Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R Review

July 11, 2013 | Mark Goldstein | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R is a premium compact camera aimed at the discerning photographer. The new RX1R employs an optical filter with the anti-aliasing properties removed, producing sharper images than the standard RX1 model, but at the risk of increased moiré and colour aliasing. In all other aspects the RX1R and the original RX1 model are identical. The RX1R offers a 24.3 megapixel 35mm full-frame Exmor CMOS sensor, a Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm F2 prime lens, and Full HD movies at 50p/60p or 25p/24p. The RX1R also boasts a high resolution 3 inch LCD screen, ISO range from ISO 100-25,600, continuous shooting at up to 5fps at full resolution, a built-in pop-up flash, support for the 14-bit RAW format, and full manual controls. The Sony DSC-RX1R is available now for around £2600 / $2800 (the same price as the RX1).

Ease of Use

Full-frame 35mm image sensors have always been associated with complicated, bulky DSLRs, but that has completely changed with the arrival of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R. As its familiar branding suggests, the RX1R is technically a humble compact camera, but it's certainly a compact camera like no other. On paper at least it offers almost everything that the experienced photographer could want - a 35mm CMOS sensor, which is the same physical size as that used in DSLRs like the Nikon D800, D600 and Canon EOS 5D Mark II and 6D, a fast 35mm f/2 leaf-shutter lens from renowned manufacturer Carl Zeiss, a large and high-resolution LCD screen, full control over exposure via a variety of external controls, built-in pop-up flash, and 14-bit Raw file format support, all housed inside a compact and lightweight body that you can just about squeeze into a jacket pocket. Compared to a DSLR, the only notable thing that's really missing is an eye-level viewfinder, either optical or electronic, both of which are (very expensive) optional extras.

The aluminium bodied Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R has a fixed 35mm prime lens with a fast maximum aperture of f/2. Te combination of this very fast lens with a nine-bladed circular aperture and the massive sensor is a real joy to use, allowing you to easily create defocused depth-of-field effects that you simply can't achieve with any other pocket camera. If you've been searching for a compact camera that will give you DSLR-like bokeh, then look no further than the RX1R - check out our Sample Images page to see just want you can achieve. The combination of the f/2 aperture and maximum ISO speed of 25600 also makes this camera well suited to hand-held low-light photography (although there's no built-in image stabilizer).

Surrounding the lens are three innovative control rings which allow you to manually focus, set the focusing distance range (0.2-0.35m or 0.3m-infinity), and set the aperture. Yes, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R has a wonderfully traditional aperture ring that offers precise adjustment in 1/3rd stops from f/2 to f/22. You can also use the rear control dial to set the aperture in the Program shooting mode, but we found it more intuitive and quicker to use the large, smooth front ring.

Despite its large image sensor and correspondingly physically big lens that dominates the front of the camera, the Sony RX1R is still quite small and slender, measuring just over 6.9cms in depth, 6.5cms in height and 11cms in width, and weighing 482g with the battery and memory card fitted. On the back there's a large 3-inch, 1228k-dot resolution LCD screen. As you'd expect with a screen of that size on such a small camera, the RX1R has no optical viewfinder to fall back on in brighter lighting conditions, although in practice the very high contrast screen can be comfortably used outdoors even in harsh sunlight.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R
Front Rear

There's a generously sized but very shallow textured area for gripping the camera on the front with three fingers, and a small thumb-shaped lozenge on the rear, which makes the DSC-RX1R a little difficult to get to grips with, especially since the rest of its aluminum body is very smooth. The optional TGA-1 external thumb grip can also be fitted to enhance the camera's handling, but it's expensive and also ties-up the Multi Interface Shoe on top of the camera.

Also located on the front of the RX1R is the lens and a porthole on the left for the self-timer/AF illuminator, plus a handy switch for setting the focus mode. There's a clever fold-out pop-up flash unit on top of the camera which is automatically raised when you select a flash mode - it can also be manually raised and lowered if desired via a switch on the rear.The RX1R also has an external hotshoe, dubbed the Multi Interface Shoe, for attaching one of a range of accessories, including a more powerful flash, an electronic viewfinder (FDA-EV1MK), an optical viewfinder (FDA-V1K), or the aforementioned thumb grip (TGA-1).

