Standing in the Great Hall of York Railway museum; facing me the Great Gathering of the World’s six remaining A4 steam locomotives; surrounding me the worlds greatest gathering of camera tripods; I revelled in the freedom of the Sony RX1.
Four weeks before, in a fit of pique, I’d thrown my heavy DSLR, lenses and all, under a passing oliphaunt. Darting between engines and carriages, atmospherically lit as part of Illuminating York, I had no regrets.
On paper my Nikon D800 stuffed the RX1; more megapixels; more lenses, more focus points, more aperture, more dynamic range; more viewfinder.
Paper doesn’t mean a thing!
The size and weight of the Sony means it’s always in hand. Its size and silent shutter means I can squeeze into tight spaces unnoticed. Its fixed 35mm lens means I use legs, rather than (lazy) zoom, to frame the picture. But it’s the combination of that Zeiss lens and that full frame sensor that makes it the real deal.
The resulting images have some quality, some life, some depth, that go beyond what emerged from the D800, at least in my hands. And in all honesty I cannot see a difference in resolution, or noise levels, or dynamic range, or depth of field, between the D800 and Sony. In fact looking at test pictures I’d swear that the RX1 wins, though I know the specifications say different.
More that that the RX1 has changed the way I shoot; how I view cameras; how I view image quality. I bought the D800 chasing resolution, hoping to emulate the clarity of the magical photograph hanging above my fireplace (Mike Shepherd – Spirit of Langdale), taken, I think, with a Hasselblad. It was a futile chase. Now, it’s about that un-definable something, that combination of lens, and film (now sensor) and light.
The pictures that follow are all hand held, ranging from ISO 800 to ISO 6400, with some freshening up in Lightroom, shot as I get to grips with what this image making machine can produce. I hope to some degree they demonstrate its potential.