Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 review

January 19, 2013

Overall Rating:


Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1

  • Star rating:



Price as Reviewed:


A 24.3-million-pixel full-frame sensor and a fixed 35mm f/2 lens could make the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 the best digital compact camera yet. However, at £2,600 it doesn't come cheap. Read the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 review...

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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 review – Features

Image: Even at the corners of the image, the RX1 and its lens produce very sharp detail

There are three key features of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 that will ignite the interest of many enthusiast photographers: the full-frame sensor; the compact-style body; and the 35mm Carl Zeiss lens. As already stated, the sensor is a 24.3-million-pixel, 35mm, full-frame, CMOS unit that is the same as that found in the Sony Alpha 99 single lens translucent (SLT) camera.

Compared with the competition, the RX1 has a larger sensor, as both the Leica X2 and Fujifilm X100 have APS-C-sized units. The advantage of using a full-frame sensor is that the larger surface area allows for either more photosites and therefore a higher resolution, or for larger photosites and improved image quality and dynamic range. Full-frame sensors of 20 million pixels or more have been around for a number of years, so the 24.3 million pixels in the RX1 should provide a good balance between resolution and image quality.

Powering the sensor is a Bionz processor that is no doubt similar in specification to that found in Sony’s Alpha range of cameras. The combination of sensor and processor allows for both raw and JPEG images to be captured, with a sensitivity range of ISO 100-25,600. This can be extended to as low as ISO 50, plus there is an additional multi-shot mode that blends multiple exposures, reducing noise levels and thus enabling sensitivity to be increased  to ISO 102,400.

The 35mm focal length of the f/2 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* lens should prove popular with enthusiast photographers. The focal length is slightly less than the standard 50mm, and it doesn’t offer quite as wide a view as a 28mm lens, but as a general-purpose optic it should prove useful for landscape, travel, documentary, social and even some portrait photography. When combined with the camera’s compact body, the RX1 has the potential to be the ideal travelling companion.

While you wouldn’t expect to use the RX1 and its 35mm lens for sports or action photography, this doesn’t mean that you can’t capture movement. With a shooting rate of up to 5fps, it is possible to hold down the shutter button and capture a sequence of shots for candid or documentary images.

The RX1 has the full complement of manual-exposure controls that would be expected of a DSLR, as well as many of the advanced shooting modes found on Sony’s other Cyber-shot and Alpha models. One of the most useful for those who shoot just JPEG images will be auto HDR, which combines three images to capture a greater dynamic range, and to reveal more highlight and shadow detail. There are also a number of scene and automatic exposure modes, as well as picture effects, including toy camera and miniature modes.

Image: The size and quality of the RX1 make it very discreet in use, and ideal for street-photography images

  • Video: Full HD (1080p) AVCHD (50fps), MP4 (30fps), VGA (480p)
  • External mic: Yes
  • Built-in Flash: Yes
  • White Balance: Auto, 8 presets (including 4 fluorescent), custom and manual
  • Memory Card: SD, SDHC, SDXC, Memory Stick Pro Duo, Micro SDHC
  • Output Size: 6000 x 4000 pixels
  • Viewfinder Type: Optional FDA-V1K optical and FDA-EV1MK electronic viewfinder
  • LCD: 3in, 1,228,800-dot, TFT LCD
  • Hotshoe: Yes
  • Sensor: 24.3-million-pixel, 35mm, full-frame, Exmor CMOS sensor
  • Power: Rechargeable Li-Ion NP-BX1 battery
  • Weight: 482g (including battery and card)
  • Exposure Modes: Program, aperture priority, shutter priority, manual, memory, iAuto, Superior Auto+, 180° sweep shooting, 14 scene modes, picture effects
  • Lens: 35mm f/2 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T*
  • File Format: JPEG, raw (ARW 2.3 format), JPEG+raw (still images) AVCHD 2, MP4 (video)
  • Shutter Speeds: 30-1/4000sec
  • AF array: Multi-point (25 points), centreweighted, flexible spot, spot tracking, spot face detection
  • Drive Mode: 5fps continuous
  • Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB
  • ISO: ISO 100-25,600 (expandable to ISO 50-25,600 and ISO 100-102,400 in multi-frame noise reduction)
  • Focusing Modes: Single, continuous, manual and direct manual
  • Dimensions: 113.3x 65.4 x 69.6mm
  • Compression: 2-stage JPEG
  • Connectivity / Interface: Mini HDMI, Micro USB, hi-speed USB 2.0, multi-interface shoe
  • Metering System: Multi-segment, centreweighted, spot
  • Exposure Comp: ±3EV in 1⁄3EV steps
  • RRP: £2,599

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