Sony DSC-RX1 (they’re getting closer).

Inspiration, Teaching point

I rarely comment about camera equipment, other than when I post one of my Lens Reports.  But, I sometimes make an exception.

Interestingly, the last time I made an exception was for another Sony product (see The Sony NEX-7 — I’ll take a pass for now)… probably because, when it comes to cameras, Sony is doing a great job pushing the proverbial envelop.  The major shortcoming of the NEX-7, for somebody like me with legacy lenses, was the cropped sensor.  As I wrote back then:

The first manufacturer, other than Leica, who places a 24 x 36 sensor in a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera can count me in as a customer.  I have no doubt that at some point, somebody will do it.

Well, what a difference a year makes.  The “buzz” this morning is all about the Sony DSC-RX1.

What’s so special about it?

It boasts a new, cutting edge, full frame 24 MP sensor packed into a body not much larger than a large compact.

Simply put:  Wow.

And, it sports a fixed (i.e. not interchangeable) Carl Zeiss Sonnar 35mm f/2 lens (think: Fuji X100, but with a full frame sensor).

So, they’re getting closer to the “ideal”.  The only thing missing is the “interchangeable lens” part of the equation.

However, it cannot be denied that this camera is revolutionary.  The image quality-to-camera size ratio bests any current digital camera.  As a feat of engineering, the RX1 deserves all the credit it can get.  And, if your preferred focal length is 35mm, it may very well be the only camera you’ll ever need.  To be honest, it may very well be the only camera most of us will every need.

Already, however, people are complaining about the price, lack of a built-in optical viewfinder, the lack of weather sealing (think: M9 ;)), etc.  But for those of us who already own lenses, this camera brings us one significant step closer to the ideal mirrorless camera.

(Did I previously write to ignore Photokina?… oh, well ;)).

And, besides, the incredibly diminutive size of this camera was likely accomplished precisely because the lens is fixed.  Moreover, if the X100 is any indication, having an optimized — designed from-the-ground-up — sensor-lens combination seems to ultimately benefit image quality.

So congratulations Sony.  I hope you folks sell a lot of these.

My only other requirement (or, at least, preference) of any interchangeable full frame mirrorless camera, which I never stated in my original NEX-7 post, is that it should function like camera and not a computer.  As a photographic tool, it must get out of the way and I shouldn’t have to dive into menus to make changes to the shutter speed, aperture, etc.  It’s the one thing Leica has understood all along… I hope this continues.

I really don’t know enough about the RX1 to comment about whether it, too, excels in ergonomics.  Unfortunately, Sony has a history of building cameras that, well, don’t operate like cameras.

But I do know enough about the RX1 to give Sony full credit for starting a revolution.

—Peter.

8 thoughts on “Sony DSC-RX1 (they’re getting closer).

  1. The RX1 certainly does look to have great potential. I think it’s a little early to say that “the image quality-to-camera size ratio bests any current digital camera” though since no one has used one in the field yet. I’m willing to believe it has that potential … we’ll see. Whether it is as nice a camera to use as the Leica X2, what I consider to be its closest match in currently available cameras, also remains to be seen.

    But I’m certainly excited to see this camera enter the market. I hope it’s a winner!

    1. It looks like I was correct, Godfrey. Steve Huff just posted Part 1 of his review of the RX1 and the sample images are gorgeous.

      Besides, my statement was technically accurate even back in September when I wrote this article, because there was — and still is — no other FF camera on the market that is this small.

      Peter.

  2. We’re certainly getting closer….and I’m sure this will be a hugely popular camera.

    For those of us that have invested heavily in superior glass, well, we’ll just have to keep waiting. This was a huge step in the right direction though.

    “It should function like camera and not a computer” is a sentiment I’m sure many will share, fingers crossed.

    All the best.

    Jason

  3. Been using the RX1 for a while now along with my M9 35mm SX FLE. Waited a month for the EVF to arrive as without it the shooting experience is one of a very expensive P&S camera. With glasses on the EVF responds quite slow due to the on-off sensor. Shooting with the camera is due to its size and silent shutter stealthier than with the M9 but RF shooting experience is totally different. The image files are great and low light capabilities are great. Rationally thinking for me there is no need for the new M with these two camera’s but sure I will think of one 😉

    1. “RF experience is totally different.” That pretty much nails the reason, for me, why I enjoy the M9 (and all M models before it). I’m saddened to learn, however, that the EVF responds slowly, as I would have hoped that the technology would have sufficiently advanced by now to overcome any visual lag.

      My only fear of the “RF experience” in the future is that my eyes will start to fail me; in that case, it would be nice to know that EVF is available as a suitable alternative.

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