The coolest new camera? Meet Zeiss ZX1: All the swipes, slides & taps for using this wild new model (UPDATED)


posted Thursday, February 28, 2019 at 12:29 AM EDT

UPDATE: 10/05/2020 - Two years after its initial unveiling, the Zeiss ZX1 is now finally available for pre-order, with a retail price of US$6,000.


Back at Photokina 2018, Zeiss, the brand renowned for their lenses, actually unveiled a new camera, and a rather unique one at that. The Zeiss ZX1 sports an all-new 37MP full-frame sensor and a fixed 35mm f/2.0 lens. However, what's really unconventional about the camera is its design -- the shape, the lack of physical controls and the fact that it features built-in Adobe Lightroom CC and a 512GB SSD!

So how do you use a camera with hardly any buttons? And how does the Lightroom CC interface work? Well, it all comes down to the large touchscreen panel on the rear of the camera. Amongst the vast array of lenses at Zeiss' booth here at the CP+ tradeshow in Yokohama, Japan, there are two glass-enclosed displays housing the new ZX1 camera, one spinning calmly on a turntable, and the other showing a demo of its user interface. Care to see how this smartphone-meets-camera work?

Check out the video below:


If you're a fan of physical dials and controls, operating the ZX1 will definitely have a learning curve. There's more than just taps and swipes on a screen, there are also distinct sliding and swiping gestures involved in order to navigate through various modes and settings, at least according to their UI demo. When it comes to the Lightroom CC operations, the UI is very reminiscent of Lightroom CC on a mobile device. In fact, the ZX1 is based on the Android OS, as is evident by the Android UI elements along the righthand side of the screen seen at around the 1:22 mark in the video.

You'll also notice that the ZX1 has the ability to save images directly to cloud services like Dropbox right from within the camera. You can also presumably use the USB-C port on the camera to offload media to external storage devices.


Overall, the entire concept of the ZX1 is an intriguing one. Many people opt for a smartphone over a dedicated camera largely because it gives you the ability to edit and share photos from that one single device. With a dedicated camera, there are hurdles to jump through if you want to share your shots from your camera -- download the companion app, pair your phone with your camera, manually transfer a shot to your phone, then share. With the ZX1, you should have a very similar editing and sharing experience of a smartphone but with the vastly improved image quality performance of a full-frame camera. Now, the ZX1 isn't an altogether new idea, as Samsung dabbled with this concept of a "connected camera" a few times, such as with the Galaxy NX, but those never really took off. Time will tell, however, if Zeiss will strike a resonant chord with the ZX1.


And when can you get one? Well, that's still unknown at this time. A Zeiss representative that I spoke with said that while the camera is well beyond the concept stage, they still do not have pricing or availability details yet to share. Which is a shame, as I myself am rather curious to try this camera! What about you? What do you think of Zeiss' approach to take on the smartphone? Sound off in the comments below!

For more information on the ZX1, check out our Zeiss ZX1 Preview.