DP Review Misses The Point of the Sony RX1R II

Compact cameras are by their definition a compromise. They’re not designed to be the top of the line camera, even with some of the same parts, like the sensor. They are an example of a company like Sony’s technical prowess and serve a market of the super enthusiasts who will buy it and believe it’s one of the best cameras they’ve ever owned. Fuji and Olympus owners would feel the same way about their respective models and know full well that a stick-of-gum sized battery isn’t going to last all day. In the video above and in this article, DP Review has some issues with the RX1R II:

Sadly, the RX1R II’s battery is the same NP-BX1 found in the first generation RX1R and all of Sony’s RX100 series compacts. Even just physically, the BX1 is comically small. Like, lose-it-in-your-pocket small. And while it’s rated for a modest 200 shots, in cold weather I’ve come to expect far less.

Use pocket warmers like you’d do with a phone and why is that battery so small? Because Sony crammed a full-frame sensor with a 35mm lens into a camera that fits in the palm of your hand. The SD card is snuggled against the battery; so carry extras, go into battery maximizing mode, and shoot less, and look at the shots later on your mobile device or desktop. I guess it’s because Sony markets their compacts for Pros that we’re supposed to expect them to shoot all day on one battery? Battery life hasn’t let me down yet, and you know what absolutely does not last all day? My iPhone. That’s why the DPR review of the RX1R II is so curious. Instead of looking at it as a compact camera and understanding the compromises, they looked at it as if it were on par with the A7RII. Here’s more

I’ve been using the RX1R II for a while now and I keep on having to remind myself that despite its high price-tag it is still a Cyber-shot camera, with a lot of the same quirks of much cheaper compact cameras in Sony’s lineup. In fact, it’s impossible to ignore. There’s the same lengthy startup time, the same lag – before – you – can – zoom – in to the images you’ve captured, the same confusing, rather passive aggressive error messages when you try to do something before the camera is ready or when it’s in the wrong mode.

Reading this passage a few times, I thought maybe the DP Reviewer had a different camera than me. Agreed on the confusing branding — Cyber-shot v. Alpha series — but this is a premium camera that’s handbuilt in Japan. There’s nothing cheap about it, besides the finder eyepiece cup. Because the finder retracts and the eyepiece prevents that, it’s a nuisance. The boot time is as fast as the Alphas and in time to pronounce the “O” and “N” sound of “One Mississippi.” Again, a preproduction camera perhaps or an older firmware? The Alphas also lag when zooming an image in the viewer, it’s because the files are huge. Buffer write times are even slower, and I wish this camera ran on flash memory instead of SD cards, but we have a spec outrunning memory capabilities of SD cards, not a flaw. You can make a legit case that the speed of Sony’s Pro cameras are lacking, but that’s all of them, not just a Cyber-shot-labeled RX1R II. Don’t know what errors the reviewer saw, but ok Sony’s camera OS isn’t winning any software awards.

I do agree that the AF-modes are at first confusing — gotta read the manual — and I have no idea how to bracket the LPF. Because Sony is the first to offer low-pass filter options (Off, Standard, High) exposing how to do that in the OS would be helpful.

There are a couple of outright bugs, too. For example, despite not offering any form of SteadyShot image stabilization in still capture, the RX1R II will still blink a reminder at slow shutter speeds that this non-existent feature is turned off.

The icon blinks to tell you there’s not enough light to get a steady shot; because the camera has no stabilization and doesn’t need it, the icon is confusing, but not a bug. Same thing with the walking person icon, what is that? No idea, the manual says it’s a scene selection icon, but there is no walking scene.

After shooting thousands of frames with the RX1R II, I’ve learned to live with these minor annoyances but I do wish Sony had sprung for a couple of extra components. A more powerful processor would make a huge difference to the overall handling experience (especially in uncompressed Raw mode) and I wish it had a touchscreen. I’ve come to really value touch-sensitive screens over the past couple of years, mostly for AF placement when shooting from low angles.

If he hates the battery life now, what’s a touch screen gonna do? A joystick to pick focus points like the Fuji would be great, but agreed on a faster processor, and the OS needs an overhaul.

Barney seems to grudgingly accept the RX1R II like he’s speed dating it with some commitment-restricting flaws. In that case, maybe it’s not the camera for him. For me, the flaws are minor, no showstoppers, and the camera furthers my goal of traveling light to shoot smarter. I do wish it had some weather sealing like the Fuji.

The RX1R II is available from B&H and Amazon for $3,298.00. After a delay to resolve a manufacturing issue, it should be shipping again soon, like this week. Finally, if you think the RX1R II is too expensive as Barney does, see this post.

My daily shooter is Sony A1 with a vertical grip and various Sony lenses attached like the FE 20mm F1.8. Find more gear recommendations in our shop. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.