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Fashion Photography With the Sony RX1. It’s One Little Beast of a Camera.

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. 

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 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. 

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.

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 f2 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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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

Isi Aakahome


  • Rawit

    Absolutely wonderful pictures both here and on your web site. And nice review too. Makes me want an RX-1, but sadly santa brought me a A7R instead … :-) Seriously, the RX-1 still tempts me because it is more silent and comes with a stellar 35mm lens, something the A7R lacks. I slapped a 35 Summicron on to mine and it works very well, but really hurt my wallet.

    Anyways, happy new year and keep up the good work!

    • Isi Akahome

      I would get the A7, but I don’t like shooting with manual focus. So till they make some really good lenses, I’ll pass.

      • Rawit

        I see your point. But for the pictures you show here I am quite sure the manual + focus peaking with the EVF would work fine.

        If not, the Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 is the best lens so far, and the auto focus on the A7 should be on par with the RX1, if not a tad better. Not DSLR-good though.


    Your images seem to be more Street Photgraphy with models as opposed to Fashion Photography.

    The Sony limitations on use of third party flash units has been an issue
    for a long time, had the same problem with my R-1 in the past.
    For this reason I no longer use/buy Sony cameras.

    May I suggest that at 35 mm you could benefit with use of flash to further make your models pop from the wide senic backgrounds in your images.

    Someone once said that ‘The best available light is the kind that was always available in his bag’.

    It is easy for me to relate to your expierience on using a small camera in public.
    I use a MILC for photojournalism and I am generally ignored by emegency response personnell, and bystanders when they see me with my small camera.
    What they don’t realize is I am giving up nothing regarding IQ with my APS-C sensor
    which is good enough for my purposes but not likely good enough for your purposes, Fashion Photography.

    Enjoyed your pics.

  • Rico

    Hello Isi,

    Great photos and review! Your finished images have a very interesting look. Are you using some sort of filters in your post processing or are these JPG’s out of camera. I’m very interested to know as the colors have a bit of that Fuji JPG look and very warm.

    I look forward to your reply. Thank you!


  • Isi Akahome

    Thanks guys! The I never shoot JPEGs. The pictures are edited in Camera Raw and Photoshop to get the look. JPEG files don’t allow me have as much control over the tones and details.

  • Jason Hicks

    Hi Isi,

    Excellent photos! Question: There are some photos on your website with extreme narrow depth of field, such as a girl in an orange strapless plunging dress next to a ferry, and another one of a girl on a Ferrari. What lens is that?


    • Isi Akahome

      Thanks Jason. That’s the Nikon 50mm 1.4 on my D800.

  • Phil Brown

    Once again restricting choice-one lens only, thank you-produces beautiful art.

  • Atilla Altai Kandemir

    Your photos are well crafted, but most of them have that washed out narrow over-saturation that reminds me of lens flare and low grade colour film.

  • Syed Arsalan

    Hi Isi

    fantastic photos, I’m on the fence too about buying this camera. I’ve some quick questions:

    1. Would you recommend the rx1r over the rx1 for work similar to yours?

    2. Any thing you’d recommend to look out for when purchasing a used one?

    3. Also, are you using any polarizer in the photos above? (Such as the one with the beach in the bg)

    Once again, great stuff and keep it up.

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