With its minimalist style, straight lines and rounded edges, the RX-1 follows the design philosophy of the Cyber-shot RX100 enthusiast compact camera. The camera's electronics are encased by a metal shell, and while there isn't really much of a hand grip to speak of, the grip and thumb rest areas are covered with a soft rubber material that feels comfortable in the hand.
Like the camera's exterior design the control layout and user interface are modeled on the RX100's. Key control elements can be found in various places around the camera body. There are a dedicated flash release and a playback button above the screen on the camera rear. To the right of the screen is a 4-way control dial with a central button used for confirming options. Above it you'll find the rear dial which lets you change shutter speed in M- and S-modes and program-shift in P mode.
The top plate houses the mode dial, shutter button and a dedicated exposure compensation dial on the far right edge. Aperture and minimum focus distance are controlled via rings on the lens while the focus mode can be set using the focus mode switch on the front.
Movie recording can be initiated from any shooting mode with the press of of the dedicated movie button, which has been placed at a 45 degree angle along the camera's right edge. If you find yourself catching it too readily, there's an option to only make it active when the mode dial is set to movie mode.
The rubber inlays on the metal body provide good grip, but given its size and weight (not to mention lens-mounted aperture ring) we would recommend two-handed operation of the RX1. Both the rear dial and the exposure compensation dial are in good reach of your thumb, which can also be placed on the rubberized rest. Sony also offers an optional metal thumb-rest which connects to the camera's hotshoe as an alternative.
Overall the camera has a very solid high quality look and feel to it. You have to decide for yourself if it feels like it's worth $2800, but if you hold the RX1 in your hands it is immediately obvious this is a premium product which is being targeted at a demanding clientele.
A new multi interface hotshoe is the same as on the NEX-6. It allows for ISO standard accessories as well as Sony's proprietary connectors including optical and electronic viewfinders.
The built-in flash pops up at a press of the flash button on the back of the camera and offers GN (6).
On the front of the camera is the focus mode dial. The Continuous AF position has been removed since the pre-production version we saw. Instead it's left with AF, DMF and MF positions.
The AF position is S-AF in stills mode and C-AF in movies.
The DMF position is essentially S-AF with manual focus over-ride once focus has been achieved.
Like on the new NEX-6 the recessed movie record button is placed, somewhat awkwardly, along the camera's right edge at a 45 degree angle.
Should you ever find yourself operating it accidentally, it can be customized to only be active when in movie mode.
The camera's connectors consist of a USB and HDMI port and an external mic input. They are accessible behind a door on the camera left.
The battery and SD card go into a compartment on the base of the camera. The RX-1 uses the same 4.5Wh NP-BX1 Li-ion battery as the RX100 compact camera.
Sony claims it provides 270 shots per charge with the rear LCD set to standard brightness according to the CIPA standard. This is a little on the low side, compared with most mirrorless cameras, but not terrible.
The tripod mount is aligned with center of the lens axis but the mount is pretty close to the battery/memory which means, depending on the quick-release plate you use, you might not be able to open the door with the camera on a tripod.