The new Sony RX1 is really interesting. A full-frame, 24MP Sony sensor, permanently matched to a non-interchangeable Carl Zeiss Sonnar 35mm f2 lens. Nearly $3,000 price tag. Wow.
Pocket Lint has posted a brief introduction, and more importantly, some sample images from this camera, including using it at iso 25,600. Not bad. Not bad at all.
(Click Here) to see the post on Pocket Lint.
What are my thoughts on this camera? Well, first off, you have to shoot it at arm's length, if you use the LCD to compose. On the positive side, since it's a fixed-lens, fixed focal length, you can use an optical finder mounted in the flash shoe. I don't know how easy it is to set hyperfocal distance on the RX1, but that could be a good solution for street photography. Otherwise, there's an accessory electronic finder. In either case, it really takes away from the nice size and shape of the camera.
If I were looking for a smaller back-up to my Leica M9, the RX1 would be interesting. The Leica X2 is as well. The X2 has an APS-C sized sensor, smaller than the full-frame sensor in the RX1. I'm sure the Leica can't do nearly as well at high iso.
Right now, my answer to this is the nice little Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5. Not in the same league of image quality, for sure. The LX5 is okay at iso 400, can be used up to 800 or maybe 1600, if you're not going to get hung up on noise. But, that's really pushing it. Otherwise, it's an amazingly well-equipped little camera, and with zoom and focus memory, hyperfocal settings, and silent shutter, it's an awesome street shooter.
I think I'll always need an eye-level finder, as opposed to composing on the LCD. I highly prefer an optical finder to electronic view finder (EVF), yet have used the EVF on my Micro 4/3 cameras extensively. With an optical finder, autofocus is a real problem; you don't know what you're focusing on. With either an optical or EVF, these compact cameras become signficantly less compact and streamlined.
So, for me, the perfect compact companion to the M9 does not yet exist. The RX1 is close. I probably shouldn't try one. If I found that manual and hyperfocus settings were easy, I may fall in love.
In any case, I'm happy to see new cameras that put supreme image quality at the top of their features. Nice job, Sony (and Zeiss).