We tested the RX1R with both the optical viewfinder and the electronic viewfinder, as well as using it at arms length and previewing via the LCD screen. If we had to buy one accessory for the RX1R, however extortionately priced, it would be the electronic viewfinder. This greatly enhances the RX1R's ease-of-use by allowing you to hold the camera up to your eye, which in turn makes it easier to keep the camera steady and makes using the aperture control ring around the lens a much more natural experience. The EVF also displays key shooting information and can be tilted through 90degress to act as a waist-level viewfinder. On the downside, it obviously adds to the RX1R's bulk (although you can always remove it when not in use), and it suffers from two design flaws - the lack of a locking mechanism, and a dioptre control that be accidentally moved far too easily. The Zeiss optical viewfinder is a high-quality accessory but much less useful, showing only a rough approximation of what the RX1R will actually capture - we'd much rather have the EVF, testament to its quality.

Turn the On/Off switch on the top plate and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R readies itself for action in a just over a second. The adequately sized shutter-release button has a definite halfway point, determining focus and exposure with a bleep of affirmation and focus points highlighted as green rectangles on the LCD. Just like any other compact camera, the RX1R uses a contrast-based auto-focusing system rather than the phase-detection systems that DSLRs typically use. Unfortunately the RX1R's AF system suffers from a slight lag when shooting in good light or bad. It's certainly not terrible, but its enough to limit the RX1R's use to slower moving subjects, and it's also not up there with quicker contrast-based auto-focusing systems from the likes of Olympus and Panasonic on their compact system cameras. In the middle of the shutter button is a screw thread for attaching a manual cable release, which should please traditionalists.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R
Front Top

When you manually focus via the fly-by-wire ring, a distance scale is displayed along the bottom of the LCD screen, MF Assist can be turned on to magnify the image and help you get sharp results, and there's also the same convenient Peaking function from Sony's DSLRs that highlights sharply-focused areas of the image on the LCD screen. Go on to take the shot and JPEG or Raw images are quickly committed to memory in a single second, the screen momentarily blanking out and then displaying the captured image before the user can go on to take a second shot.

A round shooting mode dial with a knurled edge and positive action also located on top of the camera. This lets you quickly switch between the various shooting modes that are on offer. Sony has included Intelligent Auto scene recognition, which works in virtually identical fashion to the intelligent auto modes of Panasonic's and Canon's compact ranges. Simply point the RX1R at a scene or subject and the camera analyses it and automatically chooses one of a number of pre-optimised settings to best suit.

Adding to the RX1R's snapshot simplicity, these features accompany face recognition and smile shutter functionality on board, the former mode biasing human faces in the frame and the latter mode firing the shutter when it detects a smiling subject. The Face Detection system automatically adjusts the focus, exposure and white balance for people in the frame, and can even be set to distinguish between children and adults. Smile Detection offers three self-explanatory options, Big, Normal and Slight. Used in conjunction, the Face and Smile Detection systems do result in more hits than misses, especially in contrasty lighting conditions, although all those smiling faces could ultimately freak you out a little! The self-portrait options in the self-timer menu work by automatically taking the shot with a two second delay after either one or two people have entered the frame.

In addition to the regular Program mode, which provides the full range of camera options and additionally allows you to change settings like the ISO speed and metering, is the welcome inclusion of Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority and fully Manual modes which let you independently set the aperture and shutter speed, making the RX1R instantly appeal to the more experienced photographer. The range of apertures on offer is extensive for a compact camera, ranging from F2-F22, and the ability to choose from 30-1/4000th second shutter speeds opens up a lot of creative potential. There's also very welcome support for the RAW file format, which is really the icing on the cake for serious photographers looking for a backup-pocket camera to their DSLR. Three Custom modes on the shooting mode dial allow you quickly access different combinations of settings.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R
Pop-up Flash Side

The proven Sweep Panorama mode lets you capture a panoramic image very easily without the use of a tripod. All you need to decide is whether you would like to start from left or right, top or bottom. Then press and hold down the shutter release while doing a "sweep" with the camera in hand. Exposure compensation is available before you start the sweep, but the exposure is fixed once you depress the shutter button. After you are done with the sweeping, the camera does all the processing required, and presents you with a finished panoramic image. There are two modes, Standard and Wide. Note that if you do the sweeping too slowly, or you let go of the shutter release button too early, the panorama will be truncated.

