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Sony DSC-RX1, World's First Full-Frame Compact Digital Camera—First Look

Sony DSC-RX1, World's First Full-Frame Compact Digital Camera—First Look

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Photokina 2012

September 12, 2012

Sony today unveiled the DSC-RX1, the world’s first compact digital camera to house a full-frame 35mm imaging sensor, featuring a built-in 35mm f/2.0 prime lens and 24MP sensor.



The new Sony DSC-RX1, which can be pre-ordered from Adorama, is the world’s first 35mm compact digital camera, with a small camera body that houses 24.3MP full-frame sensor. The camera has a built-in 35mm f/2.0 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T lens;  Taking advantage of the high quality images that a full-frame sensor can deliver, the camera is said to shoot “clean” high-ISO images up to 25,600, and is claimed to have a fast 0.13 second autofocus acquisition speed.


Sony DSC-RX1 Key features:

  • Full-frame 24MP Sensor
  • 35mm f/2 lens
  • Full HD 24p video with manual control and audio output
  • Max. ISO 25,600
  • Claimed AF speed of 0.13 sec
  • Full-resolution burst rate 5fps
  • 3 dedicated rings for aperture, focus, and macro
  • Quick navigation and control shortcuts
  • MR mode recalls up to 3 preferred setting combinations
  • 9 iris blades for good Bokeh
  • Multi-interface shoe for flash, light, microphone
  • 3-inch LCD monitor
  • Auto HDR capture
  • Two aspect ratios
  • Built-in flash (GN6)

Sony DSC-RX1 is clearly aimed at serious photographers who are already comfortable with manual exposure and focus control, and who may already own a DSLR and are looking for a sophisticated little camera to augment their big rigs. By putting a prime lens on the camera, Sony was able to use the best glass possible—a good thing, because a lesser lens’s optical issues would show up clearly on a full-frame 24MP sensor. And, as the first compact 35mm digital camera, it is likely to be embraced by high-end photographers.

Let’s take a closer look at the
Sony DSC-RX1, which will make its debut next week at Photokina.

The world’s first 24.3 MP effective 35mm full-frame sensor offers an ISO  range of 100-25,600; 14-bit RAW image data recording further improves image gradation, while the BIONZ image processor enables up to 5 fps high-speed continuous shooting. Sony also offers a mode in which the camera captures six images in a fraction of a second, and combines the data from all images to create a single image that they claim reduces noise by two stops. Shutter lag is claimed to be 0.13 for focus speed—a DSLR-like performance.

Sony DSC-RX1 can also capture full HD 24p video, with manual control and audio input. Users can enter Program, Shutter, Priority, Aperture priority, Shutter Priority, or Manual exposure mode when shooting movies. In addition to a built-in Stereo microphone, the camera offers an external mic jack for off-camera microphones.


Control Layout

Ergonomically, the
Sony DSC-RX1 offers three control rings for aperture, focusing and macro controls, and a Quick Navi setting lets users quickly access other camera settings. MR (memory recall) mode can memorize up to three groups of the user's preferred settings. Settings include zoom magnification, white balance, exposure compensation, shutter speed, drive mode and metering modes. This enables quick switching of settings. Manual focus is aided by peaking, which highlights the edges that are in focus in your choice of three colors (white, red, or yellow). This is especially helpful during macro or portrait photography.

This camera has two Autofocus modes: Single-shot AF (AF-S) or Continuous AF (AF-C), which tracks moving objects. It also has Manual Focus for manual focusing freedom, and Direct Manual Focus (DMF), that first uses autofocusing to focus on the subject, and then allows fast and easy switching to manual focusing for even more precise adjustment.  

Super-Hot Shoe

Sony DSC-RX1 has a “multi interface shoe,” which can accommodate accessories such as a newly-designed flash unit, an electronic viewfinder, an optical viewfinder, thumb grip, clip-on LCD monitor for video, and more.  The built-in LCD monitor measures 3 inches and has 1.229k dots resolution.

Sony DSC-RX1 has built-in HDR which combines three shots that can be as far as 6 EV stops apart.  The built-in flash is small and projects a modest amount of light, which is fine for fill and close-distance lighting, and the camera offers all of the usual flash modes.

Then there are the way-cool features: Sweep Panorama (Press the shutter, sweep vertically or horizontally. The camera continuously shoots images and stitches  them together.) Face detection and registration (and it can prioritize focus on children or adults), and self-portrait auto framing (shoots a quick vertical portrait with perfect composition after you’ve shot the horizontal) are the kinds of features you’d find on a compact camera.

Rounding out the
Sony DSC-RX1’s feature list is its 15 creative modes (Standard, Vivid, Neutral, Clear, Deep, Light, Twilight, Night View, Autumn Leaves, B&W, Sepia, Sunset, Portrait and Landscape.), the ability to fine-tune saturation, contrast and sharpness to taste, and Picture Effect mode, which applies fun filters to images including Soft Focus, Posterization, Retro Photo, High Contrast Monochrome, Rich-tone Monochrome, Miniature, Soft High-key, Toy Camera, Pop Color, Partial Color, Watercolor Painting, HDR Painting, and Illustration.

Conclusion and Recomendation

The Sony DSC-RX1
is a ground-breaking premium camera, which will be sold at a premium price that many will look at and say "fugettaboutit." However, with this camera Sony is breathing the same rarified air as Leica and a handful of other premium-priced camera makers who offer top-shelf cameras with no compromises and no apologies about their nosebleed pricing. Eventually, other companies may offer full-frame compacts, and competition will drive the price down. Got the dough? More power to ya—if this camera performs as predicted, it will be the best compact digital camera money can buy. The Sony DSC-RX1 can be pre-ordered from Adorama, and will cost $2,799.99.


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