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RX1 Lens Distortion

Discussion in 'Sony RX1 Forum' started by moiler, Mar 12, 2014.

  1. moiler

    moiler SC Rookie

    18
    Mar 12, 2014
    UPDATED RESULT: THERE IS NO EXCESSIVE DISTORTION OF THE RX1 AS SUGGESTED BY MY POST. VISUAL TEST SUGGESTS THAT THE FILTER EXAGGERATES THE INNATE LENS DISTORTION.


    I am surprised this doesn't get much mention anywhere.

    I got the RX1 as a gift to replace my wife's 5D-MkII. Her go to lens is the 35mm and 50mm prime. The RX1 was going to replace the 5DMII, but after using it during our vacation, she concluded that she can't compose with it as well as she could with the 5D and she doesn't like the image it produces when it comes to people and faces.

    She didn't elaborate as she couldn't pinpoint exactly what it was, so I went through all the photos we produced and apparently the 35mm RX1 lens produces far more distortion than the 35mm canon prime. And this distortion seems to start much closer from the center of the lens in the RX1 than the 35mm canon prime. In fact we never noticed anything in the years we've had the canon, but as soon as we shot familiar people and familiar faces with the RX1, we weren't happy with the results.

    With street or object photography this may not be apparent but when you are photographing familiar faces, it becomes apparent and the results are not pretty.

    I haven't done further testing (or direct comparisons with the 35mm canon prime) which I may do as time allows, but I have attached 3 images here:

    1. Person in the center
    2. Person on the side, notice her body and the tree trunk becomes distorted and wide
    3. #2 distortion corrected in photoshop CC. If anything it makes it worse!

    Note: I made sure the setting for Lens distortion is on Auto in the camera options (there are no setting for ON, only OFF / AUTO, which is odd). I have not tested if setting this to OFF vs AUTO made any difference.

    ------

    I am at a loss as to how I can correct the distortion when photoshop's lens correction seems to be unable to do, even to the point of making it worse.

    Has anyone experienced this? Would any RX1 owners be kind enough to test this for me.

    Currently I am hoping that my camera is defective (as in the lens distortion correction in the menu doesn't work as it should), as this means I can get it serviced. But if this issue is native then I will consider selling the RX1.



    01 Center.JPG 02 Side - Distorted.JPG 03 Side - Distorted - Corrected.
     
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  2. moiler

    moiler SC Rookie

    18
    Mar 12, 2014
  3. BlueBill

    BlueBill SC Rookie

    12
    Jan 11, 2014
    Curious to see what would happen if you let DXO Optics process the image.
     
  4. moiler

    moiler SC Rookie

    18
    Mar 12, 2014
    Thanks. I will download the trial version and see what it does with it. I'll post the results later.
     
  5. ccrevasse

    ccrevasse SC Regular

    48
    Nov 20, 2013
    Lookout Mountain, Tennessee
    Chris Crevasse
    The appearance of stretching with the RX1 is not excessive to me, and I haven't had a problem with it. In fact, I am not aware of any wide-angle to moderately wide-angle lens that does not show some stretching distortion at the edges of the frame, especially when subjects are placed to the extreme edge of the short side. The barrel distortion of the RX1 actually helps reduce this stretching, and correcting it, either in camera (jpegs) or in Photoshop (raw), increases the appearance of stretching, as you have discovered. So, I generally only correct the RX1's distortion when it is obvious, such as with architectural shots.
     
  6. rbelyell

    rbelyell SC Top Veteran

    820
    May 14, 2013
    NY Mtns
    while much of photography is subjective, i really do not understand the above comment in light of the example in OP. that example is as close to objectively unacceptable as i have ever seen. for $2000+ it absolutely should upset everyone who uses it. btw, the quote in the above post was mine.

    to OPs issue and question, i account for the lack of complaining to the fact that many conflate their ego with their gear and are thus loathe to register such a basic complaint when theyve decided to wed such an expensive piece of equipment.

    as to the effect seen here, i have not gotten anything so pronounced, though i feel i now need to try to replicate this experiment. my assumption is most who spent the money on this have enough experience in photography to understand the WA lenses distort--that is decidedly not the issue here with this camera. the issue is excessive distortion, as my quote and the OP example makes pretty clear.

    also, i have indeed noticed that both in camera and PP correction makes things worse, at least to my eye. the camera and its results are exceptional in many ways, but certainly not in this way. as i said, when i have some time i will try to replicate your experiment with the rx1 and a couple other cams as well.
     
