Why Sony Will Launch Ultra-expensive Compact Camera

Sep 19, 2012
Hideyoshi Kume, Nikkei Electronics
The "Cyber-shot DSC-RX1" is equipped with a 35mm full-size CMOS image sensor and measures approximately 113.3 x 65.4 x 69.6mm.
The "Cyber-shot DSC-RX1" is equipped with a 35mm full-size CMOS image sensor and measures approximately 113.3 x 65.4 x 69.6mm.
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Shigeki Ishizuka, SVP, corporate executive, president of Sony's Digital Imaging Business Group
Shigeki Ishizuka, SVP, corporate executive, president of Sony's Digital Imaging Business Group
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Sony's press meeting
Sony's press meeting
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The components of the DSC-RX1. It has a large CMOS sensor.
The components of the DSC-RX1. It has a large CMOS sensor.
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The "alpha99" lens interchangeable camera
The "alpha99" lens interchangeable camera
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The "Handycam NEX-VF900" lens interchangeable camcorder
The "Handycam NEX-VF900" lens interchangeable camcorder
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Sony Corp will release an ultra-expensive compact digital camera for an expected retail price of about ¥250,000 (approx US$3,190).

The camera, "Cyber-shot DSC-RX1," is equipped with a "35mm full-size" CMOS image sensor, which is used only for high-end SLR (single-lens reflex) cameras, and will be launched Nov 16, 2012.

"This product does not belong to any existing category of digital camera," said Shigeki Ishizuka, SVP, corporate executive, president of Sony's Digital Imaging Business Group, who supervises the company's digital camera business, at a press meeting that the company held Sept 12, 2012, in Tokyo. "Though the market is small, this is an effort to make a palm-size high-image-quality camera. We cannot sell many, but we will sell the camera with care."

Growing high-end market

The market for compact digital cameras is now being segmentalized, Ishizuka said. While the size of the market for cameras with prices targeted at general consumers is being drastically decreasing in terms of monetary amounts, the size of the market for high-end cameras and cameras with high-magnification zoom capabilities is continuously growing. He said that Sony will strengthen such high-value-added products.

Furthermore, Sony plans to increase the competitiveness of its products by making the most of self-developed devices such as CMOS image sensors, optical lenses, image processors, etc. Therefore, it can be said that the DSC-RX1 represents Sony's strategies.

The DSC-RX1 comes with a 35mm full-size CMOS image sensor having a pixel count of about 24.3 million. The sensor has a light receiving part about 35 times larger than that of a 1/2.3-inch sensor used for normal compact digital cameras. Sony defines the DSC-RX1 as the highest end model of the Cyber-shot series, aiming to enhance the brand image of the series.

"Full-size" SLR camera, camcorder

Sony will apply the newly-developed 35mm full-size CMOS image sensor to other cameras. This time, the company announced a new lens-interchangeable SLR camera for the first time in four years. The camera, "α99," is equipped with the 35mm full-size sensor and will be sold for about ¥300,000.

Moreover, Sony will launch the "Handycam NEX-VF900," the first lens interchangeable camcorder using the 35mm full-size sensor. The expected retail price of the camcorder is about ¥350,000. The α99 and Handycam NEX-VF900 will be released Oct 26, 2012.

During the Q & A session after the press meeting, Ishizuka mentioned the use of the full-size sensor for the "NEX" series of mirrorless cameras, which he said is in a "fast-growing category."

"The concept of the NEX is to realize a compact camera with an image quality of an SLR camera," he said. "So, we did not employ the sensor for it this time. But we are considering employing the sensor from technical viewpoints."