6 Months With The Sony RX1 By Simi Tometi

RX1TTH

6 Months With The Sony RX1

By Simi Tometi

Hello Steve, Brandon, and fellow site readers. My name is Simi Tometi, and I am a medical student from Dallas, Texas. School usually keeps me busy(and broke) for the most part but whenever I do have some spare time I indulge in photography.

Last summer I was presented with an opportunity to purchase the Sony RX1(with viewfinder) in immaculate condition for roughly 1/2 of its initial price. With the Fujifilm X100S selling on Amazon for as low as $850(used), I was a bit hesitant. After reading countless reviews and analyzing the specs sheets I went with the RX1. To be honest the deciding factor was that I didn’t want to look back months later wishing I would have just spent the extra cash on the RX1 instead of the X100s.

It’s been just over 6 months, and I’m glad to say I’m more than happy with my purchase. Though the camera as a whole isn’t perfect, it never ceases to amaze me.

Andrew-G.-Graffiti-Background-By-Simi-Tometi

Tre-Porter-Golden-Hour-By-Simi-Tometi

When I purchased the camera, the first thing I noticed was its cold utilitarian build. The whole camera is composed of metal, giving it a solid feel reminiscent of the Canon 5D Mark III(however I’m not completely sure if it’s made up of the same magnesium alloy). The buttons and dials are laid out logically, except for the record button, which is positioned between the rear and right side of the camera. I didn’t find this placement problematic until I added a Black label braided silk strap to the camera, which often presses the button activating the movie mode function.

The Carl Zeiss 35mm f/2 lens, is nothing short of a masterpiece. From its buttery smooth focus ring, to its clickable aperture dial, it just does not disappoint. Wide open, it’s just a treat to use due to how jaw-droppingly sharp it is. Stopped down sharpness really doesn’t increase much, yet the increase in micro-contrast may make you think otherwise. Optical performance is just stunning; rarely do I find any traces of chromatic aberration.

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Tiffany-By-Simi-Tometi

In regards to ISO performance, the camera once again doesn’t disappoint. At 6400, noise is present but very well controlled with files retaining plenty of detail and files still being remarkably flexible.

Together, the Carl Zeiss lens, functional camera body, and full frame 35mm sensor(from Sony’s flagship a99) make a formidable little camera that best nearly every other comparable option. When shooting the rear LCD screen only gives you a taste of the outstanding 16-bit raw files did this beast is able to capture.

Admittedly, the RX1 falls short in numerous areas that can’t ignored due to its initial price tag of $2800.

Most notably the auto focus of this camera just plain sucks. It really is hit or miss. I feel as if this issue could be resolved with a firmware update, but the RX1 hasn’t received any since launch. For this type of investment one would expect more than this sluggish contrast detection AF system.

Regarding accessories, they’re just too expensive. I understand this is a premium item, and should be surrounded by such, but seriously… Why would anyone pay $250 for the Sony leather case(with no access to the SD card or battery when attached), when the Gariz version can purchased for $125? The Sony brand lens hood sells for $120, while the third-party metal hood that looks and feels the same is being sold on amazon for $7. Really the only individuals I could see purchasing these accessories are those who’ve previously considered purchasing the Hasselblad Lunar(rebranded Sony Nex-7) for $5000.

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Sunrise-Helicopter-Ride-In-Florida-Swamp-By-Simi-Tometi

Shotsbygabe-B&W-Mockingbird-Station-By-Simi-Tomet

For my style of shooting the EVF($450) is a must have, and without it I probably would have went with the Fuji X100s. I really wish Sony included it with the camera or implemented the same way they did in the RX100 III.

Weather sealing is something I feel Sony could have added at this price point. When you own something of this value, you’d like to be assured its protected against the elements(e.g. Unexpected light drizzle).

Street-Sunset-By-Simi-Tometi

To sum it up, the Sony RX1 is stellar tool for few photographers. If you can tolerate the sluggish autofocus and the daunting price tag, you’ll be rewarded with outstanding build, superb high-ISO performance, and top tier image quality.

