Sony RX1R II Image Quality Comparison

Below are crops from our laboratory Still Life target comparing the Sony RX1R II's image quality to both its predecessors, the RX1R and the RX1, as well as its closest interchangeable lens sibling, the Sony A7R II. Since resolution is the name of the game here, we've also compared it against the highest-resolution DSLRs from Canon and Nikon, namely the Canon 5DS R and Nikon D810. Do note that except for the comparison with the low-pass-filter-equipped RX1 at base ISO, the RX1R II's variable low-pass filter was turned Off for these shots, for maximum sharpness and resolution.

NOTE: These images are from best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). All cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses. Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera. For those interested in working with the RAW files involved: click these links to visit each camera's respective sample image thumbnail page: Sony RX1R II, Sony RX1R, Sony RX1, Sony A7R II, Canon 5DS R, and Nikon D810 -- links to the RAW files appear beneath those for the JPEG images, wherever we have them. And remember, you can always go to our world-renowned Comparometer to compare the Sony RX1R II to any camera we've ever tested!

Sony RX1R II vs Sony RX1R at Base ISO

100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony RX1R test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony RX1R test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony RX1R test image taken at ISO 100
Sony RX1R II at ISO 100
Sony RX1R at ISO 100

Here, we compare the Sony RX1R II to one of its predecessors, the AA-filter-less RX1R. The resolution advantage the 42-megapixel RX1R II has over the 24-megapixel RX1R is very evident in the mosaic and red-leaf fabric crops in both detail and scale, while noise is very low from both cameras at base ISO. Sony's sharpening algorithm has improved since the RX1R, generating almost no halos along high-contrast edges. Except for the very next comparison, the RX1R II had its variable low-pass filter set to Off, and both show moiré patterns in the red-leaf swatch.

Sony RX1R II vs Sony RX1 at Base ISO

100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony RX1 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony RX1 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony RX1 test image taken at ISO 100
Sony RX1R II at ISO 100
Sony RX1 at ISO 100

Here we compare the RX1R II with its variable low-pass filter set to High to the Sony RX1, which has a fixed low-pass filter. As you can see, the RX1R II's image is a bit softer than the previous comparison, but it easily out-resolves the RX1 at base ISO, with both cameras showing fewer aliasing artifacts than the previous comparison.

Sony RX1R II vs Canon 5DS R at Base ISO

100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon 5DS R test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon 5DS R test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon 5DS R test image taken at ISO 100
Sony RX1R II at ISO 100
Canon 5DS R at ISO 100

Here, we can see the 50-megapixel AA-filter-less Canon 5DS R does capture a little more detail in the mosaic and red-leaf fabric than the 42-megapixel RX1R II with its variable low-pass filter set to Off, though noise in the shadows is slightly higher from the Canon even here at base ISO.

Sony RX1R II vs Nikon D810 at Base ISO

100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Nikon D810 test image taken at ISO 64
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Nikon D810 test image taken at ISO 64
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Nikon D810 test image taken at ISO 64
Sony RX1R II at ISO 100
Nikon D810 at ISO 64

As expected, the Sony RX1R II out-resolves the Nikon D810 at base ISO. The D810's image is a little crisper, but also contains visible sharpening haloes while the RX1R II does not. Both show moiré patterns in the red-leaf fabric.

Sony RX1R II vs Sony A7R II at Base ISO

100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony A7R II test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony A7R II test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony A7R II test image taken at ISO 100
Sony RX1R II at ISO 100
Sony A7R II at ISO 100

Unsurprisingly, the Sony RX1R II and A7R II both show very similar detail, noise and color, but the A7R II's image is a bit sharper, perhaps because of the excellent FE 55mm f/1.8 Zeiss lens we used is a bit sharper than the RX1R II's fixed lens, or maybe the variable low-pass filter still impacts sharpness slightly when set to Off.

Sony RX1R II vs Sony RX1R at ISO 1600

100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony RX1R test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony RX1R test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony RX1R test image taken at ISO 1600
Sony RX1R II at ISO 1600
Sony RX1R at ISO 1600

The Sony RX1R II continues to easily out-resolve the RX1R at ISO 1600 with fewer sharpening artifacts, however noise levels are higher.

Sony RX1R II vs Sony RX1 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony RX1 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony RX1 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony RX1 test image taken at ISO 1600
Sony RX1R II at ISO 1600
Sony RX1 at ISO 1600

As expected, it's a very similar story here with the Sony RX1R II easily out-resolving the RX1 at ISO 1600, but with higher noise levels. (Note that the RX1R II had its variable low-pass filter set to Off for this shot, as we only shot the other filter settings at base ISO.)