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  7. moiler

    moiler SC Rookie

    18
    Mar 12, 2014
    I think you've hit the nail on the head there RB. And it is most definitely unacceptable in a $2500+ camera (it was almost $3000 where I am).

    I have attached a shot of a building, and any distortion is invisible. The impact is most pronounced in portraits. I would hazard that many/most users of the RX1 predominantly use it for street photography (and other non-portrait jobs) and that might explain the dearth of comments around the net.

    It is an amazing camera, make no mistake about it. But this distortion is it's biggest Achilles heel (and it doesn't help that sony never seems to update the firmware to improve the usability issues users have been clamoring for).

    ----

    I have an interesting thought, unfortunately I can't test it since the camera is out of my hands for the next 2 weeks.

    Remember that the setting in the menu for lens distortion correction is AUTO / OFF (there is no ON setting)? Well, I always have face recognition set to off from day 1. Perhaps, if it is set to on, and it recognizes a face in the frame then it activates the distortion correction. Can anyone test this theory?
     

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  8. ccrevasse

    ccrevasse SC Regular

    48
    Nov 20, 2013
    Lookout Mountain, Tennessee
    Chris Crevasse
    It's not just egotistical owners who don't complain about excessive RX1 edge distortion; professional reviewers don't either. But if the edge distortion of your RX1 offends you, return or sell it, or don't place human subjects at the extreme edge of the frame.
     
  9. moiler

    moiler SC Rookie

    18
    Mar 12, 2014

    That's exactly my point of confusion! If so many professionals are using it, why the lack of comments? Unless of course it is a defect specific to my camera (which is preferable to me because it means it is fixable).

    And your comment is somewhat non-sensical. The distortion means that if I take a reasonably close up portrait of anyone's face with the RX1 (as per attached example images I pulled from google), it will distort and result in a non-optimal shot (and I have personally done so, and compared it to my canon 35mm and my wife wasn't happy with how the RX1 made her face appear 'wider' vs the canon and actual). And THAT is a problem, plus it doesn't have to be at the extreme edge for the distortion to appear. I'll do more thorough testing when I get my camera back in 2-3 weeks and compare it to my canon 35mm prime.

    It wouldn't be a problem if you told me not to do this or that in a $100-300 camera, but in a $2500+ camera.....are you serious?

    Imagine Sony saying, "Here's the RX1, one of our latest and greatest. Oh and by the way, don't place people too close to the edge of the frame, you wouldn't like it." /facepalm


    Don't mistake me, I'm not knocking sony or the RX1. If this is indeed a native problem to the RX1 and they fix it with the RX1 Mk2, then I will buy the RX1 Mk2 without hesitation.
     

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  10. serhan

    serhan SC All-Pro

    May 7, 2011
    NYC
    Thanks for pointing the problem for future buyers. The camera has been out for 1.5 years and I bought it last summer w/ a good discount. I knew the lens distortion as it was mentioned in the reviews of the camera. I don't remember where, but eg FM has a 189 page post (non photo) about RX1 where you can find any info on the camera, just google it:
    http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1147292/188

    As said above, I prefer not to correct the distortion unless I see a problem. Maybe I didn't use it enough to see a problem. Coming from m43 w/ zoom lenses or prime lens that has auto 6-7% distortion correction which you cannot even undo it, I didn't find it excessive. Again everything is compromise, I don't like distortion stretch on the m43 lenses but then lenses are smaller with software correction in m43 in comparison to Sony Zeiss 24mm 1.8 lens equiv of 36mm with zero distortion, a big lens which stayed at home... Historically Zeiss designs give more importance to sharpness, contrast, etc rather then distortion, eg popular Zeiss ZE 21mm 2.8 has a moustache distortion which is hard to correct. Also now that A7(R) is out, you can get 35mm 2.8 & 55mm 1.8 Sony Zeiss lenses w/ good to excellent sharpness and near zero distortion. 35mm is small but at slower f2.8 or 55mm at similar f but bigger size. So we have more choices but still we cannot beat the physic laws yet...
     
