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Sony A7S versus Sony RX1R

The Sony Alpha A7S and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in April 2014 and June 2013. The A7S is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the RX1R is a fixed lens compact. Both cameras are equipped with a full frame sensor. The A7S has a resolution of 12 megapixel, whereas the RX1R provides 24 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Sony A7S vs Sony RX1R

The physical size and weight of the Sony A7S and the Sony RX1R are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the A7S – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Sony A7S vs Sony RX1R
Compare A7S versus RX1R top
Compare A7S and RX1R rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony RX1R is considerably smaller (38 percent) than the Sony A7S. It is worth mentioning in this context that the A7S is splash and dust resistant, while the RX1R does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX1R has a lens build in, whereas the A7S 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 A7S and their specifications in the Sony FE Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the A7S gets 380 shots out of its NP-FW50 battery, while the RX1R can take 270 images on a single charge of its NP-BX1 power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Sony A7S» 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 17.2 oz 380 Y Apr 2014 2,499- i Sony A7S
Sony RX1R« 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 n Jun 2013 2,799- i Sony RX1R
Leica X Typ 113« » 5.2 in 2.9 in 3.1 in 17.1 oz 350 n Sep 2014 2,295 i i Leica X Typ 113
Nikon D750« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 26.5 oz 1230 Y Sep 2014 2,299 i i Nikon D750
Nikon Df« » 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.6 in 26.8 oz 1400 Y Nov 2013 2,749 i i Nikon Df
Panasonic GH4« » 5.2 in 3.7 in 3.3 in 19.8 oz 500 Y Feb 2014 1,499- i Panasonic GH4
Sony A7S II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 22.1 oz 370 Y Sep 2015 2,999 i i Sony A7S II
Sony RX1R II« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.9 oz 220 n Oct 2015 3,299 i i Sony RX1R II
Sony A7 II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 21.1 oz 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999- i Sony A7 II
Sony A7« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.7 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 1,699- i Sony A7
Sony A7R« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.4 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 2,299- i Sony A7R
Sony A3000« » 5.0 in 3.6 in 3.3 in 14.5 oz 470 n Aug 2013 329- i Sony A3000
Sony RX1« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 n Sep 2012 2,799- i Sony RX1

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. 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: Sony A7S vs Sony RX1R

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Sony A7S and Sony RX1R sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the RX1R offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixel, compared with 12 MP of the A7S. This megapixel advantage translates into a 42 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the RX1R has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.97μm versus 8.45μm for the A7S). Moreover, it should be noted, that the A7S is a somewhat more recent model (by 9 months) than the RX1R, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of individual pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the RX1R has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

A7S versus RX1R MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the RX1R has a markedly higher DXO score than the A7S (overall score 4 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 1.1 bits higher color depth, 0.4 EV in additional dynamic range, 0.5 stops of reduced low light sensitivity. 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
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Sony A7S» Full Frame 12.0 4240 28321080/60p23.913.2370287Sony A7S
Sony RX1R« Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.013.6253791Sony RX1R
Leica X Typ 113« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p----Leica X Typ 113
Nikon D750« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/60p24.814.5295693Nikon D750
Nikon Df« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 3280-24.613.1327989Nikon Df
Panasonic GH4« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34564K/30p23.212.879174Panasonic GH4
Sony A7S II« » Full Frame 12.0 4240 28324K/30p23.613.3299385Sony A7S II
Sony RX1R II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53041080/60p25.813.9320497Sony RX1R II
Sony A7 II« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990Sony A7 II
Sony A7« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.814.2224890Sony A7
Sony A7R« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.614.1274695Sony A7R
Sony A3000« » APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.712.8106878Sony A3000
Sony RX1« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.114.3253493Sony RX1

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. 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: Sony A7S vs Sony RX1R

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A7S has an electronic viewfinder (2400k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the RX1R relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the RX1R can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-EV1MK. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Sony A7S and Sony RX1R along with similar information for a selection of comparators. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Sony A7S»2400 n 3.0 921 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n Sony A7S
Sony RX1R«- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Sony RX1R
Leica X Typ 113« »- n 3.0 920 fixed n 2000 5.0 Y n Leica X Typ 113
Nikon D750« »optical Y 3.2 1229 tilting n 4000 6.0 Y n Nikon D750
Nikon Df« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 4000 5.5 n n Nikon Df
Panasonic GH4« »2359 n 3.0 1036 swivel Y 8000 12.0 Y n Panasonic GH4
Sony A7S II« »2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y Sony A7S II
Sony RX1R II« »2360 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 4000 5.0 n n Sony RX1R II
Sony A7 II« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y Sony A7 II
Sony A7« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n Sony A7
Sony A7R« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 4.0 n n Sony A7R
Sony A3000« »202 n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n Sony A3000
Sony RX1« »- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Sony RX1

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The RX1R has one, while the A7S does not. While the build-in flash of the RX1R is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

Both the A7S and the RX1R write their imaging data to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Sony A7S»YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7S
Sony RX1R«YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Sony RX1R
Leica X Typ 113« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Leica X Typ 113
Nikon D750« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0Y--Nikon D750
Nikon Df« »Y----mini2.0---Nikon Df
Panasonic GH4« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Panasonic GH4
Sony A7S II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7S II
Sony RX1R II« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Sony RX1R II
Sony A7 II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7 II
Sony A7« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7
Sony A7R« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7R
Sony A3000« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony A3000
Sony RX1« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Sony RX1

Both the A7S and the RX1R have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The RX1R was replaced by the Sony RX1R II, while the A7S was followed by the Sony A7S II.

Review summary: Sony A7S vs Sony RX1R

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Sony A7S and the Sony RX1R? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A7S:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
  • 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 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 (380 versus 270) on a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi build in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 9 months after the RX1R).


Advantages of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 12MP), which boosts linear resolution by 41%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (4 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.1 bits more color depth).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 921k dots).
  • Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the A7S necessitates an extra lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (113x65mm vs 127x94mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens build in (unlike the A7S).
  • 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 June 2013).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7S emerges as the winner of the contest (12 : 10 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera.

A7S 12:10 RX1R

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the A7S and the RX1R in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Sony A7S»-86/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Apr 2014 2,499- i Sony A7S
Sony RX1R«--4/5rev4.5/5 Jun 2013 2,799- i Sony RX1R
Leica X Typ 113« »--3.5/5-4/5 Sep 2014 2,295 i i Leica X Typ 113
Nikon D750« »HiRec90/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 2,299 i i Nikon D750
Nikon Df« »-81/1004/54/54/5 Nov 2013 2,749 i i Nikon Df
Panasonic GH4« »HiRec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2014 1,499- i Panasonic GH4
Sony A7S II« »Rec-4.5/55/55/5 Sep 2015 2,999 i i Sony A7S II
Sony RX1R II« »-82/100-rev4.5/5 Oct 2015 3,299 i i Sony RX1R II
Sony A7 II« »Rec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999- i Sony A7 II
Sony A7« »HiRec80/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,699- i Sony A7
Sony A7R« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2013 2,299- i Sony A7R
Sony A3000« »Rec-4/54.5/54/5 Aug 2013 329- i Sony A3000
Sony RX1« »-79/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799- i Sony RX1

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please contact me, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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