Sony RX1 and Fuji X100s - A Comparison (long!)

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by Ray Sachs, Apr 14, 2013.

  1. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I've been shooting with the Sony RX1 for about a month now and the Fuji X100s for a little over a week. I got up to speed with the X100s quickly since I've had plenty of experience with the X100 and X-Pro. I had both cameras with me during a busy weekend of shooting in New York City last week (along with the Nikon Coolpix A), and both have gotten plenty of work. I've written some about the RX1 here and the X100s on the Xspot forum, but I'd promised to do some sort of comparison between the two since they're somewhat similar by virtue of both being fixed lens 35mm (or equivalent) focal lengths with f2.0 lenses. While I question whether these two cameras will be directly competing for very many potential buyers, there are a lot of similarities and differences worth understanding for those who might be considering either.

    View attachment 67940
    NYC RX1-26-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    View attachment 67941
    NYC X100s-26 by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    Lens / Sensor / Output - The RX1 has an incredibly nice Zeiss f2.0 lens mated to one of the best full frame 24mp sensors in existence (at least for this now - something better is sure to come out any day now...). The X100s has a very nice but not quite in the same league Fuji f2.0 lens mated to a 16mp APS X-trans sensor that some love and some hate. I personally love it but many who pixel peep and shoot raw with it have issues with the raw conversions and some even have issues with the jpegs and how they're sharpened and the level of detail. While that's a matter of personal taste, I don't think anyone has ever had a negative thing to say about the RX1 sensor - rated highly by all the technical reviews, incredible files to work with. IMO the RX1 sensor is as good as anything you've read about it. I'm also personally VERY happy with the Fuji X-Trans sensor - I have largely the same sensor in my X-Pro and I tend to shoot jpegs most of the time with the Fuji cameras. Not because I'm in any way DIS-satisfied with the raw files, but because the Fuji jpegs are sublime, there's plenty of latitude for further processing in most of their film simulation modes, their NR algorithms are very very good, and I've just never been able to top them by processing the raw files myself. I think of the Fujis as similar to film cameras where I choose the film and manipulate the results a bit in processing, but mostly get what the camera produces. So in terms of output, its partially a matter of taste rather than numbers, but IMHO the Fuji is excellent and the RX1 is a lot better than that. Is it enough to matter? For pixels peepers, maybe a lot of the time it does. For someone like me who doesn't pixel peep but appreciates files that are easy to work with, it matters a lot at the margins of challenging light and a little in decent to good light. As you'll see from the images peppered throughout this post (always paired with the RX1 first, then X100s), there's no real difference at web sizes for most of the images I've shown, and in good light, the differences would be really hard to see for any but the most extreme pixel peepers. But at larger displays or large prints of low light images, there's notably better and cleaner detail with the RX1. In some cases its more visible than others. But there's a lot more room for error with the RX1, with both cleaner files as a starting point and more latitude for processing. Bottom line, in the vast majority of circumstances, the differences will only matter to pixel peepers and this may and probably should influence a lot of purchasing decisions. In the most challenging circumstances, however, I think most photo enthusiasts would both see and appreciate the difference working with the RX1 files. A word about the lenses - both are really nice, but the Zeiss lens on the RX1 is another level of special, in terms of the subtle way it renders, its narrower DOF wide open, the quality of the bokeh that narrow DOF leads to. Its just a very special lens. The Fuji is very nice and worth raving about, but the Zeiss takes it to another level - a great mate to the very high resolution sensor in the camera.

