My RX1r Experience by R.A. Krajnyak

rx1r

My RX1r Experience

by R.A. Krajnyak

Hi Steve and Brandon.

First, let me start off with thanks to you both for the great site and the work you put into it. Your site is an integral part of my daily web surfing routine and your insight, Steve, has been influential in my development as a photographer.

Secondly, let me thank you for turning me on to the I Shot It website. I was honored to be among the first nine runner-ups who receive their $20 entry fee back in the most recent B&W contest and was awarded a Mark of Excellence for the following photograph taken with my Sony RX1r:

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Lastly, I wanted to share my RX1r experience with you and your readers along with some images taken with this incredible camera. Anyone who is interested in viewing the images in this post at greater resolution can view them on my website in a gallery specifically set up with just these images. The smaller resolution here just doesn’t do this camera justice. The gallery is located here: http://www.quintaquad.com/Steve-Huff-Blog/n-dwFzN/

A bit of background on me. I’m 60 years old and have been involved with photography off and on for 40 years. My first good cameras were Nikon film SLR’s (Fm & Fe2). However my interest waned and they soon saw little use.

When digital came along I got the D40 and then the D5100. Like many enthusiasts, I ended up rarely taking my camera out due to the size and weight. About 1 1/2 years ago a friend of mine turned me on to the Sony RX100. I was blown away by the size and IQ along with the ability to shoot RAW. I began taking my camera everywhere and photographing everything. This piqued my interest in upgrading to a small interchangeable lens system.

I started researching on-line and discovered the M4/3 cameras as well as your site. I loved the size and IQ of the system and ended up with a Panny GX7. In addition, I have since added an Oly E-M10 which I love. I also discovered the Sony RX1 and was intrigued by it. However the price was out of my range.

Last October I received an unexpected small inheritance and decided to splurge on an RX1 or RX1r. I wasn’t sure which one but after researching further I decided on the RX1r. Your reviews were very influential in my decision. A year later I can truly say that I’m thrilled with my choice.

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The RX1r is in my mind a true classic…a small powerhouse FF camera with a fast, high quality 35mm Zeiss lens that is designed specifically for the sensor. The rendering of the Zeiss lens is gorgeous. You have aptly described it as “creamy” and I heartily agree. I’m not a pixel-peeping tech kind of guy nor am I into debating the quality of bokeh…I just know what I like and the RX1r definitely floats my boat when it comes to size, weight and IQ.

I added a few accessories that for me are essential…optional Sony EVF, Gordy leather wrist strap, Fotodiox grip and Fotodiox lens hood.

I shoot in manual mode but primarily use auto focus. Control layout is minimal and fairly well laid out. That being said I do have a few small niggles with the camera. AF could be better, I would prefer an EVF built into the body like the A7 series and I would like an articulated LCD. There is also a bit of a CA issue in high contrast situations such as foliage against a bright sky.

DR and low light high ISO is excellent (the David Grissom band image and my self-portrait were both shot hand-held at 3200).The quality of the noise is very pleasing and grain-like IMHO. I shoot strictly RAW so I can’t comment on JPEGs. The image detail is outstanding as is the RAW conversion out of camera color and contrast, although the last two things aren’t as important to me as I do extensive post work on the RAWs.

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The RAW files are extremely malleable which is important to me since post work is a major part of the overall photography experience for me personally and this is where the magic happens with this camera. I’ve been working with Photoshop since 1996 and have incorporated Lightroom along with Topaz, Nik and On One plug-ins as well. The RX1r files stand up beautifully under heavy processing. I love both B&W and color as you can tell from my photos. I’m not above doing extensive processing but I love a simple B&W image too. I just love all the different aspects and styles of photography in general. Due to my eclectic tastes I don’t focus on one specific genre…possibly to the detriment of developing my own signature style.

