Sony DSC-RX1 Full-Frame Compact Camera Announcement

Many hoped Nikon would do it. Then, many hoped Canon would, or Pentax (they chose quite the opposite with Q system). Even more hoped Fujifilm would do it with their X-Pro1, after the booming popularity of their bold APS-C X100. And yet it was Sony who brought the first compact 36x24mm sensor camera. But then, is it so surprising? Sony is, after all, one of the best sensor manufacturers, as well as a electronics giant with an immense amount of resources. Why not, then?

Sony DSC-RX1 Top

And yet, it’s a strange camera. It only has a top shutter speed of 1/2000th of a second, which, while perfectly sufficient indoors, I know would never be enough for the kind of photography I usually do outdoors. Critically, it has no EVF (while a $850 NEX-6 does), which, again, will put off most professionals from using it as their second, small and discreet, camera. It also uses a different battery than, say, the NEX series, which means more different spare batteries and chargers lying around. On the other hand, and even more critically, it costs around $2800 and boasts a (likely) very good Carl Zeiss lens and the same 24 megapixel sensor found it the newly announced Sony A99. A question pops-up – who is this camera for and how much is one willing to pay for a compact full-frame camera with a Carl Zeiss prime lens glued on it?

It’s a strange step. A bold one, too, much like those of Fujifilm. We are yet to see if it will pay off. After all, Fujifilm X100 worked with its 35mm equivalent lens, numerous quirks and relatively high price. Why shouldn’t this? High price – check, 35mm lens – check, quirks – check. It’s unique, at least for now. Close to how unique Fujifilm X100 was. Almost as if it were a direct replacement. Something tells me it’s going to be mighty popular, at least close to as popular as it can be given the hefty price and lack of EVF.

Sony DSC-RX1 side

The only thing I can promise you is that we will have a review of DSC-RX1 ready as soon as we get our hands on one and have enough field-use.

Specifications

  1. Price (MSRP): around $2,800
  2. Body: Compact
  3. Resolution: 6000 x 4000
  4. Image ratio (w:h): 3:2, 16:9
  5. Effective pixels: 24.3 megapixels
  6. Sensor: Full frame CMOS (35.8 x 23.8 mm)
  7. Color filter array: RGB primary colour filter
  8. ISO settings: Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800, 25600
  9. White balance presets: 9
  10. Autofocus: Contrast Detect (sensor), Multi-area, Center, Selective single-point, Tracking, Single, Continuous, Face Detection
  11. Autofocus assist lamp: Yes, built -in LED type
  12. Manual focus: Yes
  13. Number of focus points: 25
  14. Lens: Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm f/2
  15. Minimum focus distance: 25cmm (9.84″)
  16. Screen: Fixed 3″, 1.229k dot Xtra FineTFT LCD with Live View
  17. Viewfinder: none
  18. Shutter speed: 30-1/2000 sec
  19. Exposure modes: Program Auto, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, MR (Memory Recall) 1 / 2 / 3, Movie, Sweep shooting, Scene Selection, Intelligent Auto
  20. Built-in flash: Yes (Pop-up, 6m)
  21. External flash: Yes (via standard hot-shoe)
  22. Flash modes: Auto, On, Off, Red-Eye, Slow Sync, Rear Curtain, Fill-in
  23. Flash X sync speed: 1/160 sec
  24. Drive modes: Single-frame advance, Continuous advance (2.5, 5 fps), Continuous adv Priority AE, Speed Priority Continuous, Self-timer (2 or 10 sec), Self Portrait Self-timer, Continuous Self-timer
  25. Metering modes: Multi, Center-weighted, Spot
  26. Exposure compensation: ±3 EV (at 1/3 EV steps)
  27. AE Bracketing: (3 frames at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV steps)
  28. Video: AVCHD MPEG-4 with Stereo mic, 1920 x 1080 (60, 50, 25, 24 fps), 1440 x 1080 (30, 25 fps), 1280 x 720 (30 fps), 640 x 480 (30, 25 fps) resolution
  29. Storage: SD/SDHC/SDXC/Memory Stick Pro Duo/ Pro-HG Duo
  30. Connectivity: USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec), HDMI (mini), EyeFi
  31. Battery: Lithium-Ion NP-BX1 battery and charger
  32. Battery Life (CIPA): 330
  33. Weight (inc. batteries): 482 g (1.06 lb / 17.00 oz)
  34. Dimensions: 113 x 65 x 70 mm (4.45 x 2.56 x 2.76″)

Official Press Release

Here is the official Sony press release for the world’s first compact digital full-frame camera:

Sony Introduces the World’s First Full-Frame Compact Digital Camera

Sony DSC-RX1 front

New Compact Cyber-shot® RX1 Camera features 35mm full-frame image sensor and wide aperture f/2 lens

SAN DIEGO, Sept 12, 2012 – For the first time, all the benefits of full-frame digital photography are available in a palm-sized compact camera.

