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Sony reveals DSC-RX1 full-frame camera with fixed Zeiss T* 35mm F2 lens

By dpreview staff on Sep 12, 2012 at 04:00 GMT
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Photokina 2012: Sony has officially announced the Cyber-shot DSC-RX1, a full-frame compact camera with a fixed 35mm F2 lens. The camera features a 36x24mm CMOS sensor and a leaf shutter for near-silent operation. It includes a manual aperture ring and dedicated exposure compensation dial for direct manual control. It can also capture video at frame rates of up to 1080p60 and includes a series of video-friendly features. As rumored, the camera will retail for around $2,800.

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Press Release:

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 ( and other authorized dealers nationwide.

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

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 specifications

Body type
Body typeLarge sensor compact
Max resolution6000 x 4000
Other resolutions6000 x 3376, 3936 x 2624, 3936 x 2216, 2640 x 1760, 2640 x 1488
Image ratio w:h3:2, 16:9
Effective pixels24 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors25 megapixels
Sensor sizeFull frame (35.8 x 23.8 mm)
Sensor typeCMOS
Color spacesRGB, AdobeRGB
Color filter arrayRGB Primary color
ISOAuto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800, 25600
White balance presets9
Custom white balanceYes (1)
Image stabilizationNo
Uncompressed formatRAW
File format
  • RAW (ARW2.3 Format)
  • JPEG
Optics & Focus
Focal length (equiv.)35 mm
Optical zoom1×
Maximum apertureF2.0 - F22.0
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Multi-area
  • Center
  • Selective single-point
  • Tracking
  • Single
  • Face Detection
Autofocus assist lampYes, built -in LED type
Digital zoomYes (14x)
Manual focusYes
Normal focus range25 cm (9.84)
Number of focus points25
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCDFixed
Screen size3
Screen dots1,229,000
Touch screenNo
Screen typeXtra FineTFT LCD
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeNone
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed30 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/4000 sec
Exposure modes
  • Program Auto
  • Aperture Priority
  • Shutter Priority
  • Manual
  • MR (Memory Recall) 1 / 2 / 3
  • Movie
  • Sweep shooting
  • Scene Selection
  • Intelligent Auto
Scene modes
  • Portrait
  • Landscape
  • Sports
  • Sunset
  • Night Portrait
  • Night Scene
  • Hand-held Twilight
Built-in flashYes (Pop-up)
Flash range6.00 m
External flashYes (via hot-shoe)
Flash modesAuto, On, Off, Slow Sync
Drive modes
  • Single-frame advance
  • Continuous advance
  • Continuous adv Priority AE
  • Speed Priority Continuous
  • Self-timer
  • Self Portrait Self-timer
  • Continuous Self-timer
Continuous drive5 fps
Self-timerYes (2 or 10 sec)
Metering modes
  • Multi
  • Center-weighted
  • Spot
Exposure compensation±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)
AE Bracketing (3 frames at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV steps)
WB BracketingNo
Videography features
Resolutions1920 x 1080 (60, 50, 25, 24 fps), 1440 x 1080 (30, 25 fps), 1280 x 720 (30 fps), 640 x 480 (30, 25 fps)
Videography notesAVCHD: 28M PS (1920×1080, 60p/50p), 24M FX (1920×1080, 60i/50i), 17M FH (1920×1080, 60i/50i), 24M FX (1920×1080, 24p/25p), 17M FH (1920×1080, 24p/25p)
Storage typesSD/SDHC/SDXC, Memory Stick Duo/Pro Duo/Pro-HG Duo
USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMIYes (Mini)
WirelessEye-Fi Connected
Remote controlNo
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-Ion NP-BX1 battery
Battery Life (CIPA)270
Weight (inc. batteries)482 g (1.06 lb / 17.00 oz)
Dimensions113 x 65 x 70 mm (4.45 x 2.56 x 2.76)
Other features
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingNo

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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1


Total comments: 144
By thx1138 (Sep 12, 2012)

Does the lens have a filter thread, as you'll need a CPL at least with that lousy max shutter speed. Must say the camera looks gorgeous especially that lens.

Not realy interested at this price and with fixed lens, but let's hope this is just like the Fuji X100 and that eventually they release a IL version. However, that will mean Sony needs to commit to three lens formats for NEX, mirrorless FF and DLSR.

