PetaPixel

Fashion Photography With the Sony RX1, A Little Beast of a Camera

Why my Nikon D800 is now collecting dust

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A Little Background…

I am a 23-year-old photographer who moved to Chicago from Nigeria 6 years ago. I started photography about 3 years ago. After playing around with a DSLR in Target, I was hooked. I shoot mostly fashion photography, and female models. I have shot full frame since late 2011 with the 5D Mk2, then the D800 since November 2012.

Why the RX1?

I honestly just had some extra money 2 months ago, and wanted a new toy. It was either the camera or a new road bike. Boy am I glad I went with the RX1. I was lucky enough to get a used one in excellent condition for $1900 with a very nice leather case.

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First Impressions

It’s really small, but substantial. There is a solid heft to it, even though it’s not heavy by any means. The compactness makes me marvel at how far technology has come. Everything on the camera feels solidly built and very premium.

Using the Camera

It’s such a joy to use. It gets out of your way, and just lets you shoot. The controls are very intuitive, and the feedback from the buttons are very good too. Before getting this camera, my preferred lens was the Nikon 50mm f/1.4. I don’t like zooms, so a fixed lens that gave me more room to add the environment was perfect. It took me a little while to get used to the 35mm focal length, but now it just feels natural.

I have only shot with the camera in available light. I tried using my generic Calumet flash triggers, but they didn’t fit completely into the hotshoe. The strobe syncing worked fine, but the contact was finicky, so it wouldn’t flash when it secured tightly. I prefer to shoot with available light when I shoot outdoors anyways, so strobing with the RX1 wasn’t a priority for me. That just takes the simplicity of using this camera out of the equation. The auto white balance on the RX1 is wonderful. It always metered much better than my D800 in every situation.

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One big advantage with shooting outside on location with the RX1 is how little attention you gather. It’s unbelievable. Cops just walked on by when I was shooting a model in a vest and panties in the middle of the street, in the middle of the day without saying a word. Contrary to my experiences with my D800, we would have been asked to present permits, and all sorts of documentation. People don’t crowd around to watch, because it just looks like I’m with my hot friends taking pics for Instagram.

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The autofocus is good. It’s not going to win any awards for speed and accuracy, but it’s good enough to capture what I want quickly enough. Especially in sufficient light. It does struggle in low light, but I rarely ever shoot in low light, so that hasn’t been a problem. Speaking of low light performance, the RX1 is really good at high ISO’s. Better than my D800 from 3200 and up.

The dynamic range and sharpness from that 35mm f/2 lens are just wonderful. I don’t even add sharpening in post, because the photos come out nice and sharp. With tons of shadow and highlight detail which makes post-processing a joy.

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I didn’t get the EVF, because it adds bulk to the camera, is quite expensive, and makes it feel like a very formal/professional affair which goes against the philosophy behind the RX1 in my opinion. The LCD works just fine even in direct sunlight. I do not have a single complaint with it.

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Battery life is quite bad, but the batteries are really cheap, and I have five of them with two chargers. I usually use 2 batteries for a full 2-3 hour fashion shoot. It’s also disconcerting to models who are used to using loud shutter clicks as cues to switch poses, but they get used to it after a while.

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I shoot weddings occasionally, and I use the RX1 for all the pre-ceremony and reception shots where I have more time to be creative.

My only gripe with using it is that I still haven’t had a bride, groom, or client freak out that I was shooting with this tiny camera. It’s a little disappointing because I expected to get that reaction every time I whipped out the RX1 instead of my big DSLR.

My D800 now sits at home collecting dust, and it takes me a while to re-adjust when I have to shoot with it because it really is cumbersome working with DSLR cameras. They’re heavy, bulky, and I hate not being able to see what my photo will look like before I click the shutter. Optical viewfinders are so old-fashioned.

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I LOVE my RX1. It has been a revelation shooting with this little beast of a camera. I can’t stress how easy it makes shooting become. It makes something as serious as a high-end fashion shoot feel like a leisure time activity. It makes it easier for me to interact with my models, because everyone is more relaxed and having a blast during the shoot, and it shows in the images. I can’t speak for others, but for my purposes it is the perfect camera for my uses.

I recently went on a trip to LA, and I left my DSLR at home. I didn’t miss having it for one moment. That was when I realized that small mirrorless full-frame cameras are the future. I’ve only done a handful of shoots with the RX1, but it will be my main camera for the foreseeable future.

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You can ask me any question you like, and I will be glad to answer in the comments section. Thanks for reading!


Image credits: Isi Aakahome is a young Chicago-based fashion photographer who came to the US six years ago. He started photography in 2010, and is currently a student at DePaul University. His goal is to make an impression on the viewer with every image he takes. You can find his work on his website and Facebook. This article originally appeared here.


