Another "A Year After..." type of post.

Discussion in 'Sony' started by TheHexagonal, May 30, 2014.

  1. TheHexagonal

    TheHexagonal New Member

    May 30, 2014
    Hi everyone,

    This is RogerC, actually. I am trying to keep track of the aliases I have online so I am "regularizing" them to one. Since I couldn't update my previous username, I made a new account and this account is now attached to an email I use frequently so it is better monitored.

    Now, to the point.

    Yes. This is yet another “a year with” type of review. However, I thought I would lay out here some of the productive aspects of the RX1 here and what has it actually done with me throughout this past year.

    I make my living as a photographer. I work in reportage and since the Contax G2, I have always loved compact yet powerful cameras. In my experience of the G2, a small camera has a big advantage when working in people’s homes for extended periods of time. People don’t mind you as much and you look less professional (i.e. you are working) and it helps in establishing a more personal connection with those who you are shadowing. I am sure your mileage will vary but I am not a tall or big individual and bigger cameras look massive when I am using them.

    The RX1 is only the second generation of digital cameras that I bought into looking to get what the Contax G2 provided; big guns in a small package. The first of these was the NEX 7 and the NEX 5n, both excellent cameras still.

    While I believe Sony’s engineers have done an outstanding job in making this camera, I still remain perplexed as to why a newer version of the passive/active AF system of the G2 is not implemented in today’s cameras. You see, the G2 was an AF rangefinder. It used a rangefinder mechanism to attain focus. This was the “active” AF system. When the light was too low, the “passive” system would kick in. This was an infrared light that measured the distance between the subject and the camera by measuring the time it took the infrared light to bounce back (similar to those laser measuring instruments) This system (at 3m or less) effectively made the G2 a camera that could focus in any light (since darkness was not an issue for the infrared light)

    The RX1 can focus fast-ish in good light. I still believe that my former G2 was faster (if someone has both, can you please confirm or deny this?) The RX1, however, struggles a bit in dim situations (f2 1/60 ISO 3200) and you are better off using MF. Which, by the way, is very very good, excellent even when compared to the MF system of the G2 which was simply stupid.

    That is the only complain I have and I wish Sony would release a FW update to give the camera a more confident and faster autofocusing. It will be greatly appreciated.

    Also, I am yet to really find out whether Flexible Spot or Centre AF are the better ones of the bunch. Sadly enough, the tracking mechanism (while very clever and incredibly useful) is too slow in its reaction. If this worked fast enough, there would be no point in using Flexible Spot.

    Besides the AF concerns, the camera has excelled at producing great work with me. As I said, my main work is in reportage but I also shoot anything because I like to shoot almost everything (except weddings) I can tell you now, the RX1 passes the QC of stock agencies (which can be very stringent) easily and I am able to submit to a stock agency with confidence. The same goes for two other print-on-demand services I have recently joined. No magazine has complained about the work I submitted with an RX1 or previously my NEX 7 and 5n. Actually, printed files from the RX1 look amazing (the lens draws better than anything I had before including the 35mm Planar from the G2) The sharpness from centre to corner, starting at f2, is so reassuring that you can compose off-centre and even put your subject on the edge and know that they will be beautifully sharp. The RAW files are very malleable and allow you to achieve any colouring your want.

    With the last point in mind, I can’t say anything about the “colours” out of the camera. I shoot exclusively in RAW and therefore I never pay much mind to what comes out of the camera but rather what can be done with the files. If you shoot JPEG, however, I am afraid I can’t help you with an opinion. Only thing I can say about JPEGS from Sony cameras (I have owned NEX 7, 5n, RX100, RX1) is that they are too mushy and without any detail worth mentioning at any ISO above 400.

