Basic Specifications
Full model name: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R II
Resolution: 42.40 Megapixels
Sensor size: 35mm
(35.9mm x 24.0mm)
Lens: Non-Zoom
(35mm eq.)
Viewfinder: EVF / LCD
Native ISO: 100 - 25,600
Extended ISO: 50 - 102,400
Shutter: 1/4000 - 30 seconds
Max Aperture: 2.0
Dimensions: 4.5 x 2.6 x 2.8 in.
(113 x 65 x 72 mm)
Weight: 17.9 oz (507 g)
includes batteries
Availability: 11/2015
Manufacturer: Sony
Full specs: Sony RX1R II specifications
42.40
Megapixels
Non-Zoom 35mm
size sensor
image of Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R II
Front side of Sony RX1R II digital camera Front side of Sony RX1R II digital camera Front side of Sony RX1R II digital camera Front side of Sony RX1R II digital camera Front side of Sony RX1R II digital camera

RX1R II Summary

The Sony RX1R II takes what made the original so remarkable -- compact size, full-frame sensor and stunning image quality -- and takes it up to a new, even more impressive level. The image quality, at both low and high ISOs, is just as fantastic, if not more so, thanks to the big resolution increase. Plus, the nifty variable low-pass filter technology adds flexibility and convenience. Autofocus gets a major upgrade, making the Sony RX1R II a much more capable camera in a wider variety of situations. And although its fixed 35mm lens and a $3,300 price tag can be cause hesitation, the Sony RX1R II stands out as one of the best, if not the best, premium compact cameras currently on the market.

Pros

Excellent image quality; Extremely high resolution; Surprisingly good high ISO performance; Outstanding dynamic range; Handy variable low-pass filter; Fast phase-detect AF; Built-in EVF.

Cons

Fixed, single focal length lens; Poor battery life; No built-in flash; No touchscreen LCD; Slow buffer clearing; No 4K video; Expensive.

Price and availability

Available since November 2015, the Sony RX1R II has a retail price of US$3,300 (CAD$4,200).

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Sony RX1R II Review

by , William Brawley and Zig Weidelich
Overview originally posted: 10/14/2015

Updates:
12/14/2015: Field Test Part I posted
03/07/2016: Field Test Part II posted
03/15/2016: Image Quality Comparison and Print Quality posted
: Review Conclusion posted

---
Special update: The Sony RX1R II was named Best Enthusiast Fixed-lens Camera and awarded New Technology of the Year in our 2015 Camera of the Year awards!
---

Sony RX1R II Review -- Product Image

Surprise, Sony RX1 fans: Your favorite camera got a major update, and the Sony RX1R II is here to serve as your next object of desire! Not all of us can justify the expense of a fixed-lens camera with a pricetag of several thousand dollars, even if it does sport a full-frame image sensor. But for those who can, the RX1R II is a truly spectacular proposition.

Of course, the original RX1 and RX1R were also pretty amazing accomplishments. A duo of palm-sized full-frame cameras which can fit in your pocket, both were equipped with a bright Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm f/2.0 prime lens. They differed solely in the presence or absence of an optical low-pass filter, allowing you to select a camera which was either resistant to moiré and false color, or as detail-hungry as possible.

Prevent moiré or get the maximum detail: It's your choice

So how do you top those cameras? The answer, it seems, is to combine them into a single model offering the best of both worlds, courtesy of a groundbreaking new variable low-pass filtering function. In a nutshell, what Sony has done is to modify the low-pass filter such that you can enable the full strength of the low-pass filter to combat moiré aggressively, switch to a reduced-strength filter that helps gather more detail, or disable the effect of the low-pass filter altogether.

If you switch back and forth between, say, shooting landscapes where you want to gather every last detail, and shooting man-made subjects with lots of high-frequency detail, we really can't overstate this: Variable low-pass filtering could be quite revolutionary for your photography. (And it could save you quite a bit of money, given that to manage the same thing until now, you'd have needed to buy both an RX1 and RX1R.)

Sony RX1R II Review -- Product Image

New body, same ergonomics

The variable low-pass filtering is clearly the big story, but there's a whole lot more to the Sony RX1R II than just that new feature. In fact, its body is actually brand new, even if at first glance it looks little changed from the original.

The Sony RX1R II is just fractionally (0.1 inch / 2mm) thicker than before, and its weight has climbed by a scant 2% (0.3 ounces / 9g) compared to the RX1. Compared to the RX1R, the weight gain is a still relatively insignificant 5% (0.9 ounces / 25g).

Sony RX1R II Review -- Product Image

For that slight increase in heft, you get some very useful new features, but the core concept remains unchanged. Upgrading Sony RX1 and RX1R owners -- and we're sure there will be more than a few -- will feel right at home here, with next to no learning curve at all.

