Sony RX1R for Travel: South Carolina and Georgia

March 28, 2014  •  1 Comment

Savannah GraveyardSavannah GraveyardAccording to our guide, this old cemetery in the middle of downtown Savannah was once much larger. City planners had to reduce it's size in order to make way for larger streets. As a result, there are graves under the streets and sidewalks, graves where the wood of the coffins have collapsed, making the sidewalk and street uneven and cracked. Before I heard this, as I walked on the bricks, I thought they were just old, or shoddily done. Things took on a different meaning when I learned of the graves below my feet. As further evidence our guide pointed out an old above-ground tomb that had been cut in half when they shortened the extent of the graveyard.

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Hilton Head Island with my wife for a week-long vacation. It was a much-needed break and re-energizer for work for both of us. For the trip I left the big D800E and Nikkor glass at home and instead took just the Sony RX1R.

How did it do?

Riverwalk NightRiverwalk NightWe happened to come to Savannah on St Patrick's Day, completely unaware that it is - reputedly - the city with the second largest St Patrick's Day celebration in the United States (after New York City). True? I'm not sure. Certainly there were a fair number of drunken revelers out and about, and I had the distinct feeling of being back in my college days. It was also rainy, creating quite the mood on those old Savannah streets. This shot was on the Riverwalk, looking toward the bridge that takes you out of Georgia and back into South Carolina.

Very well, of course. It’s an exceptionally capable little camera, particularly when it comes to image quality and the flexibility of the RAW files. The main concerns or ‘problems’ with the camera are ones I already touched on in my review. Specifically:

  • Limited to the fixed 35mm f/2 lens – it is a spectacular Zeiss lens, and you should be well aware of the limitations (as I was) of having only one focal length before you ever buy the camera, but even so there were occasions where I wanted a wider perspective or a longer perspective
  • Hunts in low light – I actually only had this happen a few times. Most of the night time shots I took were in cities like Savannah with enough illumination from street lights and store fronts that the camera readily locked on to whatever I was aiming at. So not really a big deal at all
  • A wish for image stabilization – I don’t have the most stable of hands. It’s tough to admit, but there you go. I do my best to compensate with careful shot technique (forming a solid triangle with my arms and face [using the viewfinder], bracing against objects whenever possible, etc), but even so it would have been very nice to have in-body image stabilization a-la the Olympus OM-D series cameras
  • Not weather sealed – this was kind of a biggie. It was cold, rainy and windy where we were for the first three days of the trip, and we spent time on the beach. I was very careful to protect the camera but given how expensive it is, I think Sony should have thoroughly sealed it against moisture and dust

Footprints in the WindFootprints in the WindThe beach on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina can be cold and very windy, especially in the early spring. In the summer - so I've heard - the water gets even warmer than the ambient air temperature sometimes, leading to crowded beaches and children frolicking in the waves. In mid March, though, with the wind howling and the sand blowing, there may be no one else around, seemingly for miles, leaving you alone with the waves and the clouds and your footprints in the sand.

That’s really it. The image quality is great, even at high ISOs. That Zeiss lens packs a punch. The entire camera, including my added grip and the EVF, still slipped into a small shoulder bag, and I carried it everywhere. On a late night “Ghost Tour” of Savannah I got some shots I’m quite happy with – again, at times I’d have liked a wider focal length, perhaps, or longer one, as well as image stabilization, but the overall quality of the output and the fact that I carried it around for hours without pain or discomfort speaks to what this camera really excels at: producing DSLR-quality images in a tiny body.


1.Mike O'Sullivan(non-registered)
Very nice photos. I'm considering taking my Rx1r on a 10-day trip to Japan, and am somewhat concerned about the limited focal length, but think I'll have some wiggle room, at least with cropping to get in close. I'm thinking that for the size and weight, you can't do any better.
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