Sony Adds RX1/R and RX100 II to Premium Line of Compact Camera

June 27, 2013

By Theano Nikitas

With last night’s announcement of the RX1/R and the RX100 II, Sony has expanded its Cyber-shot RX-line of compact premium cameras to four models. The new models are variations of the original RX1 and RX100, which both remain in the line-up.

The RX1/R is identical to the current 24 megapixel, full-frame RX1 but is designed for optimal resolution (hence, the “R” designation). In order to achieve high resolving power, Sony has removed the optical low pass filter (OLPF), a practice that has become more common with cameras like the Nikon D800E and Fuji’s X-series premium fixed-lens models.

But, as we all know, the removal of an OLPF can translate to increased moiré and false colors. However, Sony emphasizes that the RX1/R’s processing algorithm has been optimized to reduce this effect. When Sony showed PDN comparisons of images shot with the RX1/R and another camera without an OLPF, it was visually clear that there was much less moiré in the RX1/R image. Additionally, Sony pointed out that the latter’s pattern was radial and less visible. Of course, the appearance of moiré and false colors is also image dependent and since this was a presentation, only real-world, hands-on testing will reveal how effective Sony’s processing adjustments truly are. Sony suggests that the RX1/R will appeal to landscape photographers and other pros who want and need the highest resolution (and sharpness) possible. Be sure to read our hands-on review of the current RX1 (with OLPF) in the August issue of PDN.  

The other addition to Sony’s Cyber-shot RX-line is the RX100 II.  While the RX1/R is positioned to emphasize resolution, the RX100 II’s strengths are based around low light capabilities. Like the RX1/R, this smaller camera is, in many ways, a clone of its current 20 megapixel sibling. But, the RX100 II is built around the first 1-inch back side illuminated (BSI) CMOS sensor. Because of the extra cost involved in producing a BSI sensor, this technology has been implemented on the smaller imagers of more-consumer level compact cameras. The RX100 II’s new sensor (and Sony) promises an estimated gain in sensitivity of around 40 percent over the RX100.

Other notable new features include built-in wi-fi, Smart Remote Control functionality and NFC (Near Field Communication). NFC allows connectivity and transfer of data by touching one NFC-enabled device to another and the technology is now making its way into digital cameras (announced in May, the Samsung NX2000 is also NFC-enabled). At this point, it’s easier to find an NFC smartphone than an NFC digital camera but as manufacturers try to regain marketshare lost to mobile photography, we may see NFC implemented on additional camera models in the near future.

Like newer Sony models, the RX100 II now features a multi-function interface shoe for adding an optional viewfinder as well as flash and other accessories. New for the RX100 II is a tiltable LCD screen, the ability to record HD movies in 24p and Auto Object Framing.

Both models now offer Triluminous color support for compatible Bravia TVs and will be available in July.

RX1/R: $2800
RX100 II:  $750

Related articles:

PDN’s Digital Camera Reviews