Thoughts on the Sony RX1

Discussion in 'Sony RX1 Forum' started by Paul Giguere, Jan 4, 2013.

  1. Paul Giguere

    Paul Giguere www.paulgiguere.com

    97
    May 4, 2011
    Wayland, MA USA
    [NOTE: The essay below was originally posted to my blog (www.paulgiguere.com) thus the introduction is slanted towards a more general public than people in this forum.]

    By now many of you have probably heard about the Sony RX1. The worlds first compact full-frame camera that offers stunning image quality and superior camera and lens craftsmanship. You may also have heard it's price, an eye-watering $2800. Add some premium accessories and extra batteries and you are looking at $3200 to $3400 or so.

    After reading several early reviews of the camera (most notably Steve Huff's review http://www.stevehuffphoto.com), I decided to order one from B&H Photo and try it out. After all, I could always return it within 30 days (no questions asked which is what makes B&H a class act). A little background though. . .

    A couple of years ago I was forced to sell my Canon 5D and a couple of L-class lens to pay for the removal of several trees around my house which my arborist called widow-makers. I then used my Ricoh GRD3 exclusively for all of my photography but I still felt the pull of a full-frame sensor camera and the kinds of images possible when using a great lens. Fast forward to December 1st, 2012 when the price on a Canon 5D MKII dropped below $1700 (due in no small part to the 5D MKIII and the 6D cameras either being available or on the horizon). I thought long and hard of getting the 5DMKII and a 35mm L lens. The pricing would have been similar (around $3300 with accessories). With the EVF and lens hood though, the price for the Sony goes for around $3300 or so. So, from a price standpoint a wash (no advantage either way).

    I should also mention that I typically do not need lots of lens for my cameras. I typically only use 28mm or 35mm. A 50mm lens would be like a telephoto lens to me. In other words, I usually only have one or two lens at the most for my cameras (that allow for interchangeable lens) but I typically use 28mm or 35mm (no preference; either focal length feels just perfect to me).

    I was ready to push the Order button on my cart for the Mark II and the 35mmL when my wife reminded me that unless I was doing studio work or "planned" photography where I needed the 5D, it always stayed home. In other words, I never used the 5D as a walk-around camera or a camera that I just grab when I was going out. It was just too heavy and bulky. Everywhere I went people turned away. Even people who would let me take a photo of them looked uneasy with such a big camera and lens pointing at them. About 99% of the time, I took the compact camera (my Ricoh GRD 3 and now 4 in this case) and the 5D stayed in it's bag unused unless I needed it for a very specific purpose. After reconsidering this, I decided that the RX1 would probably meet all of my needs and so I ordered one. Some observations having "played" with the camera for a few weeks:

    - The camera truly is compact. Yes, the lens does stick out a bit but it is still much smaller than any DSLR any day.
    - The RX1 body and lens are of very high quality. This is a very solid camera. I hate to use this comparison but it reminds me how a Leica M9 feels in my hands (solid, like it was carved out of a single metal block). Even the indicators and measures are carved into the body (not just painted). With the exception of the battery/memory card door (which feels a little flimsy given the rest of the camera), everything is just feels very well made.
    - The image quality is amazing (in no small part to the great Zeiss 35mm lens and Sony's latest FF sensor). I don't have samples to post as I have just been eye-balling indoors (I'm still recovering from hip surgery and thus have not been able to make decent photos) but you can find samples everywhere. And yes, the bokeh of this lens is truly amazing (and satisfying) when opened wide at f2.0.
    - The focus, while it is not the fastest by any means, is actually quite good (even in low light). I've made test shots in all kinds of lighting conditions and focus (or auto white balance for that matter) aren't a problem at all for me.
    - The camera is very customizable (every button and dial for the most part can be programmed the way you like). Yes, Sony included some features I will never use like face recognition and various scene modes but these are easily ignored. Once I had the buttons programmed the way I like them, I found the RX1 intuitive to use.
    - Manual focus works very well (focus peaking, focus enlargement, etc.). I also find it easy to zone focus manually and just leave the lens focused out to where I want it (something that I have come to appreciate with the Ricoh cameras and the snap shot feature). There is a problem though, the RX1 does not remember your manual focus setting between power-ups (unless I'm missing something here). This means either setting the camera to not go to sleep for longer periods of time or just refocusing (using the focusing wheel on the lens). Since refocusing is very easy and fast (and I don't want to drain my batteries down too quickly) this is the method I use when appropriate for the situation. Otherwise, autofocus fits my needs nicely.
    - As I mentioned above, a 35mm focal length is ideal and what I use 99% of time anyway so having the ability to change a lens is not a requirement for me.

