Sony RX1 Review

 
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Sony RX1 Performance


Timing and Performance

Generally good performance.

Startup/Shutdown

Power on
to first shot

~1.7 seconds

Time it takes to turn on and capture a shot.

Shutdown

~1.5 seconds

How long it takes camera to turn off before you can remove the memory card.

Buffer clearing time
21 seconds after 15 Large/Extra Fine JPEGs*
Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card.
23 seconds after 15 RAW files*
28 seconds after 12 RAW+ LF JPEG files*
*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/sec UHS-1 SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Startup time is much slower than most DSLRs, but not bad for a "compact" camera. Buffer clearing times are pretty slow, though, even with a very fast 95MB/s card. We don't believe the Sony RX1 takes advantage of faster UHS cards.


Mode Switching

Play to Record,
first shot

~1.1 seconds

Time until first shot is captured.

Record to Play

~1.4 seconds

Time to display a large/extra fine JPEG file immediately after capture.

Display
recorded image

~0.5 second

Time to display a large/extra fine JPEG file already on the memory card.

Mode switching times are fairly good.


Shutter Response (Lag Time)
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode
0.271 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting.
Full Autofocus,
Multi-area AF mode
0.272 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting.
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode
Auto Flash Enabled
0.379 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting, Auto flash enabled.

Continuous AF
N/A
This mode usually shows no speed increase with our static subject; we have no way to measure performance with moving subjects.
Manual Focus
0.038 second
For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".

Prefocused

0.016 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

The Sony RX1's autofocus and shutter lag times are surprisingly quick. Full autofocus shutter lag is about 0.27 second in both Single-area (center) and Multi-area AF modes. That's a bit slower than most DSLRs, but quite fast for a camera using contrast-detect AF. With the flash enabled, the RX1's full AF shutter lag increases to 0.38s to account for the preflash metering, but that's still quite good. The Sony RX1 does not offer a Continuous AF mode for still capture.

When manually focused, the Sony RX1's shutter lag drops to only 0.038 second, which is very fast. The RX1's prefocused shutter lag is only 0.016 second, much faster than any DSLR or Compact System Camera we've tested, though some point & shoot cameras we've tested were a bit faster. Still, excellent shutter lag.

To minimize the effect of different lens' focusing speed, we test AF-active shutter lag with the lens already set to the correct focal distance.


Cycle Time (shot to shot)

Single Shot mode
Large/Extra Fine JPEG

0.89 second

Time per shot, averaged over 15 shots, 12 seconds to clear.*

Single Shot mode
RAW

0.93 second

Time per shot, averaged over 10 shots, 9 seconds to clear.*

Single Shot mode
RAW + LF JPEG
1.04 seconds

Time per shot, averaged over 9 shots, 14 seconds to clear.*

Early shutter
penalty?

No

Some cameras don't snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous Mode
Large/ Extra Fine JPEG

0.40 second (2.52 frames per second);
18 frames total;
21 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 18 shots, then slows to an average of about 1.55s or 0.65fps when buffer is full.

Speed Priority Continuous Mode
LEF JPEG

0.20 second (5.13 frames per second);
15 frames total;
21 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 15 shots, then slows to an average of about 1.56s or 0.64fps when buffer is full.

Speed Priority Continuous Mode
RAW

0.19 second (5.19 frames per second);
15 frames total;
23 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 15 frames, then slows to an average of about 1.59s or 0.63fps when buffer is full.

Speed Priority Continuous Mode
RAW + LF JPEG

0.20 second (5.12 frames per second);
12 frames total;
28 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 12 frames, then slows to 2.28s or 0.44fps when buffer is full.

Flash Recycling

8.2 seconds

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 95 MB/sec UHS-1 SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Single-shot cycle times are good for a compact camera at about 0.9 second for JPEGs or RAW files, and just over a second for RAW+JPEG, but that's quite a bit slower than most DSLRs.

In standard Continuous mode, the RX1 captures Large/Extra Fine JPEGs at about 2.5 frames per second. Speed Priority Continuous mode bumps that to just over 5 frames per second. Neither mode seems to adjust exposure or focus during a burst as far as we can tell (even with "Tracking Focus" engaged), and there are no restrictions to aperture.

Buffer depth for Large/Extra Fine JPEGs is pretty good at 18 frames in our test. You may be able to do better with typical subjects (our target for this test is designed to be difficult to compress), and buffer depth with Fine JPEGs should be even better. When shooting in Speed Priority Continuous mode, buffer depth for JPEG or RAW files drops a bit to 15 frames, but that's still pretty good given the file sizes. When shooting RAW+JPEG, buffer depth drops again to 12 frames, also not bad. Buffer clearing is however rather sluggish, even with one of the fastest UHS-I compliant SDHC cards available. We don't believe the Sony RX1 takes advantage of the faster UHS interface mode these cards offer.

The built-in flash takes a rather long 8.2 seconds on average to recycle after a full discharge.


Download Speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

10,608 KBytes/sec

Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-769=USB 2.0 Low;
Above 770=USB 2.0 High

Download speeds are pretty fast, quick enough that you likely won't feel the need for a separate card reader, even with large memory cards. (Note that this test was performed with a SanDisk Pro 95MB/sec UHS-1 card: Slower cards would likely show slower transfer times.)


Bottom line, the Sony RX1's performance is generally pretty good. Startup time won't compete with most DSLRs, but is pretty good compared to most Compact System Cameras and digicams, though there's no zoom to extend. Full autofocus is only slightly slower than most consumer SLRs but competitive with the average CSC, and faster than most compacts. Single-shot cycle times again aren't as fast as a DSLR, but are comparable to CSCs and faster than most compacts. Speed Priority Continuous mode is not bad for the resolution, however buffer clearing is rather slow, as is flash recycling. The lack of a Continuous AF mode also makes the RX1 unsuitable for most sports or action photography, but given the camera's nature and wide-angle lens, that's no real surprise.

Battery

Battery Life
Somewhat short battery life.

Operating Mode Battery Life
Still Capture,
LCD in High Quality Mode
(CIPA standard)
220 shots
Still Capture,
LCD in Standard Quality Mode
(CIPA standard)
270 shots

The Sony RX1 uses a custom NP-BX1 rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack for power, and comes with both a single battery and a USB charger for in-camera charging. The battery is rated for 220 shots per charge with LCD Quality set to High using the CIPA standard, which includes 50% flash shots with the built-in flash. Setting LCD Quality to Standard increases battery life to 270 shots per charge. That's pretty good given the size of the camera and sensor, but quite short compared to DSLRs and most CSCs. We strongly recommend getting a second battery for your RX1 if you plan any extended outings.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on a fully-charged rechargeable battery), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

 

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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