The Sony RX1 goes to Rio De Janeiro by Mash


The Sony RX1 goes to Rio De Janeiro

by Mash

Hi Steve,

Been following your site for a little over six months now and thanks to your reviews I picked up the Fuji X100s and the Sony RX1.

I originally had a Nikon D300s, and it had been sitting on my desk for over two years because it was just such a hassle to carry everything around. That’s when I started researching fixed lens Cameras and based on your review I picked up the Fuji X100s first and sold the entire Nikon D300s kit.

The Fuji X100s really was a delight to use. It definitely is much more intuitive to use then the Sony RX1. The only thing that bothered me about the Fuji files was I never found the images sharp enough, there was a softness to it that some people may prefer, but it never really tickled my fancy.

Couple of months later, I planned a trip to Rio and was trying to decide on to take the Fuji or buy the Sony RX1. After reading and re-reading your review of the RX1, I sold the Fuji and bought the Sony RX1.

The Sony RX1 costs a little over USD $3000 here, and having heard horror stories about muggings in Rio, I became paranoid of taking it with me.

So, as I was committed to the trip and didn’t have any other camera I did two things to ensure the safety of the Camera.

1. Took out a travel insurance policy that covers theft or loss.

2. I also took some artistic tape, and randomly taped over the camera and the logos. You can see in the image below (taken with iphone 5).

I had no idea if uglifying the camera would work, but when two random people I met on the trip commented, “Oh did you break your camera?”, appears to have had the desired effect I wanted.

It was my first time visiting Rio De Janeiro, so I really didn’t know what to expect. Nothing was really planned and I went with the flow. I was lucky enough to have run into a wide spectrum of shooting opportunities and challenges.

gaffed sony rx1

Sony RX1 in use

For all the shots below, I had the camera set to aperture priority and in most cases the aperture was set to F2. The only adjustments I would make to control the light was using the exposure dial, dialing it up and down as needed.

What I really loved about this simple setup was, it allowed me to focus on what I wanted to capture rather than trying to get a perfect shot every single time.

The camera was set to auto focus most cases, in some rare instances I used the manual focus option. I had programmed the AEL button to switch between auto and manual focus, and once used to it – became a breeze to change.

I shot everything in RAW and then edited everything in Lightroom 5.

I wanted to share some images to show you the breath of images captured and how beautiful and sharp the images are.


Ipanema Beach

The shooting conditions on the beach was bright sun light with a lot of movement.

ipanema 1

Ipanema 2

Churches and Chris the Redeemer

I love how beautiful the bokeh out of the camera is. This image was shot in almost dark church, with natural light pouring in 500 yards from the front doors.

church 1

A look at how the macro functions. Again, there was barely any light in the room.

church 2

The following image was shot about 500 feet away looking up at the painted windows. Using the multi zone focus moved the focus point down, to avoid the windows being washed out by too much light.

church 3

Sunday mass. The silent shutter sound didn’t alert anyone to the fact that I was taking photos.

church 4

Christ the Redeemer. I loved this photo opportunity. With the sun perfectly positioned on the palm of christ. I was shooting straight at the sun, and the clouds were recovered post processing. I was really impressed by the dynamic range of the RX1, to allow me to do 5

Rio Pride Parade

To give you an idea of the color rendering range of the camera, I was lucky to have come across the Rio Pride Parade. I will let the images talk themselves, the only adjustment I made was to put up the vibrancy.

pride 1

pride 2

pride 3

pride 4

Teachers Demonstration

While visiting downtown Rio, ran across what was a teachers unions strike. Chose to render this in black and white in post processing.

I am not sure how people would have reacted if I was lugging around a huge DSLR. I would like to believe, people felt much less threatened thinking I am using a simple point and shoot.

teacher strike 1

teacher strike 2

teacher strike 3Favela Visit

This was the part of the visit I was most looking forward to. It was a foggy and rainy day, and parts of the favela were in complete darkness only lit by a small fluorescent light.

I used a simple umbrella to protect the camera and the camera was small enough to operate with my other free hand. Don’t think it would have been that easy with a larger DSLR.

The camera did hunt a few times, but nothing that was annoying or unbearable.

favela 1

favela 2

Overall Impressions

Yes it may be over priced. It may have been foolish purchasing it a few weeks before the release of the Sony full frame A7. Saying all that, life is too short to live with regrets, and I am glad that the Sony Rx1 was beside me on this amazing trip to capture these beautiful moments.

I love the Sony Rx1. At no moment did I wish I had another camera, or wanted a faster focus or a different lens. It was a trusty companion by my side to take the photos the moment I wanted them.

I am already planning my next trip, and can’t wait to take the Sony RX1 along.

If you would like to see images from my brazil trip, pay a visit to my site

You will see more about the street art, the music, and more shots from the above themes.

Thank you Steve for letting me share this with your readers.