In the Hand-held Twilight and Anti Motion Blur shooting modes, the DSC-RX1R takes six shots in a rapid sequence, typically at a high sensitivity setting and a (relatively) fast shutter speed, and then combines them into a single image that has somewhat less noise than a single shot taken at the same ISO and exposure settings. In our experience, the difference between the two modes is that in Anti Motion Blur mode, the camera is more willing to pick a really high ISO setting like ISO 6400 to maintain a fast shutter speed, whereas in Hand-held Twilight mode, it will only go as high as absolutely necessary to avoid camera shake at the chosen focal length. If light levels are truly low, however, the RX1R will pick a high ISO speed even in this mode.

The Sony RX1R can shoot full-resolution 24 megapixel pictures at up to 5fps, quite a fast rate for a 35mm full-frame camera. To achieve the full 5fps you need to set the drive mode to the Speed Priority Continuous option, which locks the focus and the exposure at the first frame. The RX1R's regular continuous burst shooting can change the focus and exposure between frames but provides a slower rate of 3fps.

The Clear Zoom function effectively digitally doubles the zoom range, using Sony's new Pixel Super Resolution Technology to increase the magnification. The Auto Portrait Framing mode uses face detection and the rule of thirds to automatically crop and create tightly framed portrait shots. The same Pixel Super Resolution Technology ensures that the resulting image is still a full 24 megapixels in size, and the original uncropped image is also saved for easy comparison.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R
Optical Viewfinder Electronic Viewfinder

Sony's long-standing D-Range Optimizer and HDR functions are present to help even out tricky exposures, for example where a bright background would normally throw the foreground into deep shadow. You can see from the examples on the Image Quality page that these features produce a photo with noticeably more dynamic range than one taken using one of the standard shooting modes, but at the same time without replicating the often "false" look of many HDR programs, and both offer a wide degree of customisation that's previously only been seen on Sony's DSLR/SLT range.

Present and correct is the increasingly ubiquitous ability to shoot High Definition video clips, but unlike its main competitors the RX1R does so at full 1080p HD rather than 1080i or 720p, and also with stereo sound rather than mono. The various options are 1920x1280 at 50p/50i or 25p/25i in the AVCHD format, and 1440x1280 or 640x480 pixels at 30fps in the MPEG4 format.

There's the ability to change the EV level, white balance, and metering options and turn on SteadyShot, which provides anti-shake effectiveness with no side-effects. If you set the shooting mode dial to Movie, you can also choose from Program, Aperture or Shutter priority and Manual modes, giving you full control over exposure for both stills and movies.

There's also a direct HDMI output from the camera, useful for playing back your footage on a HDTV set, although sadly there's no HDMI cable supplied in the box. The small dedicated Movie button on the rear of the DSC-RX1R allows you to start recording a movie with a single push of a button, and then stop recording by pressing the same button - a lot more intuitive than having to select the movie mode then press the shutter button, as on most compacts. You can also activate the movie mode via the Shooting Mode dial.

Completing the top of the RX1R is a second prominent dial for setting Exposure Compensation and a small button marked with a C, which as the name suggests can be customised to access one of the camera's key controls (it's handily set to ISO speed by default).

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

The rear of the DSC-RX1R is dominated by the large 3 inch LCD screen, with the resolution a pleasingly high 1228k dots. Located above the screen are the pop-up flash switch and the Playback button. Users have the ability to dip in and out of created folders of images or the calendar view, view thumbnails, select slideshows and choose transitional effects and accompanying music, or delete shots. Press the shutter button halfway and you're helpfully catapulted back into capture mode. And that's basically it. With a press of the Menu button in playback, users have access to a few in-camera retouching effects, including the ability to crop and sharpen an image and apply red-eye correction.

To the right of the screen is the rear control dial and the useful one-touch movie record button embedded within to the rubberised thumb-rest. Underneath is the handy Auto Exposure Lock (AEL) button, and the Function button which accesses up to 14 customisable options that appear on in two vertical columns on either side of the LCD screen. The Function menu proves to be a very handy way to quickly change the RX1R's key settings and one of the main ways of setting the camera to suit your shooting style.

The traditional round navigation pad can be used to navigate through menus and options, in conjunction with the small button in the middle which activates whatever it is you've chosen. The four directions on the navigation pad can also be customised to provide a quick way of setting various options. The navigation pad also doubles up as a control ring that's used to navigate through and set menu options. The ring is a little small, but it's not too over-sensitive and the ability to take full control of the RX1R is very welcome.