The extraordinary new Sony Cyber-shot® DSC-RX1 digital camera packs an advanced 35mm full-frame 24.3 MP Exmor® CMOS sensor and exceptionally Carl Zeiss T*t 35mm f/2.0 fixed lens into a highly portable, lightweight camera body. Measuring approximately 4.5 inches wide by 3 inches tall and weighing just over a pound, it’s significantly smaller and lighter than any full-frame DSLR yet sacrifices nothing in terms of image quality, HD video quality or manual control.

“The new Cyber-shot RX1 is truly ‘one of a kind’, offering a unique combination of size and performance that’s never before been realized in the world of digital cameras,” said Yosuke Tomoda, director of the Cyber-shot camera business at Sony Electronics. “With its highly advanced sensor and fast 35mm f/2.0 lens packed into a small, portable camera body, professionals, enthusiasts and advanced hobbyists can experience the world of full-frame imaging in new and different ways than they ever thought possible.”

The new camera’s unified lens and body design allows performance that few interchangeable lenses can match. The Carl Zeiss lens not only delivers spectacular image quality all the way to the edges of each frame, it incorporates a near-silent in-lens shutter and is far more compact than comparable lenses of interchangeable design. The camera also features full manual control options and an intuitive user interface, making it easy for photographers to adjust all settings quickly and easily.

The 35mm full-frame sensor inside the RX1 camera more than doubles the area of APS-C sensors commonly found in much bulkier DSLR cameras, allowing it to take in significantly more light while capturing content. With an effective resolution of 24.3 megapixels, it’s capable of resolving the finest image details and most subtle textures for rich color reproduction and an impressively broad dynamic range.

The large sensor size also boosts the camera’s sensitivity range to a generous ISO 100 – 25600, with the option to shoot as low as ISO 50 in expanded sensitivity mode. Similarly, ISO settings as high as 102400 can be achieved using Multi Frame Noise Reduction. This allows the camera to capture natural, low noise handheld images in near-dark conditions without needing flash.

The fast, bright Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm lens is a versatile choice for portraits, street photography and everyday shooting. This premium lens features newly designed optics including an Advanced Aspherical (AA) glass element, which contributes to the camera’s extremely compact dimensions without sacrificing optical performance.

The lens’ wide F2 maximum, 9-bladed circular aperture enable beautiful background defocus (‘bokeh’) effects to rival or exceed professional-class DSLR camera lenses. Additionally, it features a macro switching ring on the lens barrel which instantly shortens the minimum focusing distance to approximately 20cm (from image plane), allowing the camera to capture small, close-up subjects with exquisite detail.

The Cyber-shot RX1 camera also features an enhanced BIONZ® processing engine that rapidly handles data from the Exmor® CMOS sensor and also powers full-resolution burst shooting at up to five frames per second. The powerful processor can output image data in 14-bit RAW format, giving advanced users total freedom to express their creative vision throughout the shooting and post-production processes.

Despite the camera’s extraordinarily compact dimensions, the new Cyber-shot RX1 model offers a full range of manual control modes on par with typical high-end full-frame DSLR cameras. Dedicated lens rings allow for fingertip control of focus and aperture, while a DSLR-style Focus mode dial on the front of the camera enables easy switching between focus modes. Top-mounted exposure compensation and mode dials are strategically placed for simple access and operation, while custom function and AEL buttons on the back panel are also easily accessible.

The new camera features a Quick Navi mode that allows fast, intuitive adjustment of camera settings. This is especially useful when using the camera with an optional viewfinder (sold separately). A memory recall (MR) mode is accessible via the mode dial so photographers can store and instantly recall up to three sets of camera settings.

Other refinements include a MF Assist function that magnifies a portion of the image while framing to simplify fine focus adjustments, as well as a Peaking function that highlights sharply-focused areas of the image on screen.

Additionally, the RX1 camera features By Pixel Super Resolution digital zoom technology, which allows for magnification of image size without sacrificing pixel count. This results in far higher quality results than are achievable with conventional digital zoom.

