Sony's New 42 Megapixel RX1R II is a Fixed-Lens Full-Frame Camera With a Variable OLPF

Sony DSC-RX1RM2_RX1R-II_front_wLogo
Though PhotoPlus has yet to officially kick off, we first had some shots fired from Canon, and now Sony with the new RX1R II

Canon might do a lot of things right, but there is no question they are being out-innovated in this space, and they have nothing that really directly competes with a lot of Sony's offerings. The RX1R II is a good example. The original was a bit of a peculiar camera in that it had a fixed lens with a full-frame sensor — with a price on the higher end to match. The new camera retains the fixed 35mm f/2 Zeiss lens, but adds the 42 Megapixel full-frame sensor from the a7R II, and a pop-up EVF, for those who'd like to compose images and hold the camera in a more traditional manner. 

Sony RX1R II Back

They also had two versions, one with an optical low pass filter (OLPF) to prevent moire/aliasing, and another without one for maximum image quality. They've remedied that with the industry's first variable OLPF, which has three different settings depending on the situation — though it should be noted that these are only for still images. That is a positive, however, as you'd probably rather shoot with the OLPF "On" for video.

Here's B&H with a first look at the camera:

The specs:

  • 42MP (7952 x 5304) Full-Frame Exmor R BSI CMOS Sensor
  • BIONZ X Image Processor
  • Variable Optical Low-Pass Filter
  • Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm f/2 Lens
  • 1080p to 60fps, 1280 to 120fps
  • XAVC S HD: 60p 50Mbps (1,920 x 1,080/60p) / 30p 50Mbps (1,920 x 1,080/30p) / 24p 50Mbps (1,920 x 1,080/24p) / 120p 50Mbps (1,280 x 720/120p)
  • AVCHD: 28Mbps PS (1,920 x 1,080/60p) / 24Mbps FX (1,920 x 1,080/60i) / 17Mbps FH (1,920 x 1,080/60i) / 24M FX (1,920 x 1,080/24p) / 17Mbps FH (1,920 x 1,080/24p)
  • MP4: 28Mbps (1,920 x 1,080/60p)/16Mbps (1,920 x 1,080/30p)/6Mbps (1,280 x 720/30p)
  • XAVC S, AVCHD format Ver. 2.0 compatible, MP4 Video Formats
  • 399 Phase-Detect AF Points & 5 fps Burst
  • 0.39" 2.36M-Dot XGA OLED Tru-Finder EVF
  • 3.0" 1,228.8k-Dot Tilting LCD Monitor
  • ISO 100-25600 (Extended Mode: 50-102400)
  • Uncompressed 14-Bit RAW Still Images
  • SD Card or Memory Stick
  • Built-in Mic: With Video, Stereo — Optional External Mic: With Video, Stereo + Mono
  • 1/8" Microphone, HDMI D (Micro), Micro-USB
  • 29 Minute Clip Length
  • Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity with NFC
  • Weight: 1.12 lb / 507 g with battery and card
  • Availability: November 2015
  • Price: $3,300

It looks like the expanded ISO settings are limited to still images only — just like the variable OLPF. Here's more on that variable OLPF from their press release:

Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKoWrkEj1qo

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 color artifacts to match the subject.

The three settings for the low-pass filter3 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 color 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 RX1R II Both Sides

It's pretty amazing that we're shooting 8K stills in a camera that's this compact, but you're certainly paying for the privilege at $3,300 for a fixed lens. As I'm sure a number of you are wondering, why are they using a fixed lens? There are a few major advantages:

Matched specifically for the image sensor, the large aperture 35mm F2 ZEISS Sonnar T* lens ensures that all images captured by the camera are impressively sharp from the center to the corners.  The lens also has a unique Macro shift ring for focusing on subjects as close as 14cm in front of the lens and has nine aperture blades that produce smooth, even background defocus or ‘bokeh’ in the most commonly used aperture ranges.

Another unique benefit of the new camera is its fixed lens design, which 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, RX1R II utilizes an in-lens shutter, allowing 1/2000 sec flash synch speed and a significant reduction in overall body size.

Sony RX1R II Top

Essentially, with a fixed lens (just like those found on traditional video cameras), you can better tune the lens to the exact sensor, which should lead to better performance all around. Not only that, but because the shutter is in the lens itself, you're able to shoot flashes at 1/2000 of a second shutter, whereas you're normally limited to 1/250 or even lower. This opens up possibilities for all sorts of fast motion flash photography that wouldn't be possible with a traditional focal plane shutter. 