Underneath the navigation pad is the Menu button - press this and a number of shooting and set up folders appear on screen, with white text on a black background aiding visibility. The three shooting folders allow users to select image size, ratio and quality and - if JPEG (RAW and RAW+JPEG also available) - compression rates too, plus features like long exposure and high ISO noise reduction - all in fact activated as a default. The Movie folder contains the video quality and audio options, while the four Customise folders allow you to tweak the RX1R to your way of working. Playback, Memory Card, Time and four further Setup folders allow the likes of the LCD brightness to be adjusted, the help guide to be turned on or off, plus user languages, folders and file numbering to be specified. Completing the rear of the RX1R is the self-explanatory Delete button.

The bottom of the Sony RX1R features a standard metal screw thread for attaching it to a tripod. A lockable plastic cover protects the lithium-ion battery, officially good for 220 shots or or 110 mins of video. In practice we only got about 150 shots, even less when using the electronic viewfinder which draws on the battery for power. Note that the camera battery is also inconveniently charged via the USB port, rather than a separate charger, so it's a good idea to invest in some extra batteries. The same cover also protects the removable memory card, with the RX1R supporting the SD / SDHC / SDXC format in addition to Sony's own proprietary Pro Duo Memory Stick format. Positioned on both sides of the RX1R are prominent metal eyelets for attaching the supplied shoulder strap. On the right when viewed from the front is a sturdy plastic cover, underneath which can be found the USB port, HDMI port and external microphone connection.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 24 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 6Mb.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R produced images of excellent quality during the review period. The RX1R has an extensive and very usable ISO range of 50-25,600. ISO 50-1600 is noise-free, whilst ISO 3200 and 6400 produce more than acceptable results, and even ISO 12,800 and 25,600 are OK for emergency use. The RAW samples illustrate just how much processing the camera does by default, though, as they're much noisier at all ISO values than their JPEG counterparts.

Chromatic aberrations were in evidence but were well-controlled, with some limited purple fringing effects appearing in high contrast situations. The 24 megapixel images are a little soft straight out of the camera using the default creative style and ideally require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera sharpening level. The night photograph was excellent, with the maximum shutter speed of 30 seconds and the Bulb mode offering lots of scope for creative night photography. Macro performance is OK, allowing you to focus as close as 20cms away from the subject, while the built-in flash worked well indoors with no red-eye and good overall exposure.

The effective Dynamic Range Optimizer function extracts more detail from the shadow and highlight areas in an image, without introducing any unwanted noise or other artifacts. The High Dynamic Range mode combines two shots taken at different exposures to produce one image with greater dynamic range than a single image would produce. It only works for JPEGs and for still subjects, but does produce some very effective results. Sony's now tried-and-trusted Sweep Panorama is still a joy to use. The Picture Effects quickly produce special looks that would otherwise require you to spend a lot of time in the digital darkroom, while the Creative Styles provide a quick and easy way to tweak the camera's JPEG images.


There are 12 ISO settings available on the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting for both JPEG and Raw formats.


ISO 50 (100% Crop)

ISO 50 (100% Crop)

iso80.jpg iso50raw.jpg

ISO 64 (100% Crop)

ISO 64 (100% Crop)

iso80.jpg iso64raw.jpg

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

iso80.jpg iso80raw.jpg

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso100raw.jpg

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso200.jpg iso200raw.jpg

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso400raw.jpg

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso800.jpg iso800raw.jpg

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso1600raw.jpg

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso3200.jpg iso3200raw.jpg

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

iso6400.jpg iso6400raw.jpg

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

iso12800.jpg iso12800raw.jpg

ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

iso25600.jpg iso25600raw.jpg


Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are just a little soft and ideally benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. Alternatively you can change the in-camera sharpening level.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

File Quality

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R has 3 different image quality settings available, with Extra Fine being the highest quality JPEG option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

Extra Fine (14.7Mb) (100% Crop) Fine (6.93Mb) (100% Crop)
quality_extra_fine.jpg quality_fine.jpg
Standard (4.67Mb) (100% Crop) Raw (23.9Mb) (100% Crop)
quality_standard.jpg quality_raw.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R handled chromatic aberrations very well during the review, with slight purple fringing present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg


The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R allows you to focus on a subject that is 20cms away from the camera. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.


Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg


The flash settings on the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R are Auto, Forced Flash, Slow Syncro, No Flash, with a Red-eye Reduction option in the Main menu. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Suppressed Flash - Wide Angle (35mm)

Forced Flash - Wide Angle (35mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Forced Flash setting or the Red-Eye Correction option caused any amount of red-eye.

Forced Flash

Forced Flash (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg


The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R's maximum shutter speed is 30 seconds in the Manual mode, which is great news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 25 seconds at ISO 100. I've included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like.


Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg

Dynamic Range Optimizer

D-Range Optimiser (DRO) is Sony's solution to improve shadow detail in photos taken in contrasty light.


dro_01.jpg dro_02.jpg
dro_03.jpg dro_04.jpg


dro_05.jpg dro_06.jpg

High Dynamic Range

High Dynamic Range Optimiser (HDR) is Sony's solution for capturing more contrast than a single exposure can handle by combining two exposures into one image.



hdr_01.jpg hdr_02.jpg



hdr_03.jpg hdr_04.jpg



hdr_05.jpg hdr_06.jpg



Creative Styles

There are 13 Creative Style preset effects that you can use to change the look of your images.



creative_style_01.jpg creative_style_02.jpg



creative_style_03.jpg creative_style_04.jpg



creative_style_05.jpg creative_style_05.jpg



creative_style_07.jpg creative_style_08.jpg


Night Scene

creative_style_09.jpg creative_style_10.jpg

Autumn Leaves


creative_style_11.jpg creative_style_12.jpg



Picture Effects

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R offers an extensive range of thirteen creative Picture Effects.


Toy Camera

picture_effect_01.jpg picture_effect_02.jpg

Pop Color


picture_effect_03.jpg picture_effect_04.jpg


Soft High-key

picture_effect_05.jpg picture_effect_06.jpg

Partial Color (Red)

High Contrast Mono

picture_effect_07.jpg picture_effect_08.jpg

Soft Focus

HDR Painting

picture_effect_09.jpg picture_effect_10.jpg

Rich-tone Mono


picture_effect_11.jpg picture_effect_12.jpg



picture_effect_13.jpg picture_effect_14.jpg

Sweep Panorama

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R allows you to take panoramic images very easily, by 'sweeping' with the camera while keeping the shutter release depressed. The camera does all the processing and stitching and even successfully compensates for moving subjects.


Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R camera, which were all taken using the 24.3 megapixel Extra Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample RAW Images

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R enables users to capture RAW and JPEG format files. We've provided some Sony RAW (ARW) samples for you to download (thumbnail images shown below are not 100% representative).

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample video from the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R camera at the highest quality setting of 1920x1080 pixels at 50 frames per second. Please note that this 22 second movie is 59.3Mb in size.

Product Images

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Front of the Camera

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Front of the Camera / Pop-up Flash

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Isometric View

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Isometric View

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Rear of the Camera

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Rear of the Camera / Turned On

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Rear of the Camera / Function Menu

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Rear of the Camera / Level Gauge


Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Rear of the Camera / Main Menu

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Rear of the Camera / Custom Menu

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Top of the Camera

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Bottom of the Camera

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Side of the Camera

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Side of the Camera

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Front of the Camera

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Front of the Camera

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Memory Card Slot

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Battery Compartment

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Optical Viewfinder

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Optical Viewfinder

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Optical Viewfinder

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Optical Viewfinder

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Electronic Viewfinder

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Electronic Viewfinder

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Electronic Viewfinder

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

Electronic Viewfinder

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

RX1R Compared To RX100

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

RX1R Compared To RX100

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R

RX1R Compared To RX100

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R
RX1R Compared To RX100


The only difference between the RX1R and the original RX1 is the removal of the low-pass filter. The RX1R's photos are very subtly sharper and more detailed than the RX1's, and unless you shoot a lot of subjects with very fine details like fabrics or man-made patterns, you'll be hard-pushed to spot any moire or colour aliasing (we couldn't find any in our sample shots). Even if you do, there are certain techniques that you can employ both during shooting and in post-production, so if out and out resolution is a key requirement then we'd recommend opting for the RX1R, especially as it costs exactly the same as the RX1.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R is a compact camera like no other, delivering full-frame 35mm image quality paired with a fantastic lens in a compact and highly customisable body. No camera is perfect - the auto-focusing is a little sluggish, the cost of the optional accessories is eye-watering, especially if you follow our advice and buy the almost-essential electronic viewfinder, we don't like the in-camera battery charging or the short life, and the fixed lens will simply put off many people - but all in all there's nothing to beat the RX1R if it matches your photographic vision.