    The RX1 has proved to me to be a very good companion. Is it a worthy successor of my love from my Contax G2? Not yet. The photos themselves are way better than anything I could have gotten from the G2 and the 35mm or the 45mm. They are really that good. However, the AF is the only thing holding this camera back and I, again, truly hope that Sony would give this camera just a final push to improve this. As a matter of fact, it is the AF itself that has made me consider jumping to Fuji and their X-E1 and the 23mm lens (similar depth of field as the RX1 on a similar field of view) or the X-T1 but the lens alone forces me to stay with the RX1. Please, Sony, please gives us a better AF algorithm.

    Other than that, I hear that Sony is working on a newer version of the RX1 with a possibly 1.8 lens and a curved sensor.

    I can tell you this, though. However the next FF RX is, the current RX1 is such a workhorse of a camera that I can truly say I see no real reason (maybe ISO 3200 looking that today’s 400 on the RX1) to jump to a newer RX. The built-in EVF is a nice addition in the RX100 mark III, really. Those engineers at Sony better be living rock-n-roll style for feats like that. But the add-on EVF is great too and I have used it securely as shown in the “Show Us Your RX1” thread.

    All in all, if 35mm is your thing (The RX1 is a bit wider, though…like 32mm) then this is your camera. Once you roll with this, you’ll know. It is incredible value for money for what you get. The lens alone is really worth at least the price of the whole thing.

    If anyone wonders about some of the work I have done with the RX1, you can see it here:

    If you are still on the fence about getting an it.
    • Like Like x 6
  2. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    That "auto Focus" of the G2 by using an IR light "zone focus" system sounds pretty cool. I wonder why no newer cameras are doing something similar.
  3. El Guapo

    El Guapo Regular

    Feb 3, 2014
    The RX1 is my current "grail" camera. I could afford one but shouldn't.
    I could unload my EM5 and put that towards one but I have a DP2M as my "poor man's RX1"
    I will get one sometime.

    As you have said very eloquently its the resulting files and the lens that makes this camera about the best Serious Compact IMHO.
    Its very pleasing that its a tool that you use to get a paycheck!

    BTW: I am rubbish at photographing weddings. I usually take my Fuji W3 to get some 3D images that no one else does.
  4. bilzmale

    bilzmale Super Moderator Emeritus Subscribing Member

    Jul 17, 2010
    Perth, Western Australia
    Bill Shinnick
    Hello and welcome Roger - an RX1 would complete the 'RX trinity' for me but it's not going to happen. :frown:
  5. TheHexagonal

    TheHexagonal New Member

    May 30, 2014
    Guapo, Bilzmale,

    By the looks of it, at the speed at which Sony is releasing cameras these days the RX1 will be replaced by another RX soon. The price of second hand RX1s today are pretty good and they can only get better on that market after the new RX comes out.
    Maybe then it will be more accessible than what it is today. For me to be able to afford the RX1 I had to sell almost all of my NEX kit (NEX 7, 24mm E, CV 15mm, CV 35mm 1.2 II) only keeping the 5n and the 50mm 1.8 for portraits.
    Yes, I do get paid for the work I do but trust me, photojournalism is not well paid for the hours we clock in. This is why a lot of my work is now diversified in print-on-demand and stock to be able to have other forms of income from images that would otherwise be aging in my hard drive doing nothing.

    Neither of those businesses is hard to get into and I would highly encourage anyone wishing to look for ways to make cash out of their photos to try them out.
    I found this forum particularly helpful before I bought my camera so I wouldn't mind giving advice if anyone needed any to join crated, or alamy (which is the agency I submit to)


    I would imagine this may be a patent issue but I don't see how one could work more than one way to make a similar system happen.
  6. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I could certainly be wrong, but the RX1 feels like a classic to me. I'm sure that newer and technically better versions will come along, but it's one of those rare cameras that they basically got RIGHT on the first try. Yeah, any of us can come up with one thing or another we'd like to see improved, but that's true of ANY camera and what it is we'd like to see improved is down to our personal preferences more than anything. I personally would love to see a user-configurable minimum shutter speed under the auto-ISO menu, a better manual focus distance scale, and a sticky MF distance so I can turn the camera off and back on and have the manual focus set to the same distance rather than reset to infinity. But these are all about how I like to use zone focus for street photography and are probably minor to meaningless features for a lot of people. The AF is more than fine for me as is. I know there are concerns with falsh sync speed and other things that don't matter even a little bit to me but do to others.

