Well, That's One Way to Solve the Problem

Sony today introduced the new Xperia Pro-I smartphone. While it has three cameras like most modern high-end smartphones, one of them is a 1" sensor with a Zeiss 24mm f/2 lens (also can be set to f/4). Potentially a better solution than the Sony RX-0 for small 1" work. 

Okay, maybe not as good as the headline stats seem to suggest: while the image sensor is an improved one from the RX-100 Mark VII, the Xperia Pro-I is only using about 60% of the image area (e.g. 12mp rather than 20mp), which effectively starts to put the Xperia Pro I in iPhone 13 territory for the main camera. The good news is that the smartphone does have a BIONZ X processor, has phase detection, and can perform eye-detect focus in real time. Coupled with the 12mp pixel count and fast image sensor, the smartphone can run very fast still image bursts, and apparently even do 4-frame image alignment to reduce noise.

bythom sony xperiapro1

What's being solved? Being able to push a higher-end photo/video capture to the Internet. Wait, what? How do you do selfies or vlogging, as the display is on the wrong side? With a small set of selfie/vlogging accessories, which include a grip/handle, audio and monitor options. I wouldn't be surprised if the monitor and audio accessories came fairly directly from pulling apart a ZV-1.

The result ends up a bit more awkward than the Sony ZV-1 (which also has a 1" sensor, though with 24-70mm equivalent zoom), but not a lot more awkward. But it also means that you can stream directly, post directly, and basically solve the communication problem that cameras have now long had in the post iPhone era. 

As with other recent high-end Xperia's, this new version also works well when connected to the Sony A1, opening up new capabilities there. 

It seems that the R&D merge of smartphone and camera groups at Sony is now producing interesting products that Canon and Nikon would have difficult making themselves.

Thing is, we've been expecting smartphones to start nibbling away at the 1" market (even with smaller image sensors). Here we have a clear example that they may do more than nibble. 

Of course, one problem with the Xperia Pro-I is the price: US$1800, and the selfie/vlogging accessories push that up another US$300. Also, for some of us, we're not going to introduce Android into our ecosystem. 

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