Sony RX1R II vs Canon 5DS R at ISO 1600

100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon 5DS R test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon 5DS R test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon 5DS R test image taken at ISO 1600
Sony RX1R II at ISO 1600
Canon 5DS R at ISO 1600

The Canon 5DS R continues to capture a sharper, more detailed image at ISO 1600, but noise is noticeably higher than the RX1R II, and not just in the shadows. The Canon's noise is however very fine-grained with a low chroma component, making it not too objectionable.

Sony RX1R II vs Nikon D810 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Nikon D810 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Nikon D810 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Nikon D810 test image taken at ISO 1600
Sony RX1R II at ISO 1600
Nikon D810 at ISO 1600

At ISO 1600, the Sony's stronger noise reduction appears to offset its resolution advantage over the Nikon, though the D810 generates stronger moiré patterns and lower contrast in the red-leaf swatch. Noise from the Nikon is also a little more visible in the shadows, but it's fine-grained and film-like.

Sony RX1R II vs Sony A7R II at ISO 1600

100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony A7R II test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony A7R II test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony A7R II test image taken at ISO 1600
Sony RX1R II at ISO 1600
Sony A7R II at ISO 1600

Very similar results here from the two Sony cousins, however the A7R II continues to produce a slightly sharper image than the RX1R II.

Sony RX1R II vs Sony RX1R at ISO 3200

100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony RX1R test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony RX1R test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony RX1R test image taken at ISO 3200
Sony RX1R II at ISO 3200
Sony RX1R at ISO 3200

The RX1R II again continues to capture more detail than its AA filter-less predecessor, however noise levels are higher. The RX1R does a slightly better job in the red-leaf swatch, but that's probably because the RX1R II can still resolve some of the thread pattern which it seems to treat as noise, blurring it more than the RX1R.

Sony RX1R II vs Sony RX1 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony RX1 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony RX1 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony RX1 test image taken at ISO 3200
Sony RX1R II at ISO 3200
Sony RX1 at ISO 3200

It's a very similar story here compared to its AA-filtered predecessor, offering better detail in the mosaic and pink fabric, but higher noise and more blurring in the red-leaf fabric. (Note again that the RX1R II had its variable low-pass filter set to Off for this shot, as we only shot the other filter settings at base ISO.)

Sony RX1R II vs Canon 5DS R at ISO 3200

100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon 5DS R test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon 5DS R test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon 5DS R test image taken at ISO 3200
Sony RX1R II at ISO 3200
Canon 5DS R at ISO 3200

At ISO 3200, the Canon 5DS R struggles to maintain its resolution advantage, as higher noise levels and stronger noise reduction interfere with the rendering of fine detail. This is particularly evident in the red-leaf swatch where the Canon smears the pattern much more than the Sony. The Canon images does however continue to appear sharper in most areas.

Sony RX1R II vs Nikon D810 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Nikon D810 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Nikon D810 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Nikon D810 test image taken at ISO 3200
Sony RX1R II at ISO 3200
Nikon D810 at ISO 3200

Here at ISO 3200, the Sony RX1R II generates higher noise levels and more noise reduction artifacts which counteract its resolution advantage over the Nikon D810, as the Nikon produces similar detail but a sharper, crisper image overall. Strong moiré patterns still interfere in the red-leaf swatch, however fine detail is still better than the Sony at this sensitivity.

Sony RX1R II vs Sony A7R II at ISO 3200

100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A7R II test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A7R II test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A7R II test image taken at ISO 3200
Sony RX1R II at ISO 3200
Sony A7R II at ISO 3200

As expected, similar image quality from the two 42-megapixel Sonys here are ISO 3200, though the A7R II continues to produce a sharper image.

Sony RX1R II vs. Sony RX1R, Sony RX1, Canon 5DS R, Nikon D810, Sony A7R II

100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony RX1R test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony RX1 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon 5DS R test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Nikon D810 test image taken at ISO 64100% crop from Sony A7R II test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony RX1R test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony RX1 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon 5DS R test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Nikon D810 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A7R II test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Sony RX1R II test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Sony RX1R test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Sony RX1 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Canon 5DS R test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Nikon D810 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Sony A7R II test image taken at ISO 6400
Sony
RX1R II
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Sony
RX1R
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Sony
RX1
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Canon
5DS R
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Nikon
D810
ISO 64
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Sony
A7R II
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Detail comparison. High-contrast detail is also important, pushing cameras in different ways, so we like to look at it too. The Nikon D810 jumps out here with the highest contrast, but it also shows the most visible sharpening haloes. The Sony A7R II produces better contrast than the RX1R II, which as mentioned previously, is likely due to a sharper lens. The Canon 5DS R also does quite well with excellent sharpness and detail, though contrast isn't quite as high the D810 and A7R II, however its ISO 6400 image shows more noise than the rest. As expected, the two Sony 24-megapixel models show less detail, but also the lowest contrast.