    Build / Egronomics - The RX1 is one of the most impressively built cameras I've had the pleasure to shoot with, oozing quality from the hefty but not too heavy feel of the camera to the incredibly smooth aperture ring and exposure comp dial with just the right amount of resistance, to the very well damped focus ring. Even the metal lens cap is highly impressive - it goes on easy but will NOT let go inadvertently - and when was the last time anyone was impressed by a lens-cap? The X100s is a very nice feeling camera but a good deal lighter and less solid feeling. Not that this is a negative, but it makes a different first impression and somewhat different ongoing impression. The RX1 has five fully customizable buttons so you can configure the camera with whatever combination of immediately available controls works best for you. The tactile feel of the X100s controls is quite good, much improved in some cases from the X100, which had an exposure comp dial that was too easily accidentally turned and a "menu/OK" button in the center of the rear controller that was very difficult to push without a long fingernail (or very small fingers). This is all much better now. But there is only one fully programable fn button, so the camera is not nearly as customizable as the RX1 - the X100s does have a "Q" button that brings up a number of the most used settings on the camera so most key controls are reasonably accessible. One complaint with the X100s is the aperture ring on the lens, which only allows for full aperture stops - 1/3 intermediate stops are possible but you have to use the rear thumb controller to access the intermediate stops. This was the case on the X100 also and, at the time, that was the first camera in this class to offer an aperture ring on the lens at all in quite a while, so this detail was easily overlooked. But things have changed and today several cameras, including the very inexpensive Panasonic LX7, have aperture rings on the lens that can access 1/3 stops so this feels like something Fuji should have upgraded. In terms of build quality and feel of the controls, the edge definitely goes to the RX1, which feels like what it costs, but there's nothing wrong with the X100s in this regard either.

    View attachment 67942
    RX1 vs X100s-46-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    View attachment 67943
    X100 vs RX1-49-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    The View From Here - The RX1, along with other Sony cameras, has one of the best rear LCD or OLED screens (honestly not sure which it is) I've ever used. Its got a "sunny weather" setting that is bright and clear enough to use in the brightest sunlight and see what you're shooting very very well. It also has an excellent but expensive (more on that word later) accessory EVF (and an OVF is available as well, but I haven't tried that). So if you're OK shooting without a viewfinder, the RX1 is excellent. If you want a viewfinder, the EVF is about as good as they get, but since its removable accessory its not nearly as convenient as a built-in finder. I wouldn't say its easy to knock off in use, but its possible, and it is easy to move out of position when carrying the camera. So, if you shoot exclusively with a viewfinder, this accessory viewfinder may not be your cup of tea. I'd prefer a built-in but I'm OK shooting with or without a viewfinder a lot of the time, so I'm OK with it, but many wouldn't be. The X100s, OTOH, has a good but not exceptional LCD screen, BUT, it has what I consider to be the best viewfinder in the world, in any camera of any type, ever! If you can't tell, I'm rather fond of Fuji's hybrid viewfinder. Its got both an electronic viewfinder, with all of the information you'd expect an electronic viewfinder to have, plus an optical viewfinder with an information overlay that gives you all of your vital shooting information. If you're not familiar with the hybrid viewfinder, you owe it to yourself to GET familiar with it. If you are, no need for me to run through its amazing wonderfulness yet again! One note, the EVF in the X100s, which much improved over the X100 version in terms of resolution, is still pretty laggy in comparison with other EVFs when moving the camera, panning, etc. Not a huge problem since you've got a brilliant OVF living in the same viewfinder assembly, but something to be aware of if you'd use the EVF a lot. Also, the OVF, like any other off-set OVF has to deal with parallax issues. It deals with them very well, IMHO, but the shooter needs to understand what parallax is, how it works, and the information the OVF is giving you to help you deal with it. The parallax inherent to this type of OVF has scared more DSLR shooters away from Fuji cameras than probably any other single feature/issue, based on the huge number of internet posts I've seen on the subject. It shouldn't, but its incumbent on the user to know what he or she is getting into with this. I LOVE this OVF - its my favorite feature on the Fuji cameras and nothing is a close second (maybe the jpegs). But evidently, and to my shock and surprise, it seems to NOT be for everyone! Overall I have to give a big advantage to the X100s for the built-in hybrid viewfinder - EVERY camera should have one!