    But personal preferences aside, it's just such a fully realized little camera. I'd sort of like a built in grip and EVF, but sometimes I take off EVERYTHING, the EVF, the fotodiox grip, the lens hood, and then it's just such a compact LITTLE damn package that still makes the same amazing images and looks like a pocket camera except for the protruding lens.

    I had the camera for about a year, sold it in anticipation of getting a more rounded full frame system, changed my mind on that, and then regretted selling the RX1 every single day. So I just bought another used one and the minute I took it out of the box I was incredibly happy to have it back. It's the most premium FEELING camera I've ever owned and the images absolutely live up to or exceed that premium feeling. The lens is second to none (although the Fuji 23mm f1.4 I was using in it's stead comes much closer than I'd anticipated, but the sensor is simply amazing. I can do things with impunity to the RX1 raw files that would rip apart just about any other files I've worked with. The combination is simply wonderful. And the fact that the lens is actually wider than 35mm just makes it better to me - I prefer 28 to 35 and the 32-ish mm of this lens is a really comfortable sort of mid-piont for me.

    Even if they make it better, they'll never really make it better, which makes no sense, but makes perfect sense to me. It's like the old VW Beetle. The new ones are better cars in almost every way, but the original was perfect and the new one's aren't nearly perfect...

    • Like Like x 3
  7. TheHexagonal

    TheHexagonal New Member

    May 30, 2014

    Some of the options you speak of ( distance scale, sticky MF distance) are also on my list. Basically, the RX1 is 95% there. It is a historic camera, for sure. Only time will tell if it will become a classic like the first Canon 5D, or the never lived Contax N Digital.

    I am impressed you sold and re-bought your RX1. I would have imaged that the faster operation on the X-E2 and the 23mm would have covered it. That's why I considered switching a few times. I have seen many photos from the Fuji combo (developed with Irident, Lightroom and Capture One) and I always thought that the X-Trans trade of was not worth it and it wasn't completely showcasing the lens. The drawing was good enough, I believe, but not exceptional. If you could have one...what would it be?

    I do like the VW Beetle metaphor. I can second that because many of my friends had a couple of them. If you go to Mexico, there are many taxis in Mexico City that will be these. They are harder to find in Europe and I really don't know why. They made so many of them.
  8. grillec

    grillec Veteran

    Jan 16, 2014
    OT: In Europe the last VW Käfer (Beetle) were produced until ~ '78. Volkswagen de Mexico had to end the production in 2003.

    To the RX1: I love compact camera systems to experience the versatility and I love compact cameras with one focal length to experience the directness and simplicity. I liked the idea of the X100 und so I will wait until the RX1(X) is offered at a acceptable price for me.
  9. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Sorry for the late reply. The Fuji 23mm lens is good enough that I wouldn't have gone back to the RX1 for the lens alone. But the camera as a whole, which I've discussed elsewhere too much already, and particularly the sensor, are the reasons I wanted to have the RX1 back again. It was either two Fuji bodies with the 23mm mostly in place on one of them or the RX1 with one Fuji body, mostly with the 14, sometimes with the 60, and very occasionally the 10-24 and very very rarely a few shots with the 50-230. If I could have one camera only, it would clearly be Fuji or m43 for the versatility. But given the context of the RX1 or an extra Fuji body and a lens or two, I'm real happy to have gone back to the RX1. There was (and now is again) something about having the RX1 and knowing I have one absolutely no-compromise camera in my bag that could handle just about anything I could throw at it, albeit stuff that could work at that focal length. Fortunately, it's a pretty versatile focal length. But I like being back where I was - the RX1 and Nikon Coolpix A as my primary shooters, the Fuji there and often in the bag with one or two lenses, but not the primary shooter, and a small m43 kit for highly specialized uses that mostly stays at home except for specific events. Puts everything in a very predictable place and a heirarchy that makes my decision making very easy.