  11. moiler

    moiler SC Rookie

    18
    Mar 12, 2014
    Yes, i am looking forward to the A7. But after this experience with the RX1, I am unfortunately facing an uphill battle in convincing the wife to part with our hard earned cash on another expensive Sony.

    I have attached to this post DXO lens corrected images and the result is similar to the Photoshop lens correction, which is to say, it doesn't help at all.

    1. First image is non corrected
    2. Second image is PS corrected
    3. Third image is DXO corrected (dxo inexplicably lightened the color a little)

    Edit (23/3): images deleted
     
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  12. rbelyell

    rbelyell SC Top Veteran

    820
    May 14, 2013
    NY Mtns
    first moiler, those are all really excellent shots. you should post more of them in the rx picture threads. nice nice work.

    main point about lack of firmware updates, one of the many reasons i really dislike sony and was reticent about spending any money on their products. as a company, they flat out stink. but for photographers only they and fuji are really innovating, and distortion aside, imo the results from all the sony FFs unfortunately blow every other format out of the water.

    to the suggestion of selling the camera, well thats really neither helpful nor on topic is it? really, is the thought there you were really helping out because the OP and the rest of us couldnt think of that? it didnt appear your goal was to be helpful.
     
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  13. serhan

    serhan SC All-Pro

    May 7, 2011
    NYC
    Usually tilting and edges make it bad for distortion. Most of P&S incl RX100 has 10+% software correction and that is why I stopped using it for people shots as it is hard to correct, but it is perfect close to the center...

    There are lots of deals on A7(R) in US and also there are second hand sales too. Also you can check Fuji X or Sony nex (Alpha now). Ray replaced his RX1 w/ X-T1 + 23mm. Again I don't know the Fuji 23mm distortion, but I know Fuji 35mm 1.4, Sony Zeiss 24mm 1.8, Sony 35mm/50mm 1.8 OSS has near zero distortion. You can check photozone for reviews and real distortion values:
    http://photozone.de/reviews

    Another good site is lenstip for lens reviews and its Polish website which has fixed lens camera reviews also:
    http://www.lenstip.com/
    http://translate.google.com/transla...v=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http://www.optyczne.pl/
     
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  14. moiler

    moiler SC Rookie

    18
    Mar 12, 2014
    Thanks for all the helpful tips and reading materials, much appreciated.


    It looks like some of you saw my edited in and then quickly deleted additional comment in my last post. If this post is confusing, don't worry about it, it only applies to those of you who read my addition and wondered why I retracted it.


    I said that something I did in the first set of images may have exacerbated the distortion. In the first image where she is in the center, I shot head on. In the second image where she is on the side, I might have slightly rotated the camera to the right in addition to side stepping, and this may have artificially made the distortion more pronounced.

    But I did some comparisons (described below and attached) and it seems like I shot head on as well for the second shot, its the asphalt/grass border to her left which is angling away (her left, not our left).



    In the first image where she is in the center, I drew a red line where the grass met the asphalt. Then I superimposed the second image where she is off to the side, and placed her in the same center position (but slightly lowered) in reference to the first image, and drew another red line where grass meets asphalt. The two red lines are pretty much parallel so I don't think I rotated the camera.

