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June 2013 | By Barney Britton
Buy on GearShop$2,798.00

Sony Cyber-shot RX1R Preview


Preview based on a production RX1R with firmware v.1.00

Look familiar? The Sony Cyber-shot RX1R doesn't replace its near-clone the RX1, but sits alongside it at the top of Sony's Cyber-shot lineup. The only difference between this camera and its cousin (brother?) is that the RX1R lacks an anti-aliasing filter on its 24MP CMOS sensor. Removing AA filters seems to be very fashionable at present. Nikon has done it in the D800E and D7100, let's not forget the Pentax K-5 IIs, and, of course, Fujifilm's X-Pro1, X-E1, X100S and X-M1 all share an X-TRANS sensor that never had an AA filter in the first place.

So why did Sony do this? Let's start by looking at what AA (anti-aliasing) filters are designed to do - namely, reduce aliasing, which most commonly takes the form of rainbow-like moiré patterning in areas of very fine detail. Very simply, this is created when the frequency of the subject approaches the frequency of the photodiodes on the camera's sensor. Most digital cameras' sensors are fitted with AA filters which reduce the effect by very slightly blurring the image before it hits the light-gathering photodiodes. Broadly speaking, most of the time AA filters are a good thing, but removing them does provide the potential for slightly higher detail resolution, although with the risk of increased moiré in areas of fine detail.

If you're curious to learn more about all this, check out our review of the Nikon D800 and D800E, published last year.

Sony DSC-RX1R specification highlights

  • 24MP full-frame (24x36mm) CMOS sensor (without AA filter)
  • 35mm F2 lens
  • ISO 100-25600
  • Focus range switch for focus down to 0.2m (14cm from the front of the lens)
  • Dedicated aperture ring
  • Five user-customizable buttons
  • Multi interface hotshoe (combines ISO 518 standard contacts and proprietary connector)
  • 1.23M dot RGBW 'WhiteMagic' LCD
  • 1080p60 HD movies in AVCHD (50p on PAL region models)
  • Bulb mode and threaded cable release socket in shutter button

When Sony showed us the RX1 last year, we called it 'arguably the most serious compact camera we've ever seen'. Featuring a full-frame 24MP sensor and a fixed 35mm F2 lens, the RX1 was very clearly aimed at serious photographers, and in our testing we found that it was capable of delivering stunning images, as well as being a very enjoyable camera to use. What's not to like about a near-silent shutter, fast lens and excellent image quality?

Spot the difference: The Sony Cyber-shot RX1R is on the right, the original RX1 is on the left. What separates them is the sensor, which in the RX1R, comes without an AA filter for superior detail resolution (in theory).

Really, apart from slightly sub-par AF performance in low light, just about the only thing preventing the RX1 from becoming an instant classic was its decidedly steep list price of $2800 - a little more than twice the price of Fujifilm's very well-liked APS-C format X100S, which also offers a 35mm equivalent, F2 lens, but with a built-in hybrid optical/electronic finder. The good news about the RX1R (sort of) is that it won't cost any more than the 'stock' RX1. The bad news is it won't be any cheaper either - both cameras will retail at a recommended $2800. If you recently purchased an RX1 but fancy the idea of the RX1R's modified sensor, we can imagine you might be somewhat annoyed by this.

Optional accessories

Speaking of spending large amounts of money, a range of accessories is available for the RX1R (note, the functionally-identical RX1 is our model in the images below). This includes the optical viewfinder FDA-V1K, electronic viewfinder FDA-EV1MK, lens hood LHP-1, and thumb grip TGA-1. The viewfinders and the thumb grip slot into the camera's hotshoe and the latter has a hinge, so you can flip it back and still press the play button which is hidden underneath it.

The thumb-grip connects to the camera's hotshoe and it's hinged to give access to the play button. The thumb-grip also comes with an integrated shoe, so you can combine it with the optical viewfinder if you wish.

At around $249 the thumb grip isn't cheap, although it does improve the camera's handling. Likewise, at $599 for the optical viewfinder and $179 for the lens hood, the mark-up on these items appears to be rather excessive, to say the least. The electronic viewfinder will set you back $449.99 - $100 more than the equivalent unit for the NEX series of cameras.