    NYC RX1-13-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    NYC X100s-31 by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    Auto Focus - Auto focus is likely to be an issue of some contention. I don't find AF speed all that critical in this 35mm (or wider) focal length, and I don't see a lot of difference between the two cameras here. Much has been written about how slow the RX1 is and how much faster the X100s is than any previous Fuji, but I'm just simply not feeling it. I guess I have a threshold of fast "enough" and if a camera meets it, I don't really notice the AF speed much beyond that. Speed tests seem to show that the X100s AF (with its new PDAF chip) is faster than the RX1. I don't doubt it, but I don't feel it much in actual use either. In the brightest possible light, I can detect an advantage for the X100s, but the RX1 is plenty fast. In less light, I honestly can't find a difference. The Olympus OMD with a moderns lens FEELS fast! The X100s doesn't feel all that fast (no faster than the 18mm lens on the X-Pro) except in very bright light and the RX1 doesn't feel much slower. So either I'm horribly insensitive to these differences, or they're not that great to begin with. In low light, I like a camera to lock on reliably without a lot of hunting and both of these will do that, but you have to remember a couple of things. With the X100s, you get the best low light AF by switching the camera from single shot AF (AF-S) to continuous AF (AF-C). With the RX1, you have to remember to keep the aperture pretty wide open in low light - most cameras today do this automatically but the RX1 focusses at whatever aperture you've set the camera to, up to f8, so if you're trying to focus at something smaller than, say, f5 in low light (buy why?), you may get quite the hunting expedition. Maybe a slight edge to the X100s, but VERY slight in my perception...

    View attachment 67946
    NYC RX1-233-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    View attachment 67947
    NYC X100s-61-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    Manual Focus - In terms of manual focus, I'd have to say the RX1 has an advantage for critical focus tasks and the X100s has an advantage for zone focus tasks, but neither by huge margins - both work well enough in both contexts. For critical focus, the X100s gives you more ways to skin the cat and the integration with the two viewfinders is wonderful. With the X100s you can use either focus peaking or a split-image view sort of similar to the way old SLR cameras helped you find manual focus. Both work well enough and both integrate well with either the EVF or rear LCD. The REALLY cool feature is a thing called "focus check" which works in the OVF. When you're in manual focus and looking through the OVF, when you start to turn the focus ring, the view switches to the EVF temporarily and shows you either the split-image view or the focus peaking view, whichever you'd selected as your focus aid - you nail focus and then a half press of the shutter takes you back to the OVF view. This is just waaaay cool for the gadget geek in anyone and it works great in real time too. In contrast, the RX1 only offers focus peaking as a manual focus aid, so it would seem to be the lesser camera in this regard. BUT BUT BUT BUT for one minor detail - the focus peaking in the RX1 is just BETTER than either the focus peaking or the split-image option in the X100s. Sony more or less invented focus peaking and they have it nailed. You can choose from three colors and choose three different intensity levels. If you choose red for most things and I guess switch to white or yellow if you're shooting heavily red scenes, it is VERY easy to see when you've achieved critical focus. That's the key difference - the RX1 focus peaking makes critical focus very easy to see. Neither the more limited X100s focus peaking (white is the only option and often difficult to see) or split image method work as well as the RX1 peaking. Bottom line - more effective trumps more options here so an edge to the RX1. In terms of zone focus, the edge goes to the X100s for a couple of reasons. The distance scale is more precise, always shows in MF mode, and the focus distance is remembered when you turn the camera off and back on again. Downsides are the focus ring throw is much more sensitive than on the old X100, but sometimes to a fault where its mildly difficult to stop on a target distance without overshooting it and fine tuning can be a little tricky. And there is a DOF scale, but IMHO, you're better off ignoring it because its very very conservative and unless you are too, its better to ignore it and figure out your own focus settings using a DOF table of some sort. The RX1 works here, but the focus scale is much more limited, not as precise, only shows up while you're actually turning the focus ring, so you might not notice if you've accidentally changed your focus distance, and the distance reverts to infinity when you turn the camera off and back on again. Both are usable - I've taken many in-focus street shots with both, but the X100s is clearly better set up for zone focusing.

