Sony RX1 – the full frame compact

Sony prepared a big surprise for us this morning. A camera we’ve been dreaming for years finally is here; compact with 36 x 34 mm (full frame) sensor. For a long time all those who absolutely wanted or needed full frame had to use goliaths like A900 or Nikon and Canon equivalents. Leica has a full frame rangefinder, but at a price point mortals cannot afford. DSC-RX1 at around $ 2800 is not cheap, but at least it is small; at 113 x 65 x 69 mm this is a true compact camera.

The sensor is the same as in new Sony A99 SLT camera, but without translucent mirror, so in theory RX1 might deliver even higher image quality. It has a resolution of 24 megapixels and ISO range from 100 to 25,600. It is expandable to as low as ISO 50 and 102,400 in multi frame NR mode.

The lens is a Carl Zeiss branded 35mm f/2 unit. There is no reason not to believe it will be perfect in optical terms, especially because it is fixed and it could be perfectly matched to sensor used (and other way round). 35 mm is a classic street photography lens, providing wide viewing angle, but still capable of isolating subjects from background at close shooting range. Surprisingly, there is no built in viewfinder nor tiltable LCD, but OVF and EVF units are on their way.

The price is high; with an extra battery and OVF, you will have to spend around $ 3000 for this camera. Clearly, it is not made for masses; this is a specialty tool, second camera for professionals and a weapon of choice for die-hard street photographers. I will post a review as soon as I get my hands around one. :)

The RX1 is important in one more aspect – it broke the ice. I expect other manufacturers might release their own versions of similar camera, just to show that they are capable. From the dawn of digital camera age, this is the far most interesting time to live in; market is flooded with various camera types and lenses and they are multiplying each year.

Main specifications:

  • Full frame 36 x24 mm 24 megapixel sensor
  • Carl Zeiss 35mm f/2 lens
  • Dedicated aperture control ring on the lens
  • ISO 100 – 25,600 (expendable to ISO 50)
  • 3 inch LCD screen with 1,229,000 dots
  • Contrast AF, 25 points
  • Focus peaking and focus magnification
  • Shutter speed 30 – 1/2000 s
  • 5 fps continuous shooting
  • Built in flash + hot-shoe
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 50p video mode
  • Battery life around 250 shots
  • 482 g, 113 x 65 x 69 mm

2 thoughts on “Sony RX1 – the full frame compact

    • Well, it doesn’t have a mirror so it is mirrorless in a way… but the term is mostly used to describe digital cameras without mirror AND with interchangable lens; RX1 has a fixed lens like a compact camera. In my opion it is just a matter of time before someone announces full frame interchangable lens camera system, but when exactly, it’s very hard to tell.

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