A Smart Teleconverter function crops a central portion of the image sensor, boosting effective magnification by 1.4x or 2x realizing an effective 49mm or 70mm focal length. With the extremely high pixel count of the full-frame image sensor, even zoomed and cropped images maintain generous amounts of fine detail when blown up for large print sizes.

In addition to beautiful still images, the Cyber-shot RX1 compact camera can capture high-quality, low-noise Full HD movie footage in all lighting conditions at a choice of 60p or 24p (progressive) frame rates. There’s a full complement of P/A/S/M exposure modes during video shooting for creative flexibility.

The new camera also features 13 different Creative Styles for fine-tuning images, plus a wide range of Picture Effect treatments. Further, it has Auto HDR and D-Range Optimizer, bracket shooting (Exposure, DRO or White Balance) and Auto HDR shooting modes, and there’s a Digital Level Gauge that indicates camera pitch and camera roll on the LCD screen for straight, even landscape and architectural shots.

New Accessories for Cyber-shot RX1

Shooting possibilities for stills and video are broadened by the camera’s Multi Interface Shoe that accepts a growing range of accessories. Options include a high-quality OLED XGA OLED Tru-Finder™ EVF (model FDA-EV1MK) which allows for even greater manual focusing precision as well as an external optical viewfinder featuring Carl Zeiss optics (model FDA-V1K).

Also available are a thumb grip (model TGA-1) for sure, comfortable handling as well as a lens hood (model LHP-1) and jacket case (model LCJ-RXB).

Sony PlayMemories Services

The Cyber-shot RX1 comes preinstalled with PlayMemories Home™ (Lite Edition) software, allowing easy image transfers to a PC for managing, editing and printing. Available for free download, a full version of PlayMemories Home software adds movie editing and disc burning.

Also available for download, PlayMemories Studio™ allows game-like editing of photos and videos on PlayStation®3 systems. Images can be shared easily via PlayMemories Online™ service, the cloud-based sharing service from Sony that simplifies ‘any time, any place’ viewing on a wide range of connected devices.

Pricing and Availability

The Cyber-shot RX1 compact, fixed lens camera will be available this November for about $2800.

The FDA-EV1K electric viewfinder and FDA-V1K optical viewfinder will each be available at launch for about $450 and $600, respectively.

The thumb grip, lens hood and jacket case will also be available at launch for about $250, $180 and $250, respectively.

The new camera and all compatible accessories will be sold at Sony retail stores (www.store.sony.com) and other authorized dealers nationwide.

Please visit blog.sony.com/rx1 for a full video preview of the new Cyber-shot RX1 compact camera and follow #SonyCamera on twitter for the latest camera news.

Pre-order Links

You can pre-order the new full-frame compact camera Sony DSC-RX1 for our most trusted reseller, B&H, by following this link ($2,780.00).

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Adnan Khan
    September 12, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Dang!
    Full frame and no VF or better still VFs cost near the price of a basic DSLR :)
    Sony sure figured this out great! with all the accessories this is expensive than a D800E !
    Why hey do that! is anybody consults with a photographer while inventing there great camera :)
    At least Fuji is bit sensible :)
    Rich people’s new toy :)

    Thanks for the intro Roman :)
    Cheers!

    • 2
      ) Adnan Khan
      September 12, 2012 at 9:01 pm

      sorry for the typos ,can’t edit :(

    • 4
      ) Tony
      September 13, 2012 at 11:15 am

      Toy or not, it all depends on the performance of the lens I suppose.

      I’m a bit worried that all photos shown in the intro are taken at f/2.8. Is SONY not confident with RX1’s max aperture?

      That being said, without the versatility of a intergreted VF, compact means nothing.

  2. 3
    ) Amit
    September 13, 2012 at 8:27 am

    I would have loved this camera had the lens been 50mm. 35mm on full frame is too wide for portraits. I hope Sony will release a 50mm variant later.

    Overall, I am very happy with what Sony is doing in the field mirrorless. Now with the new 35mm, 16-85 and 10-18 lenses the nex system has become perfect. The body was never bad. The only downside I can think of is the autofocus where it is still inferior as compared to Nikon 1.

    Well the nex is great but this full frame one is awesome. Look at the size. Wow! Just amazing.

    Sony, you rock! I was (and still am) a Nikon fan. I use the D700 but I yearn for a smaller body. Keep on innovating and I will for sure buy a mirrorless made by you.