Many people think of the RX1/r as limiting because of the fixed 35mm lens. Not so in my experience. I find the RX1r to be fantastic for all kinds of photography in general from landscapes to macro. Granted it’s not useful for sports or birding but those are genres of photography that require fairly specific equipment in the form of long lenses. In addition to its versatility the RX1r is inconspicuous and quiet. I tried to select a wide range of photos to showcase what I think is the RX1r’s versatility.

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My favorite subject is my 90 year old mother who suffers from dementia in the form of severe short term memory loss and lives with me. We go walking every afternoon on the local nature trails and afterwards stop at the local coffee shop for hot chocolate or coffee. I always take my camera with me and document our walks. Although I only included three images with her as the subject (the portrait of her, the image of her in the straw hat from behind and the image of her hand on the gear cog) you can find many photos of her at my website, particularly in the two galleries, The Memories Of Margaret V. and A Walk Through The Seasons: Portraits In Dementia.

The first is highly processed, conceptual composite images while the latter is simple B&W photos. Both are photo essays meant to be viewed as an whole rather than as individual images. Note that not all the images from those were taken with the RX1r. The Memories gallery also contains a video of the images with an accompanying music track which was written, played and recorded by me as well. Unfortunately the image quality isn’t that great due to SmugMug’s video size restrictions.

I’ll end by saying I enjoyed your recent article about what you’ve learned from street photography. I had to laugh when I read the line about photographing what you love even if it’s flowers, trees and leaves. Those are three of my favorite subjects, in particular leaves. But the advice rings true…photograph what you love and forget about what others think. That’s not to say you should ignore criticism. On the contrary, constructive criticism is how we learn and improve at our craft. But take criticism with a grain of salt and stay true to yourself, not worrying about what others think. Never hesitate to take chances and stretch yourself in order to grow.

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Thanks again for all you do for photography and for the opportunity to share about the hobby and camera I love.

R.A. Krajnyak AKA QuintaQuad

quintaquad.com

28 Comments

  1. So are you still happy with the full frame point and shoot? I thought about getting a small P&S for a cruise I’m going on instead of lugging my DSLR with lenses etc. only reason haven’t jumped on board mirrorless and P&S is I’m a full frame addict…there is no comparison. This older version is a tad cheaper than the new version they are going to release soon. I may rent one like yours for the cruise for 10 days. Just wanted to find out if you were still real happy with it.

  2. Love your work and thanks for the affirmation that what I think about my hobby matters the most…. I’m not a pixel peeper either and the portrait of your mother is my favorite…great sharpness, contrast, so real looking one thinks she is standing right there….love the Austin shots (since I live there) and like the Cadillac Ranch shot too…. best wishes
    Dwight

  3. You are right: this camera is amazing. The smoothness of the image is just wonderful. I think #18 (dew on blades of grass) is fantastic and masterful. It’s my favourite of the bunch, by far. #17 (yellow flowers facing towards the right of frame), although not my favourite image, shows how amazing the DOF transition is.

    IMHO a lot of these photos are snapshots – they don’t ‘say’ anything. Two examples would be #21 and #22: they are meaningless. They don’t say anything about the beauty of backlit leaves. But #24 (two trees in the distance), although it is not a beautiful photo, says something. It evokes an emotion (and makes me want to go there). You should go back there and see what you can do with those trees on the horizon. There’s a superb photo waiting to be taken, although you might need a telephoto lens.

    I’m currently experimenting with close-up adapters (out of necessity). I bet this camera could be a superb macro camera with those adapters. I can’t say for sure, but on one occasion, it seemed that stacked attachments provided better image quality than one by itself (i.e. less CA). I was using Hoya +2 and +4 adapters at the time.

    And as for those accusing Steve of being a fanboy: when they say “It doesn’t matter what camera you use,” they mean to add, “as long as it’s not a Leica, because we’re secretly jealous.” But, these images prove that it does matter what camera you use. These images would not have the same, smooth quality had they been taken with a phone camera or even some medium format cameras (not all medium format lenses have such lovely rendering, unfortunately).

