For the past 3 years I’ve been using the Sony R1 as my primary camera and living with the strange looks that other photographers give me when they see it. The R1 may seem like an unusual choice but at the time it was the best solution for my needs… it was the only choice, really! I suppose it’s not categorized under DSLR cameras because the lens is permanently attached but it does have DSLR chip size and the price to match.
As a climbing/adventure photographer you end up in some pretty strange body positions to get the shots you want and, at the time, the R1 was the only camera that allowed me to shoot live from the viewfinder – everything else was secondary to me. The viewfinder is located at the top of the body and can be angled in many different positions.
It featured 10 megapixels that gave me nice large images and had a really nice wide angle conversion lens option that let me capture the scenery along with the climber. The awe of climbing comes from the sheer height and the connection between the climber and the rock. A wide angle conversion lens allowed me to show the viewer the expansiveness of the cliff and how small a person can appear on the rock wall.
As I began to use it in the field, some of the shortcomings of the R1 began to become evident. There was only two lens conversion options that attach by a clunky lens adapter that was easy to swap out in the showroom but not so much while hanging 200 feet in the air.
No matter what setting I used, it just never seemed to shoot fast enough. And I began to lose faith in the camera when I’d pull up a fantastic shot of a climber throwing wildly for a hold and find that the shot was not sharp and crisp. There’s nothing more disappointing than viewing a great image but having the capture marred by blur.
When switching to manual I still had to use the electronics to make changes and I found the camera becoming user-unfriendly. It was clear that being able to shoot at 5 fps would have been helpful to capture the “moment” within five frames since the position of the climber can change in an instant.
I still love the fully adjustable LCD option but at this point the best thing about my camera is that I don’t really care if I drop it! I guess it’s time for a visit to Vistek….