The controls are all where you expect them to be, and the RX1R II exudes the same feeling of quality as did its predecessors. (And that's to be expected, at this pricepoint.)

Same great Carl Zeiss lens

Perhaps the defining feature of the original RX1 and RX1R was their shared lens, a Carl Zeiss 35mm prime with a bright f/2.0 maximum aperture. The Sony RX1R II inherits that exact same optic, and we're told there have been no tweaks to its design at all.

That's good news, because it's a really great lens. When we reviewed the original RX1, we commended its exceptional sharpness and corner performance, and while we noted typical levels of distortion and chromatic aberration, the camera itself was able to resolve both issues very well in JPEGs using optional corrections.

Sony RX1R II Review -- Product Image

Much-improved framing with OLED Tru-Finder and tilting display

With the Sony RX1R II, though, you're going to be able to make much better use of that lens. The reasons for this are twofold: a new tilting LCD monitor, and a built-in, pop-up viewfinder.

The tilting screen is a big boon, helping you shoot over a crowd, from the hip or low to the ground. It tilts upward 109 degrees and downwards 41 degrees, so it's not selfie-friendly. (But frankly, if you're buying a $3,300 camera, you're probably not using it to take selfies.)

The LCD panel itself is unchanged: a 3.0-inch, 4:3-aspect Xtra Fine TFT LCD with 1,228,000 dot resolution. Sadly, it still lacks touch control, something we find especially handy for movie capture, but also very useful to quickly identify a subject for focus and/or metering.

Sony RX1R II Review -- Product Image

The pop-up viewfinder is bright, beautiful and deploys really easily

Perhaps even more significant for the Sony RX1R II's target customers -- predominantly pros and enthusiasts -- will be its new viewfinder, however. It's a new feature for the RX1-class cameras, but we've seen much the same Organic LED-based design in the RX100 IV.

However, where that camera required that you first raise the finder with its mechanical lever and then pull the rear element backwards to lock it into place, the RX1R II's finder is much simpler to deploy. You simply flick the lever and as well as raising, it will now also slide the rear element backwards by itself, thanks to a spring-loaded mechanism. Push on the top of the finder to retract it back into the camera, and the rear element will also retract by itself.

Sony RX1R II Review -- Product Image

That change alone already makes it a much nicer viewfinder than that in the RX100 IV, but it comes complemented by another change: The ability to choose whether retracting the viewfinder will power the camera off or not. If you predominantly shoot with the viewfinder, you likely want it to switch off straight away after you've retracted it. However, if you like to bounce back and forth between framing in the finder or on the monitor, now you can configure the camera appropriately to facilitate that.

The finder itself is based around a 0.39-inch type Organic LED panel with a high resolution of 2,359,296 dots. It has a manufacturer-rated 100% coverage, 0.74x magnification, a 19mm eyepoint and a -4.0 to +3.0m-1 diopter adjustment. (This last is changed using a small slider on the side of the finder, making it a bit tough to change accurately.) Like that in the RX100 IV, the viewfinder includes Zeiss T* coatings to reduce reflections and improve contrast.

Sony RX1R II Review -- Product Image

A very generous eyecup, too, albeit a rather fiddly one

The new viewfinder also includes another feature which that on the RX100 IV lacks: A nice, soft rubber eyecup that helps shield stray light, letting you focus on the subject, though we weren't quite so enamored with it upon getting our hands on the camera.

Don't get us wrong: It's a really nice eyecup, and it answers a key complaint we had with the RX100 IV finder. The problem, though, is that you have to manually attach or detach it every time the finder is raised or lowered, something which is a little fiddly to do.

And because the eyecup could easily catch on something and get lost, it's not just a matter of sliding it in place, either. You also have to tighten a small thumbscrew to affix the eyecup in place. (Although it's technically called a thumbscrew, we should note that it actually tightens -- and does so reasonably easily -- by rolling the tip of your index finger over it.)

Once installed, the eyecup is a great addition to the Sony RX1R II's viewfinder. Our bet, however, is that you'd be inclided to leave it in place most of the time, though, rather than fussing with removing and reinstalling it over and over. (But doing so means you lose the size advantage of a retractable finder.)

No free lunch: The pop-up flash made way for the viewfinder

Something had to make way for the new pop-up finder, not surprisingly. There was likely next to no unused space in the RX1 and RX1R bodies, after all, and the finder in the successor model takes up quite a bit of room.

So what did you lose? Hopefully, something Sony RX1R II owners wouldn't have had too much call to use anyway, given the camera's high sensitivity and the presence of a hot shoe for external strobes. What's not present any more, though, is the built-in, pop-up flash of the earlier cameras.