    Of course, if you have nothing but your phone at any given moment, you accept that and do the best you can with the tool you have.

    —–

    P.S. BTW some progressive physicians have found that dementia and Alzheimer’s are reversible to some extent. But because they don’t affect anyone I know, I haven’t done too much research on them. If it is not inappropriate of me to suggest it, you ought to seek out these physicians and see what they can do. My experience – and the experiences of others – has shown that Nature will heal any ailment that we have.

    • Thanks for the comments and critique, Karim.

      Also appreciate the info about progressive physicians. We already take an wholistic approach when it comes to health and medicine. My mother doesn’t take any Big Pharma meds for her condition. We also eat organic and avoid processed foods. There are a few natural treatments such as coconut oil used to help with mitigating the effects of memory loss. However even natural approaches aren’t miracle cure-alls as I’m sure you’re aware.

      Thanks again and take care…

  4. Wow, those B/W photos are stunning!!!

    I’m new to photography but recently acquired an RX-1 for myself and have been shooting nonstop with it. Never tried B/W photos before, but your pictures have definitely inspired me to get out there and try!

    Mind if I pick your brain real quick?

    Do you constantly consider B/W possibilities when approaching a potential shot or are there certain triggers that immediately make you consider B/W instead of color?

    What settings did you change to get those beautiful shots? Besides switching the camera setting to B/W. Are there any ISO settings, shutter speeds, etc. I should consider? I’m mostly shooting on Aperture priority and Manual mode currently.

    Much thanks!

    • Glad to answer your questions. The B&W shots were actually shot in color. I shoot everything in RAW and I do all my B&W conversions in post. In case you don’t already know, when you shoot RAW the color information is always there. This gives me the option to choose later. I’ve never played with the in camera B&W mode.

      The B&W images here were all converted with Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2 B&W software although I recently started using MacPhun’s Tonality Pro for my B&W conversions and prefer it now.

      As far as camera settings go I vary those quite a bit depending on what I’m shooting and light conditions. I try and stay at base ISO (100 on the RX1/r) whenever possible. I always shoot in manual mode but normally use auto focus although the B&W portrait of my mother was manually focused. I also try to use the fastest possible shutter speed in order to freeze motion unless I’m going for some type of effect where I want to get motion blur.

      The RX1/r does really well at high ISOs. The noise is very grain-like so if you want a grainy B&W vibe you can shoot at 800 – 3200 ISO with no problems. I prefer to get as clean an image as possible and add grain in the B&W conversion software if I want that look.

      Hope that helps. Feel free to contact me at quintaquad@yahoo.com if you have any other questions.

      Take care and best of luck with your photography…

  5. Very well done. I too own the rx1. The color is the best of many cameras that I have owned. A 35mm is a very special lens. We should have had one back in the old days and a lot of our photos would be better now.

  6. Many thanks to all for the kind comments…truly appreciated. It’s always nice to get encouraging comments as well as critical ones, particularly on this site since it is my favorite of all the photography blogs/forums that I visit regularly.

    I’m very thankful that Steve puts the effort that he does into this site. One of the things I really love about Steve’s site is that he doesn’t discriminate about posters in the Daily Inspiration section. Everyone from beginners to advanced photographers are featured here.

    Inspiration is a two way street. The poster can be inspired as much or even moreso than those that view the work. When I see people post thoughtless negative comments it truly saddens me. I wonder if they ever stop to think how inspiring it is for a novice photographer to have their images posted on a blog that reaches so many throughout the world. And surely their efforts, however good or bad they may be, will inspire someone somewhere. I’m often inspired by seemingly poor photos when I think about what the person who took the picture was trying to convey. It can change my perspective on how to view things…not to mention it reminds me of the horrible photos I took (and often still do) when I was starting out. It definitely behooves one to keep perspective.

