Zeiss ZX1 puts Adobe Lightroom CC at photographers’ fingertips

In the era of the iPhone, I've long wanted a pro-grade camera that lets me capture high-quality pixels, edit them to taste, and share them with the world—all without pulling out a phone. Many companies have tried putting Android guts in camera bodies—the Samsung Galaxy NX being perhaps the closest implementation of what I'd want—but those efforts have generally not taken off. Today's SLRs and mirrorless cameras instead use tacked-on connectivity features like SnapBridge to wirelessly move images into the connected world by way of smartphone apps.

Now, storied optics house Zeiss is taking an intriguing crack at the connected-camera idea with its ZX1 enthusiast point-and-shoot. The ZX1 uses a non-interchangeable 35-mm f/2 lens and a 37.4-MP full-frame sensor to acquire images. Manual controls for shutter speed and ISO dot the ZX1's top panel, and an aperture ring on its lens provides another direct control over the shooting experience. Past those basics, its similarities to traditional cameras end there.

The ZX1 has a version of Adobe's Lightroom CC baked in, so photographers can edit raw images right on the camera's curved 4.3" touch screen. Once the user seasons their images to taste, the ZX1 can share them with the world using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or USB Type-C connections to external devices. Zeiss says users will be able to update the ZX1's firmware over the air. In another break with today's cameras, the ZX1 doesn't even bother with a card slot. Instead, the camera has 512 GB of non-removable storage.

DPReview says the ZX1's integrated EVF has a generous 1920×1080 resolution and 0.74x magnification. Continuous stills shooting is limited to 3 FPS, although videographers will find options for 4K capture at up to 30 FPS and 1920×1080 shooting at up to 60 FPS. Zeiss didn't provide pricing info for the ZX1, though it will doubtless be a plaything for the well-heeled when it arrives early next year.

Comments closed
    • Chrispy_
    • 1 year ago

    The reason DSLRs and high-end 3/4 cameras are always paired with smartphones is because the phones have giant, high-quality screens.

    4.3″ touchscreen editing is no fun.

    I’m not saying that it’s enjoyable on a 6″ touchscreen either, but the improvement in the whole experience afforded by the 100% increase in touchscreen real estate is tangible.

    • TheEmrys
    • 1 year ago

    I don’t see any advantage to this over the Sony RX1rII. Lower MP, taller, thicker, wider, same speed and focal length on the lens. And touchscreen only for focus? Non-starter. I had high hopes for this. But this is a hard pass. I could live with a 35mm only. I did it with the RX1rII. But this? Not only is it ugly, but it is huge! It has no size advantage over an a7rII (or III!)with the 35/2.8, let alone the RX1rII.

    Disappointing.

      • Airmantharp
      • 1 year ago

      I don’t really get the total purpose either.

      I’m thinking that Zeiss/Ikon are trying something a bit new here. One part is getting their foot in the door; the other part I think is innovating by shoving processing power into the body. Looks like they might have shoved a full (or nearly so) phone SoC in there, and hell, that’s more than Sony’s done. Their UIs are still lagging behind what Canon and Nikon (and they themselves!) have done with DSLRs.

      I think that they shoved a phone SoC in there due to pushing the ‘editing on the camera’ angle. And while I don’t expect the camera to be ground-breaking, I do suspect that it might still be a pretty good shooter.

      I just hope that the sensor is more Exmor than whatever say Leica had been using that more resembles old Canon sensors!

      • Kretschmer
      • 1 year ago

      It looks like a novel way to establish the brand, with enough differentiation / high margins to offset a small initial sales volume.

        • TheEmrys
        • 1 year ago

        If Zeiss weren’t always an established brand, I would agree. Zeiss is truly a top tier lens designer. And have as long or longer history than anyone. Any oneone buying this camera are really only doing so for the Zeiss name on it.

          • Kretschmer
          • 1 year ago

          But Zeiss hasn’t made a modern digital camera, right? This one is odd enough to be premium without having the optimal specs.

    • Kretschmer
    • 1 year ago

    Further thoughts… While the Adobe software on this camera might seem gimmicky, it’s a step towards the next big evolution in cameras: intelligent capture and processing software.

    Right now my phone makes a number of decisions, captures multiple images, and uses advanced tools like HDR to make the most of its tiny sensor and nonexistent lens. Imagine if that same software power was unleashed on my mirrorless camera with its (relatively) huge sensor and versatile lens.

    The first camera maker to add advanced processing software to their cameras will blow away the consumer and prosumer markets. Right now camera apps and functionality is barbaric compared to what advanced phones are doing, and that’s a huge gap in functionality.

