The Sony DSC-RX1 is the first point-and-shoot camera with a full-frame sensor, a 24.3 megapixel Exmor CMOS – the same one found in the company’s top of the line, DSLR – the Sony Alpha a99 (rrp HK$35,900 with a 24-70mm f2.4 lens). To produce full HF video recording and doll out up to ISO 102,400 sensitivity, the RX1 uses a new Bionz processor.

Deceptive is what would best describe the Sony DSC-RX1. It is about the size of many conventional compact digicams. It has a large bright screen but is not touch (which appears to be the craze these days). It has a tiny flash that retracts with the press of a button (like the Canon G 1X). It doesn’t support interchangeable lenses (again going against the grain of today’s digicams).

When I took it out of the box of the first time, I thought it resembled an all-black Leica X2 camera with a large lens. Like most Leica cameras, the simplicity of the design belied the capabilities of the little camera.

BUILD

At 508 grams with lens cap, battery, SD card and strap, it is still 43g lighter than my Canon G 1X. The body feels very sturdy. It is also at least 20% more compact making it a better day-to-day companion than my G 1X. You know you have a quality product with this camera. It is sufficiently heavy requiring two handed shooting (like most DSLR) but sufficiently compact and light to fit into a small bag or hung from the shoulder or neck without causing any long-term injury. The right side of the camera body is coated with what feels like rubber or leather, giving you the added security when gripping the RX1.

I didn’t read the spec of the RX1 the first time around so when I lifted it off the box, I started looking for the mechanism to detach the body from the lens. I was confused to find no such option. Apparently part of the fixed, 25mm f/2.0 Carl Zeiss lens is built deep into the body of the camera. Sony claims this enables the camera to give the best possible optical quality.

WHAT I LIKE

Judging from the rrp of HK$23,990, the RX1 is aimed at professional photographers or people with money to burn. The Carl Zeiss Sonnar T offers a f/22-f/2 stop aperture control dial at the base of the lens. There is an ingenious switch around the center of the lens that allows you to switch from a standard 35mm lens camera into a 20-35cm macro lens. Finally, lightly depressing the shutter button and turning the outermost ring of the lens, will activate the Focus Peaking feature to aid in manual focusing (two options: Direct Manual Focus and Manual Focus).

A quick read of the manual (yes you need to if you want to use some of the magic of digital photography) shows that you can customize majority of the buttons of the camera.

For the money you pay for this camera, image quality should be first rate and the RX1 does not disappoint. I found it easy to create images with depth of field without having to fiddle with the camera beyond “auto” mode. Auto-focus is way better on the RX1 than on my G 1X and when light is really in short supply you can always override the auto focus feature and go manual.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE

One of the features I love about my old Nexus 3 smartphone is the camera’s panorama mode – there is simply nothing quite like it if you want a simple way to shoot. The RX1 uses “Sweep Panorama” which I found difficult to use – at times it tell me I am moving too fast, other times I am too slow. Make up your mind RX1!

The RX1 shares a common problem as my Canon G 1X – poor battery life. The RX1 will last about 2 hours with moderate use. Sony slipped here big time since you’d expect photographers to be out and about during the day and having access to a wall socket is not always possible. You’d be wise to carry one of those portable battery-backed chargers if you plan to carry the RX1 around all day. Alternatively, if you carry a portable battery charger, this may solve the battery issue problem. I do love what Sony did here by providing a standard micro-USB port so you can also charge the RX1 from your laptop.

A small and trivial thing I don’t like with the RX1 is the removable lens cover which can easily be lost or misplaced. It happened to me a couple of times today when I was shooting around the house. Very scary since I don’t own this camera. It’s a very solid lens cover but would it have hurt Sony to include a small hole to string it to the body or the case of the camera?

CONCLUSION

In the age of multi-purpose, all-in-one digital cameras, the RX1 is a refreshing return to simplicity without sacrificing in what is really the core purpose of all cameras – making good quality photos.

So why would anyone want to fork out HK$23,990 (suggested retail price in Hong Kong) for a retro-looking camera? That’s like asking if there is a market for Leica cameras. If people are willing to pay HK$50,000 for a Leica, the Sony RX1 priced at half that of a Leica but comparable capability sounds like a bargain.

