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Lens Tests

The fixed Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm F2 lens is obviously at the heart of the RX1's imaging system. We've therefore collaborated with DxOMark to bring you studio test data of the optics; as usual, you can also compare it to a range of other 35mm lenses in our our lens data widget. The RX1's lens is impressively sharp, even at F2; in fact it's very close indeed to the remarkable Sigma 35mm F1.4 EX DC HSM. Its only real flaw is visible vignetting even when stopped down, although this can be corrected in post-processing when necessary.

Note: it's not possible to determine the T-stop for a fixed lens camera, so this number is not displayed.

Sharpness Central sharpness is extremely high at F2, and the corners aren't far behind. As we'd expect they sharpen up on stopping down, and the very best results are obtained between F5.6 and F8, much as we'd expect on full frame. The image softens due to diffraction at the smallest apertures, but F22 will still be eminently usable when you need the depth of field.
Chromatic Aberration Lateral chromatic aberration is very low. There's a little red/cyan fringing at the edges of the frame, turning to magenta/green in the corners, but you'll have to look quite hard to see it.
Vignetting Vignetting measures 1.7 stops wide open, which is about par for the course with a 35mm F2 lens on full frame. Stopping down to F2.8 reduces this 1 stop, but unusually the figure then hovers around this mark as you stop down further, meaning there's still visible vignetting even at F8-11.
Distortion The RX1's lens shows noticeable barrel distortion - at 1.9%, it's a bit more pronounced than you'd get from a highly-corrected SLR lens. The pattern is complex, meaning you'll ideally need to use software that's profiled for the RX1 to fix it completely.

Macro Focus

Macro - approx 137x91mm coverage
Measured magnification: 0.26x
Distortion: Strong barrel

Minimum focus distance*: 19.5 cm
Working distance**: 13.2 cm
Focal length: 35mm
* Minimum focus is defined as the distance from the camera's sensor to the subject
** Working distance is measured from the front of the lens to the subject

The RX1 has a specific macro setting, accessed by turning the middle control ring on its lens. This switches the minimum focus distance down to a nominal 0.2m (compared to 0.3m in normal shooting), but also limits the furthest focus to 0.35m.

Close-range image quality is pretty impressive. At F2, central sharpness is already very high, such that it barely improves on stopping down. In our flat-field chart test the corners are soft wide open, most likely due to curvature of field, but they sharpen up nicely by F5.6. There's just a little red/cyan lateral chromatic aberration at the corners of the frame, but nothing too objectionable. Barrel distortion is pretty strong, but can of course be corrected in-camera or in post-processing when necessary.

We wouldn't usually consider 35mm as an obvious focal length for close-ups, but have to give credit to Sony for providing the option. However in the unlikely event that you're buying a fixed lens compact with a semi-wideangle lens with an eye to shooting closeups frequently, it's worth knowing that the Fujifilm X100(S) offers closer focusing and higher magnification.

The lens test data in this review is produced in collaboration with DxOMark. Click here for the full test data over on

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I own it
I want it
I had it
Discuss in the forums


Total comments: 31

There is a petition for an long overdue firmware update to the RX1 and RX1R:

1 upvote

Anyone used this and the new Leica X type 113? I'd be interested to hear what you thought. I was looking at the Leica and found this but clearly the Leica delivers only APSC/16MP but it does cost less (there's something you don't hear often!!).

I've always fancied a Leica but will go with better performance if justified, which on spec the Sony seems to do...

Max Bancroft

The RX1 does not is in my opinion noticeably suffer from moire. In over 7000 exposures I have come across significant moire once - a product of the scene rather than the camera.
This camera has exceptional dynamic range. Blown highlights are not an issue.

jim seekers

I am about to buy a Sony RX1 as it is £500 cheaper than the Sony RX1R.
but can anyone tell me the following about the Sony RX1 Please.
1. Does The Sony RX1 Suffer from Moire.
2. Does it Suffer From Overblown Highlights as the Sony RX100 Does.
and Remember this is info I need for the RX1 and not the RX1R


With my budget I can only buy the EVF for this camera! Shall I invest in this system by buying the EVF and stop smoking and save money to get the camera later on? God, some people have money!

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting

It is certainly pricey... but then I remember a story passed on by a friend who worked in Africa.

He helps a local village build its first deep well to provided reliably clean drinking water. Stream water is bad because if it is contaminated by animals or human excrement it can cause illnesses that are deadly in those parts of the world. Afterwards a village asked what was on the cover my friend's book (postcard? I can't remember exactly) and he said it was a public fountain, something similar to the well they had just built in a village. The village asked what it as for... and my friend said "well basically it is pretty to look at" and the villager was just against that someone would use water... which is one of precious things in the world to that village (either for irrigation of crops or for drinking) merely for decoration.

Moral of the story... much of the world is aghast at how much money we Americans have. Yet we are always aghast when someone else might have even more money.


Have patience grass hopper... In 3-5 years you will see full frame compacts going for $1200.. Today you can go to Walmart and buy a 55" flat screen for less than $500. Five years ago that same TV was $2200.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting

"The main drawbacks stem from the camera's autofocus performance. While not at all bad, it's not fast enough for 'decisive moment' street shooting."

Kind of a strange comment, given that the man who coined that phrase and mastered that style (Henri Cartier-Bresson) shot with a manual focus camera ...


Word, difference is though, he had a great viewfinder, zone focused and didn't care about this new fandangled thing called bokeh. If this had a great MF lens and viewfinder to match, I'd be all over it.


