Sony RX1 and Fuji X100s - A Comparison (long!)

Hikari

Veteran
Jan 5, 2013
68
Maine, USA
Actually, it was not objective fact. It was simply an equivalency model and an implied assumption there is some ideal DoF or shutter speed or whatever, which would actually be subjective. How a camera is actually used is very relevant and this is where equivalency models come up short. I doubt you could look at a picture and see what f-number was used except for generalizations--wide-open, stopped down, etc. And this becomes harder with wides.
 

Amin Sabet

Administrator Emeritus
Jul 3, 2010
124
I never implied any assumption that a particular DOF and shutter speed was desirable. I said that *if* a certain DOF and shutter speed are required, certain other things follow. That you personally never need a certain DOF or shutter speed is besides the point.

Sent from my SCH-I605 using Tapatalk 2
 

xdayv

Top Veteran
Mar 22, 2013
103
Tacloban City, Philippines
Dave
Ray, thanks for the nice write-up. It's still a toss of the coin for me until now between the X100s and RX1 - and that for me is an indication how both cameras are that good. They are high on my list, but not a priority. I enjoy reading these kinds of threads.
 

Luke

Super Moderator
Nov 11, 2011
214
Milwaukee, WI USA
Luke
Ray, as usual, your write-ups are thorough and the accompanying photos informative. I hope more camera makers enter the FF compact niche. I'm with Eliot about wanting some retro flavor in the design ethos.
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
123
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
Great writeup, Ray. Very insightful points, and great photos as always!


I think this point needs some qualification:



In general, when comparing two formats with similar sensor technology and similar base ISO values*, the larger one will have an image quality advantage under two circumstances: 1) when light is plentiful such that both can be used at base ISO; and/or 2) when a more shallow DOF than the smaller format can deliver is acceptable. Note that I say "acceptable", not "desirable".

Say for example you are shooting the X100S at f/5.6 because you need as much field as that camera gives you at f/5.6 and that you're forced to shoot at ISO 1600 because you need the shutter speed that ISO 1600 gives you. Sure you can shoot the RX1 at f/5.6 ISO 1600 and marvel at how much nicer and more malleable the files look, but if you really needed that DOF, then your RX1 has to be set to f/9, and if you needed that shutter speed, your RX1 will now use ISO 4000.** Now is that ISO 4000 RX1 file still more lovely and malleable than the ISO 1600 X100S file? That depends on the specific sensor technologies of those sensors, and it may well be, but it's no longer going to very noticeable to most photo enthusiasts.

My point is that we tend to always think of the ability to go more shallow as a bonus but under any shutter speed limited, light constrained circumstances where you are unwilling to go to more with a more shallow DOF than the smaller format can deliver, there is no image quality advantage inherent in the use of a larger format.

------

One comparison you didn't mention unless I missed it is size - Are these cameras similarly coat pocketable? If so, does that still apply with the EVF on the Sony? X100S strikes me as a bit easier to grab and go, but I haven't spent a lot of time with either, and I'm pretty size sensitive (eg, my E-PM2 feels more coat pocketable with the P14/2.5 than it does with an O17/1.8).
Amin,

I don't know (and honestly don't want to know, because then I'd have to think about it!) exactly what the factors are, but in low light in particular, the RX1 strikes me as being at least one stop of ISO "better" than any other camera I've used, being at least as clean at 12,800 as any APS sensor I've used at 6400, and that's before down-sampling, just working with the files at 100%. Its better yet down-sampled to a matching resolution. And when trying to recover shadows and/or highlights, it seems to have more latitude before the quality starts to break down. Maybe resolution is part of that too, not just sensitivity levels - I really don't know. Now, if I'm wrong about this, PLEASE DON'T TELL ME!!!! Honestly, once I've bought a camera, I'd like to maintain whatever illusions I had to develop in the decision process as long as possible! In my experience, my IMPRESSIONS are (and that's all I'm offering up here are shooting impressions - I leave the technical reviews to those who both better understand and enjoy the details) are that the X100s and the Nikon Coolpix A are about equally good (but somewhat different) at 6400, which may give the Nikon the actual edge IF there's some level of ISO inflation going on with Fuji. The RX1 trumps either of them by at least a stop, unless my eyes just aren't seeing clearly (which the ISO thread on X-Spot indicates may be the case). In terms of the "necessary aperture", that most often applies to my shooting when I'm trying to maintain the smallest possible aperture when trying to continue to use zone focus effectively in dwindling to dwindled light. At which point the higher ISO capability seems to be the controlling factor, along with the sensor size. If I'm shooting at a 28mm equivalent with an APS sensor, the lens is actually about 18mm and will produce more DOF than the actual 28mm at full frame. With m43, since the actual focal length is 14mm, greater DOF yet at any given aperture. A really good 1" sensor that's good at 3200 with an actual, what, 7mm lens, may be the low light street shooting nirvana for me, but so far its only turned up in the RX100, and that camera wasn't any sort of sweet spot to me. But the RX1 at 35mm will never be a low light street camera for me - I didn't intend it to be. I'm just generally looking at file quality and the ability to push and pull and find subtle details in very low light files shot at high ISO, usually pretty close to wide open. I believe the RX1 does that better than anything I've shot with. If this is true, I'll be happy to hear more of it. If its not, I really don't want to know that... :cool:

As for size, I haven't really tried to pocket either one. I know from owning the X100 that it was coat pocketable but I generally used it on a neck or sling strap of some kind, and I've done so with the X100s so far as well. The RX1 has a somewhat smaller body in all dimensions but a far larger lens which greatly increases the overall depth of the camera. I don't know which of my coats it might fit in the pocket of, but I'm not planning to use it that way regardless. If I end up with a Nikon "A" or the new Ricoh GR???, that will probably serve as my pocketable camera (coat or shirt or occasionally maybe pants) and the LX7 fits comfortably in a coat pocket too, but these other cameras are larger than I'd choose to carry that way, even if its doable.

-Ray
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
123
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
Ray, as usual, your write-ups are thorough and the accompanying photos informative. I hope more camera makers enter the FF compact niche. I'm with Eliot about wanting some retro flavor in the design ethos.
By design ethos, do you mean the workability of the controls or just the looks of the camera? In terms of controls, the Sony has that going on. The aperture ring and exposure comp dials are every bit as retro-accessible as on any of the Fujis. There's no shutter speed dial, but if I'm gonna give up any old-school control, that would be the one because I just don't change shutter speeds nearly as often as either aperture or exposure comp. But in terms of looks, no the RX1 isn't as retro-pretty as the X100s...

-Ray
 

Amin Sabet

Administrator Emeritus
Jul 3, 2010
124
... the X100s and the Nikon Coolpix A are about equally good (but somewhat different) at 6400, which may give the Nikon the actual edge IF there's some level of ISO inflation going on with Fuji. The RX1 trumps either of them by at least a stop, unless my eyes just aren't seeing clearly...
You're seeing clearly. The RX1 at ISO 12,800 is going to look better than any current APS-C camera at ISO 6400.

My point was this:

Example 1: You take a photo of a friend in a coffee shop using 35mm f/2.2 ISO 6400 on your RX1. Ordinarily let's say you're used to taking that shot at 23mm f/2.2 ISO 6400 on an X100. That RX1 file is going to be a lot cleaner, more detailed, and more malleable than the X100 file you're accustomed to. No doubt about it. You're fine with the fact that the RX1 shot has less DOF than you're used to, and maybe even like that aspect of it. All good.

Example 2: You can only have one camera, and you want to use zone focus for street shooting. You typically set your X100 for f/4 in order to get enough DOF for zone focusing, and under certain lighting conditions that means you're up at ISO 6,400. Now you're using an RX1, which means that for that same zone focus DOF you're going to be at f/6.3, and now the camera needs ISO 16,000 to give you the shutter speed you usually get with your X100. Now you have two choices: accept the ISO 16,000 files, which probably aren't gonna be much nicer than the X100 ISO 6400 files you're accustomed to, or hit the streets with a more shallow DOF for your zone focusing and be rewarded with nicer, more malleable files.

Does that make sense? Bigger sensors give you nicer files if and only if you're willing to accept more shallow DOF and/or longer exposure times than you get with smaller sensors. Most of the time, most of us are willing to accept one or both of those things, but not everyone, every time.
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
123
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
I've only had the opportunity to shoot with my X100S for a single session over a lunch break, just been crazy busy, but looking forward to getting out again so these insights are really helpful. I think on my next session I will shoot jpeg, perhaps even bracket film styles. As a dedicated RAW shooter with my m43 gear and a Fuji X noob I suspect I may prefer to have control of any sharpening/NR and save it for post processing later in LR....how do you feel Ray regarding the in camera setting for sharpness and NR ? Do the -2 settings for both give the least 'altered' output ? I guess this could also be a question for all experienced Fuji X shooters. With so many people happily using the Fuji jpegs on these XTrans models I'm curious as to whether there is some kind of consensus as to the optimal jpeg settings.
Joe,

I generally back the NR off as far as it will let me, but I've occasionally left it on the default setting and I've never been offended by Fuji's jpeg NR as I have by several others. I usually leave sharpening at the default as well as the shadow and highlight settings, but for Velvia I'll usually back the shadows down a little bit. A really good way to try different options is to shoot a bunch of raw shots and use the internal raw processing to try out the options. You can process a file as many times as you'd like with whatever settings you like (same settings as the jpeg setting options), so you can find what works for you by taking the same shot 20 times and changing settings each time.... It's quite easy to use too, from the playback menu.

