April 06, 2013 00:00 By Paisal Chuenprasaeng
Last year's Cyber-shot RX100 was declared 'the best pocket camera ever made'. The new RX1 is chuckling
Sony Cyber-shot RX1 is the world’s first fixed-lens digital camera with a full-frame sensor, providing professional DSLR quality in a compact body.
RX1 is the sequel to Sony’s RX100, which last year won critical acclaim as the best pocket camera ever made – according to the New York Times – and as one of the best innovations of the year, according to Time magazine.
But RX1 is much better than RX100 thanks to its full-frame sensor and high performance and excellent image quality. Of course, it is also much more expensive than its predecessor.
RX1 features 35mm full-frame 24.3MP Exmor CMOS sensor, ISO 100-25600, 14-bit RAW image capture, f/2.0 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T lens with 9 aperture blades, P/A/S/M modes, Full HD 24p/60i/60p video with manual control.
It has DSLR quality in a compact body measured approximately at 113.3 x 65.4 x 69.6 mm. However, the camera is not pocket friendly because of the large lens barrel that prods out. Still it is much more compact than a DSLR camera.
RX1’s full-frame sensor 35mm (35.8x23.9 mm) is nearly the same size as a film frame. A main advantage of a full-frame sensor is that the focal length of the lens, which is 35m for RX1, retains the same angle of view. The focal length is not multiplied by 1.5 crop factor of other Canon DSLRs that uses APS-C size sensor.
And the larger sensor means larger pixels or photosites, providing wider dynamic range and higher signal-to-noise ratio in another advantage of a full-frame camera.
With the full-frame sensor and very bright f/2.0 lens, the RX1 captures pleasing-quality and beautifully sharp and clean photos in most shooting environments.
The test found that RX1 could easily capture beautiful portraits shots with professionally blurred backgrounds. And the portraits look prettier with Sony’s famous Soft Skin effect that makes the skin tone fairer and the face look smooth and wrinkle free. The beautiful face is then highlighted with blurred background.
The RX1’s shallow depth of field capability is very impressive thanks to newly developed large-diameter F2.0 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T lens, which delivers refined background defocusing and macro capabilities.
For example, when I took a close-up shot of my cat, her face look sharp while the fur down her neck started blurring.
So if you love portrait shooting, you will love the RX1. Moreover, it comes with Auto Portrait Framing function. Auto Portrait Framing will save an additional, optimally framed image in portrait or landscape orientation. Combining Face Detection and By Pixel Super Resolution technologies with rule of thirds, Auto Portrait Framing provides beautifully composed and appealingly balanced full resolution portraits.
If you love to capture beautiful lights of the night, you will also love RX1, which has an impressive low-light shooting performance without a flash. Using, the Hand-held Twilight mode, RX1 captures six images in a fraction of a second and it then combines the data from all six to create a single image with a reduction in noise equivalent to two additional steps of ISO sensitivity.
I enjoyed using Hand-held Twilight mode to capture night scenes. I could create a stunning photo of a scene inside a bus while travelling home. RX1 captures the light from outside in contrast with the shimmering interior of the bus ceiling.
In another example of impressive performance of RX1’ Hand-held Twilight, I shot the elevated Buraphawithi expressway from The Nation’s 31st floor at dusk. The camera captured the elevated way as a road of light leading to the horizon, which was partially aglow with the last light from the already-setting sun. And the background was impressively filled with tiny light dots, contrasting with the shadows of high-rise buildings.
RX1 also captures beautiful scenery shots thanks to its Auto HDR mode. The mode combines the best highlight detail from one shot, the best mid-tones from a second and the best shadow detail from a third for one incredible shot (up to 6 EV stops), all in a split second.
The RX1 has very good performance thanks to its large sensor and its BIONZ image processor that enables up to 5 fps high-speed continuous shooting in “speed priority continuous” mode and 14-bit RAW image data recording.
The camera is ready for the first shot once you turn it on and I detected no shutter lag during the test. Moreover the shot-to-shot time is also impressive and is limited only for the time for refocusing.
It has fast Auto focus in well-lit environment because the Exmor CMOS sensor uses its rapid throughput to deliver high-quality image signals to the camera’s BIONZ processor, which provides intelligent response data to a new high-speed actuator motor in the lens. But the auto focus speed could drop in low-light shooting. Anyway, the RX1 comes with manual focus and hybrid DMF (Direct Manual Focus) that lets you use auto focus first and then manually adjust the focus accuracy.
The RX1 is easy to operate and control thanks to its Quick access and Quick Navi controls. You have quick access to conveniently placed exposure compensation and focus mode dials.
And the Quick Navi enhances direct control of your favorite functions. You can press the Fn button to activate Quick Navi, which allows you to check camera settings at a glance and promptly change settings without having to search for dedicated menus.
I found that its full automatic exposure mode is already good for capturing pleasing quality photos but if you are an advanced photographer, you can switch to more creative modes – Program Auto (P), Aperture Priority (A), Shutter Speed Priority (S) or Manual Exposure (M) mode.
RX1 also allows you to memorise up to three groups of the user’s preferred settings, using three MR positions on the mode dial switch.
When in manual mode, you can use three control lens rings to comfortably adjusting the dedicated aperture, focusing, and macro switching rings.
Sony Cyber-shot RX1 retails for Bt99,990.
_ Camera Type: Professional compact digital camera
_ Imaging Sensor: 35mm full-frame (35.8mm × 23.9mm) Exmor CMOS Sensor, aspect ratio 3:2 with 24.7MP