    Another great thing about this site is Steve’s open-mindedness on all things photography. I get a chuckle when I read on other sites about what a Leica fanboy Steve is. Steve makes no bones about the fact that he loves Leicas but unlike a true “fanboy” he is very fair-minded when it comes to other brands. The fact that he uses Sony and Olympus cameras regularly speaks volumes to his open-mindedness. We all have our likes and dislikes but I feel that Steve is never pejorative with his. I may not always agree with his take on things but I always respect his opinion.

    Thanks again for all the encouraging comments…

  7. A leaf guy, eh? I thought I was the only one out there. Somehow, I enjoy the variety and range of beauty of leaves more than flowers. A flower is . . . like, a flower. Leaves can take all kinds of forms and colors and change throughout the year. Thanks for sharing your photos. Many outstanding images. Something about the house embedded in the center of the fall leaves caught my eye immediately. Something unusual that you don’t see very often, or at all. Glad you saw it and stopped to capture it. More and more it seems to me that the easiest-to-use-and carry camera with the best overall image quality (great lens required as well) is the only way to go. It allows you to forget about the gear and enjoy the moment and capture something whenever you think its worthwhile.

    • Uh-oh…another leaf guy? I do love the color, patterns and textures that leaves offer a photographer. Something about nature that allows one to step out of the emotional content mode and enjoy the pure beauty that nature has to offer. So many people are so caught up in the whirlwind of modern living that they forget to enjoy the simple pleasures that something like observing nature’s beauty has to offer.

      Interestingly, the house in the trees is something I’ve passed for over 25 years and never noticed until a few weeks ago. It’s visible from the highway and I had to figure out a way to find a good vantage point to photograph it from which luckily I was able to do.

      Thanks for the comments and take care…

  8. Got to say – plenty of good photos here, but that first one really snuck up on me. At first I was just so-so on it, then it developed as I kept looking around the frame and discovered the girls. In an internet world of rapid-fire photo after photo, I appreciate an image that rewards a period of discovery. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks, Trey. Excellent observation on photography. I’m guilty of often trying to impress with my images without giving much consideration to the depth of the overall content. I think the artist walks a fine line between banality and art, the two often overlapping to give meaning to each other.

      When I got back into photography 1 1/2 years ago I discovered HDR and went crazy with it. Every image I did had over the top clarity and tone mapping. Fortunately, I soon saw the error of my ways and backed off.

      That’s one reason I’m moving more and more towards B&W images. Without the allure of color the image becomes more dependent on the emotional content and essence of the subject. However, sometimes I just like an image for its beauty without any emotional attachments…a nice composition, beautiful colors, interesting textures and patterns, etc.

      There are many ways to enjoy a photograph on many levels. A truly great image is one that has all those things going on at once.

      Thanks again and take care…

  9. I too own the Olympus EM1 and a Sony RX1r. The former is my “go to” flexible everyday camera. I usually feel a bit hamstrung during the actual shooting with the RX1r, but when I see the photos on my computer screen, all is forgiven. There is something about the color rendering of the RX1r that my other cameras can’t touch. Your shots are lovely

  10. Agreed, the Sony RX1 and RX1r are two of the best cameras EVER. For me the RX1r has been very freeing. My best images continually roll out of this camera. It’s simple, well made and a joy to shoot with!!

  11. Funny timing

    In the process of selling off some gear to finance some new gear. Came upon my RX-1 and used it a bit today and can tell you that I’m not selling since;

    1) won’t get that much out of the sale… worth more to keep it. Occupies a rather unique niche in the Market

    2) It’s a darn sweet camera. Was pushing to 12500 tonight… what a hoot..

  12. Great shots from a man, who I feel, understands what’s photography and presentation is all about.
    I myself use a 35mm only, and it’s great for most situations. Light and simple setup that’s easy to carry and use. And I also shoot RAW only, and spend a considerable amount of time processing my photos to the best of my ability. So I can really sympathize with your way of doing it.
    Cheers.

  13. Some stunning images. Excellent work. The rx1r is in my short list of cameras I would buy if I had a small inheritance, as well. Keep shooting, keep sharing.

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