Ultra-compact: Sony Cyber-shot RX1R II review
Body and Design
Like its predecessors, the RX1R II is an attractive, if fairly plain-looking camera. It bears the same body shape, grip, dials and dimensions as the RX1 and RX1R. This also means that it feels well built and solid without feeling too heavy. Its size and boxy shape mean that it's not a truly pocketable camera, but depending on your wardrobe (and whether the hood is attached), it'll squeeze into a larger jacket pocket without much trouble.
Compared to the RX1 and RX1R, the RX1R II adds a tilting screen and a pop-up electronic viewfinder while foregoing a built-in flash. Disappointingly, but not surprisingly at this point for Sony, the tilting screen lacks touch functionality. Touch sensitivity would have been especially useful in combination with the new AF system.
On the positive side, the pop-up EVF is large, clear, and doesn’t require the push-and-pull of the pop-up finders on the RX100 III and IV.
Being aimed at the higher end of the photographic market, the RX1R II comes with a plethora of dials and buttons. The shooting mode, exposure compensation and aperture dials are well-damped and smooth, allowing positive feedback so that you don’t necessarily need to divert your view from the screen or viewfinder to check your adjustments. The control buttons on the rear of the camera, on the other hand, leave something to be desired. They are too flush and too mushy to operate swiftly and with confidence with your eye to the finder. Having mapped Eye-AF to the AE-L button, I often wondered whether the camera was having difficulty with face and eye detection, or I was simply hitting the wrong button (it turned out to be an equal helping of both, and this was after shooting with the camera for weeks).
The RX1R II has rubberized grip coatings on the front and rear of the camera, but without the benefit of a real ergonomic grip, it never feels truly secure when held with one hand. This is one place where the protruding lens comes in handy, as it allows your left hand to support the camera more effectively. Of course, if you have $249 to hand (!?) you can always add the hinged TGA-1 thumb grip to the camera’s hot shoe, which makes things easier.
The direct autofocus control switch on the front of the body is nice, but requires a careful touch. It's very stiff, and frequently in use, I found myself either not moving it at all or moving it two positions instead of one. The movie record button is far enough out of the way that you won’t hit it by accident, but it’s also so far out of the way that when you need it, it’s inconvenient.
|A look at that leaf shutter in action, thanks to our studio wizard Sam Spencer.|
Like Fujifilm’s X100-series cameras, the RX1R II employs a leaf shutter. This means there is no shutter shock whatsoever, flash sync speeds reach 1/1000s or greater depending on your sync method, and the camera operates with almost complete silence. Shoot from the waist using the tilt screen, and you won’t find a more discreet full-frame digital camera anywhere. The RX1R II is quieter in operation than a film-era Leica rangefinder. Impressive.
On the bottom of the camera, you’ll note that the tripod socket and battery door are awfully close to each other. Depending on your tripod plate, you may have some extra finagling in store if you need to change a battery mid-shoot. And you will need to change a battery mid-shoot (more on that later).
One final annoyance - the Cyber-shot RX1R II is not weather sealed. Honestly, at this price, that's disappointing. It should be said though that so far, even during testing over a wet Seattle winter, we've had no issues with water or dirt incursion.
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