-Ray
 

Luke

Super Moderator
Nov 11, 2011
214
Milwaukee, WI USA
Luke
The aperture ring and exposure comp dials are every bit as retro-accessible as on any of the Fujis. There's no shutter speed dial, but if I'm gonna give up any old-school control, that would be the one because I just don't change shutter speeds nearly as often as either aperture or exposure comp. But in terms of looks, no the RX1 isn't as retro-pretty as the X100s.
I would also like the shutter speed dial, but it's more than that for me. When I bring a Fuji X100 up to my eye and look through the viewfinder, it feels like an old, traditional camera. People who I am shooting (and aren't camera geeks) think the X100 is an old camera....they let their guard down. I get better candids than pointing any sort of clearly modern camera at them. And then there is also just wanting a camera to look like I want a camera to look like. The Sony is good looking......no doubt. But it's shiny black plastic...... more like my Sony Playstation 3 than an old Canonet or Leica.

Viva la difference.
 

Gary

All-Pro
Aug 19, 2012
123
Southern California
Gary Ayala
I would also like the shutter speed dial, but it's more than that for me. When I bring a Fuji X100 up to my eye and look through the viewfinder, it feels like an old, traditional camera. People who I am shooting (and aren't camera geeks) think the X100 is an old camera....they let their guard down. I get better candids than pointing any sort of clearly modern camera at them. And then there is also just wanting a camera to look like I want a camera to look like. The Sony is good looking......no doubt. But it's shiny black plastic...... more like my Sony Playstation 3 than an old Canonet or Leica.

Viva la difference.
Luke and I are talkin' the same thing. Sure, photographers are always looking for better IQ. But for me, for what and how I shoot, the IQ differences between FF, APS-C and µ4/3 at ISO 1600 and 3200 ... are simply not significant. So for me, as IQ is no longer a significant factor in camera selection. What I use now in looking for a camera is the enjoyment factor, a camera which enhances and embraces my photographic experience. And that camera for me is a Fuji X series.

Gary
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
123
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
Luke and I are talkin' the same thing. Sure, photographers are always looking for better IQ. But for me, for what and how I shoot, the IQ differences between FF, APS-C and µ4/3 at ISO 1600 and 3200 ... are simply not significant. So for me, as IQ is no longer a significant factor in camera selection. What I use now in looking for a camera is the enjoyment factor, a camera which enhances and embraces my photographic experience. And that camera for me is a Fuji X series.

Gary
Gary, you're cracking me up! I remember, and I don't think its been more than a few months, talking about how I really bonded with some cameras and couldn't get along with others - even very very good and capable ones, you gave me a good solid ration of excrement. Or at least forced me to 'splain myself. Because for you it was all about having a highly capable camera, knowing every mm of what it could do, learning it at the level of DNA, and then you'll get the shot almost every time. You couldn't relate at ALL to the fun factor, the semi-emotional attachment to some cameras and the total lack of it to others. The FUN FACTOR. And now that's what you're preaching!!! :) Which I honestly think is great and I'm happy to see it and I'm glad you're experiencing it from that perspective as an ex-pro who doesn't HAVE TO nail every possible shot now. If you miss ten percent instead of five percent but you enjoy the other 90% more, that's a good tradeoff.

And I'm in the same place, as I ever have been. And Fujis are still at the top of my "fun" list. BUT, I'm a camera slut - have been for a while now. And I can love more than one type of camera almost unconditionally and almost equally. The X100s is fun but redundant to me since I have the X-Pro and a few lenses. The X100s doesn't really do anything the X-Pro can't do pretty much as well except have a 35mm focal length and be smaller (and a few other things that really aren't things I'd use). But for smaller I'll take something like the Nikon "A" or the coming Ricoh GR-whatever, which will fit in the pocket and shoot my favored 28mm with very high capability, but without a viewfinder which is fine with me. I've got an X-Pro and an OMD when I want (Fuji with wide-ish lenses) or need (OMD with longer lenses) a viewfinder. At 28mm I don't need a finder and very very rarely want one and, when I do, there's the X-Pro again...

