Customer Review

625 of 684 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too limited for $2800, but for some it will be camera perfection, December 4, 2012
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This review is from: Sony DSC-RX1/B Cyber-shot Full-frame Digital Camera (Electronics)
I purchased and received this camera from Amazon.

I also own a Canon 5D Mark II, Olympus OM-D E-M5, and Sony RX100

I must say I had really high hopes for this camera. I hoped for a low-light monster that would provide the critical image quality that I turn to my 5D Mark II for, just in a more portable package. For reference I also own the Canon 35mm L f/1.4. For better or for worse, this review will be based on my experience with the RX1 compared to the 5D, OM-D and RX100.

First the good...

1.) The image quality is really that good. If you read Steve Huff and look at his samples, they are representative. I must admit the lens/camera combo *is capable* of producing images better than my 5D Mark II (see negatives). the lens is sharper at wide apertures than the Canon. The high ISO performance is really amazing. Probably one of the best Full Frame cameras of any form factor with respect to ISO performance.

2.) It's well built, if not perfect (more on this in the negatives). It feels much more solid than the RX100, but not at the level of the 5D or the OM-D.

3.) The ergonomics and controls are pretty good for the small form factor. I like the manual aperture ring and exp. comp. dial, but really I still prefer the ergonomics on both the 5D and OM-D

4.) Good Auto features for deep pocketed amateurs. In truth I did not test these features extensively

Now the Negatives...

1.) The camera struggles to focus in anything but good and great light. In low and moderately low light (read normally lit interior of a home) the camera misses focus on anything that is not static or has high contrast. Taking pictures of people / faces in these conditions, the camera focuses on the background (which is static and higher contrast) in 30-70% of my shots. This is very similar to my experience with the NEX 7, another camera I have owned and shot with. It is truly maddening to have a camera with so much potential that will not nail focus with any consistency. I warn any OM-D E-M5 owners, you will not be satisfied with the focusing performance on this camera unless you only shoot outdoors in good light or shoot still life. If you like to shoot pictures of kids or any non static people in less than ideal lighting, the camera does not cut it.

2.) The ergonomics should be better. I get the cool look of the camera, but given how far the lens sticks out from the body, Sony could easily have added more grip and better ergonomics without adding to the form factor negatively. The OM-D paired with the very sharp Panasonic 20mm 1.7 or Leica 25mm 1.4 has a similar form factor but better ergonomics

3.) if Olympus can weather seal the $999 OM-D, why can't Sony weather proof the RX1 which has a fixed lens and cost $2,800.00.

4.) The lack of image stabilization nullifies some of the ISO performance vs. the OM-D

5.) I love the idea of a fast 35mm prime, but for some, $2,800 might be to much to commit into a fixed lens camera.

6.) When you spend this much on an item, do companies like Sony really have to price-gouge you on the accessories, like viewfinders and thumb rests!??!?! I digress....

7.) the lens does not perform as well at smaller apertures and when focused closer to infinity, so it's not quite as good for landscape shooters

As I mentioned at the beginning, this review has been based on my experience and comparison of the RX1 and my other camera systems. This camera's sensor and lens are capable of real magic. In the right conditions it is really a dream. But for me, the RX1 did not fit the bill, literally at $2,799, and figuratively in terms of performance in lower light, which to me is where I would be using it often.

Hope this helps someone in deciding.
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Comments

Tracked by 13 customers

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Showing 21-30 of 69 posts in this discussion
Posted on Dec 18, 2012 5:53:44 PM PST
SK says:
A very fine balanced review - thank you for this:........ " I warn any OM-D E-M5 owners, you will not be satisfied with the focusing performance on this camera "= I would have send it back and a lot of trouble you spared me

At Fredmiranda there is a thread were most (perhaps all ?) of the owners said that it has a green/Yellow cast, Ken R. is not happy with the colors either, and one got a misaligned copy, but his next copy was fine, so it is not a generel problem, but you should look into it.

I was on the fence to buy this camera, but too many people says that it is only good at close up and mid distance, so I will wait until they make a better camera,