Simi Tometi

http://instagram.com/justsimi_

https://www.facebook.com/simi.tometi

https://www.flickr.com/photos/simitometi/

83 Comments

  1. Please request for 50mbps XAVC-S video format for the next firmware update for the Sony RX1; and, you just might receive! 😉

    Esupport-alpha@response.sony.com

    “Hi xxxxx,

    Thank you for contacting the Sony Alpha Email Response Team.

    I understand that you’re suggesting a 50mbps XAVC-S video format on the next firmware update for DSCRX1. We really appreciate you for taking the time to send us an email. I’ll be happy to help.

    We always appreciate customers who take the time to give us their feedback, that’s a great idea. I’ll pass what you’ve said onto our management team. Also, please check our support website: esupport.sony.com from time to time for the latest news and updates for your camera.

    Should you have any technical questions or concerns, please feel free to send us an email.

    Thank you for choosing Sony.

    Best Regards,
    xxxxx (xxxx)
    The Sony Alpha Email Response Team”

  2. i don’t know if OP, is watching the comments, but what post production did you use on the mages, i love the film look, great shots. : )

  3. Yow Simi,

    How are you my friend? it’s been a while.
    I really enjoy these photos man, great post, love the content and lots of interesting comments here. hoho..

    I think film, digital, hipster-like pp, filter and any other stuff is just a matter of preference. One finds it hard to accept and others are cool with it. To explore the possibilities as much as you can is a great way to learn, improve and also to “find” yourself. So keep it up man, whatever processing you like, whatever style of photography you want to do.

    All the best my friend!

    Kind regards,

    Liandro N. I. Siringoringo

    PS: For some reason, I think I’ve seen the guy in the 2nd photos somewhere. hmm..

  4. Like the composition and the ideas. But as with others, I’m not a fan of the processing. I realise it’s a personal preference, but maybe I just don’t get it. My old film pics would sometimes come back from the labs like this, usually with a quality control sticker applied saying ‘This photo is underexposed’. 😉

  5. Image 9 (not shown on the page but you can scroll to it if you click on one of the images) is pretty funny. It’s a graph of “Stages Of A Photographer”. Thanks for sharing your experiences with the RX1. It looks like you’re really enjoying it.

  6. Ya know, I’ve just realized that I’ve become “that guy” who claims his way is the way to do it.
    I apologize for that Simi!
    I like his results and a huge benefit of digital is that you can find out what looks you like very easily, then later if you want to achieve that look another way you can do that too.

    Peace out
    Huss

    • Very gentlemanly of you Huss. I’ve posted here and been subjected to similar inquisitions regarding PP style. Some love it, some hate it, most feel the need to state their opinion and that’s fine. This low contrast look is extremely popular with the current generation but like every other recent style its time will pass soon. The key here is that Simi has a nice eye, nice tools and the skill to PP, regardless of the style du jour. That’s a pretty nice combination.

  7. OG = Original Gangsta i.e. the real thing.

    😉

    I like Simi’s shots, especially the one of the helicopter interior.

    Now, this is just a comment re filter packs. I find it entertaining that ‘we’ have progressed so far from a technological standpoint and yet desire a look that is currently available for next to no money with the most rudimentary equipment.

    • It’s just a choice. I alternate between digital (800E, usually a 35mmm screwed on) and film (usually Tri-X). Simi decided to use one camera, one lens, and to go for the look he prefers. Attractive in its simplicity. Nothing wrong with that.

      • I would love to hear what Simi feels about the post processing VS film, since I respect his photography.

        If he prefers digital processing film look over real film, and he intentionally and creatively chose RX1 over film compact (Contax T3 etc.), nothing wrong with it, it’s great. But honestly, from his photography, I can’t see any benefit using RX1 instead of T3 . RX1 vs film is very different from RX1 vs D800E, or T3 vs Mamiya 7.

        • Or from 800E, top modern primes, converted to b&w in LR, vs F2AS, top old primes, Tri-X… Different approaches to different results.