The 24 megapixel sensor provides excellent results from ISO 50-3200, with only the faster settings of 6400 and 12800 suffering from a little too much noise and smearing of fine detail, with ISO 25600 not too bad either. Chromatic aberrations are very well controlled and colours a little dull but largely accurate, and the fast f/2 lens is perfect for achieving that shallow DSLR-like depth-of-field and using the camera in low-light conditions. The RX1R's sensor and lens feel perfectly balanced together and would be hard to match on a 35mm DSLR system, proving that you don't have to buy and lug around a larger camera to get truly outstanding results - it really does hit the sweet spot between portability and image quality.

As the RX1R is a Sony camera, it boasts a long list of other stand-out features. Shutter lag is only notable by its apparent absence, and image processing times are thankfully non-intrusive, even for the large Raw files that the RX1R produces. This camera really does deliver DSLR-like performance and image quality in a pocketable format, music to the ears of most enthusiasts, with the exception of the auto-focusing speed, which lags behind the very best contrast-based systems. It's certainly not bad enough to prevent us from recommending the RX1R, but it does limit the camera's versatility somewhat.

It's difficult to rate the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R in terms of value-for-money. To some would-be-buyers the combination of the full-frame sensor and quality Carl Zeiss lens actually looks cheap at £2600 / $2800, while others will think they're mad. We're with the former camp, except when it comes to the RX1R's pricey accessories. £379 / $449 is a lot to pay for an electronic viewfinder, even if the latter does greatly enhance the camera's handling, £499 / $599 for the optical viewfinder is even worse, while £199 / $250 each for the thumb grip and leather case might make us question our sanity (not to mention the lens hood at $179.99).

Sony have truly blurred the lines between compact and DSLR in terms of the RX1R's features, performance and image quality. The RX1R is a truly pocketable camera that offers a full-frame DSLR experience, something that money can actually now buy...

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 5
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 5
Value for money 4.5

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

The long-awaited Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLR has finally arrived, boasting improvements to virtually every aspect of its popular predecessor, the breakthrough 5D Mark II. It's cost has also increased significantly, so does the new 5D Mark III offer enough to justify the £2999 / $3499 asking price? Read our detailed Canon EOS 5D Mark III review to find out.

Canon EOS 6D

The Canon EOS 6D is a new full-frame DSLR with a much more affordable price-tag than the 5D Mark III and a few tricks up its sleeve that its bigger brother doesn't offer. At over £1000 / $1000 cheaper than the 5D Mark II, have Canon cut too many corners for the 6D to be a real contender? Read our in-depth Canon EOS 6D review to find out...

Fujifilm X100S

The new Fujifilm X100S promises to be a faster version of 2011's hit camera, the X100, with the S clearly standing for Speed. The X100S also incorporates a new 16 megapixel sensor with the optical low-pass filter removed, some clever manual focusing aids, a better electronic viewfinder and the same gorgeous retro styling and handling of the original model. Does it live up to its potential, or is it too little, too late? Read our expert Fujifilm X100S review to find out...

Leica X1

The Leica X1 is a premium camera with a premium price-tag - £1395 / $1995 is a lot to ask for a compact camera, albeit one with a large APS-C sensor, fast f/2.8, 36mm lens and superlative handling. Can the Leica X1 possibly justify its credit-crunching cost of admission? Read our in-depth Leica X1 review to find out...

Nikon D600

The Nikon D600 is a new full-frame DSLR camera. Featuring a 24.3 megapixel full-frame sensor, the small, lightweight D600 also offers 1080p HD video, ISO range of 50-25600, a 39-point AF system, 3.2-inch LCD screen and a viewfinder with 100% coverage. Read our in-depth Nikon D600 review now...

Nikon D800

The Nikon D800 is one of the hottest DSLR cameras for 2012. Featuring a remarkable 36 megapixel full-frame sensor, the D800 also offers 1080p HD video, a 3.2-inch LCD screen and a viewfinder with 100% coverage. Read our in-depth Nikon D800 review to find out if it's worth the £2499.00 / $2,999.95 cost of admission.

