Coming pretty much completely out of nowhere, the Cyber-shot RX1 is a remarkable new full-frame, fixed-lens, compact camera from Sony that ought to stand the camera world on its ear. A halo product par excellence, it crams a new 24.3 megapixel CMOS sensor (also seen in the new A99) into a body no bigger than the Panasonic LX7, and tacks on a sure-to-be-superb 35mm f/2.0 Zeiss Sonnar T* lens.
The impressive new EXMOR sensor boasts an native ISO range of 100-51200 (or 50-102400 when fully expanded), and combined with a new BIONZ processor can capture 5 frames per second in a burst. Meanwhile, the lens claims a 9-bladed aperture that creates a nearly perfect circle throughout the aperture range.
Designed with professional photographers in mind, the RX1 features a magnesium alloy body with an exposure compensation dial, a shooting mode selector dial, and a programmable function button on the top plate. The lens should also be an ergonomic winner with an aperture ring, macro switching ring, and focusing ring. A 3-inch WhiteMagic rear LCD promises clear viewing even in bright light, and shooters can choose between two add-on viewfinder accessories: the FDA-EV1MK EVF, and the FDA-V1K optical finder.
With specs like these, we expect the RX1 to set a new bar for street shooting, and to be the perfect backup for pro photographers on the go. But perfection doesn't come cheap—an asking price of $2799 is sure to spell sadness for many hopeful buyers. Even so, it's a huge step forward for the compact camera market, and a sign of good things to come.