In our new Sony RX1 review video, Amy Davies of our testing team asks whether Sony has changed the landscape of the ultra-premium compact camera market.
With its 35mm full frame sensor and fixed-length 35mm f/2.0 Carl Zeiss T* coated lens, the Sony RX1 has caused a stir of excitement among photographers at its potential for superior image quality.
But with the Sony RX1 price tag at £2,599/ US$2,799.99 / AU$2,999, should photographers pay so much money for a camera with no touchscreen or viewfinder – some of the digital camera features found in other premium compacts?
Amy Davies puts this new Sony camera to the test in our Sony RX1 review video below.
Sony RX1 Review Video Transcript
This is the Sony RX1, which is the world’s smallest digital full-frame camera. Inside the body of this miniature device is the same sensor as can be found in the Sony Alpha 99.
It features a fixed length Carl Zeiss 35mm lens, which, as it’s a full-frame camera, there is no equivalent crop factor.
In terms of the build, the RX1 is pretty similar to the RX100, the company’s other premium compact. Here on the top of the camera you’ll see a mode dial and an exposure compensation dial. It’s quite useful to have this dial here, as you can access it with your thumb when shooting one handed.
To alter the aperture, you twist this ring near the base of the lens. There’s a further two rings on the lens. This one here is to switch the lens from its standard focusing to its macro focusing mode. Switching it like this gives the lens the ability to focus from as close as 20cm, it’s worth pointing out that it’s not a true 1:1 macro lens though.
Finally, a third ring at the front here, is used for manual focusing. If you twist this while in manual focusing mode, the scene is magnified on the LCD screen for precise focusing.
Speaking of the screen, the 3 inch, 1.2 million dot TFT features Sony’s White Magic technology, which is designed to boost contrast. It’s a good performer, not suffering from reflection or glare in all but the very brightest of sunlight.
There’s no viewfinder included as standard, but, unlike with the Sony RX100, either an optical or electronic viewfinder can be slotted into this port here.
As already mentioned, the RX1 uses a fixed, 35mm, lens. However, when not shooting in raw format, you can use Sony’s Clear Zoom technology to get closer to the subject. Pressing this button here zooms in, you can choose to zoom in steps if you like. Results when using Clear Zoom are very good, making it a good option if you really do need to get closer in.
Most of the commonly used settings can be accessed by pressing this Function button. You’ll find Drive Mode, sensitivity, white balance, metering and so on here.
You’ll also find Creative Style near the bottom here – this allows you to choose between a variety of shooting parameters suited to different subjects, such as Vivid, Black and White and so on.
These can be shot when shooting in raw format, unlike Picture Effects, which can only be activated in JPEG. Here you’ll find lots of digital filter effects, such as Toy Camera, High Contrast Monochrome and Miniature.
One of the best things about the Sony RX1 is the ability to customise many of the buttons. On the top of the camera is a small C button which can be assigned to a number of different functions, for example sensitivity.
On the back, this AEL button and the four directional buttons on the scroll wheel can all be customised, which is really handy and shows Sony has thought about how advanced photographers like to use their kit.
To change the autofocus point, first you need to set the Autofocus area – you can either have it fixed to the middle, have the camera choose spots for you, or go for Flexible spot.
Once Flexible mode has been chosen, the central button in the middle of the scroll dial can be used to bring up the focus point, you then use the directional keys to scroll to the area you want. It’s a shame the camera doesn’t have a touchscreen as this could have sped up the process a little.
Since it contains a full-frame sensor, we had very high hopes for the image quality from the RX1, and we haven’t been disappointed. That sensor is capable of resolving an incredible amount of detail, while colours are rich and vibrant.
Noise levels are kept to the minimum at high sensitivity, while the combination of a very large sensor and f/2.0 maximum aperture allow for some beautiful shallow depth of field effects.
Ultimately, it will be interesting to see how the RX1 sells. With its high asking price, and its fixed lens limitations, it’s a camera that shows off exactly what Sony can do, and isn’t necessarily aimed squarely at the consumer market.