Photography / Features

Things We Love: Sony RX1R II Full-Frame Digital Camera

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I quickly fell in love with the Sony RX1R II. It’s small, has a big heart, and can always be found by my side. What caught my eye with this camera was the gorgeous Zeiss Sonnar 35mm lens. I’ve always been partial to this focal length, having owned many varieties of it over the years, but this lens is even more special because it was designed solely for use in the full-frame RX1 series. This perfectly matched design ensures minimal size and maximum quality while still offering a fast f/2 aperture, and it means outstanding performance when paired with the phenomenal back-illuminated 42.4MP Exmor R sensor in the RX1R II.

42.4-Megapixel Back-Illuminated 35mm Full-Frame Exmor R CMOS Sensor

Taking this camera out is like putting a mini a7R II in my pocket—extreme resolution, along with a very capable 399-point AF system, and the ability to hit an astounding ISO 102400, all in the palm of my hand. On top of this, the RX1R II offers something that no one else has: a variable optical low-pass filter. This isn’t all that is crammed into the impressively small body. There is also a pop-up electronic viewfinder that makes for more natural composition and an almost Leica-rangefinder feel. Add a thumb grip and you have a solid setup.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R II Digital Camera

A camera is more than just image quality; it must feel good in the hand and have smooth operation and controls. The RX1R II manages to pull this off remarkably well. The lens sports a solidly clicked aperture ring and smooth focusing ring, while the rear and top of the camera offer plenty of customizable dials and buttons for very personal setups. Finally, there is a heft from the magnesium-alloy build that reassures you that it is a great camera, and it makes me happy every time I pick it up.

31 Comments

The best lens hood for any RXI model is not by Sony. Amazon sells the best lens hood and it is not round. The low price will shock you. Works Great!

Hi John,

This Fotodiox lens hood that we sell here is likely what you are talking about and it is a great alternative option to the Sony hood.

Jamie,

Sorry on the spelling, I'm very dyslexic at age 73 and blind in one eye. Yet my point was still well made.

Have worked as a professional photographer-AV-Producer 30 years for large corporations and as a top ten freelancer in Dallas 10 years. Shooting in USA & Europe. Also, factory rep for Nikon-Sinar-Broncolor, SE United States. I know this photography gig inside and out top to bottom. From age 6 my best communication tools have always been my photographs & art abilities. I just tried to supply some solid experience with the very great Sony RXI RII. The proof is n the pudding where the big bucks are paid, not in the spelling for 0 :-)

Jamie, time for you to grow up and stop acting like a fool. DUH

"Photography gig inside and out"  Doubtful.........

So, Sony expects you to pay an additional $175 for a lens hood, after you've already shelled out $3,900 for the camera.  Gee thanks!

"$175 for a lens hood," oh when will they ever learn? I agree Al. 

There is one positive to be taken [by me] from such corporate stupidity and that is I meerely 'fogeddaboudit' and taken my nearly new cameera[s] out of the drawer and go shooting.  😉

Uh, a couple of typos corrected.😟

RiverSt wrote:

"$175 for a lens hood," Oh when will they ever learn? I agree Al. 

There is one positive to be taken [by me] from such corporate stupidity and that is I merely 'fogeddaboudit' and take my nearly new camera[s] out of the drawer and go shooting.  😉

Can you use a smart phone to control this camera?

Hi Martin,

You can use a smart phone to remotely control the camera if you want to.

Ross,

The RXI RII is a nitch market camera. It is not a do all things camera. Within it's nicth design functions it has no real competition. So very simple and elementry. If it does not fit your requirements go pay $10,000+ for the little red dot on Lica's. That 10K will usually buy 1 Leica body and 1 cheap Leica lens at 3K. Good Shooting!

Dr Sims learn to spell. You made youself look like a fool.

Nitch = niche

Elementry = Elementary.

Lica = Leica

I'm sure it's a nice camera that makes nice images, I have always appreciated Sony electronics though I don't own a Sony digital camera (Currently shooting a Nikon D500). I have had a couple Sony mini-DV cameras and all sorts of Sony audio gear, but for that kind of money? No way, I'll stick with my always-with-me Fuji X100s. Yes its DX (which I also prefer) and I love everything about it. The X100s is such a joy to shoot with and you can't beat it's retro design especially when paired with the Fuji leather case.

My Fuji X100s is a few models old released in 2003. I owned the X100 and sold it when the X100s came out for the improvements. Since then there has been the X100t and now the X100f. I am more than happy with the X100s and have no need or any plans to replace it.

Hi Ethan,

The X100 series is incredible in its own way, especially since it has an optical/electronic hybrid finder which is a huge selling point in my opinion. I've been able to handle a few of the X100 series cameras and have always been impressed.

Can somebody please explain why anyone would buy a fixed-lens camera of such high cost, in this day and age, no matter how good the image quality?  Incredibly limiting to only have a 35mm lens, unless all one does is take photos of midsize groups, or a certain type of landscape.  Some folks must have money to burn.

Hi Ross,

Some people, including myself, rely heavily on the 35mm lens for their work. And you can definitely shoot more than just midsize groups and landscapes with it. Also, thanks to the high 42MP resolution of the sensor, you can also crop easily to get different perspectives if you know what you are doing while you shoot. Sometimes these fixed lens cameras are the right tool for the right job, and they can't be beat in these instances.