    Oh! Did I forget that Sony doesn’t release its latest mirrorless cameras in India :) Not even the Nex-5n is available in India. I hope Sony sees a market here.

    • September 14, 2012 at 3:55 am

      I found it a bit too wide for my taste, but then I read that they integrated a digital zoom to get 1.4x and 2x magnification.
      You get 24Mpix at 35mm, 12Mpix at 47mm, 6Mpix at 70mm.
      Pretty decent IMHO.

  3. 5
    ) Tomsky
    September 13, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Wouldn’t have thought that the pointless FF craze would bear such strange fruit so soon. Maybe it’s a concept proof that FF MILC is somewhat of a dead end road. What’s a small body good for when the lenses become way to big? And they inevitable will. Even this average spec’d 35/2 looks much bigger than the minute camera body behind it. Now imagine what a 24-105/4 or 3.5-4.5 would look like on this body.

    Then remember all the issues Leica had and still has with their FF rangefinder. OK, that’s partially owed to the particularly short flange distance inherited from the analog M-system with its extremely shallow angles of incidence towards the image borders which the digital sensors just can’t handle the way film used to.

    But if you increase the flange distance to avoid these issues it will not only push the lens further outward making the camera bigger, due to the required retrofocus lens designs the lenses themselves will also get much bigger. Just take look at all the recently released MILCs with APS-C lenses (NEX, Fuji X-Pro) or even MFT (Olympus 12-50). Compared to Leica M the wide-angle lenses are mostlyl awfully big and especially long as they are clearly retrofocusing designs. Cool thing, omitting the mirror in the camera but not the space the mirror box has been taking up. This space has only just been moved into the aft lens barrel to make the camera body look smaller and more marketable.

    In a FF MILC this problem would only be aggravated by the sheer physical dimensions (sensor, back focusing distance) being involved. Having a look at the already disproportionate relation between an MILC APS-C body’s sleekness (Fuji, NEX) and their seemingly oversized lenses this would probably turn into the ridiculous with FF. Of course Sony could sell then an 800 $ handgrip to bring the tiny camera into some kind of balance with the huge lens.

    Unless people are really willing to sacrifice brightness and zoom range for hardly noticeable gains – which I seriously doubt – FF in P6S and even MILC will remain an absolute niche and most likely dead end road.

  4. 7
    ) Martin G
    September 28, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    The concept looks brilliant. A camera for travel, FF, 35mm F2. The low weight and high quality image potential would be strong selling points, but the PRICE! How much appeal would it have? It all depends on image quality. I hope it has excellent VR built in, super low noise and stunning resolution. If it does it could become a classic camera.

  5. October 2, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Apparently there was a problem with the released specs.

    The max shutter speed is actually 1/4000, but is dependent of the aperture.

    http://www.cameraegg.com/sony-rx1-specs-changed/

  6. October 12, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    What compact camera would you recommend? I use a nikon D700 which I love but I’m looking into purchasing a lighter one as a backup to travel with. Thanks!!

  7. 10
    ) MartinG
    October 13, 2012 at 12:42 am

    Depends on how small you want it. An iPhone 4S or 5 is surprisingly good, especially if you already have one. :-) I have used a small Lumix camera and found it quite OK for quick snaps where a DSLR is not available. My advice is to forget about spending much on a small camera, keep it really simple because they seem to release a new model every couple of days and the cameras in mobile phones are eating the point and shoot manufacturer’s lunch at the moment. That is why I mentioned the iPhone. The panorama feature on the 5 is just one example of the way mobile phone cameras are starting to add lots of value. Did I mention Lumix? ;-)

  8. 11
    ) GerryC
    April 7, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    Hi Romanas, Thanks for the write-up! Do you still have plans to review this “little” camera? I know that others have reviewed this DSC-RX1 already — and I must say that the reviews are generally glowing across the board — but I really appreciate and enjoy reading your (and your PhotographyLife colleagues’) balanced & well-substantiated reviews here.

    I used to have a Nikon D800, but decided that I didn’t need all of its (admittedly glorious) pixels and I replaced it with a D600. I also have the Nikon “Trinity” lenses and some other primes but carrying just around 2 of them all day gets old. ;-) I went through my Lightroom catalog and noticed that about half of all my photos are in the 24-50mm range, so this RX1’s 35mm is starting to look *very* appealing. I’m hoping that your review is scheduled soon!!! Thanks in advance!

  9. 12
    ) Ryan
    March 21, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    Quick correction. The max shitter of the rx1 is 1/4000 if you stop down to f4 below.

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