Sony Senior Technology Manager Mark Weir must have mentioned “decisive moment” during his presentation of the RX1R Mark II at least three times – and in spite of my best efforts, each time he did a little chill of excitement ran down my spine. A modern interpretation of Cartier-Bresson’s Leica? Yum-bo!
We didn’t know what to expect at Sony’s press briefing last Wednesday morning, so the announcement of the RX1R Mark II was a surprise to most of us.
Especially me, since I generally don’t pay attention to expensive, single focal length fixed lens cameras.
I think maybe this is because I’m an interchangeable lens, hybrid video/stills kind of guy, and my frame of reference for specialty cameras like this is Leica.
And that means: while I’ve loved the Leica brand for decades and owned a IIIa with collapsible 50mm Summar and M8 with 35mm Summicron and 90mm Elmarit, the last time I looked at a single focal length fixed lens camera – Leica’s X2 (since replaced by the Typ 113) – I was non-plussed.
Introducing the RX1R Mark II
Still, I was already in a good mood after a few hours roaming the streets of Manhattan the prior evening with the new Sony a7s Mark II (courtesy of Sony). I’d also gone on record last year saying Sony’s a6000 is what the Leica M should have been.
Mark, you had me at “decisive moment.”
But it was when Sony Electronics President & CEO Mike Fasullo introduced surprise guest and head of the entire Sony Corporation President & CEO Kaz Hirai – and Kai himself announced the RX1R Mark II by first talking about Dektol (the very chemical I used to develop black & white prints in my youth) – that I was a goner.
I definitely DO know better.
Here’s the thing: I’ve specifically challenged myself to get by with less, and used Cartier-Bresson with his trusty little Leica as inspiration. I’ve come to rely on my iPhone 6 with its 8 megapixel, fixed 30mm full frame equivalent lens for family and travel photos – even video interviews.
It has been a rewarding and revealing exercise.
I’ve been pretty darned happy. I always have it on me, it’s unobtrusive and very quick, and as long as I view the images on another smartphone or tablet – even a laptop display – it usually looks great.
Unless the light is low, or the contrast is high, or I try to do much of anything in post – or I print on A3 or bigger, depending on subject.
Am I in the market to overcome those problems with a $3,000+ camera?
No, and the RX1R Mark II doesn’t do 4K video, either.
A camera that one can slip into a pocket as a matter of course that happens to have the a7r Mark II’s full frame 42.3 megapixel sensor and what promises to be a top-notch 35mm f/2 lens – and adds in a revised pop-up viewfinder borrowed from the stellar little RX-100 Mark IV [B&H | Amazon] that no longer requires you to pull out the actual eyepiece when it opens nor push it in before closing – well, that’s pretty much an engineering marvel.
And might – just might – get me into printing again, variable optical low pass filter or not.
I can tell you that simply holding the RX1R Mark II in hand is an occasion.
In the end, the RX1R Mark II is a halo product for the entire brand. Sony is not looking for the RX1R Mark II to sell in high volumes any more than Audi is looking to sell boatloads of the TT RS: both companies can amortize the cost of common bits among their dramatically higher volume models like the VW Golf (you’d be surprised how much those two cars have in common) and Sony’s RX 100 Mark IV or even their HX90V [B&H | Amazon].
As a pro photographer’s or affluent enthusiast’s personal camera, the RX1R Mark II is a camera to contemplate, a camera to reignite the passion, especially against the first Leica single focal length fixed lens camera that looks interesting, the announced but not yet available Q Typ 116.
We’re actually excited about getting these cameras in hand and actually making some…prints.
(cover photo credit: snap from Hugh Brownstone)