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?
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.
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.
- Price (MSRP): around $2,800
- Body: Compact
- Resolution: 6000 x 4000
- Image ratio (w:h): 3:2, 16:9
- Effective pixels: 24.3 megapixels
- Sensor: Full frame CMOS (35.8 x 23.8 mm)
- Color filter array: RGB primary colour filter
- ISO settings: Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800, 25600
- White balance presets: 9
- Autofocus: Contrast Detect (sensor), Multi-area, Center, Selective single-point, Tracking, Single, Continuous, Face Detection
- Autofocus assist lamp: Yes, built -in LED type
- Manual focus: Yes
- Number of focus points: 25
- Lens: Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm f/2
- Minimum focus distance: 25cmm (9.84″)
- Screen: Fixed 3″, 1.229k dot Xtra FineTFT LCD with Live View
- Viewfinder: none
- Shutter speed: 30-1/2000 sec
- Exposure modes: Program Auto, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, MR (Memory Recall) 1 / 2 / 3, Movie, Sweep shooting, Scene Selection, Intelligent Auto
- Built-in flash: Yes (Pop-up, 6m)
- External flash: Yes (via standard hot-shoe)
- Flash modes: Auto, On, Off, Red-Eye, Slow Sync, Rear Curtain, Fill-in
- Flash X sync speed: 1/160 sec
- 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
- Metering modes: Multi, Center-weighted, Spot
- Exposure compensation: ±3 EV (at 1/3 EV steps)
- AE Bracketing: (3 frames at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV steps)
- 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
- Storage: SD/SDHC/SDXC/Memory Stick Pro Duo/ Pro-HG Duo
- Connectivity: USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec), HDMI (mini), EyeFi
- Battery: Lithium-Ion NP-BX1 battery and charger
- Battery Life (CIPA): 330
- Weight (inc. batteries): 482 g (1.06 lb / 17.00 oz)
- 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
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.