Fujifilm X100S users can sit smug in the knowledge that their camera offers both optical and electronic finders built-in, at a total cost only slightly higher than the combined total of Sony's two optional finders for the RX1R.

The FDA-EV1MK electronic viewfinder uses the same excellent 2.4m dot OLED display as Sony's high-end SLT models. However, the huge rubber eye-cup makes it difficult to get your eye near the screen - all the more so if you wear glasses.

The FDA-V1K optical viewfinder will, no doubt, appeal to some retro-fetishists, but the FDA-EV1MK is the more practical option, since it's cheaper and shows the camera's settings. Furthermore, it allows you to make proper use of the Quick Navi menu (since you can set the viewfinder and rear display to offer different display modes). Sadly the cost and an enormous eye-cup which makes it difficult for wearers of glasses to use, rather takes the edge of its appeal for us.


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (typically VGA) image in a new window.

To navigate the review simply use the next / previous page buttons, to jump to a particular section either pick the section from the drop down or select it from the navigation bar at the top.

DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2013 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Comments

Total comments: 112
12
rb59020
By rb59020 (10 months ago)

Since the camera is a full-frame Sony, I should like to try it out with the 70-200mm f/2.8 G Alpha, or the wonderful Sony/Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8. Any reviews around the net using either of these lenses? Is it available without the kit lens?, I have not much need for the 35mm. One other thing, does the 2700 Quid include the bloody VAT?

Thanks so much.

0 upvotes
Hugo600si
By Hugo600si (10 months ago)

Are you serious? assuming you are, this camera has a fixed 35mm Zeiss lens, it is not an interchangeable lens system

Comment edited 57 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
Navodar
By Navodar (10 months ago)

This is a wonderful camera with only one problem for me, it lacks an OVF. Therefore, I vote for the X100s...

1 upvote
Rick Knepper
By Rick Knepper (10 months ago)

Looking at the images at the file size I commonly use, moire is hardly an issue. OTOH, moderate cropping would probably bring the moire out into the open. But, image quality is not the bottleneck for me here. A fixed 35mm FL is the problem. A 28mm lens would be better for my style but then, deeper cropping would be occasionally necessary which would tend to expose the moire and whatever noise that might be present more readily so, hmmm...

I agree with others on the price. It's a non-started for me. This cam vs a the price of a D800 (on rebate)? No contest.

I also agree with others concerning the size and weight. Sony has demonstrated that it is possible to get a FF sensor into a small package. One of the three, C&NorS, should design a FF DSLR for compactness of size and weight and see if it sells.

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
rinkos
By rinkos (10 months ago)

comparing the two cams is the real problem here

while the D800 or D600 are cams u can change lenses with ..big cams the sony are anything but...
first the obvious ..no lens changes..second..they are small and meant to be very non obtrusive while providing with a leica like quality ...if u judge them by that they do a lot better then a leica and a whole lot cheaper ..not to mention the best fixed lens + D600 combo u can pit against them .

its all a matter of style...I for one do not have that style and in that price i most likely same as u would always opt for something with a non fixed lens .
\

1 upvote
tagomilonga
By tagomilonga (10 months ago)

Whats good for you is only of interest to your grandmother and your dog... who let you touch the keyboard anyway?

5 upvotes
iRadio07
By iRadio07 (10 months ago)

Fuji X-Trans sensor is still sharper, and have less moiré ...

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
6 upvotes
naththo
By naththo (10 months ago)

I prefer with filter on to reduce moire and save hassle in photo editing. My dad has one older than that and is still very sharp images!

2 upvotes
wildbild
By wildbild (10 months ago)

They shouldn't have done this. To my eyes the images do not look any sharper but certainly show a whole lot more moiré.

3 upvotes
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (10 months ago)

This certainly is the right direction for FF sensors... to fit tiny bodies, as an alternative to bulky DSLRs.

It can be done, in more ways innovative, by other brand names.

Remember the Olympus Mju II? It was tiny as hell.

...and it had... (dramatic music)....

An Optical Viewfinder!

Cha-Ching!

.

