Design & Appearance
The full-frame Sony DSC-RX1's design is quite astounding. It is not the smallest camera on the market, but sitting next to Sony's new full-frame DSLR, the A99, the RX1 looks positively petite. That the RX1 bears the same process and image sensor as the A99—which is already relatively lightweight and compact compared to other full frame cameras on the market—is simply astonishing. It opens up a new niche in the market for Sony, as they are the first company to place a full-frame digital sensor in such a small camera body.
The camera itself is designed as a second camera for professional photographers and the upper echelon of hobbyist shooters. The camera features a Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm f/2.0 lens—no interchangeable lens mount here—with a 49mm diameter filter mount. Similar lenses from Carl Zeiss can cost anywhere from $1100-2000 for a full frame DSLR, though the fixed lens on the RX1 has some extra tricks up its sleeve due to its unique design.
The RX1's magnesium alloy body houses the kind of manual control you'd expect from a full-frame body. It has a manual exposure compensation, dual control dials, and a host of customizable options. The camera doesn't have a viewfinder of any kind, but it features a multi-accessory shoe on the top that can work with optional optical or electronic viewfinders, as well as certain flash guns. Without one of the optional finders, framing on the RX1 is left to the camera's 3-inch, 1.229M dot rear display.
The overall feel of the design is simple, going away from the trend of retro cameras we've seen on the market lately. The Sony DSC-RX1 seems very utilitarian at first glance, without the retro flourishes or homages to elder cameras that we've seen on other premium fixed lens cameras. While that's not going to win any beauty contests for the RX1, its combination of body size, sensor size, shooting speed, and quiet operation could make it one of the better street shooting cameras available.