The New Zeiss ZX1 (Hands On!)

NOTE: I am still under an NDA, so what I can share here is quite limited. As it’s beta, I have not been given the all clear to share images produced with my copy.

Finally, I can talk about this. It’s so hard to keep this secret for so many months! Today, Zeiss announced the full frame fixed lens ZX1. Some of you saw me testing a blacked out camera over the summer, and this was it. So I have official hands-on experience with it! I really feel this is a great idea: a minimal design with no SD slots and an internal 512 GB SSD drive.

 Image by Zeiss

Image by Zeiss

I was approached by Zeiss over the spring to be one of a few people in the world to know about this camera and put it to the test. (Mind you, this was still in beta then.) I got to really put it through the ringer and test out all the functions and ground-breaking ideas around the ZX1. I used it all over New England and NYC, shooting it in every possible environment and condition. There was very little I didn’t try with this camera.

The rear screen is incredible. A bright (even in bright sunlight) 1280x720 4.3” touchscreen with intuitive menus and quick response. The camera also has an excellent 1920x1080 OLED viewfinder. Being able to take a shot, swipe of a thumb to add my own custom preset in Lightroom CC, then exporting it to social media - with nothing more than a click - was a very unique experience. And having all this stored on an internal 512 GB SSD drive rather than SD cards might be a game changer for many.

 Image by Zeiss

Image by Zeiss

At this time, I don’t want to share more than what Zeiss has officially announced (frankly, I am not allowed under the NDA, once again). I’ll have more to say later on as I get into phase two, but here are the public details I can share from them so far:

 Image by Zeiss

Image by Zeiss

  • 37.4 MP Full Frame Sensor (paired in house to the lens)

  • Zeiss 35mm f/2 lens

    • f/2-22

    • 8 elements in 5 groups

    • 2 double-sided aspherical lens elements

    • 30 cm to infinity

  • 52mm filter thread

  • 512 GB SSD internal drive (no SD cards!)

    • Stores 6,800 raw DNG files / 50,000 jpgs

  • USB-C connection for syncing and charging

  • 4.34” 1280x720 rear panel (touch screen)

  • 0.7” OLED viewfinder with .74x magnification

  • ISO 80-51,200

  • Shutter speeds of 1/8000 - 30”

  • On-board Adobe Lightroom CC

  • Social Media integration

  • HD 4K video at up to 30fps

  • Dimensions: 142 x 93 x 46 (+20 mm lens)

  • Weight: 800 grams with battery

Holding it in the hand is like nothing else on the market right now. When I first grabbed it, it reminded me (slightly) of the X1D and much nicer to hold than the Sony RX1R II. It’s definitely meatier than the Sony A7R II as well. The slight curve to the body is a dream and fits the hand really well. Raw photos are exceptional (even in the current beta state and hopefully something I can share soon) - a look that’s really approaching medium format for me. There was something special about the output from this camera. You’ll see once I can share something, though I cannot legally share them at this time.

I haven’t heard anything on pricing, so we’ll let Zeiss announce that at release in early 2019. More to come once I have the final version in my hands this winter. Feel free to ask any questions and I’ll answer what I can within the rules of the NDA.