Home Uncategorised Zeiss ZX1 first review

Zeiss ZX1 first review


It’s quite a surprise to find the elusive Zeiss ZX1 appearing in the wild after such a long wait. DPReview has managed to bag one for test, and you can read the article here. My initial reaction is that you have to be sold on in-camera processing and a smartphone-style interface to really appreciate this camera. And at a premium of 20% over Leica’s astonishingly good Q2, the Zeiss will be a hard sell. What do you think now you’ve read this initial review. Would you buy one?


    • Must be less dense than the SL2. But that’s an amazing comparison. Bigger and heavier than the Q, not to mention the 20% price premium. And then there is depreciation. The Q has an enviable track record and the Zeiss is an unknown. It’s not something I’d care to risk £6,000 on and I am a notorious early adopter.

      • Here is a comparison with the
        Leica M10-P https://camerasize.com/compare/#806,792
        here with the Leica TL2 https://camerasize.com/compare/#806,717
        it weighs almost exactly twice as much . . I think my feeling really is that it’s a whole new interface which I don’t need to learn, and that processing images in camera is always going to be a pain because the screen is too small . . . which leaves it as an entirely unpocketable, extremely expensive and with resolution which loses the benefit of small files but fails to gain the benefit of high resolution.

        I imagine that it’ll sell like hot ice cream and you’ll be able to get one secondhand for a song. Did I mention that I’m not impressed?

  1. While I probably prefer 35mm lenses over 28mm as a general walk around I would still struggle to choose the ZX1 over the Q2. I just can’t see how often I would want to edit in Lightroom on my camera. I never process raw files in camera but I do sometimes synch a collection of images on to my iPad where I can edit and rates images when on the move. The largely analogue style controls for exposure control of the ZX1 seem directed at a different demographic to those who might like the back of the camera.

  2. If I didn’t already own a Q2 (which replaced my Sony RX1R II) I would consider the ZX1. It’s a concept that I’ve been intrigued with and, while I acknowledge all of the associated risks, for which I applaud Zeiss for actually putting into production. Especially at a time where there is very little of this type of experimentation going on in the industry.

    I’ve owned and used similar cameras before, such as the Panasonic CM-1 and Nokia Lumia 1020 and thought what Samsung was doing with things like the Galaxy Camera and NX Galaxy (neither of which I owned) was really interesting.

    Leica’s T/TL series was heading in this direction – it had the foundations – but seems to have been abandoned.

    Given that all cameras now have WiFi, having them connect directly to the internet and run apps natively makes sense. Being able to edit on the fly and post directly to Instagram and elsewhere is also logical. Maybe a less obvious, but potentially equally valuable feature, would be for photos from the camera to be backed up immediately as full-res RAWs or JPGs to Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. or to a service like Google Photos (where they’re auto-tagged and indexed).

    That all sounds pretty sweet to me.

    • Narain, I agree on the TL. Like you, I think it has been abandoned and isn’t long for this mortal coil. But it is a big missed opportunity. The design and concept are right for a Zeiss-a-like camera, albeit with an APS-C sensor. All it needs is a bit of smartphone wizardry and, I suspect, it would sell again in satisfactory numbers.

      • I bought the Tl2 and the CL from the same dealer and he told me at the time that the CL outsold the TL2 by a factor of 7… As the T (and TL2) most likely pre-date the technology partnership with Panasonic I believe Leica is probably eager to drop the (old legacy) platform and I guess it is unlikely that Leica would attempt to build a TL3 on an entirely brand new platform.

        • I am not sure that the T and TL do not contain Panasonic electrics. I would be very surprised if they didn’t. As far as I can remember, the association with Panasonic goes back some 15 years. It’s a pity, though, and I think you are probably right on the outcome.

        • @slowdriver – I had a similar experience at the Soho Leica store in NYC not long after the CL came out. I was there to buy a Visoflex for my TL2. The used display case was packed with T/TL/TL2s, probably 15-20 units, which I remarked on. The sales associate replied that all of them had been traded in for CLs.

          • Also, the original T apparently sold well till the Q was launched… so the TL-series really has been cannibalized by other Leica cameras which are it needs to be said indeed more performant but definitely not as stylish and unique… it is unfortunate, I have always loved the T and the TL2…

      • @Mike – it looks increasingly likely that the merger between phones and cameras will happen from the other direction, i.e. with phone accessories making them more like cameras. I see that you got the Pro Max 12. The larger sensor on the wide lens and new stabilization system is a step in that direction. When you combine that with a case and lenses from a company like Moment, it starts to look a a lot like a camera…

        And, it has pretty much any photo editing app, storage syncing app, etc. you could want available, all of which can be interacted with on a glorious 6.7” screen.