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  1. Great post, Mash! Other than LR5, is there any other programs you used for post processing? Presets and such. Even though it doesn’t show much of the Rx1’s IQ capabilities, I am liking the film look of your photos.

  2. Hi Mash, about owning a very expensive camera, just enjoy it. May be you are in the process of learning (like we all should be) and the camera is made for the pros, you can grow with it. I think Susan Sontag says owning a camera can be ecstatic (or something similar, cannot find it now). I never buy a cam i don´t use because it´s too expensive. So it´s good you found a way dealing with the dangers of theft. I know some people selling their Leica equipment just because they never dare to use ist. That´s a pity.
    About photos looking flat: That is a bit difficult to explain. On the one side it´s a matter of taste, on the other it´s about the relation of detail an dynamic range. The more detail you have, the more the photo looks deep, but you can lose dynamic range, and that makes the photo looks flat and vice versa. So you may try to give the shadows more punch without giving up details in the midtones, and preserve the highs to a certain degree. That might help giving a deeper look to your photos. Same is for the new buyers of a Leica Monochrom. The Monochrom gives so many grey-tones, the photos look despite the high level of details just flat. Maybe there is a website from Leica-Monochrom Users that you find useful?
    Sorry for my bad school-english.

  3. Hi Mash. Nice images with the RX1. However, I am a bit bothered by one of your comments about the Fuji X100S. You said “I never found the images sharp enough”. Now, that is the ONLY time I’ve ever heard a complaint about the “Sharpness” of the Fujinon lens on the X100S (or X100 for that matter, being the same lens). Even Steve Huff says that lens is “perfectly matched” to the sensor. Can you please show samples of images that made you come to that conclusion? (My hunch is that perhaps “Technique” or , using a too-slow shutter speed for hand-holding, low light, etc., may the the reason for any apparent lack of image sharpness, rather than the camera or lens itself.) Also, I’m wondering how you liked shooting without a viewfinder, especially the marvelous Hybrid VF of the Fuji? Thank you.

    • Love these pictures…gives you a great feeling of being there.

      I too had the Fuji x100s, and I actually felt the same about the pictures…not sharp. I would get the occasional one that was, but for the most part, not too sharp. They had that soft look to them, but still looked great in my opinion. I went back to Olympus.

      • Wilk,
        Thanks for your comment. So, are you saying that you are getting images from the Olympus system (E-M1 perhaps?) that are sharper than those from the Fuji X100S? What about when enlarging to 24×36 inches…Can the M4/3 sensor images maintain sharpness and detail at those print sizes? Thanks again!

        • Hi Steve,

          I have never printed that large, sorry, so I could not comment on sharpness at that size.

          I would say each sensor is very different in output. I found the Fuji pics to be very life like/film like, while the Olympus pics seem sharper, but more digital to me. I just got into some pp software and am able to make the Olympus pics have that film like rendering to them, which is my taste. But I went back to Olympus EM5 for many reasons…usability, quickness, weather seal etc.

          • Very interesting, Wilk! I have always been enamored of the Olympus System, for their awesome lenses, plus the reasons you mention regarding the EM5. Frankly the only thing holding me back (besides funds), is my uncertainty about how the 4/3 sensor images hold up to extreme enlargement. I’ve done a bit of research on this and have obtained inconclusive results. If I didn’t print larger than 11×14, I’d probably be all over the E-M1. Therefore, I am now researching the Sony A7r as perhaps my best option for the type of work that I do, i.e., large landscape prints and product photography. If Sony introduces a Zeiss Macro for their new E mount, that may do it for me! (Especially if it had the quality and sharpness of the Olympus 60mm Macro!) Thanks again!

          • It’s not very difficult. The smaller the file, the more you have to enlarge it for a given print size. Full frame (and larger of course) wins every time.

          • Hi. Yes, I’m quite aware of that relationship, having used large format (4×5, 8×10) sheet film back in the day. I was just curious to see if anyone had taken the 4/3 sensor images to that size, and their subjective opinion regarding resulting image sharpness. I certainly agree that Full Frame would be the way to go when extreme enlargement is concerned. Thank you.

          • I can’t speak for 4/3’s, but I have seen the difference in a 15 x 25 (or thereabouts) print between a Jpeg file, a Tiff file and the original NEF file, all originating from a D700. That difference was very noticeable.

  4. Just a couple of things I don’t understand.

    You said “For all the shots below, I had the camera set to aperture priority and in most cases the aperture was set to F2”.
    Surely not the shots in full sunlight? F2 at base iso (100) would give a shutter speed of around 1/4000sec -1/8000sec.Did you use a neutral density filter or a smaller aperture for those shots?

    Also, you said “Using the multi zone focus moved the focus point down, to avoid the windows being washed out by too much light”. Surely where you move the focus point to wouldn’t affect the exposure. Even in spot metering mode moving the focus point doesn’t move the spot exposure.

