Note that this page covers the basics of the RX1R's design, but for a really detailed look at how the RX1R's operation and ergonomics, we'd recommend taking a look at our in-depth review of the physically-identical RX1, published earlier this year. Some of the images on this page show the RX1.
With its minimalist style, straight lines and rounded edges, the RX-1R follows the RX1 exactly, which itself followed the design philosophy of the Cyber-shot RX100 enthusiast compact camera (the new M2 version is also very similar in terms of layout). The camera's electronics are encased by a metal shell, and while there isn't really much of a hand grip to speak of, the grip and thumb rest areas are covered with a soft rubber material that feels comfortable in the hand.
Key control elements can be found in various places around the RX1R's body. There are dedicated flash release and playback buttons above the screen on the camera rear. To the right of the screen is a 4-way control dial with a central button used for confirming options. Above it you'll find the rear dial which lets you change shutter speed in M- and S-modes and program-shift in P mode.
The top plate houses the mode dial, shutter button and a dedicated exposure compensation dial on the far right edge. Aperture and minimum focus distance are controlled via rings on the lens while the focus mode can be set using the focus mode switch on the front.
Movie recording can be initiated from any shooting mode with the press of of the dedicated movie button, which has been placed at a 45 degree angle along the camera's right edge. If you find yourself catching it too readily, there's an option to only make it active when the mode dial is set to movie mode.
Overall, the camera has a very solid high quality look and feel to it. You have to decide for yourself if it feels like it's worth $2800, but if you hold the RX1R in your hands it is immediately obvious this is a premium product which is being targeted at a demanding clientele.
The RX1R's lens, which is designated as a Carl Zeiss Sonnar T*, features a leaf shutter for essentially silent operation (though you can engage a sound effect if you wish). This design means the camera can sync with flashes all the way up to its 1/2000th maximum shutter speed, as well as allowing the lens to reach closer to the front of the sensor.
The lens itself is a complex design including 8 elements in 7 groups, with 3 aspherical elements, including one 'advanced aspheric' element. It can focus down as close as 30cm from the imaging plane (24cm in front of the lens), in its native configuration. If you need to focus closer, a ring around the front of the lens can be rotated into a different position, shifting the focus group, allowing focus down to 20cm from the sensor plane.
Compared to Fujifilm X100S
The RX1R's most natural peer (forgetting the massive price difference for a moment) is Fujifilm's X100S, which offers an APS-C format 16MP X-TRANS sensor with phase-detection focus pixels, and a similar 35mm (equivalent) F2 lens as the RX1R.