Anyway, the RX1 is a different kind of fun. One I don't need (which is true of all but one of 'em and I have no idea which one that is, probably the OMD) but am enjoying a lot. And PART of that is the IQ, knowing I have one camera in the bag that's as good as it gets (in the class of camera I'm willing to carry). Maybe after a year or two I'll conclude that was an illusion and isn't fun anymore and I'll get whatever value I can back out of it and stick to APS or smaller moving forward. Or maybe I'll still love it and shoot with it for five years or more, which is an eternity in today's world of technology. But its really fun to have a full frame to get to know. Its a different enough shooting experience that I'm thrilled to have it. So I think we're after the same basic thing, but where I'll only have it with one wife, I can have it with a few and maybe even as many as several cameras. To me, part of the fun is the variety. I was like that with bikes too, and guitars back in the day. They ride differently, they play differently, they shoot differently, and they're all fun in their own ways except the ones that aren't. Its just how I'm wired I guess...

-Ray
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
123
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
I would also like the shutter speed dial, but it's more than that for me. When I bring a Fuji X100 up to my eye and look through the viewfinder, it feels like an old, traditional camera. People who I am shooting (and aren't camera geeks) think the X100 is an old camera....they let their guard down. I get better candids than pointing any sort of clearly modern camera at them. And then there is also just wanting a camera to look like I want a camera to look like. The Sony is good looking......no doubt. But it's shiny black plastic...... more like my Sony Playstation 3 than an old Canonet or Leica.

Viva la difference.
I get that feeling when I shoot with one of the Fujis as well, in terms of it feeling (to me) like an old traditional camera. And I enjoy that tremendously, as I enjoy my ultra-modern OMD and ultra-compact Nikon (or whatever - it may end up being the new Ricoh if it measures up, or down). But I don't think I've ever actually noticed a different reaction on the part of the people I'm shooting based on the camera I'm using. If it matters to me and somehow gives me more confidence or helps me enjoy the experience more, that's worth plenty, but I think its somewhat illusory to think that people whom you're pointing a camera at give a rat's patoot what it is you're pointing at them, unless its huge and imposing looking and blocks the shooters whole face, which none of my cameras have been since the late '80s (and the X-Pro is clearly the largest and most imposing camera I have these days). But I don't think any of the relatively small mirrorless cameras I've pointed at people have had any real effect on whether they want me pointing a camera at them or not. Among people I know well who I'm just sitting around or standing around with, I get better candids at several to many feet away using the OMD with a 45 or 75mm lens usually shooting from belly or chest level with the flip up LCD. On the street, its largely about not being too obvious about my intent until the shot is safely in the camera. Other than that, its all about how I like the camera, not how the subject like having it pointed at them. For that, I've just never seen a difference...

-Ray
 

Gary

All-Pro
Aug 19, 2012
123
Southern California
Gary Ayala
LOL ... yes I have been re-educated. The Shot, The Final Image is still the most important element of photography for me, but it is no longer the only important element.

While I still solidly believe that the quickest way to improve one's photography is to keep with one system/camera and not slut around town, I am understanding that for many/most photographers part of the enjoyment of the hobby is the opportunity to pair up with many partners.

-G-
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
123
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
LOL ... yes I have been re-educated. The Shot, The Final Image is still the most important element of photography for me, but it is no longer the only important element.

While I still solidly believe that the quickest way to improve one's photography is to keep with one system/camera and not slut around town, I am understanding that for many/most photographers part of the enjoyment of the hobby is the opportunity to pair up with many partners.
Yeah, and its still about The Shot. The funny thing is that when I go back and look through images on occasion, for anything more than a few months old I have to really think about what I shot an image with. And usually I can figure it out but sometimes I'll have to look it up. But ultimately it doesn't matter, its about the photograph. But whatever process keeps you more turned on to want to keep shooting also matters. And that's where shooting with a variety of cameras CAN come into play, at least for some of us. When I have some new toy to play with, whether bought or borrowed or whatever, I've GOT TO go shoot with it, figure it out, see what I like about it and don't. But then once the shot's in the can, it doesn't matter any more. At the moment I'm a little burned out on shooting with new stuff and I just want to settle down and shoot with my own gear for a while, but I'm sure as soon as another batch of announcements come out, I'll be hot to shoot with something new that's coming around. The Ricoh GR has my attention - hopefully I can get ahold of one sometime in May or June...

