Friday, February 8, 2013

Chinese New Year! Chinatown Walkabout Photos Taken by Sony RX1

I just got back to China for Chinese New Year. It is freezing cold and already snowed when I woke up this morning. And Chinese New Year is only one day away!

It has been almost more than a month since the day I got my RX1 and I am still enjoying every bit of it. It is such a delight to use and the photo quality is really, really amazing. In fact, I hardly do much process in my Lightroom now since the out-of-camera jpeg is good enough. I've shared quite a bit of my experience with RX1 in my previous post about the Thailand trip.


With more time spent on this camera, I get to know it better. Obviously, I don’t have much to complain about the image quality. Photos are already very sharp even at aperture of f2. In addition, the dynamic range is impressive thanks to its full-frame sensor. Even in the backlight condition, the subject in shadow could still get good exposure without blowing away the highlighted part. Colors are very rich in the photo yet I don’t feel that they are ‘artificially saturated’. It is more about the transition of the colors and the fine details existing in them.

Taking photos in low light could be challenging for many cameras, even the pro ones. However, RX1 does it so well that I don’t even care about what ISO I am shooting at. With the large aperture of f2, the AutoISO in camera rarely goes beyond 2000 and only a few extreme occasions it goes up to 3200. But I find the noise level still very acceptable. As the camera tends to maintain the shutter speed at 1/80s, I don’t encounter hand-shake problems.

RX1 is born to be a street shooter. A very quiet shutter and a small camera body design are less likely to disturb the people walking in the street. The 35mm focal length has always been the favorite for street photographers. Though I encountered a few times that RX1 keeps focusing on the background instead of the subject in front, it is in general a fast focusing camera for walkabout shooting.

Although it is a wonderful camera, RX1 still has its shortcomings. The very major one is its battery power. With a bit of navigating around the camera and play back, I only managed to take about 150 photos and the battery is already left with one bar. My best estimate is that it can take about 200 photos per full charge. It could be even fewer if I decide to record a video or something. So a back-up battery is always recommended if you don’t want to miss some great moment. Moreover, though camera has a very sleek black paint design, it could be somewhat easily scratched. I have to handle it really carefully to avoid the scratches. To me, the camera isn’t cheap and I don’t want it to become ‘vintage’ that fast. Lastly, RX1 tends to underexpose most of the photos. I have to adjust exposure compensation to +0.7eV most of time and +1.3eV for a white or bright background. But that’s something I can live with, since I don’t think I’ll use +3eV in many occasions.

In all, RX1 is a camera you need to grab if you are looking for a compact camera with superior image quality. It has great control design and feels very well built in hand. The ISO performance is excellent and focus speed is relatively good for general purpose. Though it comes with a few drawbacks but they can be avoided, such as extra battery, good camera case and bag, etc. Again, a full frame camera plus a 35mm F2 Carl Zeiss lens simply do the magic.

This time, I've brought it to Chinatown to take some walkabout photos.

Chinatown in Singapore is a cultural spot with its historical heritage. As Chinese New Year is just around the corner, the festive mood has already kicked in. The alleys are flooded with people and shops are busy selling all different kinds of festive goods. Interestingly, somehow I bumped into a large group of Indians carrying all kinds of decorations walking in the street. It is quite common actually, considering Little India, the cultural center for Indians is not very far from here. In Singapore, the cultural diversity could easily be spotted every now and then.










Chinatown at its night is even more beautiful. Lanterns are lit up and night food market is open and welcoming people from all over the world. The coming Chinese New Year is a ‘snake’ year. So the lanterns make up the shape of a snake. They even have the ‘head’ of the snake but it isn’t captured here. It’s a very funny one you happen to pass by and see that :)






Hope you have enjoyed the photos taken by Sony RX1(I know I have enjoyed this camera very much) and Happy Chinese New Year to you all! 

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  1. Very good review. I am about to upgrade my system to full frame, and you wrote this blog in a way that I wanna replace all my bulky gears with this RX1 :)

    1. Hi Taojun, glad that you like it! IMO, DSLR is still more suitable in some challenging situations. But RX1 is really good enough for daily use! Do let me know if you wanna get some hands-on for this camera before you purchase this ;)