    View attachment 67948
    NYC RX1-105-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    View attachment 67949
    NYC X100s-93 by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    Intangibles - Another "category" to discuss might be intangibles, or the "flow" of a camera. How does it feel in use? How much FUN is it to shoot with? And I've gotta say, in this regard, both of these cameras are off the charts. I can't say there's a winner at all. They're different, they feel different and work a little differently. I like some options more on the RX1 (auto-ISO for example, and the number of customizable buttons) and other things more about the X100s (the OVF, the OVF, the OVF!, and the film modes), but both of them are simply wonderful. Trying them both will honestly make any decision you might be trying to make more difficult because you'll probably love both of them, but in different ways - how to choose between such great options? I can't help you here - I'm just telling you they're both wonderful cameras to actually USE.

    View attachment 67950
    RX1 vs X100s-48-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    View attachment 67951
    X100 vs RX1-52-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    Expense - I mentioned cost above when talking about the RX1's EVF and I gotta say, cost is a big issue here, one that I can elaborate on, but can never solve for anyone but myself. The "is it WORTH it" question is something that each person can only answer for themselves. The RX1 is just expensive everywhere you turn. The camera itself is expensive at $2800 and all of the accessories are very expensive. The EVF is north of $400, the OVF is over $600. An add-on thumb grip (which can't be used with either viewfinder) is about $250. The Sony branded lens hood is close to $200 I believe. The camera doesn't even come with a battery charger! A camera of this price with no charger!?!?!? But you can buy a third party battery and chargers for very little. And you can get a knockoff lens hood thats indistinguishable from the original for about $50 and that will likely be $30 soon enough... But if you want an RX1 with one of the viewfinders, a charger, and an extra battery or two, you're looking at spending at least about $3300. A similarly outfitted X100s, OTOH, will cost you the list price of $1299 plus a few bucks for a spare battery or two. Not a small difference. Big BIG difference. Compared to the just-mentioned Leica M, the RX1 is a great bargain, maybe the deal of the century. Compared to the X100s or any other small fixed lens camera, the RX1 is just plain a whole stinkin' lot of money. It buys you a camera that I will state unequivocally is better and more capable in a number of ways. But that does not have some features the less expensive Fuji has that may matter a lot to some buyers - have I mentioned the hybrid viewfinder enough yet?

    View attachment 67952
    NYC RX1-119-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    View attachment 67953
    NYC X100s-33-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    So, that's as far as my advice can go. If you can afford the X100s and cannot afford or rationalize spending the money on the RX1, there's no decision between the two. If you've got the money and you're willing to spend it on the subtly beautiful way the Zeiss lens renders and the Sony sensor picks up that light, and if you don't care much about the Fuji's awesome hybrid viewfinder, then maybe the RX1 is a better choice for you. But the RX1 probably won't be a no-brainer, it will be a decision that you might make if you want one camera on your shelf that, at least by today's standards, is a no compromise IQ machine and you're willing to pay the big bucks for it. If you want one of these two cameras but can only afford the X100s, you will only buy the X100s. If you can afford the RX1, you MIGHT buy the RX1 but you might just as easily decide that the X100s gives you enough of what the RX1 does, maybe even more in some specific ways, in a package and at a price you prefer.