      • jdevers
      • 1 year ago

      To be fair though, most of that processing wizardry is to appromixate having a better lens and sensor. Why bother when you have a sensor 50 times bigger with lens almost immeasurable faster, accumulative, and just all around better.

      • Airmantharp
      • 1 year ago

      Barbaric nails it. I think Canon is leading a bit here with their Digital Lens Optimization; in their own software, it does miracles with their kit and kit-grade lenses, and their pushing it into their cameras for JPEG processing. Ever seen a $100 50/1.8 have its longitudinal chromatic aberration cleaned up at the click of a button?

      Lightroom can’t do it, but Canon’s latest Digital Photography Professional sure did!

      So yeah, the more processing to clean up aberrations, hopefully as losslessly as possible, the better, and the more processing can be leveraged to push the envelope of image capture and distribution, the better.

      • davidbowser
      • 1 year ago

      Disclaimer – i work for the goog

      The PVC is one of the first smartphone chips used for exactly your use case. If that were put into a “real camera” you could get some INSANE images. Right now, the Pixel2 is the only device using it.

      [url<]https://en.wikichip.org/wiki/google/pixel_visual_core[/url<]

        • Kretschmer
        • 1 year ago

        I’m curious to see when the future will come. Right now the camera makers are stumbling around in the dark cobbling together their own software and hardware, but this really looks like the future.

      • TheEmrys
      • 1 year ago

      Sony has had apps in its a7 series bodies for 5 years now. My favorite is the “Smooth Reflections” app. It acts better than a neutral density filter, and provides insanely clean images. As in, an ISO of less than 50 equivalent. Its truly amazing. And it works and blends RAWs. There are several other apps, including some that do some higher level stuff. However, putting LR on the body is a cool step, if you like LR. Personally, I refuse to pay for software as a service. So I am stuck with 6 and some other supplemental software.

        • TheEmrys
        • 1 year ago

        And, if anyone is interested in Sony’s apps:

        [url<]https://www.playmemoriescameraapps.com/portal/[/url<]

      • NovusBogus
      • 1 year ago

      This is a really good point. I for one would love to have a point-and-shoot that yields fantastic auto-mode results under all but the most extreme conditions. Unfortunately most camera snobs don’t want a camera that’s better at photography than they are, and that’s the market segment the camera makers are thinking about when they do $500+ products.

    • Kretschmer
    • 1 year ago

    That looks really sexy, but I know that it’ll be way, way too expensive when it comes out. It’s also a shame that they couldn’t fit optical stabilization into what will undoubtedly be a $3K+ camera.

      • faramir
      • 1 year ago

      Expecting this to cost anywhere close to $3K is downright goofy when Leica Q is listed at $4.5Kish 😉 This is similarly a $5K item.

        • Kretschmer
        • 1 year ago

        $5K is $3K+.

        I mean, for point-and-shoot cameras, is there a meaningful budget difference between $3K and $5K? 😉

    • gigafinger
    • 1 year ago

    Features aside, I think this is a very handsome camera.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 1 year ago

    Just what I’ve always wanted to do: edit photos on a tiny screen like my phone. /s

    It’s a bad experience on my iPhone 6s plus, it’s a bad experience on my Pixel 2, and it can’t possibly be automatically a great experience just because a camera maker is doing it.

      • Kretschmer
      • 1 year ago

      I mean, if it can edit RAW files on the go that would be great for pulling details out of shadows and popping an image out to friends while traveling. And that lens and sensor combo look incredible. But this is all academic within my budgetary limits, as all that tech will carry a monster price tag.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 1 year ago

        Not to mention that whatever the tech would cost from Nikon, multiply that by a percentage for the Zeiss name, too.

        Non-removable storage in a camera is just not cool, no matter the brand. Not that you’d run out of space with 512GB, but that it’s a new point of failure. If I had an SD card go bad in my current camera I can just replace it. If the storage flakes out and dies in this thing, I have a handy paperweight. This isn’t a phone that you replace every three years. People expect cameras to last much longer.

          • Kretschmer
          • 1 year ago

          I missed the storage constraint, which is really odd. It’s an unlikely point of failure, but…why?

            • derFunkenstein
            • 1 year ago

            It might be relatively unlikely, but for me, all of my PC hardware failures in the last several years have been storage-related, including two SSDs. I don’t like the idea of a $5000 (or whatever this costs) brick.

      • BurntMyBacon
      • 1 year ago

      YOU”RE NOT HOLDING IT RIGHT!!!
      ..

      ..
      I’ll see myself out.

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