Hands On: Sony CyberShot RX1

What happens when you cram in a 24.3-megapixel full-frame sensor in a body of a tinsy little point and shoot? You get the Sony CyberShot RX1, which is the first point and shoot camera in the world to feature a full-frame sensor, which also is tied in with a 35mm fixed-focal length lens with a Sonnar T* coating and wide f/2.0 aperture. We had the opportunity to go hands on with this new revolutionary camera at CEIF in New Delhi.

Just to be clear, this is no ordinary point and shoot. At a price of Rs 1,79,990 it finds itself in a price point dominated by high-end DSLRs like the Nikon D800, the Canon 5D Mark III and Sony’s own Alpha 99. This insane price could lead some photographers to steer clear of it as they could easily opt for a tried and tested full-frame DSLR with a lens kit, but the fact remains that its diminutive size belies its true potential.

We took a few shots at the event itself, we admittedly did not have optimal lighting and we soon found out that the image quality was in the ball park of say a Canon 5D Mark III.

This was quite stunning to some of us in the media but the reason Sony was able to pull of some stunning images was because A) The BIONZ image processing engine in the RX1 has been precisely tuned to the 35mm fixed-focal length lens, something which most DSLRs with interchangeable lenses cannot boast of. B) To keep it as small as possible, the lens itself starts off from deep inside the body of the RX1, so the lens may not look as large as it actually is.

So essentially, the image quality was in the same league as some of the big named full-framed DSLRs in the market. Of course, this is based on limited usage.

Coming to the actual design of the RX1, we must admit that it definitely borrows its lineage from the RX100 point and shoot. When we talk about the build per say, then Sony has really ramped it up to another level. The build is what one might imagine while paying Rs 1,79,990. It feels solid, and there is a certain heft to the RX1 that lends it a sense of solidity that one normally does not associate of cameras of this size.

Returning to the lens, it has a 9-blade diaphragm, which according Sony is ideal for bokeh’s and even in our limited experience; we found the RX1 captured stunning bokeh’s.

It also allows for full manual control. The lens has three manual control rings for aperture, macro, and focus. The aperture control ring came off as an oddity because normally most modern cameras don’t have them. Sony has gone old school with the RX1 and the manual control aperture ring is definitely handy to have. Additionally, the sensor on the RX1 has 25 focus points and also comes with a built-in flash. Sony even allows the user to customize a lot of the controls on the RX1 which is again is a handy addition.

The 3-inch LCD on the RX1 leverages 12,29,000 dots with an aspect ratio of 4:3. The most notable thing about the display is that it uses ‘White Magic’ technology, the same as the one found on the Sony Xperia P smartphone. White Magic technology adds an extra white pixel to the standard RGB configuration that allows for stunning whites.

We found that the RX1 managed lock focus quite quickly and if we had to compare it to the similar sized Fujifilm X100 then the RX1 would come out trumps.

Sony is also providing a number of accessories for the RX1 that include an electronic viewfinder, an optical viewfinder made by Zeiss, a thumb grip and a lens hood.

That said some of these accessories are priced quite lavishly which may make this already expensive imaging jewel even more expensive.

But one has to say the RX1 is boldly going where no camera has gone before, so one can forgive Sony for the astronomical price. But still, the real advantages or disadvantages of a full-frame sensor in this form factor cannot be based on a 20-minute interaction and hence we would recommend waiting for the full in-depth review that will be posted in the near future.

Rohit Sharma contributed to this report

Photo Credits: Rohit Sharma


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  • David Hunter

    Sony’s RX1 is revolutionary… with 2 flaws: First, for the astronomial price that Sony is charging for this camera, there needs to be a built-in viewfinder. This would free up the hotshoe for professional quality flashes and flash triggers for off-camera lighting. Second, as much as I appreciate fix lensed cameras, this should be an interchangeable lens camera.

    Never buy Version 1.0 of anything. Sony did an exemplary job but I will wait for the Sony RX2.

  • deepan

    is it just me or has the optical view finder being inserted from the wrong direction.

  • deepan

    why is the optical view finder inserted in the wrong direction