Sony’s RX1 Full Frame Compact is Small. Really Small.

One of the biggest photo stories at the moment is the fact that Sony is planning to stuff a full frame sensor inside an upcoming compact camera called the RX1. While the $2799 price tag likely puts it out of the reach of many photo enthusiasts, the fact that full frame sensors are starting to appear in fixed-lens compact cameras by a company other than Leica is pretty exciting.

What’s amazing about the RX1 is how small it is. Sony somehow managed to stuff a huge full frame sensor inside a camera body that’s roughly the size of the Panasonic GX1, which packs a much smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor.

Here’s an image by Mirrorless Rumors showing the two cameras overlaid on one another:

How about a comparison of the camera next to the Fujifilm X100, the Leica M9, and the Canon 5D? The M9 and 5D are both full frame cameras:

It’s crazy that the 35mm f/2 lens is what gives this camera most of its bulk rather than a beefy body.

Hopefully this camera is to Sony what the X100 was to Fujifilm: an initial fixed-lens camera to test the market before unleashing an interchangeable lens camera on the world. An interchangeable lens version of the RX1 would certainly shake things up… even more than the RX1 will once it officially exists.

Image credit: Sensor size comparison by Sensor Size

  • tttulio

    I have a Contax T. It is a Full Frame. and half the size of the RX1.

  • Renato Murakami

    Yeah yeah, we all get the love some people have for full frame film cameras. Can we just skip that and focus on the digital full frame sensor on small cameras?
    Do you guys really have to keep saying that on every new article about the subject?

  •!/thelonelylights Adam Cross

    the Contax T is also a 35mm rangefinder – no need for extra space for complex electronics in the Contax T

  • Daniel Ballard

    This ;looks like a really good camera. But-I’m not all that convinced 35mm full frame is the long time winner. I think the 16:9 ratio will win out over the long haul, and one day we will see bigger sensors on the same aspect ratio as APS-C, or maybe even an equivalent of the 70mm aspect ratio. Heck the day we see 4×6 full frame sensors is when digital really approaches film, not before.

  • Tavis Dunn

    To be clear, Leica does not have full frame sensors in their fixed lens cameras. The X1 and X2 use APS-C sensors. So do the Sigma DP series. As far as i know this is the only fixed lens compact camera to ever have a full frame digital sensor.

  • tonyhart

    This camera is downright exciting. Massive respect to Sony and Fuji for pushing the camera industry forward. That said, for me, a serious camera ceases to be a serious camera when it fails to have a viewfinder. I hate composing at arms length and don’t want some weird add on viewfinder.

  • Chris Burks

    I totally agree!

  • E

    Full frame already has the same aspect ratio as APS-C (and as 35mm film). Personally I don’t think 16:9 will ever become the standard in photography, it’s not a very flexible format for this. The 3:2 of today is a better compromise then imo.

  • Chris Lyn

    I agree. 16:9 is only good if used horizontally, hence its use in film/video.

  • itinko

    No EVF.. fuggedaboudit!

  •!/thelonelylights Adam Cross

    16:9 is my favourite for landscape photographs, 3:2 just doesn’t cut it

  • Dan

    No flexy screen for this beauty? No good.

  • Knur

    Finally ! Death to Leica!

  • ga1n

    Why? because they are expensive? I’d think you’d be more pleased that there’s competition and perhaps (slim chance really), that Sony forces Leica to push down their prices?

  • Kimberly Siebert

    my lumix doesnt have a viewfinder and that camera , as much as I wanted it to be, is NOT the end all be all… it takes nice pictures, sharp as hell, a little on the green side a little on the noisy side. not to mention the u.i. is like trying to program a vcr when they first came out. the font looks like it belongs to that blinky vcr, anddd, this camera is NOT for the faint of heart beginner as there is no way they’d be able to grab it and go. That being said, a camera minus viewfinder doesnt a better picture make. And THAT being said, anyone wanna buy my LX3 barely used? CP filter, bag, xtra battery, cables, manual, lowepro bag. Also did u know your Canon speedlights fit and work marvelously even tho the flash is twice as big as the camera

  • MD

    I shoot predominantly square (6×6 film) and I would take exception to having to crop away half my pixels were I to move to digital. 3:2 can be cropped to 16:9 or square without wasting a huge amount of pixels either way (good compromise). Really, the skinnier the format, the more wasted lens. Every lens projects an image *circle*. Geometrically, the best way to make use of this circle is to capture the largest square that can fit inside it, letting photographers crop after the fact. This was the premise behind the early 6×6 cameras and only fell by the wayside because it was wasteful to shoot a square of film only to crop a third of it away. Sensors don’t really have “waste” in the physical sense. However, if most people are going to crop to oblong anyways, many of them would probably object to paying for 1/3 more senor than they’ll ever use.

    TL;DR – 3:2 is fine.

  • MD

    Agreed. I harbor no strong animosity toward Leica, but I can understand where it comes from. They have had the digital RF market all to themselves for years, and judging by their prices, it might be going to their heads. Rangefinder shooting is a great way to go for many styles of photography, but when that necessarily involves spending upwards of $10,000 for a new (digital) camera system, a lot of us feel left out in the cold.