1 upvote
Artistico
By Artistico (10 months ago)

And the Mju-II had shutter lag like nothing you find today as it calculated focus range before, but actually focused the lens _after_ you pushed the shutter. Still one of my favourite cameras from the old days, of course...

0 upvotes
JRFlorendo
By JRFlorendo (10 months ago)

Investors said Sony's electronics division is its achilles heel, 6D and D600 has the same FF(size) sensor, why not drop the price by 1K-1.5K to really create havoc. If you think about it, it practically has less parts to put together, less materials, less man hours to assemble and everything is already drawn up base on version 1, all they need to do is change the engine, lights...ect and updated firmware. Sony needs to stop cratering to a niche market(small) and start catering more to the masses(huge) to get out of the rot.

2 upvotes
Timmbits
By Timmbits (10 months ago)

maybe Sony doesn't want to destroy it's competition who are also their customers.
perhaps they are happy creating high-end perception of their products, as this is the showcase for their sensors that they want to sell through the competition.
after all... where are the margins? in the cameras, or sensors? although I don't know the answer to that (but suspect that camera margins might be getting thin), they might just have strong incentive to keep on playing out their strategy the way they are now.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
10 upvotes
tommy leong
By tommy leong (10 months ago)

very little difference between old and new at ISO 3200 in RAW mode

NIKON D600 beat this nicely

Comment edited 57 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
Timmbits
By Timmbits (10 months ago)

Maybe at 3200... but looking at ISOs you actually WANT to use with a FF, I'm looking at different sections of the test image on page 6 image Q, and I'd be pressed to find any significant difference.

And I mention "different sections", because if you look at the playing card, the d600 is far behind, but in most other parts they are quite equivalent.

Comment edited 8 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
Timmbits
By Timmbits (10 months ago)

ps: page 6 and page 7 (jpeg and raw)

0 upvotes
Timmbits
By Timmbits (10 months ago)

I wish I could afford this camera.

My Samsung NX20 + 30mm lens is my poor man's substitute (with 45mm f1.8 on it's way)

very glad to see a no olpf version come out

edit: sh!t man, the price is insane!!!

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Photomonkey
By Photomonkey (10 months ago)

The difference between the default cameras listed is minor bordering on invisible. More proof that absolute IQ is becoming a non-issue.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
11 upvotes
mumintroll
By mumintroll (10 months ago)

Hmm. Camera RaW comparing doesn't work. I tried in two browsers. Nothing works.

1 upvote
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (10 months ago)

Fixed now, sorry, borked code at this end. Clear your cache and refresh.

4 upvotes
mumintroll
By mumintroll (10 months ago)

Thank you. :-)

0 upvotes
Eddy Teddy
By Eddy Teddy (10 months ago)

Not possible to choose Sigma DP2 to compare... It's the sharpest of them all I think (at ISO base), so should have been an option...

7 upvotes
HawaiiVolcanoes
By HawaiiVolcanoes (10 months ago)

welll....Sigma has their own problems..they have issues with communication..seriously...they need to hire some marketing company that knows what they are doing. And as wonderful a website as this one is I refuse to believe that they aren't...in some way...kowtowing to Sony....Sony gets too much "Press" here imho

0 upvotes
Captured by Juliana
By Captured by Juliana (9 months ago)

This is a great camera. I agree there marketing is a bit off but the product itself is very good.

0 upvotes
h00ligan
By h00ligan (9 months ago)

This camera gets ridiculous criticisms. Auto.mode is bad? Have you used a dslr.

It's not complicated. You either know why it's perfect for you
Know why it's not right for you
Are put off by the price.

The rx1 succeeds a axing,y where many have fallen short. If you don't want it, fine, but trying to nitpick things is ridiculous. It's good for what it's good for

Yah, that probably doesn't ,ean putting it on a and trying to snap pics of your fast moving kids with autofocus

If you know what it's for you'd put it in m and zone focus in that scenario.

Doesn't deserve to be picked on, it outperforms Leila's at 4x the price and has af.

By the way, looking at studio test with charts and crayon boxes gives no indication of rendering and lens character. My two 35Ls are going up for sale.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Total comments: 112
12