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Photographic Tests

Flash

The RX1 includes a basic built-in flash. It's got a Guide Number of around 5.4m at ISO 100, which gives it a maximum working distance of 2.7m at ISO 100, climbing to 21.7m at ISO 6400 (the default top limit of Auto ISO). That's not tremendously powerful in and of itself.

The switch to a new hot shoe means the RX1 can be used with plenty of third-party manual flashes but it's only the huge (and powerful) HVL-F60M that will make full use of the RX1's multi-interface shoe's connections. It's not the most convenient package, with the F60 pretty much doubling the size and weight of the RX1 if attached.

The RX1's small pop-up flash allows fairly basic flash shots. We've not been terribly impressed with its attempts to balance background lighting but it's nice to have it available.

Sweep Panorama

Sweep Panorama (and the '3D Sweep Panorama' variant) has featured in many recent Sony cameras and is now beginning to look like a standard feature across several other makers' ranges. The Sony implementation is one of the better ones as it is very effective at aligning the shots it takes.

Landscape orientation wide sweep panorama
A crop from the above image shows the image detail level is pretty high and, unless you shoot directly into the sun (yielding flare in just some frames of the panorama), it's very hard to find any joins. Image sharpness varies shot-to-shot but it's unclear whether this is a focus or sweeping speed problem.
Landscape orientation wide sweep panorama

It may seem odd to include such heavily automated features on a camera aimed at an audience that could be expected to include a lot of knowledgeable photographers. Yet we suspect the mode's convenience will win it a lot of friends - those shooters who carefully align shots to create their own panorama images will still do so (and the RX1 is an easy camera to lug up a mountain), but those photographers who'd never considered panoramic photos are likely to find it's another creative option available to them.

Automatic CA/Fringing Correction

The RX1 has three JPEG-only lens correction options. By default, the camera will correct for 'lens shading' (vignetting), and lateral chromatic aberration.

There's not a lot of lateral chromatic aberration with it disengaged - you'll find a little magenta/green fringing at the edges of the frame, but it's rarely a problem. However, the camera does such a good job of removing it, without damaging image quality, that you may as well leave it turned on. The Chromatic Aberration corrections are not applied to the Raw files, but Image Data Converter will apply whatever setting was chosen in the camera at the point of shooting.

Chromatic Aberration correction On (default) Chromatic Aberration correction Off
100% Crop (edge) 100% Crop (edge)

Shading Correction

The second correction the RX1 applies by default is correction for vignetting. Turn it off and you'll see pronounced vignetting at all apertures. This vignetting reaches in as far as the central third of the image. At F2 the corners are around 1.7EV darker than the center. By F2.8 the corners are 1.3EV darker, before settling down to just over 1EV darker at smaller apertures. This behavior at wide apertures is fairly normal for full-frame 35mm F2 lenses, but you'd expect the vignetting to resolve itself as you stop the lens down.

When shading correction is turned on it's applied directly to the Raw files, and you may decide you'd rather make these corrections yourself, if you plan to regularly post-process your files. However, this means you either have to put up with heavily vignetted JPEGs if you want to apply your own corrections, or accept Sony's corrections baked into your Raw files, which is far from ideal.

For instance, it would be nice to be able to shoot with correction during the day, where blue skies would show the vignetting, but then disengage it to avoid emphasizing noise in the corners of portraits shot after dark. This means the RX1 requires you to set your preference at the point of shooting and, to make matters still more frustrating, Shading correction is a menu option that can't be saved to one of the camera's three custom memories.

Lens Shading Correction On (default) Lens Shading Correction Off

The Raw files from both these shots are downloadable from the Raw page.

Distortion Correction

The RX1's third type of JPEG correction, which corrects for geometric distortion. The RX1's lens design is fairly well corrected as it stands (there's around 0.7% barrel distortion), but engaging the correction option essentially eliminates any residual traces.

There's little cost to turning distortion correction on. It does stretch and pinch the entire image area a fraction, so the overall effect may lose detail. If you're that concerned about this detail, it seems likely that you'll also want to shoot Raw, which lets you choose whether you want to apply the correction on a shot-by-shot basis.

Below shots taken with Chromatic Aberration correction turned off.

Distortion correction off (default) Distortion correction on
Edge crop Edge crop
Center crop Center crop

If you shoot Raw, the bundled Image Data Conversion software gives you the option of applying the correction to Raw files but, because software correction isn't an intrinsic part of the lens design, Adobe Camera Raw does not apply correction by default. It does include an optional profile, though, which corrects the distortion in a near-identical manner to the camera's JPEG engine.

Shadow noise

The usable dynamic range of a camera when shooting in Raw is mainly defined by how much additional detail can be pulled out of the shadow regions. Here we've processed our standard studio scene with +3EV of exposure compensation to see how cleanly extra detail can be pulled out of the shadows.

Sony DSC-RX1 ISO 100: ACR +3EV, NR off 100% crop
Nikon D600 ISO 100: ACR +3EV, NR off 100% crop
Canon 6D ISO 100: ACR +3EV, NR off 100% crop
Sony SLT-A99 ISO 100: ACR +3EV, NR off 100% crop

As you can see, the RX1's Raw files are some of the cleanest of the current crop of full frame cameras, with only the D600 giving more scope for pulling more detail out of the shadows. As you would expect, it slightly outperforms the SLT-A99, which has a similar sensor but redirects around 0.5EV of light to its autofocus sensor.

Overall Image Quality/Specifics

The RX1's image quality is generally excellent, whether you shoot in Raw or JPEG mode. The JPEG color is pleasant and the levels of detail conveyed are greatly improved, compared to previous Sony models - good use of sharpening means the images show plenty of detail without obvious halos or artefacts. Despite the high detail levels, we've not seen any moiré in our real-world shooting.

Out-of-camera JPEG Close-up of dust spot

One unexpected problem that we experienced with the RX1 we used was that it appears to have collected some dust on its sensor. We can't know whether this occurred during manufacture or in use (since it's only visible when stopped-down to small apertures, which we didn't often shoot). Sony US has told us that it does not have a special dust-removal procedure in place for RX1 users but would be able to remove dust if users discovered it in their cameras. Good to know.

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Comments

Total comments: 31
BesonGER

There is a petition for an long overdue firmware update to the RX1 and RX1R:
https://www.change.org/p/sony-firmware-update-for-dsc-rx1-and-rx1r

1 upvote
Dylthedog

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...

0 upvotes
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.

0 upvotes
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

0 upvotes
moji

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
0 upvotes
LegacyGT

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.

3 upvotes
jburrows500

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
4 upvotes
jrlosangeles

"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 ...

4 upvotes
RodluvanII

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.

2 upvotes
mtsporty

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.

2 upvotes
1486CF0C80AA47A4AB757729847DF085

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

0 upvotes
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.

0 upvotes
mcshan

Is "it" the Sony or the Leica?

1 upvote
avronaut

@ mcshan:

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

0 upvotes
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.

0 upvotes
mtsporty

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

0 upvotes
Marksphoto

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
0 upvotes
Mike99999

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
4 upvotes
harold1968

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.

3 upvotes
Raonisk

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.

2 upvotes
mtsporty

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.

0 upvotes
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
shawnfb

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?

3 upvotes
mcshan

You can also lug around a big camera.

0 upvotes
mtsporty

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
0 upvotes
UnitedNations

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?

0 upvotes
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.

0 upvotes
Under The Sun

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

0 upvotes
Rowland Scherman

The Ermanox changed the history of photography.

0 upvotes
Greg Gebhardt

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

1 upvote
harold1968

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

0 upvotes
Total comments: 31