  8. If anyone is interested and lives in Ontario Canada. I’ve just walked into a sony store and they are selling both RX1 and RX1R for $2000!!! That’s a $1000 discount!

  9. Great down-to-earth review, very informative Simi. And the images? I like them a lot. They remind me of the shots I took when I was a student (that’s well over forty years ago). I used to photograph everything in my life, and the camera I had, a Zenit and later a Yashica TL Electro, supported that fascination. The post processing is very conscious, and well done IMO.

    I can fully imagine the RX1 doing that.

    • Sony RX1 + EVF + VSCO pack = $3500

      Or for the same look:
      Nikon FE2 + 35mm 2.0 AI lens + expired Kodak Gold + underexposing the negatives = $110

      I agree with Simi, hipsters do like this look. Because they think it looks like old school film. So imagine getting ‘that’ look OG style. Talk about street cred!

      • Hipster? Street cred? And truth of the matter is that film and film cameras are truely obsolete. There are numerous problems present with your set up. What if I want an autofocus camera, or at least focus peeking to assure me I’m not missing shots. With a 64GB SD card I don’t ever have to worry about how many exposures I have left. Your film lenses aren’t as sharp as my Carl Zeiss 35mm F2 lens. What if later on Id like to change the look(post processing) of my photo? With digital I don’t have to be confined to a set ISO. Your(SLR) set up isn’t as portable as my RX1 and spare battery. Etc….

  10. Oh and on these photos above they don’t look indicative of what comes out of the RX1. They look a bit foggy and soft, low contrast, everything the RX1 is not. I did find that the noise reduction on the camera had to be adjusted and seemed over-done but still rendered insanely beautiful files.

    • I shoot in raw so noise reduction is not a factor. These images are sharp, though they aren’t the usual high contrast OOC images that stevehuff readers have come to love over the years.

  11. I loved my RX1 and still have the finder (well worth it) I sold my cam when I had some $ needs during the holidays and could not justify this camera which was redundant to my professional needs. But boy do I miss it maybe my favorite digital cam ever and am dreaming of the RX2 which I hope will also have wifi *and better video, and maybe a slightly lower price. I have noticed that you can find RX1’s for less than $1500 out there now. Many enthusiants bought them and like all GAS victims are offing them in anticipation of the next thing.

    *oh wifi, amazing how once you get used to this feature non-wifi cameras seem antiquated. To not have to hook up the cam to send an image to your computer, your iphone, social media, your client via email seems simply essential today. I’ve used the Wifi on Canon 6D, Fuji, and newer Sony’s and wow can’t imagine living without it. That’s why I have not picked up a 2nd hand RX1…the little feature of Wifi.

  12. I do have the same feeling about the pp as others but recognise that’s a matter of one’s personal artisitic taste. I think the motifs and composition are fine, though I do prefer my people off centre.
    This also led to me reading Steve’s “crazy comparison” with the leica X-Vario, where I also left a belated comment.

  13. thanks for the review, would love to get a rx1 myself!
    do you know if the rx1r has improved autofocus?
    i couldn’t agree more with the weather sealing, its almost a deal breaker for me with this camera

    • Sorry to say etr brony, but from what I’ve heard its the exact same. And weather sealing isn’t a deal breaker for me. Ive taken numerous cameras out in light rain and dusty abandoned buildings and (luckily)theyve all survived. That isn’t to say I wasn’t nervous about it. Cheers

  14. I second your review. The sensor and lens combo are just stellar.
    The panorama mode is buggy and this has never been addressed by Sony. The firmware is still 1.0.
    An external viewfinder is a must if you want to shoot outside during the day. I have an old Zeiss Ikon optical viewfinder. However, the camera doesn’t fit in my pocket anymore with the viewfinder attached, or I keep knocking it off. So I often leave it at home and just guess the framing.
    I have got the Ulysses half case which is absolutely gorgeous.
    If anyone is interested in getting this camera, check on ebay first. Most of the time it can be had for half the sales price. A lot of people with more money than photographic talent buy the camera because it is the most expensive. When they notice that it doesn’t even zoom they sell it again.