By TrojMacReady (Sep 12, 2012)

Yes, 49mm thread.

By peevee1 (Sep 12, 2012)

E-mount (NEX) is big enough for FF sensors. See NEX-VG900.

1 upvote
By stuntmonkey (Sep 12, 2012)

Is it me or does anybody else think that the price is insane? Assuming that this is the Nikon D600 sensor in a compact body... no mirror, no PD array, no colour sensitive metering sensor... what is there to justify $2,800 other than 'demand'? If the D600 does come in around $1,800 ish, compact or no, this is going to look like an expensive toy. It's typical Sony, you can't tell if it's genius or if somebody forgot to grab hold of the reigns somewhere along the line.

1 upvote
By T3 (Sep 12, 2012)

The price may be "insane", but they'll still sell. Consider that a full frame Leica M9 costs $6,500. Throw in a Leica Summicron-M 35mm f/2 for $3,200. That's $9,700. And Leica does a pretty good business, even at those prices.

In comparison, the RX1 complete with 35mm f/2 lens, optical image stabilization, auto focus, built-in flash, and video is *only* $2,800. Even with the $600 EVF, it's still $6,300 *less* than an M9 with 35mm f/2 lens. And it's more compact, too.

Yeah, those prices might seem crazy for the average Joe. But these cameras aren't aimed at the average Joe. These are products for people who drive luxury Range Rovers and fly first class on Emirates Airline.

By Raist3d (Sep 12, 2012)

No, the price is not as insane as it may seem. Consider they are giving you a prime lens whose price alone is at least $800-$1200 already. 14 bit RAW. And the only ultra or near ultra compact on Earth full frame.

By Stollen1234 (Sep 12, 2012)


Leica is very expensive..but it is high quality..its a lot of hand made work..its also a cult..

some buy a Nissan car others buy a Bently or Rolls Royce..your choice

By peevee1 (Sep 12, 2012)

"what is there to justify $2,800 other than 'demand'"

1) The lens.
2) The size.

By bcalkins (Sep 13, 2012)

It isn't just you :)

By AllanZ (Sep 12, 2012)

Or get he F1.4 lumix LX7 {:D yeah the sensor is smaller but the improvements on that are drastic {{:)

1 upvote
By zstan (Sep 12, 2012)

smaller? the LX7 sensor looks like an ant compared to the RX1's full frame sensor.

By Peiasdf (Sep 12, 2012)

Max shutter speed = 1/2000sec and no ND filter. I see a problem with that.

Andy Crowe
By Andy Crowe (Sep 12, 2012)

Remember when you had to, you know, put your ND filter on the front? I think some people here are spoilt these days! :)

By peevee1 (Sep 12, 2012)

And there is pulled ISO 50.

By davidbindle (Sep 12, 2012)

Couple more things
I agree for the price... built in ND should be there.

I'm sure it's capable of incredible images, I just wish Sony would look into their Konica heritage and rescue a few gem technologies from the Hexar AF and put them in a modern camera. (as mentioned in my post below)... then the $2800 might seem a bit more reasonable...
I'd love one... but probably won't be able to justify buying one at that price.

Is it just me, or with a lens that big... we could handle having a slightly larger body to hang on to? OK... now I'm just nit-picking. Competitors go forth... and compete!

1 upvote
By RStyga (Sep 12, 2012)

HHHmm.... 35mm F2 fixed lens even in a FF body... OK but not *that* shallow DoF. A normal FL lens, say 50mm F2.0, would be a much more appropriate shallow-DoF-wise choice. Also, I suspect a sensor for base ISO-only use. Andt he price is Sigma-like. A review has to reveal something extraordinary for most enthusiasts to consider this camera. It is, however, a pioneering product and will push competitors to release better products.

By TrojMacReady (Sep 12, 2012)

A Sony Exmor FF sensor for base ISO only use? Whatever you're smoking....... ;)

Comment edited 31 seconds after posting
By abi170845 (Sep 12, 2012)

wait for a second hand from a hobbyist mint rarely used probably at half the price.

