Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R Review

July 11, 2013 | Mark Goldstein |


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