    Edit (23/3): images deleted
     
  15. ccrevasse

    ccrevasse SC Regular

    48
    Nov 20, 2013
    Lookout Mountain, Tennessee
    Chris Crevasse
    If your RX1 shows unusual and pronounced stretching throughout the frame, then I would conclude that your camera/lens is defective. In my experience, and apparently in the experience of professional reviewers, the distortion of the RX1 is neither excessive nor particularly unusual for a 35mm lens. And, if you wish to avoid stretching distortion, I would advise against placing a human subject at the extreme edge of the frame when using any wide-angle lens, be it on a $200 camera or a $10,000 camera, so, yes, I am serious about that.

    If this helps, here is a quote from DxOMark regarding the lens on the RX1: "Its optical performance is outstanding, and particularly noteworthy for its consistent sharpness and homogenous imaging across the frame. With excellent image quality at maximum aperture becoming outstanding at f/2.8 and on, the Zeiss Sonnar T* 2/35 is likely to become a classic, against which all others are judged."
     
  16. jloden

    jloden SC Veteran

    266
    Jun 30, 2012
    Jay
    I've never seen anything that pronounced with my RX1, so I have to also agree with others wondering if maybe your copy is exhibiting an unusual amount of distortion.

    By the way, the Lens Comp: Distortion only applies to in-camera JPGs so far as I know. Are you shooting RAW? If so it won't help any unfortunately, though you could try RAW + JPEG and compare the two just for comparison.

    Distortion has been mentioned in reviews, as I remember reading about it even before I got the RX1. It hasn't been an issue for me thus far and for the tiny number of shots where I saw any noticeable distortion I used LightRoom's profile corrections. Not sure if you've tried that rather than DxO and PS, maybe it would produce better results?

    http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/sony-rx1/sony-rx1A4.HTM

    For whatever it's worth, you didn't mention which Canon 35mm you're comparing against but the RX1's lens *should* be producing results with about the same amount of barrel distortion or even less than either the Canon 35mm f/2 or 35mm f/1.4 lenses on a 5D.
     
  17. Fiddler

    Fiddler SC Veteran

    241
    Dec 5, 2010
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    Colin
    Me too.

    Later... (I see you have - thanks.)
     
  18. moiler

    moiler SC Rookie

    18
    Mar 12, 2014
    Thank you all for your replies and suggestions. I will have my RX1 back this weekend and will do AB comparison with a friend's RX1 and my canon 35mm. Hopefully it is simply a defective RX1 that I can repair. The distortion does seem excessive as some of you have mentioned.

    jloden asked which canon 35mm prime I have. It is the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM on a 5D Mk2 body. The lens cost half the RX1, maybe I was expecting too much from the RX1 after all ha ha.....
     
  19. mattia

    mattia SC Regular

    98
    Dec 20, 2013
    Weird indeed. I have read the RX1 lens is actually a bit wider than 35, more like a 30, which could explain part of it. Also stupid as it may seem, maybe simply shoot a grid of some sort to examine distortion? Not sure if focus distance plays a role here though (whether then Zeiss is optimized for closer rather than infinity shooting)
     
  20. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I did sell the RX1 and ultimately replaced it with the Fuji, but it had nothing to do with any dissatisfaction with the RX1 or any distortion I ever noticed with it. Now, I'm the first to say that I'm generally not very sensitive to these kinds of things. I just went back and looked at a number of my RX1 shots with people in them and never saw a problem, including with people close the edges. I DO think I'd have noticed the distortion in the OP's shot of the woman near the edge of the frame, although probably not the one where she's in the center. The Fuji 23mm lens is astonishingly good, but as the review states, I'm basically comparing it to the RX1 lens which is my standard of excellence for lenses I've owned anywhere near that general focal length (the Olympus 75 is also amazing, but at a very different focal length). Fuji is pretty well known for doing optical correction rather than software correction - it's 14mm is really pretty astounding in this regard although a person near the edge of THAT lens will still be pretty distorted because it is a very wide angle lens.

    I'd say the general lack of similar experience among the installed base of RX1 users in various places online and in professional reviews suggests you may have a bad unit. It's worth checking out in any case.

    -Ray
     
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