    But the RX1 simply won't be an option for as many people as the X100s. So at that point, the X100s isn't competing against the RX1, but rather against a number of other mirrorless cameras with APS or smaller chips, and more in its price range. I noted on the Xspot forum the irony that the X100s is a better camera in arguably every way than the X100 but that its far less overwhelming upon its release today than the X100 was two years ago. And that's because when the X100 was released, there was really nothing like it. Nex was in its infancy, m43 was developing great lenses but was limited by an old sensor, Fuji hadn't developed its interchangeable lens system yet, and neither Nikon nor Canon had entered the mirrorless market at all. Today, m43 and Nex have come into their own with great cameras and lenses, Fuji's own X-Pro and X-E1 are as competent as the X100s in most regards and far more versatile, Nikon is working its way into the mirrorless market (the "1" series smaller sensor cameras didn't do well among enthusiasts but the new Coolpix A fixed lens 28mm looks like a very solid contender), Ricoh's rumored APS fixed 28mm lens compact is likely a strong entry, and Canon has stuck a very tentative toe into the water. Things have changed and as good as the X100s is, it faces far more competition today than the X100 did two years ago. So, the X100s is a great camera among great cameras where the X100 was a brilliant but flawed camera all on its own two years ago.

    And like the X100 two years ago, the RX1 emerges into today's market and there's really nothing else like it - it may be a small market niche, but for now the RX1 has it to itself. If you want a small camera with a full frame sensor and a premium lens and you can't afford a Leica M, the RX1 is your only choice. In two years, its successor, like the X100s today, will likely face much stiffer competition than it does currently. It will be interesting to see what things look like at that point.
    • Like Like x 2
  2. Gary

    Gary SC All-Pro

    Aug 19, 2012
    Southern California
    Gary Ayala
    Thank you Ray.
  3. tdp

    tdp Guest

    Nice write-up and some great test shots. I mean really great test shots.
  4. Hikari

    Hikari SC Veteran

    Jan 5, 2013
    Maine, USA
    Very nice review, especially since you really have two very different cameras.

    Ray, the fountain images have very different color, particularly for the neon (?) lights in the building. Are the lights different colors as the RX-1 seems to render? Will changing the Fuji WB to match, are the colors separated? Or are those lights changing color?

    And a small comment:

    As far as expense, if you want the Sony accessories, the RX-1 is $3,300. But a Voightlander viewfinder and battery charger and extra battery makes it about $3,070. When you throw in the B&H 2% cash back and the Sony Card reward points plus the $50 sign up bonus, that brings the price down to $2,880. I have a $5 lens hood which I think is much better than the Sony version--it is simply a 49mm to 37mm step down ring which has a very low profile. It is still an expensive camera, but you don't need to put the most expensive accessories on it.
  5. coyote

    coyote SC Rookie

    Mar 7, 2013
    eastern oregon
    stunning write up. thank you!
  6. Gubrz

    Gubrz O.* Gonzo's & Bentley's Dad

    Jun 5, 2012
    Austin, TX
    I can't wait for others to get in on the small fixed ff thing. I'm not much of a fan of Sony menus and general look and feel of camera. Oly or fuji need to cave in and make a ff!

    I need retro ness! Lol

    I love my rx1 files tho. That lens just POPs!
  7. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    The fountain shots I'm really not sure what's going on. I've lived within blocks of this fountain for over 20 years now and I've never noticed that the lights changed colors and I don't recall it from shooting that evening either, but I can't explain the difference in the way the colors are represented. I remember it the way it shows up in the Sony shot. I can believe the Fuji might have some problems with the purples or something but its showing all reds in a situation where I remember and the Sony is showing a combination of red, purple, and blue. So I'm hoping maybe the lights are on a circuit that changes them and I've just never noticed. I'll try to pay attention the next time I pass by there after dark. And its not a jpeg issue - this one was a raw exposure...

