Zeiss discontinues its Android-powered ZX1 Camera
Despite being released just a couple of years ago at a steeply premium $6000 price tag, the Zeiss ZX1 camera has been discontinued by its maker.
The Zeiss brand still has active web pages dedicated to the camera but its two authorized retailers are now listing it as no longer available, though used models can be bought at much lower prices.
Zeiss took a long time to develop the ZX1 considering its abrupt end. Despite being formally announced in late 2020, the compact camera had first been mentioned publicly by Zeiss in 2018 and the company had already been working on it for some time before that.
One of the more interesting selling points about the ZX1 was that it came with an internal Android OS that’s quite similar to the ones seen in today’s smartphones.
This helped users edit photos from this standalone camera and its own powerfully large sensor similar to how they would handle photos taken with their Android phones.
Considering the often iffy user interfaces of many name-brand cameras on the market today, this was a pretty cool idea. At least Android is a well-developed, reliable and highly usable OS for many aspects of photo management.
The specs of the ZX1 were also nothing to sniff at either. This camera offered a 37MP full-frame sensor and a pretty great ISO range of 80-51,200, and it also came with its own fixed 35mm f/2 lens. Both of these were developed by Zeiss itself and are reportedly quite good.
Other features included a 1,920 x 1,080 FHD EVF and a remarkably large 4.3-inch 720p rear LCD display, though this was unfortunately fixed instead of being extendible.
The Android OS in the ZX1 also let the camera contain a native Adobe Lightroom software package that gave photographers the ability to edit photos professionally on the device itself.
The ZX1 even had a hefty 512GB internal memory for plenty of photo storage. However, it lacked an SSD card slot, so users would be stuck with no more than 512GB despite advances in memory card tech.
This sleekly-built shooter was the first ever full-frame digital mirrorless camera ever built by Zeiss but it wasn’t the first ever to feature and Android OS. Samsung tried the same thing back in 2013 but left the camera market behind afterward.
Many reviewers liked the design and unique features of the ZX1, and it didn’t have any notable defects or significant weaknesses in its specs.
On the other hand, the hefty $6000 price tag for such a standalone product from a brand, not well known for building cameras, might have been a major turn-off for photographer buyers.
Zeiss kept giving the ZX1 firmware updates for some time after its release but these too stopped after 2021.
It’s possible that Zeiss retired this unusual camera model because of unsurprisingly low sales, or maybe the brand just didn’t feel like keeping momentum with its tentative entries into the camera-maker market.
Either way, the concept of putting Android into a camera model is an interesting concept that we’ll almost certainly see again, as camera makers compete ever more fiercely with smartphone cameras in a shrinking standalone camera market.