COMPARISON! Sony 35 1.8 Lens vs Sony RX1! Guess the Lens!

COMPARISON! Sony 35 1.8 Lens vs Sony RX1! Guess the Lens!

Images by Chad Wadsworth. See his 35 1.8 Review HERE

So last week I published a review of the new Sony 35 1.8 Lens from Chad Wadsworth. Chad has been writing for me on and off for years now and I always enjoy his thoughts and views on these Sony products. I have met Chad and have talked with him many times. Awesome guy and talented photographer. In his recent review of the new 35 1.8 he mentioned that the lens may be as good as the Sony RX1 with its 35 f2 Zeiss. Some disagreed in the comments so Chad sent in a few shots taken with the new 35 1.8 and some with the RX1.

See if you can tell which image was shot with what lens/camera. I do not know which images are from which camera but have taken my guesses below. 

My guess? I will guess that the top image is from the RX1 here. I may be wrong as they are so so close. Almost too close. 

Set 2 below

Click them for larger but here I will say the top is from the RX1 as the bokeh is different as is the falloff. Seems to have a little more life to the image as well. 

set 3 below

Again, I will guess that the 1st image is from the RX1

Set 4 below

And this time I will say the 1st image is from the RX1..again. I could be wrong, what do you think?

Last set below

My guess? 1st image is the RX1

So now we just need Chad to chime in to see which is from which but can you spot the differences? I THINK I can but these are very close and the differences are small from what I see in these comparisons. The new 35 1.8 comes in at around $750. The RX1 is a full frame camera with a built-in 35 f/2 Zeiss lens. If. this lens can even get close to the RX1 performance when shot on an A7 or A9 series camera then it is indeed a special lens. Cheaper than a G Master and yet more costly than a “cheap” 35 but this new 35 (of which I have on hand as well) is a fantastic solution for those who want a fast AF 35 with a fast aperture and excellent quality. It’s also small and light which is a bonus. I’d even say it’s sort of the sweet spot in the 35mm lineup for Sony. Most bang for your buck. The RX1 is a classic, a legend of image quality and a superb camera.

So which do you think is from the RX1 and which from the 35 1.8? Leave your comments below!



  1. Steve, thank you for posting Chad’s examples. Chad, I enjoyed your review. I’m thinking this will be my first prime purchase for my a7mkII. I own the original RX1 and love its rendering, even though I’ve struggled with the sometimes quirky focus (probably due to operator ignorance) but am so charmed when the stars align and I get it right. If the 35 is anywhere near the delight of my RX1, with better focus on the a7mkII, then I think I will be a very happy snapper. I have the Tamron 28-75 for my all purpose knock around.(plus, this lens value/price is in a sweet spot for me) I’m going to take a look at the 85 1.8 as well.

  2. The RX1 Sonnar’s magic happens at F2, particularly when the subject is within a few feet where I believe the lens’ rendering is unmatched. Any other aperture and beyond a few feet of subjects distance, the lens become mortal again. What struck me in this comparison was the last photo of the street crossing. The new Sony clearly shows more 3D pop and enhanced micro-contrast.

  3. The benefit of the good work Chad’s done here is to underline the quality of the original RX1 lens. If it’s still competitive against new competition (granted it’s a lens versus a compact camera lens) then that will do for me. I’ll stick with my RX1 because as soon as I venture into interchangeable lens cameras – GAS kicks in!

  4. Set 2 is the 1.8 lens. Rest is RX1 with the Zeiss.
    Different in many ways. Also in color.
    If the images are processed than you can make the Zeiss lens look bad and the Sony one look better. It becomes much more difficult to tell then. I havent read the whole story but to me all images do look processed.

  5. My preference was 1, 1, 1, tie, 1. Actually I was surprised these were all the new 35mm 1.8! Based on all the praise the Sonnar lens has received, I assumed it would definitely be the RX1.

    The biggest difference between the two images is that the 35mm 1.8 has slightly more vignetting and a brighter central subject. This is especially clear in photos 2, 3 and 5. I’m not sure if some people would see this as a lens “flaw” but to me it makes images pop more, drawing more emphasis to the subject.

  6. Well done Chad, is not difficult to compare it both, 35 f1,8 is look flat and rx1 is always zeiss looks more 3d and pop.

