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Sony RX1 versus Sony A7R

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

Body comparison

The physical size and weight of the Sony RX1 and the Sony A7R are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button 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 RX1 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Sony RX1 vs Sony A7R front
RX1 versus A7R top view
RX1 and A7R rear side
Body view (RX1 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 A7R is considerably larger (63 percent) than the Sony RX1. Cameras that are intended for semi-professional or professional use are sometimes a bit bulkier in order to provide them with the necessary ruggedness. It is noteworthy in this context that the A7R is splash and dust-proof, 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 RX1 (⇒ rgt) 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 no 2012 2,799discont. check
Sony A7R (⇒ lft) 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.4 oz 340 YES 2013 2,299discont. check
Leica Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.1 in 3.7 in 22.6 oz .. no 2015 4,249 latest 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 D610 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.2 in 30.0 oz 900 YES 2013 1,999 latest 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 A6000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.8 in 12.1 oz 360 no 2014 599discont. check
Sony RX100 III (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.2 oz 320 no 2014 799discont. check
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.7 oz 340 YES 2013 1,699discont. check
Sony RX10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.5 in 4.0 in 28.7 oz 420 YES 2013 1,299discont. 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. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its 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, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the A7R is 1 percent bigger. 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 RX1 and Sony A7R 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 5.97μm for the RX1). Yet, 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 pixel-units. Coming back 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.

RX1 versus A7R 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Sony RX1 (⇒ rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 25.1 14.3 2534 93
Sony A7R (⇒ lft) Full Frame 36.2 7360 4912 1080/60p 25.6 14.1 2746 95
Leica Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.3 12.7 2221 85
Nikon D750 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.2 6016 4016 1080/60p 24.8 14.5 2956 93
Nikon D610 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.2 6016 4016 1080/30p 25.1 14.4 2925 94
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 A6000 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.1 13.1 1347 82
Sony RX100 III (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 22.4 12.3 495 67
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.8 14.2 2248 90
Sony RX10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 22.9 12.6 474 69
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. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Sony RX1, the Sony A7R, and comparable cameras. 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 RX1 (⇒ rgt) no no 3.0 1229 fixed no 4000 5.0 6 no
Sony A7R (⇒ lft) 2400 no 3.0 1230 tilting no 8000 4.0 no no
Leica Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt) 3680 no 3.0 1040 fixed YES 2000 10.0 no no
Nikon D750 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1229 tilting no 4000 6.0 12 no
Nikon D610 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 921 fixed no 4000 6.0 12 no
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 A6000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1440 no 3.0 922 tilting no 4000 11.0 6 no
Sony RX100 III (⇒ lft | rgt) 1440 no 3.0 1229 tilting no 2000 10.0 YES no
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 no 3.0 1230 tilting no 8000 5.0 no no
Sony RX10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1440 YES 3.0 1229 tilting no 3200 10.0 10.2 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 RX1 and the A7R 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 what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Sony RX1 or the Sony A7R – has the upper hand? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


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 a lens build-in, whereas the A7R requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (113x65mm vs 127x94mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2012).

Advantages of the Sony Alpha A7R:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (36.2 vs 24MP), which boosts linear resolution by 23%.
  • 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: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (340 versus 270) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 1 month) more recently.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7R emerges as the winner of the match-up (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.

RX1 06:09 A7R

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 RX1 and the A7R 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. The full reviews are available, respectively, at 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 RX1 (⇒ rgt) - 79/100 Gold 4/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2012 2,799discont. check
Sony A7R (⇒ lft) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2013 2,299discont. check
Leica Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 80/100 Silver 4.5/5 - 4.5/5 2015 4,249 latest check
Nikon D750 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 90/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2014 2,299 latest check
Nikon D610 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 87/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2013 1,999 latest 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 A6000 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 80/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2014 599discont. check
Sony RX100 III (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2014 799discont. check
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 80/100 Silver 5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2013 1,699discont. check
Sony RX10 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 80/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2013 1,299discont. 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 above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. 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 would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, kindly get in touch, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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