The ultimate compact? Sony RX1R II packs full frame 42.4MP sensor and f2 lens – but has two vital flaws

Sony RX1R II is a new "palm-sized" digital compact camera with a 42.4-megapixel full-frame sensor

Sony have announced their new RX1R II, a new “palm-sized” digital compact camera packing pro specs that make it a strong candidate for the ultimate ‘carry everywhere’ camera.

Like our much-loved Ricoh GR, the Sony RX1R II has a fixed lens, although in this case it’s a super nippy Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm f/2 lens, backed by a huge 42.4-megapixel full-frame sensor capable of outputting uncompressed 14-bit-per-channel raw images.

 The ultimate compact: Sony RX1R II packs full frame 42.4MP sensor and f2 lens - but has two vital flaws

The retractable 2.4M-dot XGA OLED viewfinder appears to be the same one fitted to the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 IV, while the useful 3″ 1.2M-dot articulated LCD can tilt up by 109 degrees and down by 41 degrees.

Sony describe the camera as ‘palm sized’ which is another way of saying ‘quite big’ with its dimensions registering as 113 x 65 x 72 mm (4.45 x 2.56 x 2.83) – so not exactly pocketable, but still incredibly compact for a full frame snapper.

 The ultimate compact: Sony RX1R II packs full frame 42.4MP sensor and f2 lens - but has two vital flaws

The non-retractable lens features an old school focusing ring and aperture selector (we like this very much indeed), while the uncluttered top plate has a mode selector, power switch and a +/-3 exposure compensation dial – something we also like very much.  The dials are also satisfying chunky and knurled.

The first of Sony’s high end RX line of compact cameras to feature Fast Hybrid AF capabilities, the beefy sensor features 399 focal-plane phase-detection AF points that cover about 45% of the image area – the world’s widest AF coverage on a full-frame sensor say Messrs Sony.

The company claims that along with its 25 contrast AF points, the camera now achieves a focus response that is about 30% faster than the original model, with AF-C mode managing up to 5 fps continuous shooting.

 The ultimate compact: Sony RX1R II packs full frame 42.4MP sensor and f2 lens - but has two vital flaws

Pros will warm to the provision of a variable optical low-pass filter, providing three settings for the AA filter;  “off”, which provides comparable effects to having no low-pass filter and is suitable when prioritising resolution, “standard”, which strikes a balance between resolution and removal of moiré and colour artefacts, and “high”, which places more emphasis on reducing moiré and artefacting.

Video recording tops out at 1080/60p and there’s Wi-Fi and NFC onboard, allowing remote shooting from a smartphone.

 The ultimate compact: Sony RX1R II packs full frame 42.4MP sensor and f2 lens - but has two vital flaws

A flawed diamond

We’re head over in heels in love with the camera apart from three things:

  1. Why the hell isn’t the articulated display a touchscreen? Cheaper cameras from Olympus and Lumix manage it, and being able to instantly focus ad take a picture by touching a screen is bloody useful.
  2. There’s no image stabilisation on board – a serious omission at this level
  3. The price! Ouch!  The Sony RX1R II will be available in December 2015, priced at £2,600/$3,299.

 The ultimate compact: Sony RX1R II packs full frame 42.4MP sensor and f2 lens - but has two vital flaws

Here’s the full Sony Press Release

Sony Introduces New Palm-Sized RX1R II Camera with 42.4 MP Back-Illuminated Full-Frame Image Sensor

Sony’s Latest Premium Compact Features Back-Illuminated Full-Frame Sensor, ZEISS® Sonnar T* 35mm F2 Lens, High Speed AF, retractable XGA OLED Viewfinder and World’s First Optical Variable Low Pass Filter[1] with Low pass filter bracketing

Sony today introduced the latest addition to their acclaimed Cyber-shot RX compact camera line, the full-frame RX1R II (model DSC-RX1RM2).

Joining the original RX1 and RX1R cameras in the family of the world’s smallest full-frame cameras, the new RX1R II delivers the highest picture quality of any Sony compact camera ever made.  This can largely be attributed to the new camera’s high resolution 42.4 MP sensor paired with its large aperture, fixed focal length ZEISS Sonnar T* 35mm F2 lens, which have been fine-tuned to optimise performance together.

Additionally, the new model features a 30% improvement in AF response speed compared to the original award-winning RX1 models and is equipped with the world’s first optical variable low pass filter that can be set to “off”, “standard” or “high” based on user preference with low pass filter bracketing available. It also has a convenient retractable XGA OLED viewfinder for eye-level shooting, which has been implemented with minimal change in overall body size from its predecessors.

