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Sony A7R versus Sony RX1

The Sony Alpha A7R and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in October 2013 and September 2012. The A7R is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the RX1 is a fixed lens compact. Both cameras are equipped with a full frame sensor. The A7R has a resolution of 36.2 megapixel, whereas the RX1 provides 24 MP.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Sony A7R and the Sony RX1. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the A7R – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Sony A7R vs Sony RX1 front
A7R versus RX1 top view
A7R and RX1 rear side
Body view (A7R on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony RX1 is considerably smaller (38 percent) than the Sony A7R. It is worth mentioning in this context that the A7R is splash and dust resistant, while the RX1 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX1 has a lens build in, whereas the A7R is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can find an overview of optics for the A7R and their specifications in the Sony FE Lens Catalog.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Sony A7R (⇒ rgt) 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.4 oz 340 YES 2013 2,299discont. check
Sony RX1 (⇒ lft) 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 no 2012 2,799discont. check
Nikon D750 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 26.5 oz 1230 YES 2014 2,299 latest check
Nikon D810 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 34.6 oz 1200 YES 2014 3,299discont. check
Nikon D610 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.2 in 30.0 oz 900 YES 2013 1,999 latest check
Nikon Df (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.6 in 26.8 oz 1400 YES 2013 2,749 latest check
Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 22.0 oz 290 YES 2015 3,199discont. check
Sony RX1R II (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.9 oz 220 no 2015 3,299 latest check
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 280 no 2015 999discont. check
Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 21.1 oz 350 YES 2014 1,999 latest check
Sony A7S (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 17.2 oz 380 YES 2014 2,499discont. check
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.7 oz 340 YES 2013 1,699discont. check
Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.9 oz 350 no 2013 749discont. check
Sony RX1R (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 no 2013 2,799discont. check
Sony RX100 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.4 in 8.5 oz 330 no 2012 649discont. check

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the RX1 is 1 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Sony A7R and Sony RX1 sensor measures
Sensor size

With 36.2MP, the A7R offers a higher resolution than the RX1 (24MP), but the A7R has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.88μm versus 5.96μm for the RX1). However, the A7R is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 1 month) than the RX1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the A7R has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

A7R versus RX1 MP
Sensor resolution

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Sony A7R (⇒ rgt) Full Frame 36.2 7360 4912 1080/60p 25.6 14.1 2746 95
Sony RX1 (⇒ lft) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 25.1 14.3 2534 93
Nikon D750 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.2 6016 4016 1080/60p 24.8 14.5 2956 93
Nikon D810 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 36.2 7360 4912 1080/60p 25.7 14.8 2853 97
Nikon D610 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.2 6016 4016 1080/30p 25.1 14.4 2925 94
Nikon Df (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 16.2 4928 3280 no 24.6 13.1 3279 89
Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 42.2 7952 5304 4K/30p 26.0 13.9 3434 98
Sony RX1R II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 42.2 7952 5304 1080/60p 25.8 13.9 3204 97
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 4K/30p 22.8 12.6 591 70
Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.9 13.6 2449 90
Sony A7S (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 12.0 4240 2832 1080/60p 23.9 13.2 3702 87
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.8 14.2 2248 90
Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 22.5 12.4 483 67
Sony RX1R (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 25.0 13.6 2537 91
Sony RX100 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 22.6 12.4 390 66

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60p).

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A7R has an electronic viewfinder (2400k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the RX1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Sony A7R and Sony RX1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Sony A7R (⇒ rgt) 2400 no 3.0 1230 tilting no 8000 4.0 no no
Sony RX1 (⇒ lft) no no 3.0 1229 fixed no 4000 5.0 6 no
Nikon D750 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1229 tilting no 4000 6.0 12 no
Nikon D810 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1229 fixed no 4000 5.0 12 no
Nikon D610 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 921 fixed no 4000 6.0 12 no
Nikon Df (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 921 fixed no 4000 5.5 no no
Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 no 3.0 1229 tilting no 8000 5.0 no YES
Sony RX1R II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1229 tilting no 4000 5.0 no no
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 no 3.0 1228 tilting no 2000 16.0 10.2 no
Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 no 3.0 1230 tilting no 8000 5.0 no YES
Sony A7S (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 no 3.0 921 tilting no 8000 5.0 no no
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 no 3.0 1230 tilting no 8000 5.0 no no
Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1229 tilting no 2000 10.0 15 no
Sony RX1R (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1229 fixed no 4000 5.0 6 no
Sony RX100 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1229 fixed YES 2000 10.0 YES no

Both the A7R and the RX1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The RX1 was replaced by the Sony RX1R, while the A7R was followed by the Sony A7R II.

Summary

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Sony A7R and the Sony A7R? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A7R:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (36.2 vs 24MP) with a 23% higher linear resolution.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Faster shutter: Has a higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (340 versus 270) on a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 1 month after the RX1).

Arguments in favor of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the A7R necessitates an extra lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (113x65mm vs 127x94mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in October 2013).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A7R emerges as the winner of the contest (9 : 6 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features.

A7R 09:06 RX1

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the A7R or the RX1. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites. The detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
dp
review
ephoto
zine
imaging
resource
photography
blog
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Sony A7R (⇒ rgt) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2013 2,299discont. check
Sony RX1 (⇒ lft) - 79/100 Gold 4/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2012 2,799discont. check
Nikon D750 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 90/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2014 2,299 latest check
Nikon D810 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 86/100 Gold 5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2014 3,299discont. check
Nikon D610 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 87/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2013 1,999 latest check
Nikon Df (⇒ lft | rgt) - 81/100 4/5 4/5 4/5 2013 2,749 latest check
Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 90/100 Gold 5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2015 3,199discont. check
Sony RX1R II (⇒ lft | rgt) - 82/100 Silver - reviewed 4.5/5 2015 3,299 latest check
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 85/100 Gold 4/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2015 999discont. check
Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 82/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2014 1,999 latest check
Sony A7S (⇒ lft | rgt) - 86/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2014 2,499discont. check
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 80/100 Silver 5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2013 1,699discont. check
Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 79/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2013 749discont. check
Sony RX1R (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4/5 reviewed 4.5/5 2013 2,799discont. check
Sony RX100 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 78/100 Silver 4/5 5/5 5/5 2012 649discont. check

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Other comparisons

In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please send me an email, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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