This is a continuation of the Sony RX-1 review that started here.
The Sony TGA-1 thumb grip arrived yesterday. I’d used a similar device on Leicas, so it was familiar to me. It slips into the accessory shoe. When I first installed it, I was worried, since it was even looser than the Leica optical finder that I had previously used there. I flipped the thump-rest to the left – it’s hinged – and saw a small locking device. It locked down solidly.
I installed the Leica optical finder in the accessory clip on top of the thumb grip. If fit fine. I’m glad I don’t need gaffer tape to hold the finder on, but I’m a little worried that the accessory shoe on the top of the camera is out of spec. I’ll find out when the electronic viewfinder arrives.
The thumb grip provides a nice shooting position when used with an accessory optical finder. It’s a bit close to the finder if you shoot left-eyed, and perfect if you use your right eye. When holding the camera at arm’s length, I find that it offers no particular advantage. It makes it easier to pick up the camera with your right hand.
The thumb grip also facilitates doing sweep panos with the camera oriented vertically with your arm straight and pointed downwards. The sweeping is done with a twist of the wrist. I perfected this technique with the Nikon D4, but the D4 is so noisy, especially when set to maximum frame rate, that it attracts a lot of attention. The RX-1 is much, much quieter, and should be pretty stealthy in this application. I don’t use the in-camera sweep pano software, preferring to stich it later using Autopano Giga, and avoiding jpeg compression and reduced resolution.
I talked earlier about the RX-1 being a natural camera for street photography. I now realize that you can’t use it like I usually did doing street photography with a Nikon RF camera, a Plaubel Makina, Leicas, and even with a Hasselblad 500C/M. With those cameras, I would usually zone focus, bring the camera to my eye, trip the shutter, and lower it immediately. Zone focusing is not practical on the RX-1; there are no distance markings (though there are crude ones on the LCD screen) or depth of field indications. I think the thing to try is presetting the autofocus rectangle to the center, which is the only place you have a prayer of finding with the optical finder, and let the camera focus, maybe using focus lock if the subject isn’t in the center of the frame. Doesn’t sound optimum. We’ll see.
I would also add the thumb grip does not work with the EVF as it does not pass through the electrical connection. Another street photography downside is that since the RX1 uses a fly-by-wire manual focus, it you try to zone focus, walk around, have the camera time out, and then turn on again, the focus distance is reset by the camera. This is probably the biggest issue hoping the RX1 would be a great street camera.
All true, sad to say. See part 11 for a couple of (imperfect) work-arounds.