And BTW, I did a shoot off between the Sony RXI RII, Leica Q, Leica M-240 w/35mm f:2 Summicron ASPH. Could have gone with any of the 3. For image quality, weight, and system cost, Sony wins hands down with RXI RII.

I bought the 2nd RXI in Dallas. Did not like the processor color. Bought the 1st RXI RII in Dallas. Sony fixed the skin color problems with the RII. Everything said above by Shawan is also dead on target.

My go two camera is now the RXI RII, then Fuji X-T2, and Fuji X-E2S. All "3" cameras are perfectly color matched. Resolution with the RXI RII is exceptional because of 42mp, with lens, chip, & processor, all customed designed to be prefectly matched, producing bsst image quality. Interchangeable lens cameras cannot match this quality. All in the "smallest" full frame camera on the market. Why buy a $10,000 Leica system when one can have the RX1 RII? Who needs the Red Dot at 2X+ the price?

This has been out a while. I expect an A9 or something soon to replace it. Why anyone would buy one now is beyond me.

I have owned both; first the Cyber-Shot and now the Alpha. I think that the author is correct - it is a fabulous camera that can do an amazing amount and its small and discrete form allow for great street photography. The lens is amazing. I traded up to the Alpha because I do a lot of landscape and a lot of very small table and macro flower work. Wish that I could have kept both!

Can't understand why anyone would buy this camera when the price is about the same as the A7R II!?  The A7R II has the same fabulous sensor and allows almost any lens in existence to be used with it.

But I guess the reason has to be justified by the buyer...

Brian, I have both cameras, A7R2 and RX1R2, I use them for travel photography. I had issues with the A7R2 size ( I like small cameras), the lenses are big! and I have tried to use the zeiss and voigtlander manual focus lenses for their size and the manual focus is a headache for street photography. The 35mm lens of the RX1R2 is perfectly callibrated and very fast. The RX1R2 is very small full-frame 42 MP camera! I can keep it in my pouch when I am wearing a formal suit and not worry about lenses and size. If you want to shoot video then definetly go for A7R2, the video perfomance and quality of the RX1R2 is very poor!

I have got the RX1R2 after the A7R2 and since then i have never used the A7R2.

I hope that the next generation RX1R3 will be able to shoot 4K, and 120fps FHD. Then it will be my perfect camera....

As  travel photographer also I have to say you are extremely limited with a fixed lens. No way you are going to go up close to people without illiciting an unwanted  reaction when you can shoot from an inconspicuous distance with a 42 MP A7R11 at a better price. You are cutting out 30 other lens choices, or 3 with good zooms. Big hands dont work well with cameras that go a size too small. There is a big benefit of the A7R11 as a comparable, over say a Nikon D800 when riding a zodiak next to a whale in the Antarctic, but this at this price is too limiting.

Care to share in image or two that you think shows off the strengths of this camera? Thanks.

I took the plunge six months ago (at $3,400) and never looked back. I hardly touch my heavy DSLR and Zeiss Otus anymore. The images from this camera have superior contrast and shadow rendering that keep me continually enthused. The light weight, and quiet operation has been a terrific boon to my shooting as well. Just rent one...you'll find a way to get it.

I'd get this in a heartbeat if I could justify spending $4000 on a fixed-lens camera

Hi Alvaro,

The price does make this a tough buy. Best bet is to look used, and if you can (like I did) unload some older gear.

Besides being compact, what would be the advantage of this camera over the Sony a7R ? Thanks 

None

Anonymous wrote:

None

I have the original A7 with a Zeiss 35m F2.8 (bought from B&H). This was going to be THE last camera that I was going to buy. This set up was, and to a certain degree, nigh on perfect for the type of photography - Street, urban, travel, abstract- that I do. I always lusted after a camera with a red dot but could never afford the hideous prices of these instruments.

Along comes the Sony RX1RM2 and the specs and dimensions promised even more than the A7. I took the plunge and forked out £2600 here in the UK in 2016. Wow! This camera is everything that I ever wanted. Why lug around a hundredweight of kit when this beautiful baby will do everything a street photographer needs, sometimes to excess.

That's not to say that the RX1RM2 does not have foibles ,it does. For example the battery life is absolutely terrible and you will need at least 3-4 for a days shoot. They are small and cheap though, that's if you stay clear of the £60 ? ? ?Sony ones. The menus are unbelievably complex and badly thought out but there again the camera can be customised endlessly to suit individual photographer's requirements.

Image quality is the dogs bollocks. It is, to all intents and purposes, silent in operation. It is very well built. It is inconspicuous out on the street. What's more since Brexit here last June  my RX1RM2 now retails at £3499 so it's the first consumer product that I have ever bought (67years) that has gone up in value.

Who needs a red dot ? Not me !

Compact is the point

Hi Photoman,

As John said, compact is the point of this camera. Though one could also make the argument that the lens on the RX1R II is currently unmatched by any native lens available for the a7 series. Personally, when I am just going out for the day I'm likely to just throw a 35mm lens on my a7R II and take only that. This is able to do it in a smaller package that is just as capable, and I really enjoy how it feels in the hand. There are faults of course but this is meant to be a niche product for the few who will really appreciate it.

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