    My list of issues or problems is very small:

    - Yes, the price is very high for this camera but you are getting a quality camera for the price. If you can afford this camera and it meets your needs, then the price is not so bad. The problem is that there are many photographers who would love this camera for whom the price puts the camera out of reach (the problem with any high-end item; think Leica. . . I would love a Leica Monochrom with a 35mm f2.0 lens but it will never happen in this lifetime). I've read comments from people saying the camera should have been priced at $1500 or $1600. That's just ridiculous. Considering the construction and quality, the lens alone would go for about $1200 if it were interchangeable. I'm thinking that a better price would have been around $2200 (and it might go down to that once the camera has been on the market for a few months and the early adopters have made their purchase).
    - I also think the accessories are way overpriced. The EVF costs $450 (which is not that outrageous but is at the top of the cost spectrum). The lens hood ($180) should have been included with the camera as well as an extra battery. The optical viewfinder is priced around $600 (you can get a Voightlander for $210 which is every bit as good). There is also a thumb-grip that sits in the hot shoe that seems quite handy (particularly if you use a viewfinder) but at $250, not handy enough for me. Also, the thumb-grip blocks the contacts on the hot shoe so you can't use the EVF or a flash unit when using the thumb-grip (stupid).
    - The batteries used in the RX1 are the same exact batteries used in the Sony RX100 (the super compact that Sony released this past summer). This means that the batteries need to be changed more often (especially if you chimp your photos a lot or access the menus all of the time). No big deal (a bigger battery would have meant a bigger camera) but I feel I need at least two spare batteries for this camera to keep me going for a day of making photos. I'm sure the full-frame sensor sucks more power out of the batteries than a smaller sensor would. Perhaps with the EVF (no LCD) the power usage will drop and I will get more photos out of a battery (we shall see).
    - As I said, the battery/memory card door seems a bit flimsy. I will just need to be careful swapping out batteries and cards.

    Anyway, issues aside, I decided that this is the right/perfect camera for me. It is a camera that I can easily see myself grabbing when I'm going out the door or I'm working on a documentary photo project. This could also be good street photography camera if it weren't for the lack or manual focus memory between power-ups (I'll stick with my Ricoh GRD4 when I'm specifically doing street photography anyway). I did order the lens hood (a habit, I always use a lens hood) and the electronic viewfinder. I'm not particularly a fan of EVF's but I want to give this one a try. The RX1 feels like a camera that makes me want to hold it up to me eye to compose so if the EVF doesn't feel right to me, then I'll get the Voightlander (and maybe the thumb-grip; in for a penny in for a pound as they say).

    Paul


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  2. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    Thank you Paul. Your experience and perspective are very informative. This seems like a great camera, but I'm still in a holding pattern. I'm curious to see what else 2013 brings.

    I know people gripe about the price, but I think you have a point that it essentially compares to a FF DSLR with a very good 35mm lens, and that's not cheap. And to cram all of that into a tiny body! Plus, it's the first of its kind. Sometimes we take things for granted.

    I'll look forward to seeing some of your work with the RX1. Are you converting to B&W?

    Recover quickly!
     
