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 – Noise, resolution and sensitivity

These images show 72ppi (100% on a computer screen) sections of images of a resolution chart, captured using the 35mm f/2 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* lens. We show the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately. The higher the number visible in these images, the better the camera’s detail resolution is at the specified sensitivity setting.

We have tested a number of cameras with full-frame, 24-million-pixel sensors in the past, including the Nikon D3X, the Sony Alpha 850 and 900, and more recently the Sony Alpha 99 and Nikon D600. The sensor in the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 matches the impressive resolutions of these camera, resolving to around 30 in our resolution test.

Even more impressive is that, excluding medium-format digital cameras, there is only one model that has a significantly higher-resolution sensor than the RX1, and that is the Nikon D800.

Although the RX1’s sensor is full frame, and the photosites are larger than you would find on a camera with a 24-million-pixel APS-C sensor, they still aren’t as large as those found on the Nikon D3S. So while the RX1’s performance in low light is good, don’t expect results that look like full-frame DSLR cameras with lower resolutions. With this in mind, though, noise is well controlled.

If images are correctly exposed and not adjusted, there is only the merest hint of luminance noise at low sensitivities and colour noise is kept under control as the sensitivity increases. If you look hard enough you will see noise, particularly at sensitivities above ISO 1600, although unless you are looking at images at 100% this shouldn’t be a concern. I would suggest that the ISO 50-6400 range is perfectly usable in most situations.

My advice would be to avoid the settings higher than this if you are really particular about the fine details of your images.

Having seen just how impressive the Carl Zeiss lens is in terms of sharpness, it makes me wonder just how detailed images would be were Sony to introduce an RX1 without an anti-aliasing filter.

  • 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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