Nikon D800E

The Nikon D800E is a 36 megapixel full-frame sensor DSLR with the anti-aliasing filter removed, which should result in higher resolution, sharper images compared to the regular D800. The D800E also offers 1080p HD video, a 3.2-inch LCD screen and a viewfinder with 100% coverage. Read our in-depth Nikon D800E review to find out if you should choose it instead of the D800.

Olympus OM-D E-M5

Olympus have expanded their Micro Four Thirds family with the launch of the OM-D E-M5. Boasting the World's fastest autofocus system, the E-M5 brings the original design ethos of the 1970's film OM series kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Read our expert Olympus E-M5 review to find out if it's the best compact system camera on the market.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 is a new compact system camera that promises to offer both high-quality still images and movies. The exciting GH3 features Full 1080p HD video with bit rates up to 72Mbps, a 16 megapixel sensor, a 3 inch swivelling touchscreen OLED, built-in wi-fi connectivity, a weather-proof body, and an extensive ISO range of 125-25600. Read our Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 review to find out if it's the most complete video/stills camera yet...

Sony A99

The Sony A99 is a new full-frame DSLR camera that seemingly offers virtually all of the latest cutting-edge technologies. The A99 is also the only full-frame camera that isn't made by the Big Two, Canon and Nikon, who both now have three full-frame models in their ranges. Can the A99 compete with the well-established competition? Read our in-depth Sony A99 review to find out...

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R from around the web. »

Have you ever wondered if technology would get to the point where you could own a camera that fits in a coat pocket or large pants pocket but delivers near digital medium format image quality? Well my friends we are almost there, but in many ways, we have surpassed in..there is BETTER than medium format in a camera that can fit in your coat pocket! Before you scream and attack, read this review in full and let me explain.
Read the full review »



Optical Zoom NO
Clear Image Zoom 2x
Digital Zoom 24M Approx. 4x / 10M Approx.6.1x / 4.6M Approx.9.1x
Maximum Aperture F2.0
Focal Length (f= mm) 35mm fixed focal length
Focus Distance AF Approx.24cm to infinity (Normal mode), Approx.14cm to 29cm (Macro mode)
Filter Diameter (mm) 49
Conversion Lens compatibility NO
Carl Zeiss® lens YES (F2.0/ Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T*)
Sony G NO

Image Sensory

Sensor Type 35mm Full frame Exmor™
Size (Inches) 35mm Full-Frame (35.8mm x 23.9mm)


Effective Pixels (Mega Pixels) Approx. 24.3
IS Face Detection YES
IS Smile Shutter YES
Soft Skin Effect NO
Background Defocus NO
Waterproof NO
Auto HDR YES (OFF/Auto Exposure Difference/Exposure difference level 1.0 to 6.0 EV, 1 EV step)
Picture Effect Toy camera, Pop Colour, Posterization, Retro Photo, Soft High-key, Partial Color, High Contrast Mono., Soft Focus, HDR Painting, Richtone Monochrome, Miniature, Watercolor, Illustration
Sweep Panorama YES
Intelligent Sweep Panorama NO
Underwater Sweep Panorama NO
3D Sweep Panorama NO
Auto Focus Area (Multi Point) YES
Auto Focus Area (Centre weighted) YES
Auto Focus Area (Spot) NO
Auto Focus Area (Flexible Spot) YES
Focus Mode Single-shot AF (AF-S) / Direct Manual Focus / Manual Focus
Aperture Auto Mode NO
Aperture F2.0-22
Shutter Speed Program Auto(30”-1/4000*), Aperture Priority(30”-1/4000*), Shutter Priority(30”-1/4000*), Manual Exposure(Bulb, 30”-1/4000*)
Exposure Compensation ± 3.0EV, 1/3EV step
White Balance Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent warm white, Fluorescent cool white, Fluorescent day white, Fluorescent daylight, Flash, C.Temp./Filter, Custom
Automatic White Balance YES
Light Metering (Multi Pattern) YES
Light Metering (Centre weighted) YES
Light Metering (Spot) YES
ISO Sensitivity (REI) Auto (ISO100-25600, selectable with upper / lower limit), (Extendable to ISO50/64/80), Multi-Frame NR:Auto (ISO100-25600, selectable with upper / lower limit) 100-102400
Scene Selection Portrait / Landscape / Sports Action / Sunset / Night Portrait / Night Scene / Hand-held Twilight
* *Maximum speed at F5.6 or greater aperture value. Maximum speed at F2.0 is 1/2000


SteadyShot capability YES (Electronic type for movie)
Optical SteadyShot capability NO