Ultimate Image Quality in the Palm of Your Hand

The new RX1R II camera utilises a back-illuminated 35mm full-frame Exmor R® CMOS sensor with approx. 42.4 effective megapixels paired with a powerful BIONZ X processing engine to achieve superior levels of image resolution and sensitivity (ISO 100-25600, expandable to 50 – 102400[2]) with wide dynamic range.  The sensor’s back-illuminated structure, with an expanded circuit scale and copper wiring design, enables faster transmission speed and outputs data approximately 3.5x faster than the original RX1R, ensuring high-speed performance.

Matched specifically for the image sensor, the large aperture 35mm F2 ZEISS Sonnar T* lens ensures that all images captured by the camera are impressively sharp from the centre to the corners.  The lens also has a unique Macro shift ring for focusing on subjects as close as 14cm in front of the lens and has nine aperture blades that produce smooth, even background defocus or ‘bokeh’ in the most commonly used aperture ranges.

Another unique benefit of the new camera is its fixed lens design, which allows the positioning of its sensor and lens to be precisely adjusted to maximise all benefits of the sensor’s extremely high resolution.  The closer the two components are to one another, the wider the angle through which light can pass through the lens and directly reach the sensor, resulting in imagery that is rich in detail and resolution.  Also, unlike the focal plane shutter common to interchangeable lens cameras, RX1R II utilises an in-lens shutter, allowing 1/2000 sec flash synch speed and a significant reduction in overall body size.

The new RX1R II also offers uncompressed 14-bit RAW image capture to maximise the benefits of the image sensor’s wide dynamic range, while also still supporting existing compressed format.

High Speed AF to Capture the Decisive Moment

The RX1R II model is the first in Sony’s acclaimed RX line of compact cameras to feature Fast Hybrid AF capabilities.  The camera’s sensor features 399 focal-plane phase-detection AF points that cover about 45% of the image area – the world’s widest AF coverage on a full-frame sensor – that work together with 25 contrast AF points to achieve focus response that is about 30% faster than the original model.  Additionally, the camera has adapted an advanced motion-detection algorithm that offers superior tracking performance of moving subjects and allows for the addition of AF-C mode that accurately tracks a subject after focusing.  It also can achieve up to 5fps continuous shooting with AF tracking.

Other focusing improvements on the new model include multiple AF area settings including Wide, Centre and Flexible Spot, as well as Eye AF and lock-on AF.

World’s First Optical Variable Low Pass Filter

In a first for digital cameras, the RX1R II features an optical variable low pass filter that allows shooters to manually adjust the balance of image resolution and presence of moiré or colour artifacts to match the subject.

The three settings for the low-pass filter[3] include “off”, which provides comparable effects to having no low-pass filter and is suitable when prioritising resolution, “standard”, which strikes a balance between resolution and removal of moiré and colour artifacts, and “high”, which places more emphasis on reducing moiré and artifacting.  This unique feature allows photographers to achieve the desired image quality and resolution based on the presence of moiré-inducing high spatial frequency objects in the scene, essentially combining two cameras – one with and without a low-pass filter – into one body.  Low-pass filter bracketing is also available and can be used to compare the effects of different settings.

New Retractable XGA OLED Viewfinder, Tiltable Screen, HD Video and more

New for the RX1 series, the RX1R II has a built-in retractable XGA OLED Tru-Finder[4] that pops up and down with simple one-push operation.  The viewfinder features ZEISS T* Coating and four glass elements, including two aspherical lenses, that work together to deliver a magnification of 0.74x[5]  and clear corner-to-corner visibility with minimal distortion.  The new camera also has a 3.0 type WhiteMagic™ 1.2 million dot LCD display that can tilt upwards to 109 degrees and downwards to 41 degrees, allowing for a greater range of shooting angles and positions.

On the video side, the camera’s advanced sensor and processor deliver exceptionally detailed movies with low levels of noise.  It is able to support full HD 1920×1080 video recording at frame rates of 60p, 30p or 24p through use of the versatile XAVC S movie recording format.[6]

The new RX1R II camera is also Wi-Fi® and NFC compatible and fully functional with Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile™ application available for Android™ and iOS platforms, as well as Sony’s growing range of PlayMemories Camera Apps™.

A new version of the popular “Smart Remote Control” app[7] from PlayMemories Camera Apps is coming soon. It enables remote shooting from your smartphone, and features updated bulb and continuous shooting functionality to match the new camera. Learn more at http://www.sony.net/pmca.   ;

Pricing and Availability

The new Sony RX1R II full-frame compact camera will be available in December 2015 with UK pricing at £2,600.

[1] Among digital cameras. As of October 2015 press release, based on Sony research

[2] Expanded ISO 50-102400 available only for shooting still images

[3] Available only for shooting still images

[4] The XGA OLED Tru-Finder features 2,359,296 dots

[5] Approx. 0.74x with 50mm lens equiv. at infinity, -1m-1

[6] A class 10 or higher SDXC memory card is required to record movies in the XAVC S format

[7] Version 4.0