ZEISS ZX-1 Full Frame Mirrorless Camera Review

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Quick verdict

The ZEISS ZX-1 offers a very sleek design that produces quality images, albeit at a price that some may consider a bit steep. It is also a camera that will not be suitable for everyone. In fact, I would describe it as a “Marmite Camera”, which a photographer will love or hate. However, if it suits the way you work and you can afford the price, it is “recommended”.

+ Advantages

  • Capable of excellent image quality
  • Very low turnover
  • Incredibly low vignetting
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Integrated apps like Lightroom
  • Generous 512 GB SSD
  • Superb connectivity to cloud, phone and PC
  • Excellent EVF
  • Excellent instructor

– The inconvenients

  • Slow cold start
  • No weather resistance
  • No shaking reduction
  • Tedious screen operation
  • Difficult to grip aperture ring
  • Very high price

The new ZEISS ZX-1, armed with its Distagon 35mm f / 2T * fixed lens, has a huge price tag and a huge reputation behind it; ZEISS being one of the best optical companies in the world. Expectations will therefore be high from the start. High-end manufacturers sometimes introduce quite distinct and even surprising designs, and here ZEISS offers an intriguing mix of camera, lens and cellphone technology. Adding to the usual mix is ​​the inclusion of Mobile Lightroom and a host of connectivity possibilities, including direct upload to services like Facebook, Instagram and Dropbox. The camera will also be paired with a cell phone, from which it can be controlled. Gadgets that just cost money, or really useful innovations that push the concept of cameras into the future? Let’s put it to the test.

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Features of ZEISS ZX-1 Full Frame Mirrorless Camera

Zeiss ZX1

The overall design is elegant and very cool. It might not be a reason to buy a product, but ZEISS impresses from the start, with its superb packaging, where everything fits with incredible precision, with the gorgeous lines of the camera, lens and even the subtly shaped sun visor. It doesn’t make for better images, but there’s nothing wrong with a sleek design and since the product doesn’t come wrapped it’s definitely set to impress. As the camera came out of the box, weighing 834g, it is clearly very, very well made, as you would expect from ZEISS.

The shape of the camera is unusual, but the angled section separates the grip and the part of the screen devoted to the camera controls. Ergonomically, it works. The screen is a large 4.34 inch TFT LCD screen with 2.76 million dots. It’s crisp and clear. The EVF OLED viewfinder gives a magnification of 0.74x and has 6.22 million dots. Needless to say, it gives incredible clarity.

There are very few controls on the camera body, with the top plate offering a conventional shutter speed dial and a second dial for ISO. Most of the compact cameras I have used would have used the second dial for exposure compensation, which could have been more useful. The ISO range on the dial is ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with an automatic option and L and H settings to expand the range from ISO 80 to ISO 51,200. Concentric with the shutter speed dial is a small toggle switch that is used in various ways to turn the camera on and off, put it to sleep, and select still or video shooting.

The shutter speed dial offers settings from 1s to 1 / 1000s, the latter being the maximum flash sync speed. Setting L opens a menu and slow shutter speeds can be set up to 30 s. The H setting allows a speed of 1 / 2000s. There is also a T setting, where one press opens the shutter and a second press closes it. In this way, very long exposures can be used. Setting A means that the camera sets a shutter speed according to the selected aperture, in other words, the Av mode.

Zeiss ZX1

Aperture is set using a conventional aperture ring on the lens, with values ​​from f / 2 to f / 22, with a third stop click. There is an A setting on the ring so that TV mode can be set, with the user selecting the shutter speed and the camera choosing an appropriate aperture. This ring is unfortunately very thin and doesn’t offer a lot of grip, so finding it with the eye towards the viewfinder is a bit of a hit and miss. It would also help to have a lock on the A setting. The rubberized manual focus ring isn’t particularly tactile, either. Focus is reduced to 0.23m (0.75ft), about right for a conventional 35mm lens.