    I agree that you can buy less stuff for the Sony. For me, a totally dumb OVF with no information isn't of much use, so I'd go for the EVF unless I was gonna go without a viewfinder. I actually have a cheap little Olympus OVF from the EP1 that I think I paid about $40 for, so if I was gonna go that way, I'd probably go even cheaper than the Voitlander - although I'm sure the framelines are 4:3... When I was first using it, I just used two busted out filter rings (no glass inside) as an ultra-cheap lens hood, but I've since bought the JJC knock-off for $50 and I'm sure I'll start seeing it for less soon. But I like having a bayonet mount for quick and easy removal - not that I ever remove it! I'm sure there are folks who will buy every expensive Sony accessory they can fine and others who will buy the cheapest third party stuff available. But anyway you cut it, the RX1 is an expensive piece of gear!

  8. Vidar

    Vidar SC Veteran

    Oct 25, 2010
    Bergen, Norway
    Good work Ray.
  9. Hikari

    Hikari SC Veteran

    Jan 5, 2013
    Maine, USA
    Even with the unique X-Trans filter array, I can't get that it would get red from blue, but I really don't know--is it because a single channel hits saturation?? I don't think it is a RAW/jpeg thing as a jpeg is just a converted RAW in camera. The more I think about it, the more it must be the lights. The colors in the comparison just stood out.
  10. norman shearer

    norman shearer SC Veteran

    Good comparison Ray, you've spelled out the differences admirably. Stunning shots too and either camera could make someone happy for life. Somewhat surprising that the RX-1 on it's first attempt has produced such a well rounded camera. I wonder which manufacturer is going to rise to the challenge and offer up another FF compact..
  11. Gary

    Gary SC All-Pro

    Aug 19, 2012
    Southern California
    Gary Ayala
    My money is on the lights. Looks like the Sony caught them in transition from red to blue.
  12. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    That's a good point Norman - one I should have possibly said a bit more about. When the X100 came out two years ago, it was so unique and sort of wonderful that many of us either overlooked or learned to live with its myriad flaws and quirks, some of which have been improved in firmware and some which remain to this day. It was a brilliant but compromised first attempt at what it was. Which has now had pretty much all of the strangeness ironed out in the successor X100s.

    The RX1 is also in that trailblazer's role like the X100 was a couple of years ago, but the difference is it appears to have gotten nearly everything right the first time. One could argue that it should have an internal viewfinder, but that wasn't a flaw, it was a design compromise. I would love a user configurable minimum shutter speed when using auto-ISO in aperture priority mode, but the whole auto-iso thing works so well in manual mode (including with a fully functional exposure comp dial) that its kind of a non-issue. Some would like faster auto-focus, I'd personally like a couple of details changed to make zone focussing quicker and easier, but these are preferences and choices, not flaws. Everything basically does what its supposed to and quite effectively. So it will be somewhat harder for Sony to improve on RX1 nearly as much with the second generation version as Fuji did (and needed to) with the X100s. But in terms of the competition, there seem to be more than rumors that Sony is working on a full frame mirrorless ILC system and rumors that Fuji may be doing the same. And as the last two years shows us, two years is a LOOOOONG time in the world of tech advances, so it'll be very interesting to see what's around the corner...

  13. Isoterica

    Isoterica SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 6, 2011
    Nicely done Ray though a lot like comparing apples and oranges even down to the pricepoint-- however if one has the option of buying either, the information provided is extremely useful. Maybe the next Fuji will be FF
  14. Garylh

    Garylh SC Veteran

    Thanks Ray. Another nice well thought out writeup..

  15. asterinex

    asterinex SC Regular

    Oct 23, 2012
    Antwerp, Belgium
    Thx! Very interesting!
  16. snkenai

    snkenai SC All-Pro

    Oct 5, 2010
    kenai, AK
    Stephen Noel
    I thank you, for the comparison, though I will not likely ever be in the income league of the Sony. It gives a real world indication of just how good the Fuji is, compared to the "gold standard FF" of the Sony. To those of us that are never satisfied with "good enough", the Fuji just might bring us closer to the real "good enough". Neither of my good cameras have done that yet.
  17. Livnius

    Livnius SC Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jun 3, 2012
    Melbourne. Australia
    Great write up Ray, excellent read. Fantastic images too.

