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 – Build and handling

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 is built to a very high standard. It is obvious that a lot of thought has gone into the design, both in terms of ease of handling and pleasing looks. Despite appearances, the lens is actually offset and not positioned centrally. According to Noriaki Takagi, producer and senior designer in Sony’s Creative Centre, ‘To have the lens look centred, we adjusted the logo position to a millimetre precision, seeking the best balance.’ The attention to detail doesn’t stop there. All the logos and markings on the camera are etched on rather than printed, so the paint won’t simply rub off over time. This is the sort of high-quality finish expected from a company such as Leica, and it is certainly in keeping with the style and price of the RX1.

One concern with smaller cameras is that they can be fiddly to use. However, the RX1’s size is restricted because of its need to house a full-frame sensor. Nevertheless, Sony has made the RX1 as small as possible yet it is still comfortable to hold and handle. While the RX1 is smaller and slimmer than the Fujifilm X100, the RX1’s lens is a lot larger. In fact, the layouts of the RX1 and the Fujifilm X100 are quite similar. On the RX1 top-plate is the shutter button that doubles as an on/off switch, an exposure-compensation dial and a function button, exactly like that on the X100. Both cameras also have an additional dial, but while this selects the shutter speed on the X100, it is a program mode dial on the RX1. An aperture ring on the lens gives the RX1 a traditional feel, and it is adjustable in 1/3EV steps. A secondary ring on the lens barrel switches between standard AF range and a close-focus range. Another nice touch is a proper screw thread in the shutter button for a cable release.

In use the RX1 handles well. All the buttons and dials are conveniently placed and the rubber thumb grip on the rear of the camera protrudes sharply enough to make it comfortable to hold. On the front of the RX1 is a slight rubber grip, which is enough to hold a camera of the RX1’s size.

There is a quite a comprehensive range of accessories for the RX1, including optical and electronic viewfinders, but more on these later.

For a compact camera the RX1 is expensive, but this is reflected in the build quality and finish. It is extremely well made, intuitive to use, and the menus are clear and easy to navigate. However, it is the size of the camera that really steals the show. Due to the lens it is not pocketable, but it is light, small and discreet, and there is an ever-ready-style leather case available, which can offer some protection for the camera.

  • 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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