Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The First Full-Frame Point-and-Shoot Camera

Sony RX1 Hands-on Preview

This isn't just Sony's most serious compact camera, but arguably the most serious compact camera we've ever seen. It features a full-frame sensor and a fixed 35mm F2 lens, making it a real heavyweight in terms of lightweight photography. Sony has said it is targeting professional photographers and we see no reason to question that.

If it lives up to the promise (and a lot of that will depend on how fast the autofocus works, and how dependable it is in low light), the RX1 could easily become a classic, used by photojournalists and other working pros who need a small, flexible camera with excellent image quality. The image quality samples we've seen have been confidence inspiring, offering the low-light performance and shallow depth-of-field that only really come from having a fast lens in front of huge sensor.

Sony DSC-RX1 specification highlights

24MP full-frame (24x36mm) CMOS sensor
35mm F2 lens
ISO 100-25600
Focus range switch for focus down to 0.2m (14cm from the front of the lens)
Dedicated aperture ring
Five user-customizable buttons
Multi interface hotshoe (combines ISO 518 standard contacts and proprietary connector)
1.23M dot RGBW 'WhiteMagic' LCD
1080p60 HD movies in AVCHD (50p on PAL region models)
Focus peaking to aid manual focus
Bulb mode and threaded cable release socket in shutter button

The lens, which is designated as a Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* features a leaf shutter for essentially silent operation (though you can engage a sound effect if you wish). This design means the camera can sync with flashes all the way up to its 1/2000th maximum shutter speed, as well as allowing the lens to reach closer to the front of the sensor.

Many photo enthusiasts have been dreaming of a full frame point and shoot for quite some time. Now that Sony has been first to introduce one it will be very interesting to see how and with what other manufactures respond.

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