1 upvote
By davidbindle (Sep 12, 2012)

I'm always looking for Sony to deliver a digital Hexar AF clone. While the full frame 35mm f2 leaf shutter along with crazy resolution and sensitivity will deliver wonderful pictures no doubt, I wonder why Sony couldn't have added a few other Hexar AF tricks since they would own of the patents from Konica/Minolta.
Like: If it is going to be able to shoot in such darkness, why spoil the moment with an annoying AF assist light when they could have put the Hexar AF's IR focus technology that could focus in pitch blackness... quickly and easily without needing to see contrast. It could have been a hybrid focusing system that used contrast detection in better lighting and IR in low light and low contrast.
Add the Fuji rangefiner-like eyepiece system.
I wonder if they have used any of the old Hexar AF's flash technology that took perfectly exposed flash pictures, not based on reflectivity, but on guide no. and distance calculation.
Add Hexars mid-exposure aperture adjustment for flash

1 upvote
By peevee1 (Sep 12, 2012)

If the main image sensor sees IR, it will mess up the pictures too. And for a separate IR sensor, you need a mirror and extra space.

By emircruz (Sep 12, 2012)

2800.. too much. How much would you guys buy this bad boy?

By futile32 (Sep 12, 2012)

Thing of beauty. But lack of phase detection and built in VF, and the inclusion of focus-by-wire means its not for me. So close though. Dashed my dreams.

By MichaelSpotts (Sep 12, 2012)

Glad I saved my Voigtlander 35mm viewfinder all this time...

Chez Wimpy
By Chez Wimpy (Sep 12, 2012)

"the full frame sensor offering the low-light performance and shallow depth-of-field that only really come from having a huge sensor"

Or the "equivalent" X-E1 + upcoming 23mm f1.4... for a bit less scratch, especially if you want a viewfinder.

By Peiasdf (Sep 12, 2012)

That's the reason why I am not drooling over this camera.

1 upvote
By T3 (Sep 12, 2012)

Competition for the X-E1 is the NEX-6, not the RX1.

Andy Crowe
By Andy Crowe (Sep 12, 2012)

It's still a fair comparison, especially as Fuji has made the bold claim that their new sensor is "better than full frame".

Ross Murphy
By Ross Murphy (Sep 12, 2012)

we will see. it is a fair comparison if the IQ is similar

By Raist3d (Sep 12, 2012)

This looks great assuming the lens/sensor all deliver. But Sony, why 1/2000 shutter and no built in ND filter at this price..? It looks so nice.

By obeythebeagle (Sep 12, 2012)

This camera is drool worthy, and the lens is probably worth the price. The comparison has to be with the thousand dollar Sigma Merrill. I need to find a camera store that has both, and bring two sd cards.

By rodneyb (Sep 12, 2012)

$2800??? American??? LOLOLOLOLOL

By T3 (Sep 12, 2012)

Back in the film days, a Contax T3 35mm-format premium compact camera with fixed Carl Zeiss 35/2.8 lens was $700 while an SLR like the Canon Elan 7 (EOS 30) SLR body was $400. So the Contax T3 was 1.75x more expensive than the SLR body.

Today, the Sony RX1 35mm-format premium compact camera with fixed Carl Zeiss 35/2.0 lens is $2800. Adding on the Carl Zeiss EVF for $600 gets you to $3400. Meanwhile, a Canon 5D MKII is $2000. So the RX1 is 1.7x more expensive than the DSLR body.

The price may sound ridiculously high, but it's actually proportional to what it was like back in the film days for a premium fixed compact camera like the Contax T3.

By zooomart (Sep 14, 2012)

My street photo set up is a 5Dmk2 with an EF 35L1.4. RX1 is same cost, way smaller/lighter, wonder if same IQ. Thanks Sony for having the eggs to bring this one to market

Pat Cullinan Jr
By Pat Cullinan Jr (Sep 12, 2012)

For this kind of money, I hope the image quality is praeternaturally stupendous. And what's this -- no built-in viewfinder?

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
By T3 (Sep 12, 2012)

Good to see that it's image stabilized.

By futile32 (Sep 12, 2012)

missed that, thanks

By hoggdoc (Sep 12, 2012)

Only on Movie mode... Check the specs

Chaitanya S
By Chaitanya S (Sep 12, 2012)

I would like to see this camera succeed commercially, as it would mean that Nikon and Canon would bring out similar compacts.

Total comments: 144