Rod you are dead on but unfortunately many shooters don't understand depth of focus. Leica lenses have almost always had markings for virtually Every aperture. When I first moved to auto-focus I complained to the owner of the professional shop about the lack of markings and he laughed and told me very few even knew what they were for. At least my Nikkor lenses had 4 or 5 . Point being, unquestionably HCB was not walking the streets stressing about focus. But today we are stuck with the autofocus speed of a particular piece, fast or slow. I think this camera has strong appeal, I'm wrestling over the cost for a fixed 35mm lens. Zeiss lenses combined with Sony software offer a camera that can compete very strongly with other major brands.


Thanks. I always wondered who started the decisive moment street scene – Henri Cartier Bresson

Paul Richman

The Leica comparison in the Introduction is dated. Leica now offers the X Vario at basically the same price point, but with a zoom. I prefer it, from the little testing and comparing I've done.


Is "it" the Sony or the Leica?

1 upvote

@ mcshan:

It is a Leica with APS-C sensor and slow lens (F 3.5 - 6.4).

Rooru S

mmmmm Leica with APS-C, slow lens, yes a zoom, but proturdes more than the Sony-Zeiss 35mm F2 Fullframe lens. And let remember again...Fullframe.


f 3.5 to 6.4 ? SLOW isn't even the word :(


why would a working pro consider this camera when they can get a nikon D3100 + a 35mm 1.8 lens for about $500, which will practically do the same thing for a fraction of the cost and still have the option of taking the lens off. And no, Sony is not a better brand than Nikon as far as cameras go and hopefully never will be in my lifetime because most photographers own Canon or Nikon lenses which makes Sony practically on the island of their own. I can't even put my canon flash on this thing so why would I even consider this as my 2nd camera?

It's not like the rx1 will fit into my pocket, I still have to hang it around my neck which makes this camera irrelevant in my opinion as far as compacts go...

This camera is aimed at a rich audience but then again if you have an RX1 and not a Leica M9 than you are not very rich, are you?

Who is the target market here?

I am off to look at Canon S120, that's my next camera I will be buying for my wife to take great family photos and videos.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 8 minutes after posting

A D3100 with 35mm f/1.8 does NOT do the same thing. The Nikon is a 50mm f/2.8 equivalent. To get the equivalent from Nikon you would have to buy a D3100 plus the $2000 Nikon 24mm f/1.4. THAT would be the equivalent of 35mm f/2 on full frame.

That Nikon setup might be marginally cheaper, but is ridiculous in size and balance.

And Zeiss makes much better glass than Nikon. The 35mm f/1.8 from Nikon is a joke of a lens.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting

There is no comparison
Firstly the IQ of this thing is the best there is in the 35mm FF space. That includes dynamic range, ISO performance, colour, etc.
Secondly it is quite small.
Thirdly the shutter is silent, as compared to the DSLR you mention
This really is the best there is. If you don't want, don't need, or can't afford, he best, well that is something else.


Maybe we are not talking about the same camera.. RX1 is a full frame camera....more light enters its sensor, the overall picture quality is far superior in many ways. Nikon D3100 is not even close or comparable to this RX1. Take a look at the image comparisons, it beats out many high end cameras. I'm not going into that thing about which brand is the best, but specifically in this case, Sony has beaten the heck out of any other camera with similar size and class.


Thanks Guys :) When I read the post I got a little annoyed until I scrolled down. I know we're supposed to be "polite" here & I respect that, but there's a lot of misinformation floating around too, and some of it comes from lack of depth in understanding. For laughs, ref my post above re "depth of focus". Beyond all the hype, one issue at point here is still the theoretical differences between SLR & rangefinder. Leica of course started the rangefinder market (for all practical purposes @ least) and even Nikon was first a rangefinder. Even as a stringer for Nat Geo, David Allen Harvey used Leicas for years. It's a niche, for sure, but what a sweet corner to duck into occasionally. Unquestionably there will be working pro's who will want this camera. As a non-pro I'm wrestling between emotion and intellect. But you folks are dead on.

Gabriel Yeo

$4000 for this fixed-lens....This has to be the biggest joke of the year.
At that price, I can buy a real full-frame slr.

1 upvote

when you own one you can comment, I have a 5d3, Fuji xpro1, and this Rx1R.. guess which one is most portable, shoots the best Raw images, and is the most fun to use?


You can also lug around a big camera.


Well, I don't know what the price was when this thread started but it's about $2800 USD today. And of course you can buy a full frame DSLR for $4000, probably just a bit less, but you're talking apples and oranges. The RX1 is essentially a rangefinder style camera, hence the comparisons to the M8 and M9's. Leica now makes an X series, which would actually be a much more accurate comparison to this, & close in price. Granted in today's modern photography the comparison is not 100% accurate, but it's close enough to make a point. This camera is going to have a very strong appeal to shooters-pro or non-who might own or consider a Leica M or X. I think you have to start with an understanding of those products & their history.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting

The JPEG quality rating is below that of even the Fuji x100, & significantly worse than the Fuji x-E1.
So I am not sure How dpreview can say that the the JPEG is one of RX1's pros?

Paul Farace

This is the Erminox of the 21st century! Someday tyros will handle one in a camera show and wonder how a few folks could spend that kind of money for a bauble.

Under The Sun

I think you are missing the white elephant in the room: Leica

Rowland Scherman

The Ermanox changed the history of photography.

Greg Gebhardt

The best of the best for less than the cost of a medium cost Lecia lens!

1 upvote

Indeed, the same price as a summicron 35mm lens only. Actually I think it is cheaper now

Total comments: 31