-Ray
 

zapatista

Veteran
Jul 28, 2012
28
Denver, Colorado
Mike
Yeah, and its still about The Shot. The funny thing is that when I go back and look through images on occasion, for anything more than a few months old I have to really think about what I shot an image with. And usually I can figure it out but sometimes I'll have to look it up. But ultimately it doesn't matter, its about the photograph. But whatever process keeps you more turned on to want to keep shooting also matters. And that's where shooting with a variety of cameras CAN come into play, at least for some of us. When I have some new toy to play with, whether bought or borrowed or whatever, I've GOT TO go shoot with it, figure it out, see what I like about it and don't. But then once the shot's in the can, it doesn't matter any more. At the moment I'm a little burned out on shooting with new stuff and I just want to settle down and shoot with my own gear for a while, but I'm sure as soon as another batch of announcements come out, I'll be hot to shoot with something new that's coming around. The Ricoh GR has my attention - hopefully I can get ahold of one sometime in May or June...

-Ray
I keep trying to make myself buy another RX1, but can't quite do it. As good as the files are--and they are really nice, the Fuji XE-1 (in my case) is pretty good too. If I really need 35mm eq. I can use one of the myriad EOS M's with the 22mm I have sitting in inventory.
 

Country Parson

Top Veteran
Apr 5, 2011
103
North Carolina
Dan
Thank Ray. You answered most of the questions I was going to ask you about your trials. I have a Sony A99 which I believe has the same sensor as the RX! and it is a superb sensor!
 

phdezra

Regular
Jun 11, 2012
18
WOW.

Again, WOW - thanks for the comprehensive and comparative review.

I own an X100S and am very satisfied with it (I love the 35mm focal length), though I have been considering an RX1 trade given the FF and Zeiss optics.

Thanks for your post. Well done.
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
123
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
You're seeing clearly. The RX1 at ISO 12,800 is going to look better than any current APS-C camera at ISO 6400.

My point was this:

Example 1: You take a photo of a friend in a coffee shop using 35mm f/2.2 ISO 6400 on your RX1. Ordinarily let's say you're used to taking that shot at 23mm f/2.2 ISO 6400 on an X100. That RX1 file is going to be a lot cleaner, more detailed, and more malleable than the X100 file you're accustomed to. No doubt about it. You're fine with the fact that the RX1 shot has less DOF than you're used to, and maybe even like that aspect of it. All good.

Example 2: You can only have one camera, and you want to use zone focus for street shooting. You typically set your X100 for f/4 in order to get enough DOF for zone focusing, and under certain lighting conditions that means you're up at ISO 6,400. Now you're using an RX1, which means that for that same zone focus DOF you're going to be at f/6.3, and now the camera needs ISO 16,000 to give you the shutter speed you usually get with your X100. Now you have two choices: accept the ISO 16,000 files, which probably aren't gonna be much nicer than the X100 ISO 6400 files you're accustomed to, or hit the streets with a more shallow DOF for your zone focusing and be rewarded with nicer, more malleable files.

Does that make sense? Bigger sensors give you nicer files if and only if you're willing to accept more shallow DOF and/or longer exposure times than you get with smaller sensors. Most of the time, most of us are willing to accept one or both of those things, but not everyone, every time.
Amin, I somehow managed to miss this response when this thread was newer (it looks like I was writing another response when you posted it and just missed this one. But, yeah, I get those tradeoffs. I understood that while the RX1 is a great tool, for narrow DOF, it was correspondingly less great for deep DOF and some of the ways I use a camera for street shooting. And that proved itself to me the the first evening I had it. But I've GOT gear that does deep DOF well and manages the tradeoffs between DOF and high ISO really well, so I'm more than fine that the RX1 doesn't. Different camera for different uses. The ultimate guilty pleasure in my camera bag!

-Ray
 

ean10775

All-Pro
Feb 13, 2013
88
Cleveland, Ohio
Eric
^Amin's post points out something that I think many people don't consider enough when looking at fast lenses. Control over DOF and the ability to easily throw backgrounds out of focus is nice to have, but sometimes you need more in focus than that f2 aperture on FF gives you and that is a big advantage of smaller sensor cameras with fast lenses, especially with the increase in high ISO performance with the newer sensors. I agree with Ray that its different cameras for different uses and its a good argument to have different sized sensor cameras in your bag as opposed to just two FF bodies, or two m43 bodies for example.
 

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