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Raw and raw conversion

Supplied software

The Sony DSC-RX1 only comes with Play Memories Home, a cataloging and browsing application that replaces the old 'Picture Motion Browser.' It's part of the Play Memories family of software that includes mobile apps and is designed to integrate with Sony's cloud storage and sharing service. The software is included on the camera itself and will offer to install itself if you connect the RX1 to your computer.

And, while there's no Raw conversion software include with the camera, RX1 owners can also download and use Image Data Converter SR from their local Sony website.

  • Image Data Converter 4.2 (Windows / Mac) - A further development of the previously
    seen Image Data Converter, provides advanced raw conversion capabilities, adjustments
    include Creative Style, Sharpness (including overshoot / undershoot tuning), Highlight Color
    Distortion reduction and Noise Reduction.

Image Data Converter allows whole-image adjustment and processing of RX1 Raw files. It allows the standard changes you might expect to make, such as while balance and brightness adjustments, plus some Sony-specific options such as DRO, which can be retrospectively engaged. Its output is similar, though not identical, to the camera's JPEG output, so it can be a handy tool for slightly re-working your favorite few images.

Beyond the standard color and brightness tools, Image Data Converter allows plenty of fine-grained control over both sharpening and noise reduction. There are also finely-tunable peripheral illumination (vignetting) correction controls and on/off distortion and highlight color protection tools.

However, even on a fast PC, we found Image Data Converter can be slow to re-render images, making it hard to fine-tune settings by eye (since there's a significant lag between moving a slider and you being able to see the effect). We'd recommend investing in some good third-party software if you expect to be processing a significant number of RX1 Raw files.

Image Data Lightbox is a fairly sophisticated image browser with basic raw conversion capabilities.
Image Data Converter offers all the usual raw conversion parameters including white balance, tone curve, color and D-Range optimizer. The software offers a Peripheral Illumination feature with more subtlety and control than the in-camera setting but no 'auto' option.

Raw file conversion

As is normal in our reviews we like to compare the supplied raw conversion software, any optional manufacturer raw conversion software and some third party raw converter. As is often the case, the only converters available at the time of writing the review are the manufacturer's software and Adobe Camera Raw. Here we compare these two converters to the camera's JPEG engine to see how each of them pulls detail out of the images.

  • JPEG - Large/Extra Fine, Default settings
  • IDC - Image Data Converter 4.2
  • ACR - Adobe Camera Raw 7.3 (Beta)

Sharpness and Detail

The Image Data Converter version of the image has a fraction more fine detail than the out-of-camera JPEG (note the fine detail above the eyebrow) and without the hints of moire that it produces. Turn down the sharpening a touch and you're likely to get a result close to that of Adobe Camera Raw.

Adobe ACR 7.3 beta raw ->JPEG (Default settings)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crop
Sony Image Data Converter ->JPEG (Default settings)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crop
JPEG out of camera, Extra Fine (all settings default)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crop

Resolution

Again we can see that Sony's supplied Image Data Converter software isn't extracting quite the same level of fine detail as the RX1's JPEG engine and both raw converters are producing rather more moiré. At its default settings, ACR manages to extract the most detail from the files while minimizing sharpening-induced edge halos. ACR also displays less moiré patterning than Sony's Image Data Converter, but the moiré it is showing is distractingly colorful.

Adobe Camera RAW 7.3 (beta) Sony Image Data Converter
 
JPEG Fine  

Real-world advantages

The RX1's JPEGs are pretty good - the color is pleasant and DRO does a good job of pulling detail out of darker regions of the image but there's still a bit more that can be gleaned if you process from Raw. Although the RX1's default sharpening is greatly improved over older Sony cameras, there's still more detail that can be realized if you customize the sharpening to match the image's subject.

Camera JPEG - ISO 100 RAW + ACR 7.3 (beta) with exposure tweaked, white balance shifted, contrast and sharpness settings adjusted 'to taste'.
100% crops

In this case, sharpening in Adobe Camera Raw has been applied with Amount 40, radius 0.8 and detail set to 15. This gives the in-focus areas a crispness lacking in the JPEG version, without emphasizing noise or introducing any significant artefacting.

Noise reduction

Camera JPEG - ISO 10,000 RAW image processed with Adobe Camera Raw 7.3. Luminance NR = 12, detail 50. Sharpening = 25, radius 0.8, detail 15.
100% crops

Processing from Raw allows you to tune the amount of noise reduction to suit your subject. And, sure enough, you can pull out more fine detail from the image processing in Adobe Camera Raw. However, the context-sensitive noise reduction in the JPEGs means that smooth areas (particularly defocused areas), are rendered more smoothly by the camera - you'd need to consider blending multiple conversions or using different processing software if you wanted to capture the best of both methods.

Raw files for download

Don't just take our word for it - take a look at the RX1's Raw files for yourself, and run them through your own software and preferred conversion settings. Here, we provide you with a selection of raw files of 'real world' scenes, and if you want to take a closer look at the RX1's studio scene shots, you can download original raw files from our compared to (raw) page.

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Comments

Total comments: 30
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: 30