Zeiss' ZX1 is part full-frame camera, part micro tablet

It's big, with a relatively huge display and battery, but no card slots and a sole USB-C connection. And did we mention Adobe Lightroom's built in?

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography, PCs and laptops, gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
2 min read

Shrunken full-frame cameras must be the new black; this year we've had announcements for six mirrorless models from new players in the segment Canon, Nikon and Panasonic. Now another familiar newcomer enters the fray, the Zeiss ZX1, with an interesting take on a fixed-lens model. It's slated to ship in 2019, and that's when Zeiss will reveal the pricing.

Zeiss is pursuing the mobile-first photographer -- presumably a deep-pocketed one, since it's Zeiss -- like Wile E. Coyote in a tux. It eschews card slots and connections in favor of a big 4.3-inch (10.9) display, an enormous built-in 512GB of memory, a relatively huge 3,190 mAh battery, a USB-C connection for input and output, and fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi for transfers. 


The ZX1 has a big touchscreen interface for editing and sharing photos.


A copy of Adobe Lightroom CC comes installed for real in-camera photo editing and (presumably) syncing if you're a Creative Cloud subscriber. Through the touchscreen on the back, you can control the storage and share to services. 

It still remembers it's a camera, though with manual shutter speed and ISO dials on top and an aperture ring on the 35mm f2 T* lens, as well as an EVF. 

If you remember Samsung's Galaxy cameras -- the Galaxy Camera and the Galaxy NX -- then some of this may sound familiar.  Samsung, too, tried to be the connected camera of the future. But that was 2013 and this is now, when a lot of pieces have fallen into place to make it a bit more practical and price effective.

But it's still pretty big at almost 6 in/155 mm wide and close to 4 in/95 mm high. And yes, it's got a big battery, but it may need it just to retain battery-life parity with models that don't use as much: that big screen and EVF are energy sinks even without considering how much time you'll spend with the big display if you use it as intended.

Zeiss provided a decent amount of details about the specifications, but it's a relative newcomer to digital cameras, so how well any of this will work is anyone's guess.

Comparative specifications

Leica QSony RX1R IIZeiss ZX1
Sensor effective resolution 24.2MP CMOS n/a 14-bit42.4MP Exmor R CMOS 14-bit37.4MP n/a
Sensor size 36 x 24mm 35.8 x 23.9mm36 x 24mm
OLPF NoVariablen/a
Lens 28mm f.1.735mm f2.035mm f2.0
Closest focus 6.7 in 17 cm7.9 in 20 cm11.8 in 30cm
Sensitivity range ISO 100 - ISO 50,000ISO 50 (exp)/ISO 100 - ISO 25600/102400 (exp)ISO 80 - ISO 51200
Burst shooting 10fps n/a raw/unlimited JPEG 5fps n/a (with continuous AF but fixed exposure)3fps n/a
Viewfinder (mag/ effective mag) Electronic 100% coverage 3.68MP LCOS n/aOLED EVF 0.4 in/10.2 mm 2.4 million dots 100% coverage 0.74xOLED EVF 0.7 in/17.8mm 2.1 million dots n/a 0.74x
Hot Shoe YesYesYes (Sigma protocol)
Autofocus n/a Contrast AF399-point phase-detection AF, 25-area contrast AFn/a 255 selectable areas
AF sensitivity (at center point) n/an/an/a
Shutter speed 1/2,000 to 30 secs (to 1/6,000 with electronic shutter); bulb; 1/500 sec x-sync1/4,000 to 30 secs; bulb; tk x-sync1/8,000 to 30 secs; bulb
Shutter durability n/a
Metering n/a1,200 zonesn/a
Metering sensitivity n/an/an/a
Best video H.264 MP4 1080/60p, 30pXAVC S 1080/60p @ 50MbpsMP4 4K UHD/30p
Audio stereo stereo; mic inputbuilt-in mic; mic, headphones and HDMI via USB-C
Manual aperture and shutter in video YesYesn/a
Maximum best-quality recording time n/an/an/a
Clean HDMI out n/an/an/a
IS OpticalElectronic (movies only)n/a
LCD 3 in/7.5 cm Fixed touchscreen 1.04m dots3 in/7.5cm Tilting 921,600 dots plus extra set of white dots4.3 in/10.9 cm Fixed touchscreen 921,600 dots
Memory slots 1 x SDXC1 x SDXCNone. 512GB internal, USB-C for external
Wireless connection Wi-Fi 802.11bgn, NFCWi-Fi 802.11bgn, NFC Wi-Fi 802.11ac, NFC, Bluetooth 4.1
Flash NoNoNo
Wireless flash n/aYesn/a
Battery life (CIPA rating) n/a (1,200 mAh)200 shots (viewfinder); 220 shots (LCD) (1,080 mAh)n/a (3,190 mAh)
Size (WHD) 5.1 x 3.1 x 3.7 in 130 x 80 x 93mm4.5 x 2.6 x 2.8 in 113 x 65 x 72 mm5.6 x 3.7 x 2.6 in 142 x 93 x 66 mm
Body operating weight 22.6 oz 640 g17.9 oz (est.) 507 g (est.)28.2 oz 800 g (est.)
Mfr. price $4,495 £3,700 AU$6,300$3,299  £3,450 AU$5,499n/a
Release date June 2015November 2015early 2019