 
  • Sean Shipley

    Must be nice having thousands of dollars to blow for cameras….

  • DudeRocks

    Very nice images. Your website is great too. I loved the street photos…

  • harumph

    What an obnoxious comment. You begrudge a fellow photographer a little success?

    Great shots, Isi.

  • herzco

    Err…It is amazing, except for the facts stated that flashes do not fit on the hot shoe, strobe contact is “finicky”, focus struggles in low light, the shutter is incredibly loud and the battery life is horrible. And it is super expensive. What a deal! ;-I

  • Carlos Henrique

    I think it is unethical to display a story like that without making it clear that it is advertising.

  • Jonathan Maniago

    “One big advantage with shooting outside on location with the RX1 is how little attention you gather. … Contrary to my experiences with my D800, we would have been asked to present permits, and all sorts of documentation.”

    This would’ve made the RX1 a bit more tempting for me if I hadn’t been stopped, questioned, and asked for documentation while using a dinky little Powershot S110.

    Great shots, btw. I was under the impression that only street shooters would buy the RX1; and many photographers insist on using lenses no shorter than 85mm for portraits.

  • Guest

    How

  • Isi Akahome

    The shutter is very quiet, and for what you’re getting, It’s not expensive at all.

  • try2

    The camera doesn’t impress me from these images. They look like high ISO in harsh light. It may be artistic to simply not try shooting low ISO in more subtle light. The images do remind me of the posters in front of Abercrombie & Fitch, which is a style that apparently has marketability. It is a relief from the endless stream of HDR photography.

  • WC

    It sure is nice, you spewing sour grapes?

  • WC

    It doesn’t have to impress you.

  • Dingleberry

    The images look great, and the article is good if not a little dismissive of the drawbacks of having only a 35mm for a fashion spread. I have no doubt Olympus, Panasonic, Fujifilm, or Nex mirrorless cameras could have done equally as well without the limitation of one focal length, and for less $$$. Nonetheless a great showcase of what a great camera can do outside of street photography. More of this type of thing Petapixel, to remind all of us gear nerds what these objects we spend all our time arguing about are actually meant for.

  • Vlad Dusil

    Sony have been producing some killer cameras as of late. I too am a big fan of the RX1, but wish that Sony worked on a firmware update to perhaps improve the low light AF performance and other smaller improvements. It is my go-to for 90% of my own shooting, while the Nikon kit is collecting dust.

  • Try2

    Agreed, it doesn’t. Although it appears to be the purpose.
    I contend the quality of these images could be duplicated with any number of far less expensive cameras. Nothing about them replaces a Nikon D800. Getting these images out of a D800 is like asking Peyton Manning to throw a wobbly pass.
    I do not wish to disparage the artist! An artist is not mandated to make best use of expensive equipment. I do recognize that the artist has skill. I hope the artist is paid well for promoting the RX1.

  • a_tothez

    Yeah, because Sony, Nikon, and Canon all paid him to mention their camera names…come on people, just take the article for face value and understand that a camera is just a tool, don’t be one. Great work Isi, and I am sure that you work will progress accordingly as your passion progresses.

  • YHT

    with this heavy handed color processing any camera can look good. as a “commercial fashion” photographer I wouldn’t put weddings in your primary portfolio, create another alias.

  • PhilipJohn

    “DSLR cameras. They’re heavy, bulky, and I hate not being able to see what my photo will look like before I click the shutter. Optical viewfinders are so old-fashioned.” Exactly!

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    It has a leaf shutter which makes no noise compared, say, with the Sony A7 or a DSLR.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Amen.

  • No bs

    Is your liveview broken?

  • seesea

    We work hard for the extra income to buy our toys. Don’t hate.

  • Matthew Kissau

    Great shots! I just took a look at the Sony A7, and I gotta say I am turning my eye towards the Sony Brand to try it out. The RX sounds like a good little camera as well! As for optical viewfinders being old hat, they are but I prefer them to electronic or liveview. I guess its all in the way your process works for you.

  • Omar Salgado

    I agree with you on the OVFs, but I disagree these pics are great, because they’re not: too heavily postprocessed and lack of composition. Yeah, they look as if they were meant to be uploaded to Instagram.

  • battlepriest

    How is it you’re not able to know what your photo will look like with a DSLR? I’m curious what your technique is.