 

Sony RX1R II Print Quality

High-quality prints up to 30 x 40 inches at ISO 50-800; Nice 8 x 10 inch prints all the way up to ISO 12,800; and usable 4 x 6 inch prints at ISO 51,200.

Canon PRO-1000 Printer ImageISO 50 through 800 prints all look practically identical and equally impressive up to a whopping 30 x 40 inches and beyond. Prints show lots of detail and pleasing colors, and we see no apparent noise as the ISO increases all the way up to ISO 800! Truly impressive print quality performance.

ISO 1600 images show just a hint more noise than lower sensitivities, but it's mainly situated in the shadows. The prints, up to a sizable 24 x 36 inches, are still very impressive, with lovely fine detail.

ISO 3200 prints look very similar to ISO 1600 with only a slight increase in shadow noise. We are going to call it at 16 x 20 inches here, but we're totally fine with larger 20 x 30 inch prints for less critical situations.

ISO 6400 images show an increased level of noise as expected, but at up to 11 x 14 inches, visible noise is still mainly constrained to the shadows and doesn't impact detail elsewhere to a major degree; even the tricky red-leaf fabric of our Still Life target shows detail at this print size.

ISO 12,800 prints still look amazingly nice up to 8 x 10 inches. Noise becomes a bit too strong for our liking if printed any larger, however there's still a lot of fine detail available, so an 11 x 14 could be usable for less critical applications.

ISO 25,600 images still show a good level of detail at similar print sizes to the previous sensitivity, but noise is visibly stronger, forcing us to limit prints to just 5 x 7 inches.

ISO 51,200 prints are getting quite noisy, but the Sony RX1R II still manages a good 4 x 6 inch print, which is an impressive feat.

ISO 102,400 images are both too noisy and lacking in fine detail to be considered usable for making prints.

The Sony RX1R II, simply put, manages a fantastic showing in our print quality department. Packing a high-res 42-megapixel full-frame sensor, the Sony RX1R II manages some impressively large prints, especially at lower ISOs. From expanded low ISO 50 all the way up to ISO 800, the RX1R II can manage massive prints up to 30 x 40 inches -- and larger, depending on how much you want to push the sensor's resolving power. 30 x 40 inches is the largest print size we test nowadays, and up to ISO 800, the RX1R II produces stunning prints with tons of crisp detail with little to no impact from noise. Even when raising sensitivity, images maintain pleasing noise characteristics. Prints as large as 8 x 10 inches are totally usable up to ISO 12,800. Going higher with ISO sensitivity, we do observe noise beginning to impact print size, and ISO 51,200 is the highest we're willing to go. Here, we top-out with a usable 4 x 6 inch print. We don't recommend using ISO 102,400 for prints, as the images are just too noisy and lacking in detail.

About our print-quality testing: Our "Reference Printer"

Canon PRO-1000 Printer ImageTesting hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer, which we named our "Printer of the Year" in our 2015 COTY awards.

The Canon PRO-1000 has a lot of characteristics that make it a natural to use for our "reference printer." When it comes to judging how well a camera's photos print, resolution and precise rendering are paramount. The PRO-1000's more than 18,000 individual nozzles combine with an air feeding system that provides exceptional droplet-placement accuracy. Its 11-color LUCIA PRO ink system delivers a wide color gamut and dense blacks, giving us a true sense of the cameras' image quality. To best see fine details, we've always printed on glossy paper, so the PRO-1000's "Chroma Optimizer" overcoat that minimizes "bronzing" or gloss differential is important to us. (Prior to the PRO-1000, we've always used dye-based printers, in part to avoid the bronzing problems with pigment-based inks.) Finally, we just don't have time to deal with clogged inkjet heads, and the PRO-1000 does better in that respect than any printer we've ever used. If you don't run them every day or two, inkjet printers tend to clog. Canon's thermal-inkjet technology is inherently less clog-prone than other approaches, but the PRO-1000 takes this a step further, with sensors that monitor every inkjet nozzle. If one clogs, it will assign another to take over its duties. In exchange for a tiny amount of print speed, this lets you defer cleaning cycles, which translates into significant ink savings. In our normal workflow, we'll often crank out a hundred or more letter-size prints in a session, but then leave the printer to sit for anywhere from days to weeks before the next camera comes along. In over a year of use, we've never had to run a nozzle-cleaning cycle on our PRO-1000.

See our Canon PRO-1000 review for a full overview of the printer from the viewpoint of a fine-art photographer.

*Disclosure: Canon provided us with the PRO-1000 and a supply of ink to use in our testing, and we receive advertising consideration for including this mention when we talk about camera print quality. Our decision to use the PRO-1000 was driven by the printer itself, though, prior to any discussion with Canon on the topic. (We'd actually been using an old Pixma PRO 9500II dye-based printer for years previously, and paying for our own ink, until we decided that the PRO-1000 was the next-generation printer we'd been waiting for.)

 



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