    • Thanks for reading Simon! Youre right “A lot of people with more money than photographic talent buy the camera because it is the most expensive. When they notice that it doesn’t even zoom they sell it again.” Thats actually how I was able to purchase mine.

  15. Since I’ve owned both the X100S and the RX1 for a few years I thought I’d provide some of my thoughts on these cameras. I use the X100S when the light is good and I just want to concentrate on my focusing and composition. I set it on automatic and just enjoy taking pictures, it’s so easy and fun to use. I love the rendering and sharpness that I get.

    The RX1 is not this type of camera. To get the best out of it, you need to understand how to set it up for the type of shooting you’ll be doing. If you do it correctly, you’ll be rewarded with exceptional image quality, especially in low light. If you don’t, you won’t. I’ve never had problems with accurate focusing, but I use the smallest focusing window to ensure that what I focus on will be sharp. It has never disappointed me. The autofocus isn’t fast, but that was not one of the two design goals, which were the highest IQ in the smallest package. This was a statement product for Sony. No other camera manufacturer has developed anything like it before or since. I did use the Gariz case for awhile, however I’ve since found the fotodiox metal grip to be more stable and secure. The fotodiox lens hood is square and much nicer than the Sony and both items can be had for under $100. Gariz has recently made a beautiful soft release for the RX1 that is black metal with white lettering and matches the aesthetics perfectly.

    • Thanks for reading john! And I imagine small part of it has to be user error but regardless it still stinks. For a $3000 camera they could’ve at least added a few cross type and phase detection points:/

  16. I have to disagree with your comment about the external viewfinder. As nice as the pop up view finder is on the RX100M3, it’s no where near the quality of the one for the RX1/RX1r. The fact that it can oscillate as well is very handy, and a feature that I wish the newer Sony cameras had. I know a lot of people will disagree with me, but I think Sony made the right choice in having the option to connect a viewfinder for the RX1/RX1r.

    • In some ways I agree with you Kezown, but regardless it should come with the camera. Ive never had the the opportunity to use the RX100M3 so ill take word for it.

  17. I don’t find the autofocus slow unless I’m shooting in low light, but the autofocus is definitely hit and miss. I get a lot of back/front focused missed shots, maybe around 20%. Often the focus is only just out, so the shot is still more than useable but it is frustrating on occassions when you really wanted that particular shot to be pin sharp and it just isn’t.

    Agreed the firmware update is a travesty. I’ve heard recently that an RX2 is coming soon, possibly with a curved sensor, and so maybe we will see a firmware update then.

    All that aside though, I absolutely love my RX1(r); the results, when the camera hits its mark, are simply wonderful and no one ever knows you’ve just taken their picture.

      • Very nice to read a hands-on review of the RX1, which I’ve been ogling due to its singular lens / sensor / size combination. Second pix does it for me – maybe in b&w? I shoot with old manual lenses, and am wondering about manual focussing on the RX1.

        • Thank you sean. I tried B&W but I wasnt a fan of the way it rendered his skin. And manual focusing is nice but there’s one major flaw, you can use focus peeking with zooming in:/

      • Yes The Rx1r or Rx1 will never win the auto focus award for either speed or consistent accuracy. However have you tried using the RX1(R) with DMF enabled? If you may not know what that is, and you probably do..it’s auto focus, PLUS you can then tweak the auto focus using manual focus. As it auto focused FIRST, I find then manually focusing super quick as most of the time the rx1 has already HIT proper focus. This way I never ever have hit or miss..PLUS focus peaking on the RX1R I find to be Unique to THIS camera as far as Sony cameras go.

        By that I mean, owning other Sonys..even now the A7II, when you have focus peaking enabled…you will see the focus peaking always..It annoys me. I mean just pointing the camera at anything, you see either the yellow, white, or whatever peaking color you chose around edges of things you are pointing the camera at. What I love about the RX1R is I leave focus peaking ON always but with dmf enabled,I don’t SEE the peaking until I turn the manual focus ring and am ready to take the shot. It’s super quick to do, and again, you CAN’T miss a shot. That said obviously this won’t work for fast action or sports certainly. However if you are the type to take pictures slowly, like to take your time to compose your shots as in portraits, landscape..objects that aren’t moving very fast…Rx1(r) with DMF is SUBURB as to ALWAYS hitting tack sharp focus. 🙂 Never miss a shot due to back, front, mis-focusing.