  3. Boid

    Boid SC All-Pro

    Dec 15, 2011
    Bangalore, India
    Rajiv
    My main worry with this camera is that it will feel like the RX100 in use. Uninvolved and cold. This is one piece of kit I just cannot bring myself to buy blind.

    Thanks for your insight Paul. Wishing you a quick recovery.
     
  4. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    There has not been a Sony camera that I have not tried and returned. They do some things well, but I'd agree with your uninvolved and cold sentiment. My experience has been with two NEX cameras and the RX100 (which I disliked intensely). More gadgets than cameras, but certainly highly capable. I did, however, rent an A77 for my sister-in-law's wedding and found it to be a great camera. Obviously, it was returned too :wink:

    At any rate, I'll be very curious to see Paul's work with the RX1.
     
  5. Paul Giguere

    Paul Giguere www.paulgiguere.com

    97
    May 4, 2011
    Wayland, MA USA
    HI Andrew - Yes, I'm converting to black and white but I'm shooting in RAW (the RX1 RAW files are supported in the latest version of Lightroom) so I will also have the color files to look at (who knows, maybe I'll do more color work).

    Thanks for the well wishes.

    Best,

    Paul


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  6. Paul Giguere

    Paul Giguere www.paulgiguere.com

    97
    May 4, 2011
    Wayland, MA USA
    I did use the RX100 and I know what you mean. Nice camera and all but it didn't give me that feeling I get when I pick-up my GRD4 (for example). Hard to explain, more like a feeling that the camera has just become a part of you or something.

    I do have to say that the RX1 does have that feel for me, or maybe that is the pain meds talking ;-). I find it very comfortable to hold and use (it is heavy-ish but not that much). Every time I pick it up, it just feels good to hold and use. As I mentioned in the essay, I do want to put it to my eye (thus my desire for an EVF or OVF).

    One thing I will mention is that I use a neck strap with this camera. It seems just a bit too heavy for a wrist strap for me. Dropping it with a wrist strap will probably result in a saved camera and a dislocated wrist. I'll have to experiment to see what feels best for holding and managing the camera.

    Best,

    Paul


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  7. Biro

    Biro SC All-Pro

    Aug 7, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Steve

    I don't own the RX1, but I did play with one for some time at the Sony Space in New York a month or so ago. It's a totally different experience from the RX100. It feels like a camera from the 1960's or 70's. The aperture ring around the lens is worth the price of admission alone.
     
  8. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Paul,

    First, good luck on a quick and full recovery.

    In terms of the camera, I'm interested in your comment on zone focussing. I too tried the RX100 and disliked it possibly as much as Andrew. One of the things I disliked was the hassle associate with zone focus. One issue was the lack of manual focus distance memory so you'd have to reset the focus distance any time you turned the camera off and on or any time you switched to auto-focus and then came back to manual focus. You indicate the RX1 has the same issue. But the even bigger problem for me was the lack of any sort of distance scale to set for a given "zone". The only way to focus the cam was to use focus peaking to focus on a point at your estimated distance (with the aperture wide open to get the focus as precise as possible, then stop back down to the right aperture for adequate DOF) and leave it there as long as you're shooting. I found this approach totally unworkable.

    So, is there any sort of distance scale on the RX1? Failing that, is the focus ring fixed or is it a free turning "by wire" setup. If the former, it would be easy enough to mark the focus ring for a few key distances and set them quickly and easily. But if the latter, it sounds just as bad as the RX100 in that regard.

    Even if this was a non issue for me, I don't think I'd have much interest in this camera, but with these concerns, I've had absolutely zero interest. But I know we do some of the same types of shooting and had a similarly high regard for the handling of the Ricoh cams, soil quite interested in your take on this.