  3. Surely most digital cameras will produce a finished photo, usually called a JPEG and the people that make the cameras, know a good deal about what makes an image?

    Fuji, in particular are renowned for this ability, particularly since they use a proprietry sensor filter. When I bought a used MP240, it was set to produce JPEG only, so it must have been pretty good at producing acceptable images.

    The thing is that most of us would prefer to fiddle, just to see whether we can do better, and the best place to do that is on the big screen at home.

    I reckon that when it was first mooted by Zeiss, the ZX1 was a good idea, but they missed the killer feature, mainly because most of it is very new and possessed by phone makers. That feature is computational photography… Imagine having a Distagon lens on the end of an iPhone (with all its secret little features), rather than on the end of an untested over large design, that can be bettered by almost every manufacturer.

    Personally I thought that the camera was a great idea, until I realised just how expensive and bloated the included software is.

    Lightroom vs Iridient is no contest, what Lightroom does do over and above the latter, can all be done more efficiently with Apple tools.

    • Another factor is the annual subscription to Lightroom which, I assume, is levied after the first free year. And, of course, this pre-supposes that all Zeiss owners prefer to use Lightroom over the many other post-processing packages.

  4. I love the concept. I love the Zeiss lens. I love the focal length.

    But at that price, and with a less than absolutely modern sensor (Hugh Brownstone feels the sensor is probably two year old technology ) it becomes a very tough sell over the Q2 and possibly even the X100V.

  5. “If you want to so something iconic you have to have this great idea that picks it up”

    “Zeiss has been thinking to renter the camera market for many, many years but for us it never made sense to copy something that already existed”

    “Now is the time to combine classical photography with the elements of ease of use, connectivity that are known form the smart phone world, this is the concept of the ZX1”


    Zeiss responded to the ZX1 price question in the comments on this video:

    Comment/Quesrion: “why is it 6000? Thats silly overpriced”

    Zeiss Response: “Thanks for your question. The ZEISS ZX1 is a sophisticated and technologically advanced camera concept featuring a high level of quality which is also reflected in the price.

  6. Reading reviews of digital cameras can lead me to lose the will to live. I had a quick flick through this one and it seems that the comms functions on this are clunky compared to those on the average smartphone.

    I believe that it should be possible to build a high quality connected camera as all of the technology is already there, but, perhaps, we are past the point of no return for camera companies to do this. The phone companies remain well in the lead on this, particularly as regards serving the mass market.

    Escaped horses and stable doors come to mind.


  7. If it came out shortly after it was announced and 2k less it might have had a decent run. Now it’s deader than last Friday fish fry.

  8. ZX1 might sell in Japan at a lower price but in Europe will likely be considered too gimmicky … especially by professionals. ‘All in one’ solutions tend to become obsolete relatively quickly. I wonder how much the R&D cost … and if Zeiss got their sums right ref. market research before deciding to commence manufacture? Will likely become obsolete too quickly … especially in the current ‘dog eat dog’ digital camera market.

  9. Dear Mike. From the images the distagon lens can produce the lens looks pretty stunning but I wonder why Zeiss decided to produce the ZX1. I’m sure they must have had the techology to produce a autofocus digital rangefinder when they launched into the ZX1 venture. I used to own a Contax G1 with 21, 28, 35 & 45 lenses and really enjoyed using the camera. The quality was almost on par with Leica with the advantage of autofocus. Developing a similar digital system with the possibility to use the old Contax lenses would have been more sensible approach in my opinion. However enticing the camera may be I don’t know who’s going to buy the camera but I will certainly not. I also wonder why they have the lightroom software embeddeded in the camera as it is much more comfortable to process your images on a large screen. The Q and Q2 UI may be more traditional, with physical controls but much more user friendly plus they’ve got stabilzation. I really wonder who would want to pay 6K for a camera when you can have a 28mm Summilux lens with the abilty to crop35 & 50 mm (and even usable 75mm with the Q2).

  10. I still believe it is a white elephant. Anybody that desires one for some reason that escapes me, should wait until the price plummets shortly.

  11. Dear Mike, the Zeiss ZX1 for me falls into a precise category: I would not buy it, but I love the concept. This is (for me) the same category as several Leica, most notably the monochromes. These are all truly excellent cameras, so excellent as to be overkill. You end up with more quality than you can possibly use (at a steep price); after all, how much you enlarge your pictures? I seldom print larger than a3, and I obtain good prints from a micro 4/3 or aps-c camera. Thus said, the great majority of my photos is taken with either a 35 or 90 mm (equivalent) lens, and the Zeiss only has the former, which you cannot change.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here