.....but we must say "well done" to Sony for this approach to make a FF camera in such a fine small pakcet, just make it better, please, and do not ask for so much money, when the camera is not good enough for this huge price - in Europe the price is insane.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2012 6:29:26 PM PST
Radio Man says:
I would just like to say one thing..well ok a couple things. :) I own the EM5, THE Fuji XE1, and the RX1..yes that alone is a bit insane but for now I have all three. As to Ken R and color? His site is loaded with over saturated colors..not very realistic color at all to MY eyes. As to a green/yellow cast..NOPE! and NOPE again. I am very impressed with the color from the RX1 and oddly in many of my pictures, the look is almost Fuji like. Grass is a very similar green, the blue sky SO similar to my XE1, Skin tones are VERY good. I had a Nex7 I sold it ..WHY? Cause THE NEX had the green/yellow cast..skin tones just never looked RIGHT and it drove me to sell the Nex7. Hence why I bought the Fuji XE1, which I really like. But back to the RX1, yes the EM5 is MUCH faster to focus RX1 is NOT bad at all it's not gonna work for spots I'd say. But..the photos I get from my RX1 are stunning and SUPER low noise at almost any iso. The EM5 though a great camera will clip highlights much faster than the RX1, will and frankly as to Oly color..look at greens, the sky..they are usually over saturated OOC (Out Of Camera) I usually shoot raw plus jpeg so anything is fixable. But back to the RX1 it's just a GREAT camera in so many ways ESPECIALLY color, and resolving detail, and HIGH iso, and Dynamic range, and build quality, and handling, with VERY little noise. Though it's an amazing thing how Sony crammed a Full Frame sensor into an almost point and shoot body I AGREE with the many who say it IS overpriced, VERY much over priced. But It is a unique GREAT camera and it stands alone like no other camera..there are no other RX1'S. I am not a Sony fan or a Fuji fan or an anybody fan..but the RX1 is a super ..ok an over priced camera but it is a GREAT camera..and the pictures you will get are stunning. Just my opinion. No it's not great at everything..but at the end of the day it's about the pictures..you won't be disappointed..you may be broke though after buying one :)

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2012 6:37:36 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 18, 2012 6:42:38 PM PST
SK says:
Thanks Radio Man, I do not have the camera as you have, I just listen and read because I was on the fence to buy it, but because of the insane price in Europe (much more insane than normal x)) I read about everything = Is it worth it ? - what about the focus distant and small apertures for landscapes= There is not few talking about not so good = My wish was to use it for landscapes when I did not want to take my huge and heavy D3x out, and I love the 35mm focal lenght ?

x) Normally you can see the USA-price, then import it and pay all the taxes and you will end about aprox. the same as the firms sell it in EU, but the EU-prices is way way over that, because Sony sets the price so high in EU so I think interested people will import it, but then you have the problem if there is any fault with it.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2012 7:28:37 PM PST
Radio Man says:
Hello SK. Ha I didn't mean to sound SO passionate about the RX1 but I REALLY like it..and I also read Ken R's review which was kind of negative. He's all about color...?? I have a friend who is a Leica guy..has or had all super high end cameras he also just LOVES his RX1 and HE JUST sold his EM5 and an X100 and a Sigma DP2M to buy the RX1. All this means nothing but everybody has an opinion I guess.

As to landscape photography I think the 35mm field of view is pretty good for this. With my XE1 It has a 50mm equivalent lens on it. IT gets too close to things..like buildings, landscapes I keep having to move back back. So the RX1's 35mm should do well with landscape photography and of course you can zoom with your feet either closer, or more far away from what you are shooting. I will say though if money is a factor..and of course it is, I in no way feel this is double the quality of the EM5 and it's not twice as good as an XE1. But to me as I like a VERY small take with you camera it's the best of everything on the overall. If you are on a budget, you will just LOVE the EM5 and I am blown away by it's 5 axis image stabilization it REALLY works. I have read and it's true to a degree, the EM5's image stabilization is SO good it WILL offset some of the gain you get in SUPER low noise ISO on the RX1 . For example, I am able to take super sharp pictures in low light MOST of the time with the EM5 using a shutter speed as slow as 1/5 I have the 1.4 Pana/ Leica lens prime on it mostly. The RX1 I have to go to about 1/40- 1/60 shutter to get a blur free low light picture, hence you need crank up the ISO on the RX1 where you can use a MUCH lower iso and slower shutter speed on the EM5 depending upon the lens etc. I was more here to defend the RX1'S color which I think is superb. It's up to you...For me my RX1 Is my favorite and best camera..but my EM5 and XE1 are NOT "that far behind" and if I weren't a gear head and besides REALLY enjoying photography, PERHAPS the XE1 or a NEX 6/7 or the EM5 may be good enough..but none are as small as the RX1 and that is something which may or may not be important to you.. I happen to sell wine. I sell some Cabernet's that are $12 a bottle and some may be $50 a btl. The $50 bottle MAY BE like the RX1, in that it is better than my $12 Cabernet but to a person who just enjoys wine with dinner he/she may not notice a HUGE difference between the $12 bottle and the $50 bottle. I don't mean to sound like a teacher and I'm no super Photographer, it's my hobby and I take pretty good pictures I'd say. :) I am just saying for SOME the huge price difference of the RX1 to a pro, or avid amateur photographer is worth that subtle difference in quality UP from a NEX, EM5 etc..just as the $50 Cabernet is better than my $12 bottle YET some may not notice. Yikes I just wrote a book sorry :)

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2012 11:01:49 PM PST
SK says:
Thank you Radio Man, I enjoyed reading your post.

