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Lens & Sensor
The Sony RX1 makes use of a 24.3-megapixel Exmor CMOS full-frame image sensor, the same as found in their new professional body, the A99. For those who maybe aren't aware, a full-frame image sensor is much larger than the APS-C image sensors that are seen in most non-professional DSLRs. This gives the RX1 the capability of capturing images on par with cameras such as the A99, Nikon D800, Canon 5D Mark III, and others.
To put the sensor size in perspective, take Sony's recently announced compact camera, the RX100. The RX100 features a one-inch sensor (13.2x8.8mm), much larger than those found in most compact cameras. The RX1's full-frame sensor has an imaging area approximately seven times larger than the RX100 (116.16mm2 vs. 855.62mm2).
That's why the RX1 is so much more expensive than other compact cameras—producing full-frame image sensors is expensive and less efficient than producing APS-C sensors, hence the cameras are more expensive. The RX1 is also much smaller than all those other full-frame bodies, owing to its fixed 35mm f/2.0 lens, smaller battery, and lack of an optical viewfinder. The lens is not interchangeable, so RX1 shooters will only be able to shoot at the 35mm focal length unless they want to use digital zoom features built into the camera.
LCD & Viewfinder
The only way to frame on the RX1 by default is with the 3-inch rear LCD. The monitor has a resolution of 1229k dots, though with just a VGA resolution. The screen truthfully looks much better than that, owing to Sony's "white magic" technology. White magic just means that each pixel can show red, greed, blue, as well as white, so it can produce better contrast.
The Sony RX1 does not feature a viewfinder of any kind—something that may put off some professional and hobbyist shooters whom the camera is intended for. Sony has produced two optional solutions, though, in the form of the FDA-V1K optical viewfinder (which matches the 35mm fixed focal length) and the FDA-EV1MK electronic viewfinder.
The RX1 features a small built-in flash that pops up from the top plate of the camera, similar to the flashes found on the Sony NEX-7. It's a mechanical release, meaning it can pop up at any time, without power to the camera. The flash has a guide number of 6, similar to flashes found on compact cameras.
Jacks, Ports & Plugs
The Sony RX1 keeps all of its various input/output ports on the left side of the camera behind plastic flaps. The camera has a 3.5mm mic input, HDMI output, as well as a standard micro USB port. The mic input and HDMI output are the most interesting, as the full-frame sensor and 1080/60p recording ability are sure to make a few video-centric shooters sit up and pay attention. We weren't able to see the video functionality in use during our short time with the camera, but we'll be sure to report on its capabilities when we have a production-level body in our hands.
The RX1 makes use of the NP-BX1 battery, the same that is used with the Sony RX100. The battery has a capacity of 1240mAh, which Sony states is capable of just 200 shots on a single charge. That's a massive trade-off, so you may want to pick up a second battery in order to make up the difference.
The Sony RX1 features a single memory slot, with the ability to record images to SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards, as well as Sony's proprietary MemoryStick PRODuo format. Our advice, as always, is stick with the standard SD format as much as possible.