        • Yes I think you’ve got a very valid point here. I have tried the DMF setting a few times and it does appear to be a good compromise. My only issue with it is that the front/back focusing issue is not apparent when using the autofocus; it will hit its mark, appear to show the focus right where you want it, and be ready to take and you will only find out afterwards that it hadn’t actually focused where it was supposed to. If you can see that while composing, then DMF works well but to fully solve the problem, you effectively need to check focus every time you shoot, using the focus peaking (which I just can’t get on with because it won’t allow you to use it without magnifying the image – if we could just get rid of that constraint, I think things would improve considerably).

          But again, as I said earlier, I love this camera and will likely on change it for an RX2 should one ever appear and represent a better version of an already brilliant camera.

          • Greg, agreed focus peaking with DMF will magnify the image soon as you turn the focus ring..but I actually like that. If you are going to tweak via manual..why WOULDN’T you want the picture to be magnified? Then you can really see where you are focusing, being it spot on, front, back focus or whatever. But you are correct, you are essentially checking the focus with every shot, it certainly slows you down no doubt. I too hope the RX2 or whatever it will be called can address the sluggish auto focus and it would be nice to JUST take the picture without needing to use dmf all the time. At the end of the day though I get some fantastic images from the TINY-ish RX1r and images are so good I’m wiling to put up with the less than perfect true auto focus. Then again..for $2800 I do think Sony should have released a few or ANY firmware updates for the camera. I guess stay tuned for an RX2 or whatever it will be called…:)

  18. The phots are very nice, the post processing not so much. I wouldn’t spend big for the RX1 and do this to my images. Simi, can you upload a few OOC photos?

    • I feel the same way. With that kind of post-processing, the images could have been taken with any camera.

      • Thank you Josh and Don. Regarding the post-processing, thats just my style. I’ve noticed the older generation of photographers aren’t very fond of this it, while younger generation absolutely loves it.

        • Exactly! Thank you Col. Don Pope, you can’t get the dynamic range exhibited in the photo of the girl with just “any camera”. You can’t get the thin depth of field exhibited in the photo of the iPhone with just “any camera”. You can’t get the natural sharpness exhibited in the photo of the skyline with just “any camera”… etc.

  19. Beautiful images. I have always wanted one but the price… and the external viewfinder… have always held me back. Hopefully the RX2 or whatever it will be called addresses that.

  20. I will be honest here … I find these photo’s dull and Lacking in the usual Punch , Crispness , Contrasty and Colour that is Associated with the wonderful RX1 … C’mon Man it is not a $100 compact , it’s a RX1.

    • and it has that gorgeous RX1 signature. What you are seeing is his PP, which is a very film like look. No $100 compact can produce DOF anywhere near this, nor these results. PP may not be to you taste but I love it. The RX1 is a legend already 🙂

      • @stefffon said exactly what I was thinking at first. Does the artist have something against black tones?

        In the end, the camera you have with you is the best one. Whether that is Instagram or Leica, use what makes you happy and makes you want to shoot more. It’s not worth belittling someone’s choice of equipment.

        But problem with this article is that the headline and text is all about the equipment, but the images don’t support the text.

        If the article wrote about the images and the thought process, etc, with the equipment as a footnote or an aside then the comments would be different.

        • Thanks dave9t5, I couldnt have said it better myself. And regarding “problem with this article is that the headline and text is all about the equipment, but the images don’t support the text.” I’m not exactly sure what you mean, could you elaborate?