    Other than that, good images, but a little to heavily edited for my liking.

  5. There seems to be a lot of variations in the images to me. Some of the b&w images (the last 2 b&w) appear flat. Some of the color images (the first 2 in the series) seem to be off in tone. Was this done in post processing? Or was it the effect you were looking for?

    • The photos are just some from a set of 6 series. I was going for a specific look per set.

      Here is the full breathe of pictures from the favela

      I am still learning, and hardly would call myself a professional photographer. I just enjoy taking photos.

      Saying that, could you explain what you mean the photos appear flat? What specifically is making it appear flat?

  6. I can see the idea behind these images, but I think, with all due respect, that that idea was lost almost completely in a lot of different approaches to post processing. Pre-visualising the sort of image you want to capture before you go out is a good thing, but I would have stuck to one particular kind of effect, and try to find the images that suit that effect.

    As for the camera? What makes you feel at ease and works for you I guess, and the RX1 is a very attractive camera. That it’s very portable and forces you to think in one focal length only is a bonus.

    The image quality that camera is capable of doesn’t really shine through here because of the heavy post processing, but I don’t that a problem; it’s the images that count.

    • Thank you for your feedback.

      In retrospect just looking at this, it does look like a bunch of instagram style photos.

      On the original posting on my site, there are a series of 6. Each series I was going for a specific look. You can see it here

      I am still learning post processing, and used a heavy hand. Lesson learned 🙂 After all practice and feedback makes one improve.

    • Absolutely. Which is why the original site where I posted the photos ( ), I don’t talk about the camera at all.

      Here i was sharing my experience with the Sony Rx 1 as it is a site that is geared towards a lot of cameras.

  7. Hi I honestly have to agree that the editing doesn’t do any help on the picts. Also I live in Brazil, and there is no need to cover the camera as has been done, its even more flashy and calls more attention, it will definitely bring you the what the heck look. So doing that is not what i will call smart. Rio is indeed not a safe place, but if you go only to touristic areas, and don’t hang your camera from a strap, like an idiot, you will be more then okay. In touristic places there is already a lot of people with DSLR and cameras, so keeping a low profile will guarantee you to be okay. Of course if you want to wonder into the city and shoot that’s another story. Also within the favela tours you are protected, community knows it brings them money as the guides of the tours pay for the security, so no need to be scare. Its not the end of the world as some put it…..

  8. Enjoyed the tape, looks really like a broken cam to me. Nice. I just don´t understand your way developing the pictures. As i understand, you already have an iPhone 5, so why not use just hipstamatic? Using the right film/lens combo may look similar to your pics, and loosing the Phone ist not so expensive.

    • I see your point here.

      I was looking at the picture and find the processing uneven and too filter-y. The Christ the Redeemer photo could have been great (nice ray of the sun and wonderful clouds) but all I see is a statue with too much highlight clipped and only a very short portion of sunburst. The rest looked like they were shot with film, but in a gimmicky way.

      • People bash Leicafiles for shooting landscapes with $8,000 bodies and thousands of dollars in lenses and you submit this with a $3,000 point and shoot with an excellent lens? What am I looking at? The images you make or you wanting to be looked at when you photograph. When has anyone ever cared how you wrap a camera when filming? Why not tell us what you wore and had for breakfast? It is just as irrelevant. The images are weak and no amount of blogging will fix that. Sony will soon be begging you to take these images down because you will kill sales. If you are afraid to photograph openly in suspect neighborhoods, stay at home. You don’t win any prizes for half-hearted attempts. Do or do not, there is no try to borrow from Yoda. I’m reading great photos from other comments and I have to ask compared to what? Does this represent the best you could get in Rio after a week long trip? Really? And to say it looks like film is just… why do I bother?

        • You quote Yoda, yet your comment is full of anger more fitting for the dark side.

          For breakfast, I had Acai berries every morning in Rio.

          • Burn!

            Haters will hate Mash.

            The images are just fine – some really nice ones in there. Processing is a personal preference and one that digital affords us. Gone are the days that the amateur had to rely on the lab to develop their look for them. For better or worse, the individual can now cut their own visual path and some people just can’t stomach it. See above.

    • No kidding.
      I don’t get it at all. If you want your photos to look flat, washed out and not very good just use a cameraphone! And save yourself $3000 at the same time.

      But the camera looks craptastic with the tape – just what want you want in scary Brazil.

      • Glad I’m not the only one thinking the same thing, doesn’t look like RX1 photos to me… lol

        I would of used gaffers tape and then put duct tape on top of it to make it look even more devastated.

  9. Regrets? You are unlikely to top a fixed lens matched for a specific sensor. And it’s one stop faster than the E mount 35mm available for the a7.

    • Thanks.

      I was nervous going in but the favela is actually very safe.

      I would definitely recommend it to anyone who visits Rio.

      It is an amazing experience.

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