Auto Focus System

AF Illuminator Auto / Off


Flash Mode Auto / Fill-flash / Slow Synchro / Rear Sync / Flash Off / Wireless
Red-Eye Correction On / Off
Auto Daylight Synchronized Flash YES (for flash exposure control)
Distance limitations using Flash (m) ISO Auto 0.75m to 21.7m, ISO 25600 up to 43.3m

LCD/ Viewfinder

LCD Screen Size (inches) 7.5cm(3type)
LCD Total Dots Number 1.228,8
LCD Monitor Type TFT Xtra Fine
Auto Bright Monitoring YES
Optical Viewfinder NO (optional)
Electrical Viewfinder NO (optional)


Recording Media Memory Stick™ Duo / Memory Stick PRO Duo™ / Memory Stick PRO Duo™ (high speed) / Memory Stick PRO HG Duo™ / Memory Stick Micro / Memory Stick Micro (mark 2)
Recording Media II SD Memory Card / SDHC Memory Card / SDXC Memory Card / microSD Memory Card / microSDHC Memory Card
Recording Format Still image: JPEG, RAW (Sony ARW 2.3 format), Movie: AVCHD Ver.2.0, MP4
DCF (Design rule for Camera File System) YES
DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) YES
Burst Mode (shots) Approx. 5 fps*
Still Image L size (3:2 mode) 24M (6000 x 4000)
Still Image M size (3:2 mode) 10M (3936 x 2624)
Still Image S size (3:2 mode) 4.6M (2640 x1760)
Still Image L size (4:3 mode) NO
Still Image M size (4:3 mode) NO
Still Image S size (4:3 mode) NO
Still Image L size (16:9 mode) 20M (6000 x 3376)
Still Image M size (16:9 mode) 8.7M (3936 x 2216)
Still Image S size (16:9 mode) 3.9M (2640 x 1488)
Still Image VGA (4:3 mode) NO
Still Image L size (1:1 mode) NO
Still Image M size (1:1 mode) NO
Still Image S size (1:1 mode) NO
2D Panorama Wide (5536 x 2160/12416 x 1856) / Standard (3872 x 2160/8192 x 1856)
Moving Image Size (1920x1080 50p Approx.28Mbps) (AVCHD) YES
Moving Image Size (1920x1080 50i Approx.24Mbps) (AVCHD) YES
Moving Image Size (1920x1080 50i Approx.17Mbps) (AVCHD) YES
Moving Image Size (1920x1080 24p Approx.24Mbps) (AVCHD) YES
Moving Image Size (1920x1080 24p Approx.17Mbps) (AVCHD) YES
Moving Image Size (1440x1080 30fps Fine Approx.12Mbps) (MP4) YES
Moving Image Size (640x480 30fps Approx.3Mbps) (VGA) YES
* Speed may vary depending on shooting conditions and media.

Playback/ Edit

HD (High Definition) Playback YES (HDMI® out)
Slideshow (Playback) YES
Trimming NO
Playback Zoom YES
Cue & Review (MPEG) YES
Index Playback YES
Image Rotation YES
Auto Image Rotation YES
Auto grouping and & Best Picture Recognition NO


Battery Remaining Indicator YES
Histogram Indicator YES
Print Image Matching YES
PictBridge NO
Shop Front Mode YES
Menu Language English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Polish, Czech, Hungarian , Turkish, Greek, Bulgarian, Croatian, Romanian


Multi use Terminal with HD Micro USB, Hi-Speed USB, Micro HDMI®, Microphone Jack, Multi Interface Shoe
USB 2.0 Hi-Speed YES

Power/ Others

Battery System Lithium-ion
Supplied Battery NP-BX1
Stamina (battery life) with the supplied battery(s) in normal shooting condition Approx. 220 / Approx. 110min
Battery for Clock NO
Weight (g) Approx. 453g (16oz.)
Weight with Accessories (g) Approx. 482g (17oz.)
Supplied Software PlayMemories Home (Lite)
Supplied Accessories Rechargeable Battery Pack (NP-BX1), AC Adaptor (AC-UD10/11), Micro USB cable, Shoulder Strap, Lens Cap, Shoe Cap, Instruction Manual


Width (mm) 113.3
Height (mm) 65.4
Depth (mm) 69.6


* Requires adaptor (not supplied)

Your Comments

Loading comments…