      • Thanks for reading Stefffon. Regarding the post-processing, thats just my style. I’ve noticed the older generation of photographers aren’t very fond of it, while younger generation absolutely loves it. Most importantly I like it and so do countless others, but I know I cant please everyone. Cheers

      • So, he should not use a nice camera, but an iPhone and Instagram, just because you dislike his way of PPing? I really like the images AND the PPing. It really fits the urban scenes and looks well done. It is clearly not your cup of tea, and to each their own, but commenting like this doesn’t make a site like this a nice place to spend a weekend morning enjoying discussions. Sorry if this sounds bitchy, but I just don’t get this type of commenting.

        • I appreciate that Simson Petrol. My only problem with his comment(s) is the lack of useful constructive criticism. Jim Seekers and stefffon, instead of trying to berate my style of editing, why not give suggestions on what I could have done better?

          • It’s a shame that the commenter didn’t provide any constructive feedback. I will attempt to articulate what I think the other poster was too lazy or cowardly to say.

            The RX1, like other FF sensor cameras, captures an astounding amount of dynamic range and bit depth compared to smaller-sensored brethren. This effectively allows FF sensors to capture a wider envelop of tones and richer hues renditions, what many photographers search from when trying to elevate their image quality to the next level.

            Regarding your style of editing/post-processing, in my own personal opinion, it defeats the purpose of one shooting with an RX1–or a larger sensor camera for that matter. By lifting the black tones and shadows so far upwards, it distorts many of the shadow hues while also eliminating a huge amount of the dynamic range that would normally be captured by this sized sensor or even smaller sensors (see m4/3 for example). So by choosing to compose an image with a style that compresses a huge range of tones (blacks and shadows) into a much smaller window of tones, you could effectively take the same image with a cell phone camera since this style doesn’t require a large dynamic range, or depend on hue accuracy (cell phone cameras are notoriously short on dynamic range and tonal rendition–though maybe not for long). This same technique is applied with the many many apps that use filters (e.g. Instagram, etc.). This–I believe, is what the poster failed to articulate when suggesting you try a cell phone.

            I hope this helps you better understand your preferred style more completely, as well as all the trolls and their spewings! Happy shooting and keep it up!

            Casey

    • Thanks Jim. Regarding the post-processing, thats just my style. I’ve noticed the older generation of photographers aren’t very fond of it, while younger generation absolutely loves it. Most importantly I like and so do countless others, but I know I cant please everyone. Cheers

      • “Regarding the post-processing, thats just my style. I’ve noticed the older generation of photographers aren’t very fond of it, while younger generation absolutely loves it.”

        Get off my lawn!

  21. Thanks so much for a simple and direct solid review. Love the images as well. Still considering the RXr. I shoot with a 5D Mark III and my favourite lens is the Canon 35mm 1.4 but obviously the size means it’s not an easy carry around. My current portable option is the Ricoh GR which I absolutely love yet the rendering of the RX1/r is so attractive every time I see samples. It’s still a tough call but with the way Sony are releasing updates I’m thinking let me hold on…perhaps they will fix the sometimes challenging autofocus issue most likely with an RX2? Thanks for posting your experience! Keep enjoying and please keep posting

    • You will never regret buying an RX1R even at its full retail price. The images are just jaw dropping. If you like this focal length then I can’t think of a better portable or not an option,unless you get a Leica which is on par performance and no better. You do have to put with focus issues sometimes but is still worth it. I’m not bothered about a viewfinder though would have helped.
      In daylight specially I’ve got the most amazing images with Sony’s nd filter, bought separately on as well.
      I doubt if there is anything that produces such files for this price, even after one year of its release.

    • Thank you Enoch, and Id suggest you wait for the RX2 or purchase a used A7(mark i) and 35mm f/2.8 since it’s currently a cheaper bundle than the RX1 and EVF.

    • If this camera had a built-in EVF…I would’ve moved heaven and earth to get one.
      I’ve been hoping the RX2 will have one(and possibly the A7II sensor)…. But I didn’t know about the lack of firmware updates. Having been shooting with fujis, I’ve been spoiled- they really take care of their users with amazing firmware updates.

      But NO firmware updates? That’s not cool at all…

      Great Pics btw- the images from that camera really are incredible.
      Well written, honest article- thanks for sharing Simi!

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