I'll update with any video samples when I can find them, but for now, expect the video quality to be similar to the 1080p on the a7R II, as they share a lot of the same tech (though unfortunately it doesn't seem like there is S-Log support). The advancements have been mostly on the stills side, and it would have been interesting if they could have included 4K, but this camera is doing a ton of work already internally. This should match well as a B-camera if you've already got an a7R II or similar, though obviously you're limited to 1080p on this one. The RX1R II is really aimed at a specific kind of shooter (certainly not for beginners at this price), and if you're outside of that circle it's likely that you're still scratching your head at all of this. Either way, if this camera isn't for you, it's likely that one of Sony's dozens of models might fit your needs. 

The camera should be available early next month, but you can pre-order right now.     

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Your Comment

13 Comments

Sony, please stop, no more new innovative cameras please! I can't keep up with the pace of all these new releases. And by the way: 3300 USD is a bit too expensive for a fixed lens system camera, don't you think? (yeah, yeah I know it's full frame)

October 14, 2015 at 2:25PM

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Erwin Hartsuiker
CineVideo-NL videographer
748

$3300....I'm speechless. Genuinely curious though, who is the target audience supposed to be???

October 14, 2015 at 4:03PM

17
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Emerson Shaw
Student
704

Somebody who REALLY likes the 35mm field of view and is comfortable with Leica-level pricing.

October 14, 2015 at 6:53PM, Edited October 14, 6:55PM

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Charlie K
1387

I'd love to have one for travel.

October 15, 2015 at 8:09AM

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Could be interesting stills cameras for serious enthusiasts on vacation--but at 1080p only and no variable lens, not sure why the camera even warrants its own news posting on a filmmaking web site in 2015.

October 14, 2015 at 4:15PM, Edited October 14, 4:16PM

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J Robbins
725

I guess that variable OLPF is the real news for us here film folk (even though it doesn't work with video on this stills-aimed camera). I imagine RED wished they had something similar, following the semi-disasterous Dragon OLPF trouble at release and subsequent shit-mix solution.

This could become standard tech in a video cameras in a few years, maximizing sensor potential depending on shooting conditions and subject.

October 14, 2015 at 5:11PM, Edited October 14, 5:14PM

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A brand new camera, that costs $3300, and it has no 4k. Right...

October 14, 2015 at 5:33PM

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Vidrazor
635

An Arri or RED for God know how many more zeros on the price tag and they can't even take stills. Riiiiiight....

October 14, 2015 at 9:53PM, Edited October 14, 9:54PM

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Hampus Lager
Dreamer
289

October 16, 2015 at 12:43PM

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Zak Abitz
Video Producer
88

A stuck 35mm lens for $3300? And how is this smaller or better than the A7S II or A7R II for around the same price?

October 14, 2015 at 6:01PM, Edited October 14, 6:01PM

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If I could afford it, I would happily use this as my only camera for video and photos. The creative limitations of a fixed lens are so appealing. Especially on a full frame compact like this. Years ago I used a Ricoh GR Digital with a fixed 28mm lens for all my photography, and took some of my best photos with that camera. Well, until the camera died after about 18 months and was to expensive to fix.

October 15, 2015 at 2:21AM, Edited October 15, 2:21AM

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Glenn Thomas
Music video director and editor.
76

That's probably not a really good NFS news as this product isn't aim at filmmakers at all. I wonder how much money sony loose on this kind of product.

October 15, 2015 at 2:34AM, Edited October 15, 2:34AM

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AvdS
1450

Not sure I'd be in the market for this camera specifically, but Sony has been doing some really interesting things lately. I think of this more as a "concept car": they are pushing the tech into new areas. Wouldn't be surprised to see the variable OLPF more in the future (who knows, maybe Blackmagic can get inspired in this area...) The fixed lens is...actually kinda intriguing, especially if the glass is that good.

October 15, 2015 at 11:56AM, Edited October 15, 11:56AM

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thomas j castillo
human
121

There seems to be a good replacement olpf (with IR cut) for the Blackmagic cameras:
https://vimeo.com/142632044

October 16, 2015 at 11:33PM

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Erik Vroumen
Director of Photography
84