And speaking of the viewfinder and lack of a built-in flash, battery life for the RX1R II is CIPA-rated at 220 shots per charge using the LCD with the same battery pack, which is identical battery life as the RX1/RX1R, but keep in mind the lack of a pop-up flash which is normally fired for 50% of shots using the CIPA standard. When using the more power-hungry OLED EVF, the RX1R II's battery life drops slightly to 200 shots per charge.

Much the same imaging pipeline as the A7R II

The Sony RX1R II inherits its new imaging pipeline basically unchanged from another Sony camera, the interchangeable-lens A7R II. That's good news, because the A7R II has great image quality, and provides detail by the boatload. Just as in that camera, the RX1R II's backside-illuminated Exmor R CMOS image sensor has 42.4-megapixel resolution, and pipes its output to a BIONZ X-branded image processor.

Not that the 24.3-megapixel Sony RX1 and RX1R were any slouches in this department, mind you, but the RX1R II significantly outperforms its predecessors. And likely to best the A7R II with an equivalent lens as well, since the company can more precisely align the lens and sensor (and bring the pair much closer) in a fixed-lens camera like the RX1R II.

Sony RX1R II Review -- Product Image

Same performance, but now with much better autofocus

Although its continuous burst rate of up to five frames per second in Speed Priority Continuous mode is unchanged, the Sony RX1R II's new image sensor and processor cooperate to improve performance in another important respect.

Autofocus speed is said to be about a third faster thanks to the switch to a Fast Hybrid AF system (although we couldn't confirm that with a static subject in the lab). This works using 399 distinct phase-detection autofocus points on the image sensor, and in informal testing at the New York press event at which the camera was launched, it seemed both responsive and reasonably swift. The earlier RX1-class cameras both relied solely on contrast-detection autofocus, which was more prone to hunting and operated rather more slowly.

But that's not the only improvement. Where the RX1 and RX1R were capable of five frames per second with focus locked from the first frame, the Sony RX1R II can manage the same trick while adjusting focus between frames! That's right, continuous autofocus has now landed in the RX1-series, as the sharp-eyed amongst you will already have noticed from the new position on the autofocus mode dial on the camera's front deck.

Sony RX1R II Review -- Product Image

A much broader sensitivity range, too

Another change enabled by the new image sensor and processor is a much broader sensitivity range. The default range of ISO 100 to 25,600-equivalents is actually unchanged from the earlier cameras, but where they only allowed ISO expansion down to ISO 50, the Sony RX1R II is expandable to encompass everything from 50 to 102,400-equivalents.

A related change to firmware is that you can now define a minimum shutter speed for the Auto ISO sensitivity option, ensuring that the sensitivity is raised if you'd otherwise stray below that speed. That's a handy addition if you want to be certain to avoid blur not only from camera shake, but also from subject motion.

Sony RX1R II Review -- Product Image

More firmware tweaks, as well

And that's not the only firmware change, either. Sony now provides a greater choice of aspect ratio options for RX1R II owners, with the existing 3:2 and 16:9 options supplemented by 1:1 and 4:3 options. And if you appreciate the ability to fine-tune white balance, you'll be thrilled to discover that you now have twice the granularity for amber/blue adjustments, and four times as many on the green/magenta axis, letting you more precisely tune colors to your liking.

Like the Sony A7S II before it, the RX1R II also ships with support for 14-bit uncompressed raw files as an option, something which has been added to the A7R II and A7 II via firmware updates. And the RX1R II also includes a Bright Monitoring function which increases brightness of the LCD monitor to help when framing and focusing in low light, achieved by allowing slower shutter speeds than is normally the case for live view.

The Sony RX1R II also inherits the 50Mbps XAVC S movie mode that we've seen on other recent Sony cameras, something which offers better picture quality and fewer artifacts than the AVCHD-only capture of the RX1 and RX1R. Note, though, that the RX1R II doesn't gain the ability to record in 4K like some of Sony's other cameras; instead, it's still limited to Full HD recording at 24, 25, 30, 50 or 60 frames per second.

Sony RX1R II Review -- Product Image

Improved connectivity reflects today's reality

Sony has also revisited its connectivity options in the RX1R II, reflecting the modern world we live in. (A photo that can't be easily transferred to your phone and shared online just isn't a photo these days, it seems.)

Both Wi-Fi wireless networking and Near-Field Communications are provided, making it really easy to pair and share from Android devices. Apple devices can't use NFC, but that's the fault of their maker, and you'll still be able to share easily to your iPad or iPhone after pairing manually.

Also making their debut in the RX1R II are Sony's PlayMemories Camera Apps, a selection of user-installable apps that can extend the functionality of the camera, sometimes for an additional cost. There are over 32 compatible apps as of this writing, including Smart Remote Control, Star Trail, Time-lapse and Smooth Reflection, and more could well be added in the future, which is kind of the point.

