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...
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 review – Autofocus
Although the resolution of the sensor in the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 may be the same as that in the Alpha 99, there are some differences. Unlike the Alpha 99, the RX1 sensor doesn’t have on-sensor phase detection. Instead, and much like a conventional compact camera, it relies solely on contrast-detection autofocus. This is a little surprising, given that so many manufacturers are using on-sensor phase-detection AF in their cameras, and that Sony already has the technology available. However, contrast-detection AF has also improved in the past few years, and as we have seen on compact system cameras in many situations, it can be as fast as a conventional phase-detection system.
Overall, the AF speed of the RX1 is good in bright light. Although not the fastest camera we have seen recently, it is perfectly fine for the types of images that it will be used to take. In low light it tends to slow down, and will occasionally struggle to find focus in dim lighting, but this slight drop in speed doesn’t hinder the overall experience of using the camera. For most general uses, particularly travel and street photography, the AF speed is more than enough.
Manual focusing is also an option and this is achieved via an electronic focusing ring on the lens itself. Using the electronic focus ring to manually focus offers a more tactile experience compared to using a dial on the back of the camera, and it certainly improves the handling. However, the process is still quite slow and really only useful for when focusing closely. If you wish to focus on a particular subject, the focus tracking mode is a quicker option.
The lens of the RX1 can focus as close as 20cm, so it is close-focusing rather than macro focusing. A ring on the lens switches the AF between close (20-30cm focusing) and a general 30cm-infinity focus, which helps to improve the speed and accuracy of the AF, particularly in the former mode.