Do you remember the Canonet Rangefinder cameras from the 1970's? Gorgeous little metal machines with just enough control to make you feel like you were in charge. Small and unassuming but fitted with a great, single focal length lens that had some speed to it. I loved my Canonet III QL 17 as much as some of my friends loved their Olympus RD's. The cameras uniformly had leaf shutters which meant we could sync flash up to their highest speeds. They had real, live hot shoes and they were rugged enough to bang around in the basket of a bike or in the pockets of an old, faded, green army field jacket.
You'd whip the camera to your eye, fast focus the bright line rangefinder and fire away knowing that your Tri-X film would look good and sharp and that it would take care of you if your exposure was just a bit off.
In the same time frame we also had those little jewels from Rollei called the Rollei 35S. No rangefinder but wonderfully small (but full frame) bodies coupled with "guess focus" Zeiss designed 40mm Sonnar lenses of extremely high sharpness. Full out quality in a shirt pocket (the lenses were collapsible).
The two attributes that most of these cameras shared were these: 1. They were beautifully designed for quick and intimate shooting. 2. They had permanently attached lenses that were a great complement to the bodies. Really sharp, well designed lenses.
I wasn't paying attention when Sony announced the RX1. I was too busy waiting to see what was going to finally be introduced in the DSLT space (the a99) and the Nex space (the Nex 6 and some lenses). I finally took a deep breath and stood up and looked around.
My first glance at the RX1 made me think that Sony had dropped the ball on this camera. I liked the look of the basic body configuration and I really liked the lens choice but I was kinda bummed because I didn't see any mention of an EVF and I refuse to part with more money than I paid for my first car to have a camera that I'd be restricted to using in the "stinky-baby-diaper-clueless-hipster" hold. "Minus one for Sony and plus one for my aching checking account." I mused.
Today I saw three things that changed my mind and made me nostalgic for the kind of camera I started out with (the Canonet G III QL-17). The first was an image of the RX1 made with a dedicated 35mm bright line finder in the hot shoe. I'd relegated bright line finders to yesteryear rangefinder cameras even though I'd always loved them. Then I saw that the RX1 could be used with the EVF that was originally introduced for the Nex 5R. And that the EVF (an outstanding EVF to boot) was available in matching black. Finally, I started researching the sensor which, according to early appraisals by people who've talked extensively with Sony, is shaping up to be one of, or perhaps even the best full frame sensor made for the consumer market to date. And the same one that will be delivered in the Sony a99. Now Sony has my attention.
I'm anxious to play with one. Not sure I'll buy one since I'm committed to the a99 in the short term but it certainly captured my mindshare.
After seeing the Sony a99 introduction specs, the new full frame interchangeable lens camcorder with the same a99 full frame sensor (for around $3K=amazing), having shot extensively with the a77 and really, really enjoying the Nex 7 camera I think I'm starting to see a fun pattern. Sony has finally stopped floundering and started making products that aren't just good, they are products that photographers are starting to crave and lust after. And I haven't even starting looking at the RX100 yet.
If I were competing in the same spaces as Sony's cameras I think I'd start getting a little nervous. It's almost like the PC world a few years back where the market was dominated by Dell and HP. And now......
Things change. Transformation happens. Markets evolve. Everything is starting to get interesting.