    I think there is certainly much to be excited about regarding the potential for others to get in on the game and put out other compact FF options both fixed like RX1 and interchangeable lens models. With the success of the Sony surely now it's a matter of when and not if.

    I've only had the opportunity to shoot with my X100S for a single session over a lunch break, just been crazy busy, but looking forward to getting out again so these insights are really helpful. I think on my next session I will shoot jpeg, perhaps even bracket film styles. As a dedicated RAW shooter with my m43 gear and a Fuji X noob I suspect I may prefer to have control of any sharpening/NR and save it for post processing later in do you feel Ray regarding the in camera setting for sharpness and NR ? Do the -2 settings for both give the least 'altered' output ? I guess this could also be a question for all experienced Fuji X shooters. With so many people happily using the Fuji jpegs on these XTrans models I'm curious as to whether there is some kind of consensus as to the optimal jpeg settings.
  18. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Jul 3, 2010
    Great writeup, Ray. Very insightful points, and great photos as always!

    I think this point needs some qualification:

    In general, when comparing two formats with similar sensor technology and similar base ISO values*, the larger one will have an image quality advantage under two circumstances: 1) when light is plentiful such that both can be used at base ISO; and/or 2) when a more shallow DOF than the smaller format can deliver is acceptable. Note that I say "acceptable", not "desirable".

    Say for example you are shooting the X100S at f/5.6 because you need as much field as that camera gives you at f/5.6 and that you're forced to shoot at ISO 1600 because you need the shutter speed that ISO 1600 gives you. Sure you can shoot the RX1 at f/5.6 ISO 1600 and marvel at how much nicer and more malleable the files look, but if you really needed that DOF, then your RX1 has to be set to f/9, and if you needed that shutter speed, your RX1 will now use ISO 4000.** Now is that ISO 4000 RX1 file still more lovely and malleable than the ISO 1600 X100S file? That depends on the specific sensor technologies of those sensors, and it may well be, but it's no longer going to very noticeable to most photo enthusiasts.

    My point is that we tend to always think of the ability to go more shallow as a bonus but under any shutter speed limited, light constrained circumstances where you are unwilling to go to more with a more shallow DOF than the smaller format can deliver, there is no image quality advantage inherent in the use of a larger format.


    One comparison you didn't mention unless I missed it is size - Are these cameras similarly coat pocketable? If so, does that still apply with the EVF on the Sony? X100S strikes me as a bit easier to grab and go, but I haven't spent a lot of time with either, and I'm pretty size sensitive (eg, my E-PM2 feels more coat pocketable with the P14/2.5 than it does with an O17/1.8).

    *By using a lower base ISO paired with a faster lens, a smaller format can theoretically match the dynamic range, tonal range, and signal/noise of a larger format. However, such cameras (eg, Micro 4/3 camera with base ISO 25 sensor) have not been produced since they would suffer for high ISO performance.

    **Whether Fuji overrates ISO is a subject for another thread. Here I'm discussing general issues related to cross format comparisons.
  19. Hikari

    Hikari SC Veteran

    Jan 5, 2013
    Maine, USA
    Sorry Amin, equivalency does not work in practice. I never think how do I get the DoF or shutter speed of another format other than the one I am shooting with. There is no "right" DoF for any situation. I will use the camera to its advantage regardless of another format. And the difference in DoF is not that great from 35mm to APS, especially since I shot film medium-format and 4x5. Actually, I think 35mm has tons of DoF.

    But I can tell you that an RX-1 fits in a coat pocket very nicely.
  20. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Jul 3, 2010
    No need to be sorry, Hikari. You suggesting that the DOF difference between f/5.6 on APS-C and full frame isn't much is just like someone else sugesting the image quality difference between ISO 1600 on APS-C and full frame isn't much. Such perceptions are personal. Everything I said in the previous post was objective fact.

    Sent from my SCH-I605 using Tapatalk 2