But Will Anyone Buy It?

Sony’s RX1R II Is the Best Compact Camera Ever Built


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On Wednesday, at a small press gathering in New York City, Sony unveiled the impressive new RX1R II, the much-anticipated followup to the compact, full-frame RX1R released in 2013. The announcement was welcome news to the online photographic community, making headlines on sites like Wired and The Verge, among countless others. For those that had been waiting, the new Sony did not disappoint. Technically speaking, this may just be the best compact camera ever built for the consumer market — not just by Sony, but by anyone.

Though the RX1R II (which goes on sale in November) has the same fixed 35mm f/2 Zeiss lens as its predecessors, several things distinguish it amid the RX1 outfit. For starters, the camera boasts a full-frame 42.4MP Exmor R CMOS sensor — similar to the one found in the A7R II — along with a built-in electric viewfinder and a tilting LCD screen on the back of the body. Sony, listening to the cry of user complaints, has also beefed up the autofocus with claims that the RX1R II responds to subjects 30 percent faster than the original RX1.

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Spec Sheet
Sensor: Back-Illuminated 42.4MP Full-Frame CMOS
ISO: 100-25600
Lens: ZEISS Sonnar 35mm ƒ/2
Screen: 2.95 inches, 1,228,800 dots
Electronic Viewfinder: 0.74x, 2,359,296 dots
Image Stabilization: Only for Movie Mode
Autofocus: Phase-Detection/Contrast-Detection
Dimensions: 4.46 x 2.57 x 2.83 inches

But the most exciting difference might be the RX1R II’s new optical variable low-pass filter, allowing photographers to adjust sharpness strength on a photo-by-photo basis with an optional OLPF; this is important when shooting heavily textured subjects that can cause moire. Considering that all of these features are housed in a body that fits in the average person’s palm, the RX1R II is a very impressive camera indeed.

There’s just one problem: its $3,300 price tag. This is more than three times that of the RX100 IV, and in a similar bracket to that of the A7R II — proof that the RX1R II will be a niche product, always and forever. Everyone wants one, but will anyone buy it? Maybe that’s irrelevant in the race to build the greatest compact shooter on the market. Sony wins simply because the RX1R II exists.