  • Leo

    Awesome pics!!! Especially love the one of the girl in the Los Angeles top

  • Leo

    And I love your shooting philosophy

  • battlepriest

    This is a strange article. Sure, the camera is lighter weight and smaller than a DSLR. We get that. That’s the advantage of this device over a DSLR, and that’s what the author wrote about. So then what is the purpose of showing these images? How do they demonstrate the lightness and portability of the camera? Answer: they don’t. Instead of showing images of the author using the camera in situations where portability and ease of use would be an advantage, we are given a showcase of weirdly graded portfolio shots that could have been taken by any camera. Why?

  • Mike

    Simple: Hold camera at arm’s length, squint to see anything on the screen, shake violently and press the button. Don’t forget to use the green idiot mode.

  • Scott Killeen

    Advertorial paid for by Sony!

  • Mike

    Will you stop pushing the black point?!

    Bloody hell, you like your unique camera, yet you have zero originality in editing. How about actually NOT destroying the quality of the images that this sensor produces?

  • Jess L. Paul

    Take a look at the Ricoh GR, same philosophy, excellent image quality, $796 at B&H

  • Vin Weathermon

    Isi wrote the article which stands fine without the photographs; the photographs are the “proof” that he is using the camera he is talking about. Complaining about the post treatments seems lame to me; in advertising that is what is done and these are advertising styled images. I learned a few things in this article without having to buy an RX1 myself, and that makes this article worthy of praise. And I own a MK III, wondering if all this bulk is really what I should be lugging around so the article was timely.

    Sour grapes, post processing complainers, devotees of SLR religion…well, you might miss the positive aspects of the article, but I doubt if many people care.

  • Renato Murakami

    Great shots! I think it’s pretty great to see articles like these provided that people understand that what Isi is saying is that the RX1 is a great camera for his specific needs. Which is how everyone should be reading such articles.

  • Andrei Goldobenko

    Great work. Strong images, altho as mentioned in other comments, could have been done with almost any camera. I AM curious abt the post technique that was used on these shots. Any leads?

  • Mr Hogwallop

    Because after 3 years he has such a great following?

  • battlepriest

    Nothing to do with being a devotee of SLRs – these images have nothing to do with the article, and posting them with it was a poor editorial choice.

  • Paul

    how much sony paid you to put up this article

  • Carlos Henrique

    Is impressive how people are naive. :/

  • Vin Weathermon

    So, you are saying these images in the article were not created by the photographer, and are not created with the camera RX-1? Is there some backstory here?

  • http://www.clairestelle.com/ clair estelle

    a great series of photographs, what an awesome little camera!

  • John R

    “If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything” I couldn’t stand it any longer. All of these are processed to death, highlight areas that distract from the subject, terrible tonality, composition that moves you eye away from the subject. Last shot is the only half interesting one. If you D800 doesn’t meter properly, buy a handheld meter. I happy that you are happy with these, but it just looks like insta-clonea-gram to me, and that’s not pleasant/edgy/original/worthwhile.

  • Gavin

    Its impressive how many people are always so suspicious!! This is an old out of date argument that has been proved wrong time and again. Face it, people landed on the moon and the world isn’t going to end in 2012. Conspiracy theorists and doubters are so 2012

  • Anon

    The hotshoe is a regular ISO hotshoe not the Sony/Minolta hotshoe. And while we’re talking about flash, FYI it has unlimited sync speed. As for cost, it’s come down for used ones. Check around.

  • Omar Salgado

    And cutting by the joints, cutting the fingers, misplacing the subject, tilting the horizon, nothing meaningful and… and…

    May be it is “his” style.

    …Nah!

  • Try2

    I think what he is saying is the quality RX1 is not well reflected in theses images. Or the targeted “look” is not particularly camera dependent. If you can achieve what you want without the full frame body and backbreaking bag, go for it!

  • Isi Akahome

    I meant when you look through an OVF you can’t see the effect of your settings till you take the picture.

  • Vin Weathermon

    I guess I don’t understand why so many people on Petapixel like to pick on the imagery that very likely is far better than anything they could produce themselves. There are billions of images out there…I’m sure I don’t like at least 500,000 of them but don’t need to complain about them. I am busy making my own…and pretty sure a bunch of people could care less.

  • Carlos Henrique

    I can not even react to comments. This only confirms what I said about the lack of ethics on that kind of advertising that tries to fool people as if it were an ordinary review. You are all victims. I do not blame you for credulity. You are being led to believe.

  • Igor Ken

    A friend of mine recently purchased the camera in question and I have to say it IS a gem! Such great pictures, the rx series is a great deal in general, I have the rx100 and it’s an impressive tool as well!

  • Matthew Kissau

    Omar, you are certainly entitled to your opinion, as all photography is art. I love the retro look and, as for composition, I don’t see the problem. I saw my eye lead in all the photos, and the space around that focus was pleasing to me.