Friday, 16 August 2013

Sony RX1R Review - Extended Foursome

I have to admit that the experience with the RX1R was largely positive and now with the initial flood of euphoria waning, will I still keep it? There were also feedback that shooting both RX1R and the 5DM3 wide open is not the fairest test. So I did another round stepped down to f5.6 and you will see that in a while. The enthusiast sector is an interesting one, by and large the RX1R is unique and there is nothing quite like it other than the Leica RF in term of size, shape and FF. On the other hand we have the usual suspects in the lower price bracket albeit in wider 28mm; My lovely Sigma DP1M as well as the Ricoh GR and will be throwing them into the mix for perspective!

So YES .. the RX1R is gonna hang around for a bit longer. If you need numbers or graphs you won't get that here as I let the pictures do the talking. All shots at f5.6 and all 4 cameras in one fell swoop! 

All JPEGs from RAW (NR - OFF) and imported through LR 5 & Sigma Photo Pro (DP1M). No Sharpening added. Minor contrast / EV adjustment to taste. Clarity +15. Saturation +5. Vibrance +5. *Some noise reduction for 5DM3's files to remove banding / colour noise. Default 0 for RX1R / GR / DP1M.


Green Panels (DP1M)
28mm (Top Left Corner)

35mm (Top Left Corner)

28mm (Center)

35mm (Center)

Foveon (Sigma) Power

The Foveon X3 sensor is a 46MP APS-C monster and you can read more about it here. In summary and in my view, very few come close to the X3 sensor at this moment (in the compact world) and the details are astonishing ... the only caveat being the need for good light and a bias toward red. The GR is pretty good in most cases but a little soft with 'film-like' grains at base. There is also some smearing although some sharpening may improve the IQ.

The 5DM3 + Sigma 35mm ART bested the RX1R for corner sharpness but the Sony is much much better in the interpretation of fine details in the center.


Art (GR)
28mm (Top Right)

35mm (Top Right)

28mm (Center)

35mm (Center)

Minor CA on high contrast edges and I was able to squeeze a lot more out of the RX1R than the others with wider DR to boot. Fine details are evident on the 5DM3 but I would expect quite a bit of post processing to pull it off. On the 28mm front the files from the GR seems to have hit a plateau and further manipulation only degrades the IQ. This is in addition to blotchy artifacts on the natural stone wall. The DP1M on the other hand is cleaner and neutral with a healthy dose of microcontrast.


Foodie (RX1R)
28mm (Center)

35mm (Center)

Artifacts on the GR and some smearing of details. You can see that sunlight coming through the louvres in the other 3 shots but the GR 'erased' them for some reason. Good microdetails and contrast for the RX1R and the DP1M with the 5DM3 coming off a little worse.


The Foveon X3 is indeed a formidable opponent to the Bayer CMOS sensor (and even the X-Trans CMOS if you must). However the system is not without its inherent quirks e.g. unusable high ISO. Slow AF in good and no AF in poor light. No 3rd party support for X3F files etc. If you can live with these you get an impressive APS-C camera that goes for roughly 1/3 the price of a FF RX1R.

For me the RX1R is a fantastic all-rounder with a fast lens in a pocket-able size that gives you great DR and gritty details. As with every (photography) decision there is a camera for every genre so the 5DM3, DP1M and GR are on a hiatus to the dry cabinet ... and honestly I can't wait for the NEX FF in Sept according to Sony Rumors (if it does materialize at all).

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