    -Ray
     
  9. Paul Giguere

    Paul Giguere www.paulgiguere.com

    97
    May 4, 2011
    Wayland, MA USA
    Hi Ray,

    Unfortunately, the distance scale only appears in the LCD and even then, it is not very precise nor is it in exact measurements. I would think that this is something that could be fixed in a firmware upgrade but Sony has yet to do it with the RX100 so I'm not too optimistic with the RX1 either. I manually focus using the focus enlargement and focus peaking methods or I use the method you describe (pre-focus on an object at the distance I want to work at). Also, the focus wheel is not mechanically linked so it is focus-by-wire. I should say it (and the aperture ring for that matter which is also not mechanically linked) work very well and are smooth and easy to use. The aperture ring also clicks quite nicely like an aperture ring should.

    Truth be told, I don't see myself using the RX1 for street photography per se (not in way the I use my GRD4 for example) so the autofocus will work just fine for me 95% of the time. I'm using the RX1 for other types of photography for which the RX1's shortcomings really aren't going to affect me all that much. Basically, I think I have found a camera for each of the photographic spaces that I work in (or want to work in) rather than having a few cameras that are really redundant for the tasks at hand. Everyone's mileage will vary with this camera depending on what they want to use it for and/or which camera it is suppose to replace, etc.

    Paul
     
  10. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Thanks Paul. Good to hear there's even SOME sort of distance scale, even if not much of one - would be easier to fix than the RX100 where there's not even a hint of the thing. I don't mind them on the LCD, that's the way many modern cameras do it (Fuji, Panasonic, Ricoh, etc) but its got to be precise enough to actually have some confidence in. And its definitely nicer on the lens - the Olympus 12mm and new 17mm, with their snap manual focus rings, are sort of the best of all possible worlds for this, better even than Ricoh's snap focus system for my way of working. I wouldn't see the RX1 primarily as a street camera, but an awful lot of my shooting will be non-street but then needing to transition into street mode pretty quickly when I see an opportunity arise. So I wouldn't see myself buying a camera, particularly at this level/price, that I wouldn't be comfortable using on the street. I might have kept the RX100 if I could have found an even remotely acceptable work around but couldn't. Too bad, that had/has the potential to be a great little street camera and for people who like using auto-focus, probably is. I just never liked the thing on several levels.

    But I fundamentally don't feel any pull toward full frame. I'm not that much of a narrow DOF kind of guy and, to the extent I am, I have other combinations that work more than well enough.

    Nonetheless, I love seeing folks pushing the envelope and Sony surely is here. I hope the camera works well for you. I'll be interested in how your thinking evolves with more time spent with it.

    -Ray
     
  11. Paul Giguere

    Paul Giguere www.paulgiguere.com

    97
    May 4, 2011
    Wayland, MA USA
    Hi Ray,

    Thanks for your thoughts. I have to say that all of my thoughts thus far regarding the RX1 are based on my initial impressions. I have yet to use the camera in the "real world." My thinking may change as I get out there and really use it. I do have to say that I am still in love with my Ricoh GRD4 and how it handles. The RX1 is a very different camera but still, old habits of working are hard to break.

    I'll keep everyone apprised as I actually start to the use the camera for real to see how it meets those intangible requirements.

    Paul


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  12. Paul Giguere

    Paul Giguere www.paulgiguere.com

    97
    May 4, 2011
    Wayland, MA USA
    Just to follow-up. . . I had a chance to go out this morning with the RX1 and make some photos (nothing worth posting, just wanted to try the camera out outside of the house).

    In good light, the camera focused just fine. Fast and deliberate. One thing that is annoying me a lot more than I thought it would is manual focus. Yes, the focus assist (magnification) and focus peaking work well but I guess I still have a tendency to want to set my focus at a certain distance and then just make photos at that distance (zone focusing).

    As I stated before, focus is by wire (not mechanically) and the RX1 forgets the distance you had the focus set for between power-ups/downs. I tried setting the shut-down time to something longer and that helped a bit but it also devastated my batteries. Between three fully charged batteries, I was only able to get off about 125 or so shots. Granted, my working style has a lot to do with this (I'm very deliberate but I also take my time to survey a scene before making a series of photos). I'm sure these long wait times while I decided what to photograph and then how to compose it (all the while the camera is on and waiting) contributed to the fast battery consumption.

    Did the photos come out good? Sure, from a technical standpoint they looked as good as anything I ever got from my Canon 5D (or any camera for that matter). Content-wise the photos weren't special (but that has to do with the photographer, namely me).

    I think my list of issues is now becoming more refined:

    - The manual/zone focus inability is very annoying (more so than I thought it would be for me). Old habits are hard to break and I'm just very used to being able to preset for focus distance.
    - Battery-life is pretty bad (okay, really bad). I know I can purchase more batteries, but jeeze, they're not cheap.
    - Speaking of cheap, I'm beginning to ring up the total cost of the camera and associated accessories and it is getting up there ($3500 including camera, lens shade, EVF, and extra batteries) and starting to bother me.

    Part of me is starting to feel not so much buyer's remorse but buyer's frustration with the above. Right now I'm on the fence (50/50) regarding returning it. I love many of the other aspects of the camera but if it doesn't fit my photographic style, then the overall cost of the camera really starts to leave a bad taste in my mouth.

    Several people have emailed me off-line urging me to explore something like the Olympus OM5 or other systems like the Fuji X-Pro or X100. I've used the Fuji X100 and didn't like it for myself personally but the OM5 seems like it has street creed (so to speak) in that it works well for zone focusing with the right lens.

    I'm basically looking for a camera that can compliment my GRD4 for the type of photography that I do. Also, financially, now is the best time for me to get a new camera thus the search.

    Thoughts, comments?

    Paul

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  13. Hikari

    Hikari SC Veteran

    292
    Jan 5, 2013
    Maine, USA
    Paul, manual focus is better if in MF you assign AF to the C button. You can simply use that to prefocus somewhere in the scene. You can than use the focus ring to adjust from that point.

    I have two batteries for my RX1 and find that is fine. I have not pushed my shot number, but I am getting at least 100+ shots per battery in cold weather, but I have not been paying attention. Still, battery life has not been an issue for me. Steve Huff found third-party batteries cheap from Amazon.

    So far, I have not found I need the EVF, but I might get an OVF for when the light levels are too low for the rear screen to show an image. So I am imagining my total cost will be around $3,100 with an OVF, not including the $50 rebate from B&H and about $200 worth of reward points in the Sony store--I signed up for a Sony card when I decided to get an RX1. So I guess the final "cost" will be $2850.
     
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  14. Paul Giguere

    Paul Giguere www.paulgiguere.com

    97
    May 4, 2011
    Wayland, MA USA
    Thanks for tip Hikari. My problem isn't really achieving manual focus (although your tip is a good one), it's keeping that focus when the camera powers down. Yes, I can keep working the manual focus each time (a pain but not that big of one).

    As for batteries, if I don't keep the LCD on while walking around, I find that I can get around 150 shots or more (if I don't do a lot of previewing or reviewing). That is adequate for how I work.

    I also need to remember that I didn't buy the RX1 to be a camera for street photography but rather, as a kind of replacement for my Canon 5D (in actual fact I really just wanted full-frame camera to replace my 5D but not a DSLR-sized camera). I still intend to use my GRD4 for street photography as that is an area it excels at.

    I also agree with you about the EVF. I just need to work with the camera first before purchasing the EVF (which may not really be necessary). On the plus side, the EVF isn't available anyway so that forces me to use the LCD for awhile to get used to it. I remember purchasing a VF2 viewfinder for my GRD3 (the little one) and never really using it still preferring to use the LCD for composing my photos. I suspect that is how I might view the RX1 too.

    Thanks again for your thoughts.

    Best,

    Paul


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  15. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Paul,

    No thoughts on the RX1 - I'm looking to you for that! :) But IF you decide to go a different direction and being very familiar with the shooting characteristics of the GRD3/4 and GXR, I'd offer the following:

    I have both the X-Pro and the OMD. I love both but they're very different. I'd say the X-Pro has a slight IQ advantage but its more qualitative than quantitative and thus subjective. They're both very very good in good light and low light. The sensors in both, while probably falling short of the RX1, are both better than the GXR 28 and a whole lot better than the GRD4 (you can always dirty 'em up if they're too clean, but hard to clean 'em up if they start off dirty!). Neither has the snap focus feature that the Ricoh's have, but both work well for zone focus, the Fuji with pretty much any lens, the Olympus only with the 12mm and the new 17mm f1.8. The Fuji is less convenient than the Ricoh, but is plenty workable - the OMD with those two lenses is better than the Ricoh to me, but with any other lens is not really usable in that manner.

    You mentioned you didn't like the X100 and you might not like the X-Pro for some of the same reasons, but I find the X-Pro a better camera for zone focus and quick shooting than the X100, but not vastly so. And the differences are not so much the zone focus as the ability to change some other key functions quickly and the lack of the apparent shutter lag that could happen with the X100 (which was actually something different, but it had the same practical effect). It's easy to flip between manual and auto focus using a physical switch on the front of the camera and then adjust to the focus distance you want using an electronic distance scale that will show up either on the LCD or through the viewfinder - you can't look down at the lens barrel and see the distance, but its easily set to a fairly precise distance, viewable in feet or meters. The manual focus action is "by wire" and isn't wonderfully tactile, but its not at all difficult to get to any distance setting you need quickly and easily from pretty much anywhere. I think the manual focus action requires a shorter throw than the X100, and that can matter when changing quickly. There's an electronic DOF scale too, but its very very conservative, as are most (the GXR 28 being the only exception I've found), so its best to know your DOF tables and just rely on the distance setting. If you leave the camera in manual focus when you turn it off, it will remember the distance it was on when turned off and reset to that distance when you turn it back on. BUT, when you switch to auto-focus and then back to manual focus, it will still be set to the last AF distance so you'll have to reset the distance. In practice I've never found it at all difficult to work with and if you like viewfinders, the OVF is a real wonderful tool for street type shooting (or anything else other than close focus where you're better off switching to the EVF to avoid parallax issues). The AF is not particularly fast on this camera, but its somewhat lens dependent. The 18mm (28mm equivalent - GRD equivalent) is pretty fast and has never caused me any trouble at all. The 35mm can hunt in low light some, and is generally slower, but isn't an issue in good light and only sometimes in low light. The 60mm macro is said to be very very slow - I don't have first hand experience. The soon to be released 14mm (21mm equivalent - very wide) will have a manual focus "clutch" ring like the two great Olympus lenses I was referring to, so if you like ultra wide for zone focus, you can set that one just looking down at the lens barrel.

    The OMD and other m43 bodies are all but useless for zone focus (requiring Sony level workarounds) but the two "clutch ring" or "snap ring" lenses from Olympus, the 12 and 17mm (24 and 35mm respectively, so they have the GRD4's 28mm surrounded) are just incredible for a day of shooting and going back and forth quickly and easily between manual and auto focus. I'm still waiting for the 17, but I've had the 12 for quite a while now and its my favorite lens. I'd love a 28mm in this style, but I doubt that's coming... With those lenses, with the snap ring pushed forward, its just a standard AF lens that can be used for critical manual focus by switching the camera to manual focus mode and turning the focus ring as with any other "by wire" lens. BUT, pull the "snap" ring back, and a distance scale and DOF scale emerge, the camera is automatically thrown into manual focus mode, and the manual focus ring miraculously acts and feels like an old mechanical lens with defined distances and an end point at near and infinity focus. It has plenty of key distances marked on the barrel so its easy to quickly switch focus distances for different zones. I find this easier and more intuitive than the snap focus system Ricoh uses, because its such a direct tactile/visual experience. Snap the ring back to auto focus position, focus on different distances to your heart's content, and then when you snap the ring back again for your next zone focus moment, the focus distance is right where you left it. The AF on these lenses (and all but a couple of the older m43 lenses) is blazing fast - so much faster than the Ricoh or Fuji its not even funny.

    Two other things to be aware of. Neither the X-Pro or OMD have a silent shutter - both are more audible than even the slight "snick" sound of the GXR. I find the OMD a bit louder than the X-Pro, but either could be an issue in a quiet museum, yet neither is noticed on the street. Also, the Fuji uses a 3:2 aspect ratio which I'm partial to - the Olympus is obviously 4:3. For reference, the GRD's are 4:3, the GXR and RX1 are both 3:2, so if you have a preference that's one to consider. I personally prefer the OMD as a street camera but that's mostly because I shoot mostly from the hip and use the flip up rear screen, so I can look down at the screen at waist level like an old twin lens reflex. It also has a touch screen that you can touch to select a focus point and take the shot. The really cool part of this is that when you're in manual focus mode, you can just touch the rear screen anywhere and it will fire the shot. So I can walk down the street taking photos without a finger anywhere near the shutter button, a technique I've come to really like. And for a day of mixed shooting, moving between focus modes, there's just nothing like the OMD (or other m43 body) with one of those two "snap ring" lenses. Except the Fuji with the new 14mm, which should be pretty much identical in use...

    I hope you work out any issues with the RX1, but if you don't and end up considering either of these cameras, maybe that will help some.

    -Ray
     
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  16. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    Paul, I recently purchased the X100 and frankly I like it much better then I did in the past. Perhaps it's the FW or me or something else. I still prefer the GXR/A12 50mm, but in its own unique way the X100 is sometimes better. It is great for B&W conversions. Not a Ricoh, but still very good.

    But I hope the RX1 works out for you. Keep at it for a while.
     
  17. Archiver

    Archiver SC Top Veteran

    619
    Jul 11, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    Thank you for your thoughts about the RX1. It has intrigued me ever since it was announced, although I think I must be jaded by all the new camera announcements that pop up every year! If you're having second thoughts about the RX1, and are considering other cameras, here are some of my thoughts.

    Ricoh GXR + M module:

    Until I bought the OM-D, the GXR was my second favourite camera after the M9. In fact, with the M-module it replaced the M9 for half of the things the M9 did, and also worked very well as a complementary cam. All of the aps-c modules produce super images, particularly when shot in raw and processed in Lightroom. The GXR produces files that are incredibly rich and 'dense', something that I miss with the OM-D. But more about that later.

    The M-module has a silent - and I mean SILENT - electronic shutter mode, and the only way you know you've taken a photo is when you see it come up for review on the LCD. Prices are tumbling these days, and with about $2500 you can have the body, two or three modules and the EVF.

    The main drawback for me of the GXR is the operation time. It's much more in the realm of a moderate compact than a DSLR in terms of focus time, shot to shot time, and power up time. The OM-D beats it hands down in all those areas, which makes it a more enjoyable/easy camera to shoot.

    Olympus OM-D:

    For years I stayed away from m43 because I never felt that the image quality and lens choices were at an acceptable range, but the OM-D has finally fulfilled that promise. The movie mode is the best I've got beside the Canon 5D Mark II, and the IBIS is amazing, it's almost like having a steadicam. Response time is very fast, shot to shot time is as good as a DSLR, and image quality is very decent. I have a number of lenses for it, but my main lenses these days are the:

    Panasonic 12-35mm f2.8 - a very flexible and useful zoom with weathersealing, constant f2.8 aperture, and great IQ.
    Panasonic 14mm f2.5 - a neat little pancake wide that turns the OM-D into a compact camera.
    Olympus 45mm f1.8 - nice for street work
    Olympus 75mm f1.8 - I'm not normally a tele fan, but this lens' quality, plus my increasing use of video in personal and paid work, makes it surprisingly useful and fun.

    The main drawback that I see is the image quality. Don't get me wrong, it's very decent and is fine for most situations. But compare it with a full frame camera like the 5D Mark II, much less the Leica M9, and it falls quite short, particularly at low ISO's where the full frame cameras really shine. It also lacks that certain creaminess that the full frame cameras enjoy, and the m43 depth of field issue is well known. If you want bokeh, you need to use a longer and much faster lens to get the same kind of bokeh that a 50/1.8 gets with full frame.

    The question to ask yourself is why you want a full frame camera - is it the creaminess, the bokeh, the overall image quality, or...? If you only want bokeh then the OM-D and 45mm or 75mm will give you that in spades, albeit with a longer focal length than a full frame camera. Creaminess is likewise delivered by the longer Olympus lenses, but still not the same as a 5DII, and not like a RX1, from the samples I have seen. And you just won't get full frame image quality from the OM-D, regardless of what lens you put on it.

    The OM-D image quality also lacks something when compared with the Fuji X100 and Ricoh GXR. Even with the great lenses of Olympus and Panasonic, the image look is still kind of 'flat' and two dimensional compared with the very rich X100 and GXR files. Even my 'ancient' Canon 30D produces images that I prefer in terms of the 'look', but the size, flexibility and speed of the OM-D put it much more in favour by comparison.

    When I go to Hong Kong for two weeks this month, I'll be taking the M9, the OM-D and Ricoh GRD III. Best of all three worlds. M9 handles all full frame duties, OM-D is my video and zoom camera, and the GRD III is just the awesomeness.
     
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  18. Hikari

    Hikari SC Veteran

    292
    Jan 5, 2013
    Maine, USA
    This is sort of the strange thing about the RX1--you forget it can be more than a point and shoot. But if you can just get into the "serious" photography frame of mind, the camera is really great. Which also means you need a tripod in the same situations you would want a tripod with a bigger camera. You also need to switch off Auto ISO and work in A priority or manual exposure, just like a real camera. Not that you can do some great things in P and auto everything else, but I find my mind goes into auto pilot along with the camera and I get careless. I have put the square grid display on my camera and started thinking of it as a mini view or technical camera. Although, I do like to work with it handheld--but then I like to work with view cameras handheld too. I think if you can stop thinking of it as a point and shoot, the camera will change for you. (Love that exposure compensation dial.)

    For me I did the opposite thing, I got the RX1 to compliment my larger DSLR. I was looking for a compact with great image quality that would not look out of place with my other camera. But this is not the first time I have own a high-quality fixed-lens compact (the Konica Hexar AF was a marvelous camera). But I feel into the P&S mentality with that and had to get out of it. The only problem I have ever had with automated cameras was not that were not good, but made me lazy. That is not the greatest way to make good images.

    I have had the RX1 since the middle of December and I am still finding my way around with it. It always takes me a couple of months to come to terms with a new camera. For me, too many boxes are checked with this little thing that I would send it back.
     
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  19. Paul Giguere

    Paul Giguere www.paulgiguere.com

    97
    May 4, 2011
    Wayland, MA USA
    Ray,

    Thank you so much for detailed and thoughtful posting. I appreciate the work you put into it. I think the bottom-line for me is that I need to spend more time using the RX1 for the kind of photography I purchased it for in the first place instead of trying to compare it my GRD4 or use it for purposes for which it wasn't really designed for (pre-focused street photography).

    I'll continue to work on this camera and will hopefully have some photos to upload as well as a more detailed "final report."

    Best,

    Paul
     
  20. Paul Giguere

    Paul Giguere www.paulgiguere.com

    97
    May 4, 2011
    Wayland, MA USA
    Thanks for the comments Andrew. I will keep the RX1 and give it a fair shake. I really haven't done that yet (armchair photography doesn't count). I need to actually use it for something real. Only then will I know for sure.

    Best,

    Paul


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