I can see the ultimate small camera is a hybrid betw. Olympus E-M5 (have it myself, yes I am a gearhead, too, can not help it ;);) and this new baby = THAT would be something, would it not ?(the Image Stab. and the Sonys better iso-performance)

Perhaps we will see it one day - I think I read something about a cooperation betw. Sony and Olympus, but not sure ?

My question was about not so few, who says, that it looks like it is sharper close up and mid zone but not "long away"/distant (for landscapes) - perhaps it is the same as with some macro lenses, they are not so good at the distant, because they are optimized for the close range (but not all, some are also good at distant = E.g. the old Nikon 60D was not, but fabolous close, but the new Nikon 60G can do both things)

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 19, 2012 6:27:13 AM PST
Radio Man says:
HI SK, ha yes being a gear head can get very expensive haha. Oh sorry, well being honest I have not yet tested the RX1 against a far away landscape re: sharpness etc. I have though taken some shots of houses ALL the way down my street and everything DID look nice and sharp. So guess I can't answer your question if landscape would be truly sharp with the RX1 but I don't see why not.

The RX1 is very similar to the Sigma DP2M in resolution and fine detail. My friend loved his Sigma but sold it for the RX1. As he used the DP2M for landscapes I GUESS the RX1 would also work. In truth though, I guess an EM5 may be more versatile for what you want (And you have one :) ) cause you can swap out the lens to better suit what you are shooting where the RX1's
lens is obviously fixed to 35mm. That said my 1.4 Pana/Lieca lens lives on my EM5 99% of the time and I almost like having a fixed lens, or a prime as it makes you work a bit harder. Anyway best of luck!

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 19, 2012 9:38:21 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 19, 2012 10:13:24 PM PST
SK says:
Hi Radio Man.

Interesting that he sold the Sigma DP2Merrild for this camera here.

Yes, some lenses are optimized for close range, and some for close range and midzone - e.g. my Nikon 105VR is "very good" at close range, but only "good" at distance, and the same goes for Nikon 60D, but NOT for Nikon 60G

There is a bit about it here - I think it is the 3. post:

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1004309

----

Your 1.4 lens must be the Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 ASPH ? = This is a very good lens, I have read tons of very good tests/reviews about it.

I have the Pana 20mm f/1.7, but what I really can recommend (if the focal lenght suits you) is the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 ( you can say it is a 150mm lens) = This is a fantastic lens, .... as good as the Nikon 200mm f/2.0VR, but only 1/6 of the price.

Some place I also read that a "Paparazzi" used it instead of his normal heavy gear

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 20, 2012 5:44:05 AM PST
Radio Man says:
Hello SK. Yes my friend LOVED the DP2M Sigma but it was so limited he wanted a better overall camera. The DP2M can out resolve the RX1 in good light it seems and it's Foveon sensor can be pretty much be amazing in GOOD light. THAT camera may be a great landscape camera has it can capture SO much fine detail..but it's useless in low light.

Yes I have the Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 ASPH HAD the 20mm pancake too. For me I prefer the 25mm because of it's field of view and also the 20mm lens had a bit too much chromatic aberration stuff going on though I loved it's small size. I have heard great things about the 75mm lens I am now too broke to buy another anything LOL. Best of luck..and happy picture taking. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 20, 2012 6:14:01 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 20, 2012 6:15:55 AM PST
SK says:
Yes, the Pana 20mm has some CA, but I love the small size.

Yes, you must have used a lot of money for the RX1, but one day..... try the Oly 75, but it can be dangerous for your vallet ;);)

Thanks for the good communication.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2012 9:11:07 PM PST
Tim Naff says:
JG: I agree, but I'd make one of your points slightly differently: it may be too much to pay for just one focal length. Unfortunately, if it had a zoom, it wouldn't produce the image quality it does. I have an A99 with the same sensor. The Zeiss 24-70 zoom, which is about as good as zooms get, can't do what the Zeiss 85mm prime and especially the 135mm prime do on the same sensor. The RX1 is a world-class sensor paired with a fixed lens, designed by a world class optics house to perfectly complement it. It SHOULD be as good as it gets in image quality. The sensor/lens resolution will allow you to "zoom in" to a significant extent by cropping. The panoramic mode, which goes horizontally or vertically, will allow some ability to "zoom out." Meanwhile, although it doesn't have built in stabilization (you should be able to hand-hold at 1/30 SS) it has three multi-frame low-light modes that will buy you two or three stops. It also has built-in auto HDR, which will give you all the benefit of DRO without the noise penalty. These extra modes do have some limits: the noise reduction and autoHDR modes are for static scenes (as tends to be the case with tripods) and they only output as jpegs, which I consider to be their most significant (and unnecessary) limitation. But make no mistake, this camera is more than a world-class sensor and world-class lens. Sony's feature innovation, which is class leading in a number of areas, does count for something if you learn to take advantage of it. See my review of the A99.

Sony compromised to get the size down and the image quality up at the expense of a fixed focal length. That compromise may not suit you or me, but I'm still impressed. And I'm still undecided.

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