  7. Well, no correct answers but I think JSN got the closest with 4 right!

    RX1 is: 2, 2, 2, 1, 2

    Thanks for hosting this Steve. I won’t be giving up my RX1 anytime soon because I love the form factor but it feels good knowing the new FE 35mm /f1.8 is in the same league. Sony is flying under the radar with this gem!

    And if you haven’t had enough, I have more examples up at the end of my own review:

  8. Such lens guessing games are completely irrelevant in real life. Nobody in the real world looks at photos in such artifically created side by side comparisons. But of course, for such nerds like us, who love to visit daily camera gear review sites, it´s perfect entertainment 😉 😀

    • That was my guess as well, generally the second images had just a bit more pop and definition. But man, it was close to be sure.

  9. What’s crazy is that with the exception of Steve and Don M, I believe everyone has guessed something different. Still don’t think anyone has cracked 3 correct.

    Steve – let me know how much longer you want to keep the madness up!

    • Hey Chad… I did exactly that, guessed only the third set and I was correct. The second one is from RX1. I am into portraits, so that picture was more relevant for me to see the difference. Shows how great that RX1 lens still is. I am looking forward to what Zeiss do with their ZX1. They surely have a tough job to beat RX1 lens.

  10. My RX1 guesses are, in order: 2nd, 2nd, 1st, 1st, 1st

    I’ve been waiting for a FE lens that has a similar character to the RX1’s lens. Absolutely love that camera, but it’s hard to be tied to a single lens.

  11. I looked at Set 3 with the fish and I think the second one is from Rx1, purely based on sharpness and fine details. The depth of field is shallower in that image, might be the characteristic of that sonnar lens.
    The set 1 pictures also show the second image with more details, though colour is a bit less saturated.
    I hope I win the prize now. 🙂

    Sold my RX1R a couple of months ago finally because I now need a viewfinder and accurate focus, which RX1R lacks (focus in some cases).

    Chad, I love your pictures from the review of 35/1.8. Wish you were in the U.K. I could do with some lessons.

  12. I attempted & failed the analytical approach, so based on what I find ‘more pleasing’ :

    Set 1 : RX1, 35mm f1.8
    Set 2 : 35mm f1.8, RX1
    Set 3 : 35mm f1.8, RX1
    Set 4 : RX1, 35mm f1.8
    Set 5 : RX1, 35mm f1.8

    Thanks Steve & Chad for doing this

  13. While interesting, I am unsure of the utility of this comparison. Neither of choices is exceptional and when the difference are subtle, it is more about the moment than the pixels. Light conditions change dynamically, even over seconds. I’ve seen some remarkable pictures with toy cameras and mediocre pictures with stupendous cameras. I am glad you are out there shooting and that you have established that these two are similar enough for the differences to be semantic. It has to be more about which one did you have the most fun taking. The art of photography is as much about your interpretation of the scene, not the technical details: color, DR, shadows etc. The right camera is not the best one by specifications, but the one you WANT to take pictures with. Shadows and resolution be damned.

    • Hah, I share your concerns and I am usually hesitant to do these types of comparisons but in this case, the similarity was so convincing, and the fact that the FE 35/1.8 is comparable to the Sonnar, was important enough a revelation to go through the exercise.

      None of these comparison images are considered art or creative efforts – they simply were scenarios where I could do a quick comparison that was not studio based.

    • I’ll add that in terms of which camera was more fun, I would have a hard time answering. I adore the RX1 for its size, construction and the aperture ring on the Sonnar, but the FE on the a9 was like a magical wizard in terms of performance -which made shooting more effortless. I find that I am more relaxed and focused on the moment, not worrying about how the system is going to respond. I do wish the FE had an aperture ring though.

    • I have to disagree. When I buy a camera or lens, I usually throw away the camera and lens and keep the box and manual since it’s the spec sheet that matters the most to me.

  14. Hi Chad & Steve,
    I won’t be bother. If I have the A series I will definitely buy the 35/1.8. If I only stick to RX1 then it’s all I get. Both excellent!

    Well, I stick with the RX1, 🙂

  15. Very cool. I have pondered picking up an RX1 many times. With an aging a7rii in my fleet, this 35 1.8 seems like a no brainer from a financial standpoint. Great comparison!

  16. Well I’m guessing rx1 on the top on all because of color separation and micro contrast. In that isn’t the case then that’s quite a gem of a lens there

  17. Hey there Steve! Such a fun little test. I had to go back and look at the original files to verify the results, which says something in itself about how close these two lenses are.

    I’ll wait until we get some responses before I let you know what your score is.

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