Sony's new RX1R II might be the ultimate pocket-sized camera
Sony just announced the RX1R mark II at a small event in New York City. It's the newest camera in the company's RX1 line of compact full-frame sensor cameras, and the first update since the RX1R was released in 2013. And after a brief, early look at it, it's even more impressive than its predecessors.
The RX1R II is tiny despite the relatively large fixed 35mm lens that it sports. The camera body itself is roughly the size of the company's other popular pint-sized camera, the RX100, and it feels nearly as light. The big difference between the two is that the RX100's retractable zoom lens makes it truly fit in a pocket, whereas the bulky, immovable f2.0 lens on the RX1R II means you'll have to carry the camera on a strap or in a bag.
But what you get at this size is a true powerhouse of a camera. The RX1R II has a 42.4-megapixel, full-frame Exmor R CMOS sensor. It's also backlit, allowing for an ISO range of 100-25,600 (expandable to 50-102,400). Sony's done a number of things to the structure of the sensor that ups the data transmission speed, making this version 3.5 times faster than the original RX1R.
Of course, performance speed is a moot point if you can't get the shot you're looking for, and one of the problems in the RX1 line to this point has been autofocus. Sony says that RX1R II's autofocus is 30 percent faster, and from my (very short) time with it that sounds about right. Another issue that users had with the original line was that there was no built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF). That's been changed this time around, too, as the RX1R II has a pop-up, 2.4-million dot OLED EVF — similar to what's found on the Fujifilm X-T1 or the Olympus OM-D line of cameras, or Sony's own RX100. To top it all off, the 3-inch LCD screen on the back now tilts; on older models, it was fixed.
FASTER AUTOFOCUS, A BUILT-IN EVF, AND A TILTING SCREEN
There's some other really heady stuff happening on the RX1R II that will please the more hardcore photography enthusiasts. Sony's built what it's calling the "world’s first optical variable low pass filter," which means that you can toggle how severely the low pass filter affects your image or turn it off completely. If you're shooting a shirt or a fabric that could cause moire, you can turn the low pass filter on and tweak the strength to your liking. If you're shooting a plain landscape scene with no wild patterns, you can turn it off and get the full detail from your sensor. (The camera can also take multiple images with the different filter levels, and you can choose after the fact.) Until now, cameras either had or didn't have a low pass filter, but Sony's found a way to introduce more control and choice in the matter.
While Sony's RX100 and A7S II have the ability to shoot 4K, the RX1R II can only shoot video at 1080p (at 24, 30, or 60 frames per second). But those other cameras are meant to be much more multi-purpose, with zoomable and interchangeable lenses, respectively. The RX1R II is a premium digital camera for still photographers, and because of that Sony is commanding a premium price — it will cost $3,300 when it hits store shelves in November.