability to take stunning pictures almost every day, almost any decent camera will look good in Steve’s hands. 😉

      Great work, Steve! Keep it up!

    • That’s a great shot in every way. Without getting caught up in the photography however, (serious kudos, Steve) that Sony does kill for black and white. Said that last year. It’s enough, coupled with the vibe of that Zeiss lens, to make me want to pocked one of these RX1s. R or not. But preferably R.

    • as stated by many others…. that last shot Steve is magnificent! Please tell us if that is an out of the camera jpg or a RAW file worked post?

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