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Zeiss puts Lightroom inside a full-frame camera with a huge touchscreen

Smartphones offer built-in editing, but dedicated cameras have better image quality — Zeiss thinks photographers shouldn’t have to choose between the two. The Zeiss ZX1 is a compact full-frame camera with Adobe Lightroom CC built-in — and a touchscreen that rivals the size of a smartphone. Announced during Photokina on Thursday, September 27, the concept camera is slated for arrival early in 2019.

While many companies outsource the sensor, Zeiss is making both the lens and sensor for the ZX1, allowing the optics and the sensor to be specially calibrated to work together. This, Zeiss says, offers “first-class image quality.” The 37.4-megapixel full-frame sensor is paired with a Zeiss Distagon 35mm f/2 T* lens built-in. The camera is also the first full-frame model from Zeiss, a company that is best known for its optics.

But the sensor and lens combo isn’t what’s so different about the camera — the ZX1 has Adobe Lightroom CC built in. Photographers can edit the images with the popular RAW photo editor using the built-in 4.3-inch touchscreen.

Besides not requiring a computer for editing, the ZX1 doesn’t need a memory card, either — nor does it have a slot for one. Instead, 512 gigabytes of built-in memory stores up to 6,800 RAW images (in Adobe DNG format) on the device. Those images can be shared wirelessly via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, or wired over USB-C.

With features that cross between a dedicated camera and a smartphone, the body of the Zeiss ZX1 also looks like a mix of the two types of tech. The back is dominated by the 4.3-inch touchscreen next to controls that change based on the camera’s mode. To keep the controls separate from the touchscreen, the screen bends back a bit. The bend at the back also helps make the grip a bit larger. The camera body also houses a mode dial and shutter speed dial, along with an electronic viewfinder. The larger screen most of the other physical controls are missing, however.

“With our concept, we are focusing on ambitious, professional creatives who want to produce their photographic experiences quickly and efficiently, and inspire as many people on the internet as possible,” Jörg Schmitz, head of the consumer products business group at Zeiss, said in a statement. “This requires a streamlined workflow in addition to high-end features. This is exactly what the concept of the Zeiss ZX1 offers.”

The Zeiss ZX1 doesn’t yet have a price or launch date — though with the full-frame sensor, the computing power needed to run Lightroom, and 512GB of built-in storage, it’s likely not a budget camera. Photographers can find a view of the camera in action — shooting and editing — and sign up to be notified of updates on the ZX1 website.

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