Reviews of the Sony RX1 have gone from a trickle to a torrent on the Web of late. The RX1, you might recall, is Sony's high-end odd duck: a high-megapixel, full-frame mirrorless pocket camera with a premium fixed Zeiss 35mm ƒ/2 lens.
Newly posted is Richard Butler's and Lars Rehm's review at dpreview, technically thorough as usual.
Then there's a long but excellent report by James Duncan Davidson from the point of view of someone who's been using the camera extensively for several months.
Old friend Michael Reichmann weighed in early with his very thorough overview, from the priceless perspective of a photographer who has used a great many high-end digital cameras.
Photographer Peter Adams puts the camera to a variety of uses and shows us the results in a series of fine illustrations.
Like to put it to your own tests? The camera can be rented from Borrowlenses. Lensrentals doesn't have it yet, but might soon. I'll just say that my own recent experience of renting a camera to try it was very successful—efficient and convenient—but turned out to be very dangerous too! So be careful. Word to the wise.
(Thanks to Eolake)
Original contents copyright 2013 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
A book of interest today:
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Kenneth Tanaka: "I've been lucky enough to have one since January. The EVF arrived early this month (February).
"I've only read through Michael Reichmann's review and the 'Conclusions' section of the DPreview review. I've found nothing with which to notably disagree in either. Yes, the slow (think in-out-in-out-in) AF in low light is perhaps the camera's only practical wart. Honestly, I usually leave mine in MF and then just use the AEL button to auto-focus on command, just as with my bigger cameras. The manual focus works fine but is somewhat slow/finely graded.
"Just a few notes to supplement or reinforce reviews:
• For owners of the NEX-5N's fine EVF the answer to the obvious question is 'No.' Although the RX1's EVF is the same size and spec it's a slightly different design. Nuts. Sorry, you'll have to pay up.
View through RX1 EVF
Sony RX1 lens
• The barrel of the RX1's Zeiss lens features three rings. The front ring controls focus, the center ring controls macro/normal focal range, and the back ring controls lens aperture. It's that center macro ring that is guaranteed to induce vulgar incantations towards deities. It's just too darn close to the focus ring and too easy to accidentally turn and, consequently, disabling the normal focal range. The 'simple' solution would have been to make the focus ring a larger diameter or to recess the macro ring and provide a lever at the barrel's bottom. Shrug.
• The fact that a camera of this price does not come with a lens hood is annoying. The price of that 'accessory' hood is absolutely obscene. Just don't buy it. I bought mine from an eBay seller in Hong Kong for about $7. You can see that it's absolutely lovely, made of the same aluminum and with the same finish as the Sony hood. Shame on you, Sony! Bad Sony!
"So is the RX1 'worth' its price? For me it is. My own logic (should such a word be used here?) runs rather congruently with Michael Reichmann's; the price is not really nutty when compared to a Leica. But that does not make it any more practical or accessible for the majority of photographers. So I just leave 'worth' to your own personal judgement.
"I will say that Sony is indisputably leading the camera product race today, and probably for years to come. Beyond the 'sez who we can't do it?' RX1 we have the class-leading RX100, the NEX series, and the Alphas. They're the digital photo emperors today!"
Edward Taylor: "I owned the RX1 for a short time. I really loved it. I couldn't say enough good things about it. I did not find the focusing to be a problem as is frequently reported. I thought the image quality was outstanding, as was low light performance. I liked the 35mm lens, as it is a good focal length for most of my shooting. A fixed lens also relieved my constant 'dust on the sensor' anxiety. (I am often afraid to change lenses on interchangeable lens cameras). The RX1 was like a good watch—solid, well built, and it created pride of ownership. I liked the way it handled, and it felt like a natural extension of myself. It was easy to carry, and I always had it with me.
"So, Why did I return it? The overwhelming reason was the cost. Even though I can afford it, I just felt like it was too expensive. I had a little buyer's remorse. Part of it was that digital cameras do not retain their value, and that they have a short life before a new model comes out.
"Also, I have a NEX-7 with the Zeiss 24mm ƒ/1.8. This is slightly bigger, but essentially the same camera (the 24mm is a 35mm equivalent). It doesn't have the full frame but it has a few more megapixels and a viewfinder. So, in the end, I just didn't feel like the RX1 was a good purchase.
"At $1500 this camera would be a no brainer."
[Both Ken and Ed have reviewed cameras for TOP in the past. —Ed.]
Matthew Brown: "I have its baby brother, the RX100, and I'm enjoying the heck out of it. If my wallet were deeper, I'd be getting one of these. Obviously not for everyone; it's for the Leica+35mm mindset. It suits a certain type of photographer almost perfectly. If you're not that photographer, you aren't going to be happy with it. As for waste of money or not, you can't buy a smaller camera that gives you that level of image quality, for any money. Well-heeled street photographers will go nuts over this (as I believe they are). I can personally vouch for baby-brother RX100 giving photos that beat out DSLRs from the 6–8 megapixel days, with a lens better than most DSLR lenses I could afford. It's a perfect carry-everywhere."