Sunday, April 2, 2017

Sony RX1RII Hands-On Review with Sample Photos and Video in 4K

Video review on YouTube -

The question I get asked most about the RX1RII goes something like this

“Who, exactly is this camera for?”

There are three specific types of photographers that this camera is meant for:

1.       The first answer can be found right there in the Description on the Official web page RX1RII Professional Compact Camera with 35mm Sensor. The operative word being PROFESSIONAL. Yes, this camera is totally geared towards the subculture that is, professional photographers. Why? because it’s packed with the same back-illuminated 42 megapixel CMOS sensor that you’ll find in the Sony A7RII, which is also an amazing camera and is, today, being widely used by professionals all over the world. AND this insane Zeiss 35mm F2 lens, which I’ll talk about a little more a little bit later. Not only is this camera capable of producing professional images that even the highest earning commercial photographers should consider it, in the right production, for their biggest clients.

2.       And secondly, it’s for the jet setters who spend lavishly on high priced items, electronics, clothes, gadgets, cars, you know, the luxury crowd. Someone to whom the $3,899 suggested retail price is just a drop in the bucket. They’re wearing the latest designer fashions that would have had the legendary Bill Cunningham snapping their photo. May he RIP. On a quick side note; I first became aware of Bill Cunningham from watching the documentary about him that was released in 2010 called, Bill Cunningham, New York. And was a big inspiration to me. Extremely interesting and well-done, if you want to see an old school professional at work, look it up.

3.       Lastly, it’s for the semi-professional, hobbyist, photography enthusiast and gear heads, just like me, who can afford it, even if only marginally. You’re exactly like me, some gear, especially if it’s from your favorite manufacturer, is going to be too tempting and too good to resist.

Let’s talk about some of the features of the RX1RII:

The Build

When you’re spending, relatively speaking, substantial sums of money for a piece of gear, you’re going to want to concern yourself with the quality of the build. And this camera is build solid. It’s got a reassuring weight (480 grams) and heftiness to it that will put your mind at ease. The body is compact but big enough that it will still feel secure in your hands. And with the edition of a nice aftermarket grip like this excellent example from Lim’s leather for a fair price of $104. It looks great and absolutely improves your grip on the camera 100%. The leather is of a good quality, the stitching is well done, I’ve had this grip for close to a year and it still looks pretty new with no real signs of wear. With that being said, I highly recommend it. The even included an opening so that you can change the battery and remove the memory card without having to remove the grip from the body.

Speaking of the Battery

It does not last long. So you will absolutely want to purchase extra batteries. Changing batteries is not that big of a deal for me. The official specs say that you can capture 220 images before the battery gets low. But I am certain I’ve been able to capture more than that. You can find batteries cheap enough, again, for me, a non-issue.

The Controls, Buttons and Knobs

The controls, buttons and knobs are designed into the body pretty well. And they’ll seem really familiar if you’ve shot with Sony before. The main control dial is a good size and it is built with a fabulous, patterned, rough and kind of spikey texture that is easy to grip with your fingertips. The power button is easy to flip on and off, you’ll find the shutter button sitting right on top of that. The exposure compensation dial is about the same size and sits down into a machined out cutout, that leaves you enough access to turn it, but it doesn’t obstruct any of the other dials.
You’ll be controlling shutter speed with this thumb dial on the back. Or you can assign controls to the dial and the secondary dial which is located on the right side of the back of the body.

There’s another controller on the front which is your focus selection mode. Manual, Continuous, Direct Manual Focus and Manual Focus. Direct Manual Focus (DMF) allows you to manually adjust the focus after you've focused using AF by turning the focusing ring. If you know how to use DMF, it can sometimes be a convenient little feature.

The Lens

The f/2 Zeiss Sonnar lens is fixed at 35mm and is absolutely outstanding. It’s capable of capturing images worthy of the Zeiss name and leaves no doubt as to why the brand enjoys its impeccable reputation and status symbol status.

The lens has three control dials, the aperture ring, focus range and focus ring. The aperture range is great going from f/22 to f/2. The ring is clickable with nice firm clicks from stop to stop. The focus range features two distinct modes, Normal Mode which will focus on subjects from 24 cm to infinity and the Macro Mode which will allow you to get your lens as close as 14 cm from your subject and goes out to 29 cm.

And finally the focus ring which moves smoothly, the body of the lens is made of metal and has an excellent finish to it just like the camera body. I have added a circular lens hood from JJC and the’ve done a great job with this one. It integrates well with the lens and camera body style so much so that one might think that it came with the camera. It’s available for around $50 dollars. They also offer a square lens hood as well.


While the RX1RII does shoot video, and features a dedicated video record button, it is not MADE to be a video camera. It’s really only good for short video clips for two reasons. Firstly, the small battery will drain extremely fast while shooting video and secondly, the camera is prone to overheating when recording video clips more than a minute in length. That’s right, one minute! That was my experience at a recent outdoor shoot in 80 degree temperatures.


Plain and simple, the Sony RX1RII is one of the finest digital cameras in the world. Anyone serious about the art of photography should not be put off by the fixed focal length lens, nor by the luxury price tag. This camera makes a fine companion and if you like having two cameras in your bag, like me, then there’s possibly no better choice.

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