The Good Great photo and good video quality in a camera with a nicely functional and fluid shooting design are the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1's highlights.
The Bad It lacks a viewfinder, autofocus is sluggish, and there's no focus peaking in video mode.
The Bottom Line With a terrific lens and a great full-frame sensor, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 delivers the best photos we've seen from a fixed-lens camera. But that doesn't come cheap.
A pricey slice of heaven
Is the full-frame Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 a great camera? Sure it is. But that's almost beside the point; at about $2,800, the real question becomes, "Is it $1,500 better than its APS-C competitors"? Despite the squirming of my inner budgeteer, I have to say that the answer is a qualified yes.
Qualified, because there are things about this camera that drive me a little nuts. It lacks a built-in viewfinder; the macro ring, focus mode switch, and record button are hard to manipulate, especially with gloves on; the lens requires endless rotations for manual focus; the autofocus is inconsistent and frustrating at times; there's no peaking during video shooting; and the SD card shouldn't be in the battery compartment. But the stellar image quality, awesome lens, tanklike build and functional, attractive design compensate for its deficiencies enough that I have to say, if you've got the money, and photo quality is more important than any other consideration, it's worth it. (I tested theat the same time and really the perfect camera would be a mashup of the two.)
While the RX1 doesn't have any direct competitors, there certainly are cheaper APS-C-based alternatives, such as the Fujifilm X100S, the Leica X2, and new . There's also the relatively compact but seriously expensive interchangeable-lens Leica M9 or M9-P, or Sony's own excellent and far less expensive but smaller-sensored . Sony emphasizes that it sees Leica as making its chief competitors for this camera, which, given that Leica doesn't offer a full-frame fixed-lens compact, is a fairly safe way to position it. If Leica did offer a direct competitor...well, that would be very interesting.
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