Comparing rx1, 5n with Sony 10-18 and rx100 for travel. With photos.

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Mike Fewster
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Comparing rx1, 5n with Sony 10-18 and rx100 for travel. With photos.
3 months ago

I have been travelling in Italy with an RX1, a 5n with Sony 10-18 and an RX1. I’ll also post this on the Nex forum. An explanation. I dislike changing lenses when working fast in crowded situations, I prefer just reaching for another camera. I tend to shoot more at very wide angles rather than at tele lengths. Generally I tend to shoot wide rather than long but occasionally I want a little extra reach. I also prefer available light to flash. I’d like to travel with less gear in future so this was an experiment to see what I really needed and how it all performed. I’ll summarize my findings, include examples and link to a gallery with lots of examples. Note that these are my observations for my needs and style of shooting.

In due course, I will post more shots here grouped for particular reasons rather than just making this post bigger and bigger.

Observations: The RX1 is brilliant, probably the best camera I have ever owned, and I have had some very good cameras over the last 55 years of photography. Apart from the superb IQ, the size/weight and handling are close to ideal for travel. The physical controls mean a minimum of wading through menus or having to remember various set ups. Just love the f stop control on the lens barrel. The 5n is still superb and at current used prices, a bargain.

The sweep panorama mode works better on the RX1 than on others I have used. Possibly the big sensor and bigger processor? I wont bother with stitching panorama shots again, unless I know I will want very big print enlargements, and I mean more than three feet across. The vertical position sweep is especially useful. I thought I might use this enough to decide I could omit the 5n and 10-18 on future trips. While very useful, the RX1, sweep mode still couldn’t get the shots I got with the 5n however.

Low light performance on both RX1 and 5n continues to amaze me. Shot after shot was at night or in very very dim interiors. If there was a possibility of movement, Hand held Twilight mode was used. This sony program (now copied by others) is one of the best features of Sony cameras. I never lost a shot for want of light. I had a gorillapod with me and never used it.

I like small details, brushstrokes on a painting for example. The RX1 was excellent for this kind of shot. The macro mode wasn’t as useful as I had anticipated as getting good focus required a lot of care. Generally I found it better to shoot from a little further away and just crop.

I had hoped that I might find I could get longer reach by just cropping RX1 shots. This worked to some extent, but I still found I needed the 100mm length of the RX100 sufficiently often not to be able to leave it behind. . I missed a lot of shots on the RX100 due to focus error. Still not sure whether this was me or the camera. The peaking level seemed too broad and it was hard to see exactly what was in focus, especially in bright light. I’d like to check this on the MK3 versions pop up evf. Still, the rx100 did get many shots I wanted that I couldn’t get with the other cameras and carrying it wasn’t an issue.

Carrying the three cameras was a bit much. I usually had the RX1 and only took the 5n when I anticipated shooting extra wide, rather than having it with me at all times. The rx100 went out at night when I just wanted something with me in case, or when I thought I might want extra reach. Having the same batteries in the RX1 and RX100 was useful and saved carting an extra charger. The battery life in the 5n is outstanding; battery life in the rx1 poor. The rx1 really needs a finger grip for more comfortable carrying/shooting and could easily have been designed with this and so could have had a larger battery. The same battery in the smaller rx100 is fine. Often the rx100 seemed reluctant to close down and this was a pain.

Swapping from one menu set up to another was more of a problem that I had anticipated. I thought I knew them well enough so this wouldn’t be an issue. It was, although it got somewhat better after several weeks.

Best accessories. The Hoocap for the RX1, combining always attached lens cap and lens hood is brilliant. It needed to be removed when a polarizing filter was used, but this is fast to do and I rarely use a polarizing filter anyway. I much prefer finger loops to neckstraps with these small cameras. The Gariz on the RX1 is too tight, I will replace it with a home made one.

The 5n may be old, but it is extraordinarily capable in low light. IQ with the Sony 10-18 is wonderful, that is one superb lens. It is the camera I’d like to leave at home but what it does is so good and because I tend to shoot at those lengths, I don’t think I can. I’ll have to think about a Nex 7(r). I’d keep the 10-18 and use it in crop mode quite happily but I’d need the very best glass available for the nex 7 to get RX1 quality for other shots. I still may go this way but I’d want to keep the rx1 as well. What I really want is a quality rx100 size camera with a fixed lens of about 150mm and a similar camera with dedicated wa. Or I may just have to accept the need for interchangeable lenses?

Some samples.

On my Smugmug site there are three galleries of shots from the cameras. Under, Travel, the 2014 Highlights gallery gives an overview of what I think are the best shots, Europe 2014 has a much broader collection. “reflections” is just that, I have a requirement for lots of shots of reflections and I put all those together as they are a bit boring for other people unless you particularly want to look at reflections. The “Mondaino” collection are based on the area around a friend’s house in Italy and I separated thes from the rest. There are a lot more and I will keep adding them as I get to review/cull them further. I am also experimenting with the layout of the Smugmug site and this still has a long way to go.

You can find the full gallery under the Travel portfiolio at mfewster@smugmug .com

St. Peter's. Vatican. 5n with Sony 10-18

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Very low light, live performance. Cropped from original. Sony rX100

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this shot of a sleeping child on a boat in Venice had to be grabbed very fast. The RX1 ability to change settings rapidly was essential

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This shot was in unbelievably low light, yet the RX1 enabled the motion to be stopped sufficiently for the shot.

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Using the 5n with 10-18 as a street shooter for grabbing images. The wa and dof makes shooting from the hip without too much care in aiming possible, then just crop the image

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I wanted a shot of David that was different. The RX1 ability to give lots of dof, and handle wide dynamic range was critical here.

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You can see the whole gallery under Travel at mfewster@smugmug.com

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Mike Fewster
Adelaide Australia

Sony Alpha NEX-7 Sony RX1 Sony RX100
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