Wired connectivity remains the same, with a Multi Interface Hot Shoe, Multi/Micro USB 2.0 port, Micro (Type D) HDMI port, and a 3.5mm external stereo mic jack.

Price and availability

The Sony RX1R II began shipping in November 2015 with a list price of US$3,300.

Sony RX1R II Field Test Part I

Big upgrades all around for Sony's super-premium compact

by William Brawley |

Sony RX1R II field test photo The super-premium compact gets super-upgraded
Ever since the first Sony RX1 debuted, I was curious about this "little" camera. Housing a comparably massive full-frame sensor into its nearly-pocketable compact body made my then-primary camera, a Canon 5D Mark II, look and feel ancient and downright gargantuan. For photography on the go -- traveling, hiking, around town, etc. -- I was drawn to the compactness as well as the full-frame image quality it provided.

On the other hand, the fixed 35mm lens was cause for some thought. Personally, I'm not a big fan of the 35mm focal length. In the right hands, however, images shot at 35mm can be downright stunning; it's just not for me and for what I like to shoot most of the time. The major factor, however, as to why I didn't jump to buy an RX1 right away was the price. It's flat-out expensive.

Now in its second generation -- combining the RX1 and specialized RX1R together -- the new Sony RX1R II maintains its stylist, compact design and 35mm f/2 Zeiss lens. However, on the inside, the camera packs a sizeable array of new features, new technologies and upgrades that should improve both performance and image quality.

Sony RX1R II Field Test Part II

Performance testing: C-AF, Variable Low-Pass Filter, Video & Wi-Fi

by William Brawley |

Sony RX1R II field test photoA deeper look at performance and new features
In the first section of my Field Test, I mainly focused on the Sony RX1R II's design and build quality as well as its general-use performance and image quality. In this follow-up Field Test, I'll take a closer look at some of its new features, including the improved autofocus system and the variable low-pass filter. Plus, I'll test out the video capabilities and wireless connectivity, before wrapping things up with my final thoughts.

Off the street & onto the court: the RX1R II as a sports camera?
Unlike the original pair of RX1-series cameras, the new "Mark II" version features on-sensor phase-detect autofocus similar to the A7 II and A7R II cameras. This should lead to speedier autofocus, particularly with continuous AF. In fact, the original RX1 didn't have continuous AF capabilities for still images at all!

Sony RX1R II Technical Insights

Away, moiré: Sony's electronically variable low-pass filter tech

by Dave Etchells |

Sony RX1R II tech section illustrationWe've seen cameras with low-pass filters, ones without them, and recently, the Pentax K-3, that had a mechanically-simulated one. Sony's just taken the whole thing up a notch, though, with technology that lets them vary the strength of the low-pass filter electronically. Also, unlike Ricoh's approach in their Pentax SLRs, Sony's is a true optical low-pass filter (OLPF), so there's no limit on maximum shutter speed.

This is really quite an innovation, as the amount of the effect is continuously variable, and as noted, it avoids any limit on maximum shutter speed.

It turns out that Sony's illustrations in the product presentation and in the demo room afterwards were simplified for the sake of communicating the concept, and so left out some details. I managed to get a more complete story by talking with Mr. Tsutomu Hamaguchi, the General Manager of Sony's DSC (Digital Still Camera) Business, who came from Japan to attend the event. (It speaks volumes that Sony's top manager for the DSC business as well as the company CEO both attended the RX1R II rollout in New York.)

Sony RX1R II Image Quality Comparison

See how image quality stacks up against other high-res cameras

by Zig Weidelich |

Sony RX1R II image qualityHere we present 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.

Sony RX1R II Conclusion

Taking Sony's ultra-premium compact to a whole new level

by William Brawley |

Similar exterior with even more impressive technology inside
Before the Sony A7, there was the RX1 (and the AA-filterless RX1R version), Sony's first foray into the combination of a full-frame sensor and a small, highly portable camera body. The RX1 and RX1R were stunning but expensive cameras, yet the images they produced were excellent. Now, with the introduction of the Sony RX1R II, Sony's uber-premium compact camera takes a big leap forward with nearly double the pixel count, vastly improved autofocus performance, and a rather innovative adjustable optical low-pass filter system. The camera is still as expensive as ever and keeps the same 35mm f/2 Zeiss lens, so despite image quality performance and new features, there are still some limitations, be it price or its fixed focal length lens. Nevertheless, the Sony RX1R II is very tempting camera...

 

In the Box

The retail package contains the following items:

  • Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RXR1 II camera
  • NP-BX1 Lithium-ion battery
  • AC-UD11 AC adapter
  • BC-DCX Battery charger
  • Micro USB cable
  • Shoulder strap
  • Lens cap
  • Shoe cap
  • Eyecup
  • Cleaning cloth
  • Instruction manual

 

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