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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Noise and JPEG processing

High ISO sensitivity noise and JPEG processing

ISO 50 JPEG, bokeh

Highlight recovery

ISO 100 JPEG

ISO 400 JPEG

ISO 800 JPEG

ISO 1600 JPEG

ISO 3200 JPEG

ISO 3200 JPEG

ISO 6400 raw vs. JPEG

ISO 12800

Color

Creative Style color

Vivid Creative Style

The combination of the full-frame sensor, great lens, and solid JPEG processing delivers extremely clean photos up through ISO 800, very good at ISO 1600, and reasonably good at ISO 3200. I wouldn't recommend shooting ISO 6400 or above in JPEG.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
ISO 6400 is usable under certain circumstances, but I don't recommend ISO 12800 and up for JPEG unless you'll be displaying the photos at reduced sizes or are willing to accept the tradeoffs.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
The lens produces lovely round bokeh, and the combination of the lens and sensor results in beautiful transitions between sharp and defocused areas.

(1/80, f5, ISO 50, AWB, spot metering)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET


(1/400, f2.8, ISO 100, AWB, spot metering)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
The images from this camera are pristine: extremely well resolved with beautiful transitions to defocused areas.

(1/1000, f4, ISO 100, AWB, multi metering)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
No softness, as you'd expect from a camera in this class.

(1/60, f2, ISO 400, AWB, spot metering, -0.3 EV)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
For this sensitivity, it's nicely sharp with no artifacts in the sky.

(1/60, f3.5, ISO 800, AWB, spot metering, -0.3EV)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
The camera produces extremely good JPEGs up to ISO 1600; at that sensitivity, I couldn't spot artifacts in my 13x19 print.

(1/30, f4, ISO 160, AWB, spot metering, -0.3EV)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
While I could get lots more detail in the images by processing the raw at ISO 3200, that's partly due to the much higher contrast of the JPEGs thanks to the default settings.

(1/800, f2, ISO 3200, AWB, spot metering)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
JPEG versions of ISO 3200 images produce nice dark skies without artifacts (bottom), mostly because the standard settings push the contrast so that the shadows clip. In the raw, more tonally accurate version, you can see the noise in the sky.

(1/800, f2, ISO 3200, AWB, spot metering)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
ISO 3200 is the first sensitivity setting where I could get some extra sharpness out of the raw versions of images over the JPEG photos.

(1/100, f4, ISO 6400, AWB, spot metering)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
Depending upon image content, shots at ISO 12800 are still usable, especially if you process the raw files.

(1/80, f2, ISO 12800, AWB, multi metering)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
The RX1 produces extremely pleasing colors, but for accuracy you need to change the settings. The automatic white balance is better than on most cameras, however.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
As with most of Sony's cameras, the default Standard Creative Style pushes the saturation and contrast until the hues shift. Neutral does a more accurate job, without losing any sharpness.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
I accidentally switched the camera into the Vivid Creative Style while testing and thought I might as well provide an example; here's what the colors and contrast looks like.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
Updated:
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