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dig­i­tal cam­era from Zeiss has a full-35mm for­mat CMOS sen­sor, but it’s not a mir­ror­less de­sign or, in­deed, a D-SLR. In­stead, the Zeiss ZX1 has a fixed Distagon T* 35mm f2.0 wide-an­gle prime which, of course, is very pre­cisely matched op­ti­cally to the sen­sor. OK, so tech­ni­cally it is a mir­ror­less cam­era, but you know what we mean.

There are some other un­usual things about the ZX1 too… for starters, it has a mas­sive 512 GB of in­ter­nal me­mory which is enough for around 6800 RAW files (in the Adobe DNG for­mat) or over 50,000 best-qual­ity JPEGs. The big in­ter­nal me­mory means that there’s no me­mory card slot and Zeiss is em­pha­sis­ing image shar­ing via WiFi (with NFC), Blue­tooth or the cam­era’s USB-C con­nec­tion (the cam­era’s only port). And to this end, the ZX1 has Adobe Pho­to­shop Light­room CC builtin so im­ages can be pro­cessed and edited in-cam­era. There’s a big 11 cm, 16:9 as­pect ra­tio touch­screen mon­i­tor to help with this, while the cam­era’s elec­tronic viewfinder is a 1.78 cm OLED-type panel which has a mag­ni­fi­ca­tion of 0.74x. The mon­i­tor screen is ac­tu­ally slightly bent which, says Zeiss, “… sep­a­rates the live view from the con­trol el­e­ments”.

As with Le­ica’s TL se­ries cam­eras, much of the ZX1’s op­er­a­tion is per­formed via the touch­screen and ex­ter­nal con­trols are kept to a bare min­i­mum… in fact, ba­si­cally just two di­als for shut­ter speeds and ISO set­tings. There’s a con­ven­tional aper­ture ring on the lens and the var­i­ous auto ex­po­sure con­trol modes are set us­ing the ‘A’ po­si­tions on this and the shut­ter speed dial, sim­i­lar to Fu­ji­film’s X100F (the ISO dial also has an ‘Auto’ set­ting). The lens in­cor­po­rates a leaf shut­ter with a speed range of 30-1/8000 sec­ond. Other fea­tures in­clude aut­o­fo­cus­ing, ex­po­sure brack­et­ing, an in­ter­val­ome­ter and in-cam­era panorama stitch­ing.

The ZX1’s sen­sor – more than likely made by Sony – has a res­o­lu­tion of 37.4 megapix­els and a sen­si­tiv­ity range equiv­a­lent to ISO 80 to 51,200. Con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing is pos­si­ble at up to 3.0 fps and the cam­era can shoot 4K UHD video at 25 fps (PAL) or Full HD at 50 fps in the MP4 for­mat with stereo sound. The big me­mory al­lows for up to 20 hours of 4K video.

Given the ab­sence of me­mory card slots, any other ports other than USB-C, a min­i­mum of ex­ter­nal con­trols, and fixed flush-fit­ting mon­i­tor screen the Zeiss ZX1 has a very sleek and smooth bodyshell. The ex­ter­nal cov­ers are alu­minium and are all painted metal with no grip cov­er­ings. Avail­abil­ity will be from early 2019 and there’s no in­di­ca­tion of pric­ing yet, but clearly the ZX1 is a pre­mium prod­uct. For more in­for­ma­tion visit https://zx1.zeiss.com/

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