Sony RX1R II

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sony rx1 rIIIf you’re a fan of the BBC’s “Dr. Who” series, you understand the concept of something being bigger on the inside than the outside (i.e. the Tardis). Please take note of Sony’s addition to its Cyber-shot RX compact camera line, the RX1R II.

This little palm-sized camera has a full-frame, 42.4-megapixel sensor.

The RX1R II delivers the highest picture quality of any Sony compact camera ever made, says the company. It pairs the sensor with a fixed focal length Zeiss Sonnar T* 35 mm f/2 lens.

Additionally, the new model features a 30 percent improvement in AF response speed compared to the original RX1 models and is equipped with the world’s first optical variable low pass filter that can be set to “off,” “standard” or “high” based on user preference, with low pass filter bracketing available. The camera also has a retractable XGA OLED viewfinder for eye-level shooting, done with minimal change in overall body size from its predecessors.

The camera’s back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor works with a BIONZ X processing engine to achieve “superior levels” of image resolution and sensitivity (ISO 100-25600, expandable to 50 – 102400) with wide dynamic range. The sensor’s back-illuminated structure, with an expanded circuit scale and copper wiring design, enables faster transmission speed and outputs data approximately 3.5x faster than the original RX1R.

The Zeiss lens is said to be sharp from the centre to the corners. The lens also has a unique Macro shift ring for focusing on subjects as close as 14 cm in front of the lens.

While having a fixed focal length lens instead of a zoom could be viewed as a negative, Sony says the fixed lens design allows the positioning of its sensor and lens to be precisely adjusted to maximize all benefits of the sensor’s extremely high resolution. The closer the two components are to one another, the wider the angle through which light can pass through the lens and directly reach the sensor, resulting in imagery that is rich in detail and resolution. Also, unlike the focal plane shutter common to interchangeable lens cameras, the RX1R II utilizes an in-lens shutter, allowing 1/2000 sec flash synch speed and a significant reduction in overall body size.

The new RX1R II also offers uncompressed 14-bit RAW image capture.

The RX1R II model is the first in Sony’s RX line of compact cameras to feature Fast Hybrid AF capabilities. The camera’s sensor features 399 focal-plane phase-detection AF points that cover about 45 percent of the image area – the world’s widest AF coverage on a full-frame sensor, says Sony – that work together with 25 contrast AF points to achieve focus response that is about 30 percent faster than the original model. Additionally, the camera has adapted an advanced motion-detection algorithm that offers superior tracking performance of moving subjects and allows for the addition of AF-C mode that accurately tracks a subject after focusing. It also can achieve up to 5 fps continuous shooting with AF tracking.

Other focusing improvements on the new model include multiple AF area settings – Wide, Centre and Flexible Spot and Expand Flexible Spot. The camera also has Eye AF and lock-on AF.

In a first for digital cameras, the RX1R II features an optical variable low pass filter that allows shooters to manually adjust the balance of image resolution and presence of moiré or colour artifacts to match the subject.

The three settings for the low-pass filter include “off,” which provides comparable effects to having no low-pass filter and is suitable when prioritizing resolution; “standard,” which strikes a balance between resolution and removal of moiré and colour artifacts; and “high,” which places more emphasis on reducing moiré and artifacting. This unique feature allows photographers to achieve the desired image quality and resolution based on the presence of moiré-inducing high spatial frequency objects in the scene, essentially combining two cameras – one with and without a low-pass filter – into one body. Low-pass filter bracketing is also available and can be used to compare the effects of different settings.

sony rx1 rII backThe RX1R II has a built-in retractable 2.4 million dot XGA OLED Tru-Finder that pops up and down with simple one-push operation. The viewfinder features ZEISS T* Coating and four glass elements including two aspherical lenses that work together to deliver a magnification of 0.74x and clear corner-to-corner visibility with minimal distortion. The new camera also has a 3.0-inch LCD display that can tilt upwards up to 109 degrees and downwards up to 41 degrees, allowing for a greater range of shooting angles and positions.

On the video side, the camera’s advanced sensor and processor deliver exceptionally detailed movies with low levels of noise, nots the company. It is able to support full HD 1920×1080 video recording at frame rates of 60p, 30p or 24p through use of the versatile XAVC S movie recording format.

The camera is also Wi-Fi and NFC compatible and fully functional with Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile application available for Android and iOS platforms, as well as Sony’s range of PlayMemories Camera Apps.

A new version of the “Smart Remote Control” app (version 4.0) from PlayMemories Camera Apps, which enables remote shooting from a connected smartphone, is coming, and features updated bulb and continuous shooting functionality to match the new camera.

The Sony RX1R II full-frame compact camera will be available in November for $4,199.99. There is also a new camera case.

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