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Digital Imaging Global Site

RX1RA New Way of Seeing the World

Yuji Nukui

Yuji Nukui is a well-known photographer and video artist whose work has been featured in a wide variety of print and motion media. Mr. Nukui contributes to the Sony "α Clock" project, and is currently photographing world heritage sites.

Some tools are so well designed that they motivate the user to photograph, or write, or engage in some other creative activity. I had never felt motivated by a small camera before the RX1R, but this one most definitely urges me to create. The aura of simplicity and functionality it exudes is inspiring. This scene was photographed in the forests around Mt. Fuji. To create a sense of depth, I adjusted the aperture so that focus would be sharp only from the foreground leaves to the right edge of the tree. The shadowy hollows in the lava rocks in this area are difficult to photograph without losing detail, but I didn't experience that problem with the RX1R. That was quite a surprise. When I attempt to emphasize specific visual elements by adjusting focus and exposure with a lesser camera, the result is usually blown highlights and blocked shadows. It can be very difficult to achieve the desired results. The RX1R, on the other hand, has always given me the details I want. I can shoot with confidence, knowing that I can bring out the required subtleties in post processing. I normally don’t shoot a large number of images. In fact, only three exposures were made to create this image. I knew I had the image I saw in my mind, so that's all that was necessary.

The subject here is a stone structure near a shrine. I wanted to see how the RX1R would handle the dimensionality of this little scene. The way the edge of the stone roof is resting on the pillar below it comes across with amazing clarity. Even though it's a two-dimensional image, you get the feeling that you could insert your hand under the stone and hold it. I had never even thought about such things before, but with this camera, the way such nuances appear has become a major point of interest. The perceived resolution in areas that are in focus is, thanks to the lack of a low-pass filter, extremely high. That extreme sharpness makes you acutely aware of even slight changes in focus. You begin to wonder whether you’ve been paying sufficient attention to focus, and focusing with sufficient care in the past. The answer can come as a shock. This one camera can really tighten up your technique. It makes you want to take it everywhere and shoot with precision. If your technique is lax, your images will show it. But if you shoot with care, this camera will give you more than you hoped for.

This image was captured just after starting an ascent from the trail entrance at the 5th station on the Yamanashi-prefecture side of Mt. Fuji. I had intended to shoot the layers of light that were gleaming in front of the ridge, but the clouds you can see in the image suddenly rose up and provided a new opportunity. I ran towards the spot I wanted to shoot from and, since there was no time to lose, quickly snapped the image without using a tripod. Because this photograph is so well resolved, it gives the impression of being a carefully planned work rather than a quick snapshot. The fine details in the branches of the trees on the ridge can be clearly seen. This kind of sharpness cannot be achieved by applying sharpening after the fact, and it is one of the characteristics of this camera that makes it such a joy to use. I was only able to shoot this one image. A moment later the area was enveloped in white fog, and on my way back to the 5th station the surrounding scenery was completely obscured. I find elements like clouds, moisture, and fog appealing, and always keep an eye out for photogenic examples. In fact, I rarely shoot on clear, cloudless days. I can sense approaching moisture by smell and feel!

It had been raining heavily until just before this photo was taken at the "Oshino Hakkai" ponds. The rain had stopped, but there were still droplets falling from the tree branches, so I waited for one to create the ripples in this image. There were quite a few tourists nearby, so I did not use a tripod. If the shadow areas had turned out too dark, this could have easily become a very gloomy image, but thanks to the wide dynamic range of the RX1R, the outcome was surprisingly bright and lively. Although sharp overall, this photograph has a soft atmosphere that can probably be attributed to smooth gradations that prevent the image from looking too "crunchy." The water looks almost real, and there were times during processing that I was tempted to reach out and touch it. With this much resolution, the 4K and 8K displays of the future will truly have a place. Compared to enlarging and printing film images at large display sizes, the cost of displaying digital images on large displays will be quite reasonable, and it will bring details that have never before been visible into clear view. That will also have a huge effect on the way photographers approach their craft.

Although shot at 35mm, this image looks as though it was made with a telephoto lens. The aperture was set at F9. The depth and dimensionality of the trees that appear to overlap near the right edge of the image are amazing. And because it is near the edge of the image, it is an area that you would normally avoid examining in detail when shooting with a conventional lens. The shadow detail is excellent too. I normally avoid placing areas that might end up over- or underexposed in the frame, but with this camera I don't need to be so selective. It gives me new freedom in framing and selecting angles. I also shoot movies, and am currently thinking about creating time-lapse movies using sequences of RX1R stills. What results could be achieved by moving the camera around and behind trees like these, for example, and sequencing the photos to create a movie? If a single image can have this much depth, a movie made from such images would give the viewer an almost 3D sense of being right in the scene.

For this image, I mounted the camera on a tripod and waited for the light. The area of sharpest focus in the foreground is lit by soft cloud-filtered sunlight, while the background is slightly defocused with a hint of mist that gives the image the layered depth and atmosphere I was hoping for. I waited somewhere between one and two hours for this moment. I stopped down to F11 and focused on the root in the foreground to keep the plane of focus at the front of the image. The result is somewhere between pan-focus and background defocusing, producing a mood that is reminiscent of some types of contemporary Japanese painting. I'm not sure how to describe it accurately, but that’s the effect I was trying to achieve. The RX1R has made it possible to imagine and try out a variety of new expressive techniques. It offers a fascinating balance between resolution that can reproduce details you might not even notice with the naked eye, and smooth gradation that lends itself to more artistic expression. Even if you're just shooting documentary images, you can have fun presenting them in new, creative ways. Simple, factual records can become works of art. That's not only great for camera and photo enthusiasts, but it can be a huge advantage for beginners as well. I can wholeheartedly recommend the RX1R to everyone.

To shoot with the RX1R is to design with light.
It can change how you see the world.

To create photographic images with an RX1R is essentially a process of designing graphical images with light. Where do you focus? Where do you place the light? Extraordinarily high resolution, wide dynamic range, and smooth gradation give you unprecedented control. You can't change lenses, but your photographic sensibilities will grow.

There's a world of creativity that can only be accessed with the RX1R. It is a camera that will change how you see the world.

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