    I don't find the XE2 or XT1 to be that much faster than the RX1. They have faster AF in good light, but I simply don't have any issues with the RX1 AF for how I use the camera. When I'm shooting more action oridnted shots I'm either using zone focus or pre-focussing. When I'm not, it doesn't matter.

    As for the Beetle, I had a '68 that I paid about $500 for as a broke college kid in '77. I loved that car until I was working and bought a Civic a few years later. Several years ago (probably just a few years after they stopped production in 2003), my wife and I were on vacation in Cozumel and rented a Mexican Beetle for a day and I was astonished what a terrible car it had become! Cars had gotten so much better over the years that it just felt like a really really nasty POS in comparison. But don't tell my memory or my perception of that '68. I loved it and, at the time, there were lots of very good reasons to!

  10. TheHexagonal

    TheHexagonal New Member

    May 30, 2014
    Thanks for the elaborate insight, Ray. I guess I am still searching for that mythical digital Contax G2. When the X Pro 1 came out, I was wondering whether that was it. I was using a NEX 7 at the time with the 24mm exclusively. What kept off the X Pro 1 was that there was no 35mm equivalent and that the 18mm lens the kit came with was not great. Another thing that kept me off of it was the X Trans conversion difficulties at the time and the fact that the Fuji needed a third or two thirds of a higher ISO setting to give me a photo with the same brightness as my then 5D2 and NEX 7. I don't know about the ISO interpretation today on the Fuji's, but I see that the XTrans raw development has improved for both C1 and ACR.

    Time will tell, I guess. I may consider going for Fuji but I would wait of a higher megapixel sensor before re-assessing their lenses.

    Maybe you got a bad Beetle in Mexico. If I don't badly remember, they are not difficult to upkeep but car owners, even rental companies, have varying degrees of standards...
  11. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Fuji still has the same issue with overstating ISO. They're good cameras in low light but if you look at straight up ISO comparisons, you'd think they were exceptional and they're not. They're on par with other modern APS sensors. In my experience it's closer to a stop, but most formal testing I've read of says its about 2/3. I'm fine with the raw conversions with Lightroom now, but a lot of hard core landscape shooters still don't like it and tend to use Photo Ninja or Irident Developer. I think Fuji's lenses, primes in particular, are excellent. They're the thing I like most about the system. I like the controls on the X-Pro and XE-1/2 a lot too, the XT1 slightly less.

    I don't think there was anything wrong with the Beetle I had - it ran fine and did what it was supposed to do. But it was essentially the same car as the '68 Beetle and cars had already improved by leaps and bounds since then. After driving what I'd become used to, you felt the lack of power, the cable driven clutch, the sort of loose feel to the handling, etc, etc, etc. They were sort of amazing little cars by the standard of their time, but they were the ultimate in "economy" car even then. Even economy cars were much better 30 years later, let alone the Accord level stuff we were driving at the time...

  12. El Guapo

    El Guapo Regular

    Feb 3, 2014
    In many ways we are similar users Ray. I have a DP2M and Ricoh GR as my primary cameras, similar focal lengths. I also have the EM-5 where you have the Fuji. My EM-5 is with two lenses only now, but again the EM-5 is not my primary camera. The EM-5 more a tool camera for jobs only it can do.

    The RX1 seems a lot more versatile than the DP2M though. Its low light and AF speeds have to be better. I really like the rending of the RX1 lens. I Actually prefer the RX1 better if you don't pixel peep. Price keeps me using the DP2M.

    You can get great ISO 1000 images from the DP2M provided you go BW, keeping the blue channel and dump the other two in PP. I am surprised how good the BW looks at 800 ISO.