Sony RX1R

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In episode #5 of All About the Gear, Frederick Van Johnson and I discuss the Sony RX1R.

 

The RX1R is an awesome little camera, which I very quickly learned to love. After the Leica M-series, it’s the second full-frame mirrorless digital camera on the market. Should you rush out and buy one? No, because I think Sony is about to release even better options. Let’s start with the basics.

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Sony RX1R — Visions of Cameras Future?

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I’ve been shooting with the Sony RX1R for the past week as research for the next episode of All About the Gear. It’s certainly not perfect, but there are aspects of this camera that make it quite extraordinary. And now the word on the street is that the RX1R will be the basis for a full-frame Sony NEX body (ie, interchangeable e-mount) within the next month or two. If so, it will likely be the best (overall) interchangeable-lens full-frame-camera. Sorry Leica users, but it could be true.

Here’s an example. This 24MP image was shot at ISO 8000 (not 800!), f/5.6, 1/320 second. It’s pretty much straight out of the camera. (It has a permanently affixed Zeiss 35mm f/2 lens.) This image is scaled in your browser to 600×400 from a 1920×1280 JPEG, which in turn was made from the original 6000×4000 pixel RAW file. In other words, what you see below is 0.24MP or a 1/10 (linear) scale of the full-size image. There are 100x more pixels in the RAW file than what you see here. Click (maybe twice) to see the 1920×1280 version.

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Now take a look at three full-scale 100% crops from the above image.

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The image above shows the detail of an area with a lot of specular highlights. Much of it is beyond the depth-of-field limits, so don’t judge it for sharpness.

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This one, above, shows the level of detail in a non-highlight area. Two things of note: First, there aren’t any moire problems due to the lack of an anti-aliasing filter on the RX1R’s sensor. I haven’t been able to create any moire patterns except when I worked very hard to do so.

Second, check out the noise in the shadows. Yes, it’s ISO 8000 so there’s some noise, but notice how natural it appears. It almost looks like film grain, and there’s certainly none of that annoying colorful “confetti” grain.

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Finally, the image above is from a very dark area of the original. Again, look how unobjectionable the noise is.

I plan to shoot at even higher ISOs, but so far I’d say that this sensor/lens combination looks as good to me as any lens on my Nikon D800E.