    More importantly though, having a camera with high image quality, yet compact enough to carry around all day is becoming an affordable reality for just about the first time in digital photography, and I’m pretty damn excited.

  • Elkman


  • E

    If 3:2 is what you want in the first place, a film/sensor with 3:2 frames will give you larger frames than cropping down a square. So it’s not just about material, but the resolution (resolving power) you get for a given lens’ projected circle too (but then again if square is what you want, having a square frame in the first place is better). But yeah.. 3:2 is fine :)

  • Eddie Smith

    While i agree it should be there at the price, reality is an add on optical is all you really need for the FOV for framing. they apparently have both coming as add ons, since it’s fixed lens I’d just get the optical.

  • MD

    This is very true. As with everything else in photography, there are all sorts of trade-offs to be made. Intriguingly, I believe it was Panasonic who recently released a camera with a sensor larger than the image circle. None of the capture formats (3:2, 16:9, 4:3) use the entire sensor, but each of them is able to extend to the edges of it. Very interesting concept, I think. In any case, it’s an exciting time to be a photographer…although film could be cheaper.

  • itinko

    Optical won’t have camera settings like the NEX-7, if you’re in the sun it’s hard to check settings on the LCD. The NEX-7 isn’t FF but is a fraction of the cost and takes terrific images.

  • Mr Gubrz

    if its an addon ovf, i dont mind
    but for some reason, if its an addon evf, i HATE it.

  • Andrew

    Close but no cigar. Without a viewfinder and proper manual controls, this is a $3000 toy. Next!

  • Brett Sacks

    Have a look at the Sigma DP2. You can attach a viewfinder + controls are manual with manual focus as well. Great specs with a huge sensor in a tiny camera

  • Mute

    Agreed, I love the idea of compact full frame cameras, and this is doubtless a move in the right direction, but the lack of an optical or hybrid fuji-style viewfinder is killer, especially for this price, which seems to be aimed at wealthy enthusiasts.

    I’d be happy to pay $1500 for a decent full frame compact, more for interchangeable lenses. I don’t care what it looks like, but an optical viewfinder is a must.

  • Spoon

    It has tons of manual controls plus gives you the option of using an EVF or OVF.

  • John Cassan

    Nice but I wonder why it was not an interchangeable lens camera at that price. I never use a 35 mm lens. It’s impracticable. A 90 to 125 f2 is better. But better yet make it an ILC.

  • quickpick

    my camera envy just went through the roof.. hope i’ll make some money one day to afford that, or any of it’s successors.. :)

  • quickpick

    spot on! optical or EVF, doesn’t matter but either one has to be.. :-

  • Mute

    $600 for the EVF!

  • Jim

    I saw a picture of the EVF for the RX1, and it looks like the one for the NEX-5n. I have one of those, and although it is expensive and sits on top of the camera, it is a damn nice viewfinder. I also like the fact that it tilts upward 90 degrees, so I don’t have to stoop down to look through it while using a tripod. My NEX-5n wears it all the time, disallowing a flash. The RX1 appears to have good low-light capability so a flash probably won’t be a big deal even for street photography.

    The only deal killer for me is that I need a longer focal length lens, maybe about 75-100 mm. I’m hoping this concept will turn into an interchangeable lens system, like a lot of people have suggested. Then I will definitely cough up some serious money. I refuse to buy another SLR – tired of the weight and bulk. It is so nice to carry a small, light camera that can produce great images.

  • HCBapprenticewannabe

    This is a great advancement. Finally, we’ll hopefully be getting rid of the bulky dslrs and be able to shoot with some proper equipment. But I think the lens looks disproportionate. I find the the proportions of fujifilm x100’s lens much more pleasing to the eye although it’s not a full frame camera. And an addition of a viewfinder and a reasonable price tag would make it best selling camera ever.

  • 7enderbender

    A step in the right direction. There are two things I don’t get: 1) What’s with the excitement that this is a “small” full-frame (35mm) camera? My old Olympus myu is still way smaller and 2) has an optical viewfinder. Why is it so hard to add this and make it a true basic rangefinder with a 35mm sensor (bare minimum size in my book)?
    As I said: right direction. Next!

  • John Kantor

    They aren’t going to shake up anything at that price.

  • Fed Up with weirdos like you

    The Lens on this camera is WAY TOO BIG..WAY TOO UGLY…WAY TOO HEAVY and NOT interchangeable …but Sony doesn’t care..they will simply drop this model and all support for it within the year and TRY AGAIN

  • Fed Up with weirdos like you

    maybe Fuji should make Sony’s Lenses…Dear Fuji…..come out with a full frame small camera….please

  • Fed Up with weirdos like you

    Everyone that buys Sony regrets it..soooner or later……sooner or later…and it doesn’t matter what Sony product you buy…..these guys have a “philosophy”…that permeates everything they do…an arrogance actually….supreme arrogance