The lens is supplied with a typical ZEISS shaped bayonet lens hood, a perfect fit. In the bayonet suitable for the hood there is a standard 52 mm filter thread. The camera offers RAW (DNG) and JPEG capture, as well as MPEG-4 video capture in H.264 video format.

The 37.4 MP CMOS sensor provides images of 7488 x 4992 pixels, with cropping for video capture. Video capture offers a choice of 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels, 30 fps) and Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels, 60 fps). The lens is of course essential for making a quality image and has an optical construction of 8 elements in 5 groups, including 1 double-sided aspherical.

Connectivity is done either via WiFi or via the USB-C connection which also allows the battery to be recharged. Images can be uploaded to a computer via cable, directly to services such as Dropbox, Facetime, and Instagram, and in fact most of the camera’s settings are managed through a menu system, using the screen. rear touch. No memory card is provided, as the camera contains only a 512 GB SSD drive.

Zeiss ZX1 Lightroom
ZEISS ZX-1 with integrated Adobe Lightroom mobile

Additionally, the player comes preloaded with Mobile Adobe Lightroom, the idea being that a reasonable amount of picture adjustments can be done in the camera. This could obviously lend itself well to downloading content for publication, without the need for a laptop or other bulky computer. A mobile phone can be paired with the camera, which can then be used to use the various functions. This is useful when shooting on a tripod, to prevent the camera from shaking when the shutter button is pressed. The connection can be made either via a WiFi network used in common, or by creating a Hotspot.

Main features of ZEISS ZX-1:

  • 37.4 MP CMOS sensor (full frame)
  • 4.34 inch TFT LCD monitor with 2.76 million dots
  • OLED EVF with 0.74x magnification and 6.22 million dots
  • Shutter speeds 30s – 1 / 2000s
  • 3 fps shooting rate
  • ISO range 100 to 6400 (expands to 80 to 51200)
  • 4K and Full HD video shooting
  • H.264 / MPEG-4 video formats
  • AAC audio format
  • Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz)
  • Bluetooth
  • Weight 834g
  • Integrated 512 GB SSD
  • USB-C connection
  • Direct connection to web services
  • Pairing with a Cell Phone
  • Flash synchronization to 1 / 1000s
  • Integrated Lightroom
  • ZEISS 7.2V DC battery, 3190 mAh

Main features of the ZEISS Distagon 35mm f / 2T * lens:

  • 8 elements in 5 groups
  • 2 double-sided aspherical elements
  • 52mm filter thread
  • Manual focus and aperture rings
  • Minimum focus 0.23 m (0.75 ‘)

Handling the ZEISS ZX-1 Full Frame Mirrorless Camera

Zeiss ZX1

With such a radical concept, you first have to think about who might opt ​​for such an expensive item. Travel photographers traveling light might well be interested, especially since they can upload to the web as they go, even having the option of making some image adjustments. Unfortunately, there is no weatherproofing and no built-in shake reduction, so some bad weather care would be required.

The camera is unobtrusive and almost silent in operation, so reporting / street photography / photojournalism seems another likely area.

There is also the choice of life for those who like to own the “best” and for whom the price is not a barrier. It is a beautiful kit that takes beautiful images. You don’t have to spend that much to get the same or maybe even better quality, but if it serves a function, why not.

Zeiss ZX1

Beauty is of course in the eye of the beholder, and with this camera the handling qualities are also in the hands of the user. Those who like cameras with a lot of physical controls might not like the ZX-1, which is truly touchscreen operation. Those who use cell phones to take and manipulate photos may well be delighted and find the ZX-1 intuitive.

I have the impression that the camera is very slow to use and not really intuitive for my style of photography. This is not helped by the online-only instruction manual so everything takes too long to unravel. Likewise the myriad of gestures to use the touch screen. However, with practice comes familiarity and this aspect improves. The ignition time is very slow, taking a full 25 seconds to perform a cold start. Start-up is faster when the camera is on standby, waking up is almost instantaneous. Setup is also a potential miss-key nightmare, as the display can be big for a camera, but it’s still very small compared to a desktop monitor, and my fingers are too big to be selective enough. A stylus helps a lot, but there are still too many typos.

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