TECHNICAL SPECS

Image Sensor
Image Sensor 35mm full-frame (35.8mm × 23.9mm) Exmor CMOS Sensor, aspect ratio 3:2
Number of Pixels [Effective] Approx. 24.3 megapixels
[Gross] Approx. 24.7 megapixels
Lens
Lens Type Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* (8 elements in 7 groups (3 aspherical elements including AA lens)
Focal Length
(35mm equivalent)
f=35mm
[Still image 3:2] f=35mm
[Still image 16:9] f=37mm
[Movie 16:9] f=44mm (SteadyShot On), f=37mm (SteadyShot Off)
[Movie 4:3] f=48mm (SteadyShot On), f=45mm (SteadyShot Off)
F-number (maximum aperture) F2
Focal Range
(From the front of the lens)
AF approx. 30cm to infinity (Normal mode), approx. 20cm to 35cm (Macro mode)
Camera
Imaging Processor “BIONZ”
Total Zoom Magnification Clear Image Zoom (still image): 2x
Digital Zoom (still image): 24M approx. 4x / 10M approx. 6.1x / 4.6M approx. 9.1x
Movie: Approx. 4x
Main Function
Focus Type Contrast-detection AF
Focus Mode Single-shot AF (AF)* / Direct Manual Focus (DMF) / Manual Focus (MF)
*Functions as Auto Focus (AF-S) in still picture shooting and as Auto Focus (AF-C) in video shooting
Focus Area Multi point AF (25 points) / Center weighted AF / Flexible spot / Flexible spot (tracking focus) / Flexible spot (face tracking)
Light Metering Mode Multi segment / Centre weighted / Spot
Aperture F2-22 (9 blades Iris diaphragm)
Shutter Speed Program Auto(30”-1/4000*), Aperture Priority(30”-1/4000*), Shutter Priority(30”-1/4000*), Manual Exposure(Bulb, 30”-1/4000*)
*Maximum speed at F5.6 or greater aperture value.
Maximum speed at F2.0 is 1/2000.
ISO Sensitivity (Still Image) ISO 100-25600 (1/3 EV step, expandable to ISO 50/64/80)
Auto: ISO 100-25600, selectable with upper / lower limit
Multi Frame NR: Auto (ISO 100-25600, selectable with upper / lower limit), 100-102400 (1EV step)
ISO Sensitivity (Movie) ISO 100-6400 equivalent (1/3 EV step)
Auto: ISO 100-3200 equivalent
Exposure Compensation +/- 3.0EV, 1 / 3EV step
SteadyShot Electronic type (for movie)
White Balance Auto / Daylight / Shade / Cloudy / Incandescent / Fluor (Warm White) / Fluor (Cool White) / Fluor (Day White) / Fluor (Daylight) / Flash / C. Temp. / C.Filter / Custom
Shooting Mode (Still Image) Program Auto (Program shift available), Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, MR (Memory Recall) 1 / 2 / 3, Movie, Sweep shooting, Scene Selection, Intelligent Auto
Scene Selection Portrait / Landscape / Sports / Sunset / Night Portrait / Night Scene / Hand-held Twilight
Panorama Sweep Panorama
Creativity Style Standard / Vivid / Neutral / Clear / Deep / Light / Portrait / Landscape / Sunset / Night Scene / Autumn Leaves / Black & White / Sepia
Picture Effect Toy Camera, Pop Color, Posterisation, Retro Photo, Soft High-key, Partial Colour, High Contrast Monochrome, Soft Focus, HDR Painting, Rich-tone Monochrome, Miniature, Watercolor, Illustration
Still Image: Number of Recorded Pixels(Image Size) [3:2]
L: 24M (6000 x 4000)
M: 10M (3936 x 2624)
S: 4.6M (2640 x1760)
[16:9]
L: 20M (6000 x 3376)
M: 8.7M (3936 x 2216)
S: 3.9M (2640 x 1488)
[Sweep Panorama]
Standard (3872 x 2160/8192 x 1856)
Wide (5536 x 2160/12416 x 1856)
Dynamic Range Function Off, Dynamic Range Optimizer (Auto/Level), Auto High Dynamic Range: Auto exposure difference, Exposure difference level (1.0-6.0EV, 1.0 EV step)
Flash Mode Auto / Fill-flash / Slow Sync / Rear Sync / Off / Wireless
Guide No. 6 (in meters at ISO 100)
Flash Range ISO Auto 0.75m to 21.7m / ISO 25600 up to 43.4m
Continuous Shooting Speed (Maximum) Speed Priority Continuous mode: Approx.5 fps,
Continuous mode: Approx. 2.5 fps (AF-S)
Image Control Creative Style, Quality (RAW/RAW&JPEG/Extra fine/Fine/Standard), Long Exposure NR (On/Off), High ISO NR (Normal/Low/off), Multi Frame NR
Monitor & Viewfinder
LCD 7.5cm (3.0 type) (4:3) / 1,229,000 dots / Xtra Fine / TFT LCD
Brightness Control: Auto / Manual (5 steps) / Sunny Weather mod
Recording
Recording Media
* w/ Adaptor (not supplied)
Memory Stick Duo,
Memory Stick PRO Duo,
Memory Stick PRO Duo (High Speed),
Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo,
Memory Stick Micro*,
Memory Stick Micro (Mark2)*,
SD Memory Card,
SDHC Memory Card,
SDXC Memory Card,
microSD Memory Card*,
microSDHC Memory Card*
Recording File Format Still Image: JPEG, RAW (Sony ARW 2.3 format),
Movie: AVCHD Ver.2.0, MP4
Movie Recording Mode AVCHD: 28M PS (1920×1080, 50p), 24M FX (1920×1080, 50i), 17M FH (1920×1080, 50i), 24M FX (1920×1080, 25p), 17M FH (1920×1080, 25p)
MP4: 12M (1440×1080), 3M VGA (640×480)
Interface
Interface Micro USB, Hi-Speed USB (USB2.0), Micro HDMI, Microphone jack, Multi Interface Shoe
Normal
Battery NP – BX1 (supplied)
USB Charge/USB Power Supply: Yes (supplied AC Adaptor)
Dimension (W x H x D) 113.3 x 65.4 x 69.6mm
Weight Approx. 482g (Battery and Memory Stick Duo included)
Approx. 453g (Body only)
Print Exif Print, PRINT Image Matching (PIM3)
PlayMemories Home Yes
Others Smart Teleconverter (approx. 1.4x / 2x), Face Detection, Face Registration, Smile Shutter, Quick Navi, Grid Line, Digital Level Gauge (pitch and roll), Exposure Bracketing, White Balance Bracketing, DRO Bracketing, Flash Bracketing, Peaking, MF Assist, Auto Portrait Framing

PHOTO GALLERY

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements