As per my previous posts I am not a technical reviewer, more an avid user of new and cool technology, and the Sony RX1 in my view is both.
As an owner of numerous cameras and camera systems there was no real need for me to buy the RX1. But after dropping my M9 in Auckland harbour and loading the Sony A99 and lenses on my Rocket III each weekend I pined for something a little more compact.
Looked at the Fuji range (XP1, XE1 and X100S), Olympus OMD, Sony NEX and even the SIgma DP range but they all had one problem in my mind, they are not Full Frame! Once you use FF it is hard to go back to a crop sensor, just doesn’t feel right and doesn’t look right to me. Control of DOF is everything in my quest for the perfect frame.
The the RX1 appears on the scene, but $NZ4000? Without a EVF! How can that be? After using it for a week, and with some clear head space riding back from Mahurangi last weekend I think I got the pricing straight in my head.
The RX1 pretty much has all the functionality of the Sony A99 which costs around the same price here in NZ as the RX1 (NZ$3700) for the body alone. The same sensor as the A99, 24MP full-frame (24x36mm) CMOS sensor. Add to that a stellar Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 2/35 to the package, this alone would be north of NZ$2500, and in a package can can fit easily into a winter jacket pocket, then the price appears to me to be a steal.
When I had my M9 I was never much of a ‘lens changer’. 90% of the time I had a 28 Summicron glued to the front, the balance would be a 50mm Summicron, so the fact that the RX1 has a fixed lens doesn’t really bother me. Would I prefer it to be 28mm? Sure but 35mm means I take a couple of steps back and then I have a similar view to a 28mm focal length anyway and this lens is as good or better than any of my Leica lenses. There is no perfect camera!
Fixed lens cameras also mean that the lens and sensor can be coupled in a way not possible for interchangeable lens camera systems. This has to help the end result in my mind.
The RX1 needs an EVF, or OVF if you prefer, but needs an external view finder to get the most out of it. I love the EVF because what you see is what you get. Sony EVF technology is superb in my view and that is the way I went. N$750 is a an investment though but if you want a RX1 then it is the price you need to pay.
The flexibility the RX1 offers amateur enthusiasts like me is incredible. Whenever I leave home I always leave with one digital and 1 film option. If the RX1 is the digital option then the bag I leave with can be a lot more compact than if I leave with A99. This helps the back a lot:)
My favorite kit is a RX1 + my Linhof 612 and this all fits in a Crumpler $6 million dollar home. Brilliant! Rx1 meter is so good I also can leave my light meter at home and use RX1 spot function for metering with the Linhof.
The price seems to upset most reviewers that I have seen. My way of looking at this is a little different. Leica was the only option if you wanted a portable full frame camera system and the RX1 is NZ$6000 cheaper in a body to body comparison. If you add the EVF it then is NZ$5250 cheaper. If you add the price of a Leica 35 Summicron at NZ$4000 things get a little silly:) Would I prefer the Leica M240 if the price were similar? Very hard question to answer because if the M240 was similar in price to RX1 I probably would have both:)
But as things stand I would rather have the Sony RX1, incredible FF sensor and lens package, with AF and all modern capabilities in a package 2/3rds the size of the M240 and the $5250 change thank you. I love the Leica system but the RX1 is a no brainer in my mind.
Photos on the post are from my ride up to Mahurangi region just north of Auckland and south of Warkworth.