Reinterpreting "authentic"


Takagi:The DSC-RX1 (hereinafter RX1) is the world's first full-frame compact camera. Although the RX1 is a compact, we think its impressive imaging will tempt discerning camera enthusiasts. Those who know cameras recognize the universal ideals that have endured since the film era. They have a keen eye for the essence of cameras. To honor their values and the traditions of photography, we sought an authentic camera shape in RX1 design.

As an innovative company, though, Sony has resisted being bound by existing values. Ironically, this made it challenging for us to create an authentic-looking camera. The tricky part was interpreting what "authentic" should mean. Instead of just copying classic cameras, we sought a firm basis to build on for our customary minimalism. In the RX1, our approach builds on two key points.

First, we focused on aspects of the camera relevant in horizontal and vertical shooting. Expert shooters know how important it is to be able to hold cameras both ways. This applies to film and digital cameras alike, and photographers will always use this knowledge. I thought the shape of the camera should reflect this elementary facet of photography.

Second, we considered the lens layout. Lenses certainly play a central role in cameras. In the RX1, the lens represents uncompromising optical engineering. Clearly, there was no better position for the lens than right in the center.


No-nonsense styling keeps it real

Takagi:RX1 design called for greater discipline than usual, and we had to keep our goals firmly in mind. Styling may sometimes involve beveling edges to make products look slimmer. But inevitably, this would have undermined how suitable the camera looks for horizontal and vertical shooting. Because we faced different parameters in design this time, we narrowed down what needed our attention, at times after some debate.

For us, design work that had to be this subtle was unprecedented. Take the lens layout. It's offset to keep your hands separated, as you hold the grip in your right hand and adjust focus and aperture with your left. To have the lens look centered, we adjusted the logo position at a sub-millimeter precision, seeking the best balance. As for the tapering on both ends, even the slightest difference would alter the overall appearance radically, so we spent some time studying it. Ultimately, we positioned the Sony logo where it extends a little onto a curved surface. Some of us were concerned that during production, this would cause paint to drip from the logo, but without enough tapering on each end, the camera would look unrefined and boxy. On this point, we couldn't compromise.

Design tenacity is clear in the details

Takagi:For durability, markings and labeling on the camera are not printed on but etched in. Although in the digital age people tend to replace their compact cameras more often, the RX1 is certainly a camera you could use the rest of your life. It seemed fitting to ensure that the labeling wouldn't wear off after a few years.

On the exposure compensation dial, we wanted the markings to be clear. Normally, if dials are marked with bars, it's easy to confuse the bars with a "negative" symbol, and it also tends to make cameras look too complex. On the other hand, marking with dots would lack a sense of precision. We decided to use the negative symbol itself to mark the dial, and to avoid confusion, we used gray bars between the values. This approach supports both clarity and precision. Even on a single dial, we insisted on engraving, a brushed metal finish, and two-tone marking.

As for accessories, we ensured unrestricted motion for left-hand operations by adopting a gripless design on that side, but a thumb grip is also available. The finger rest folds neatly out of the way when not in use, following the contours of the body. The lens hood took considerable thought, requiring dozens of sketches and prototyping. And you'll find that the metal lens cap is easy to rest your fingers on when putting it on or taking it off. At first glance, the camera might seem ordinary, but you'll soon sense that it was carefully designed in all respects. Try the camera yourself, and you'll know what I mean. It's a fitting description of the RX1.


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