From what I hear, it seems like you took a DSLR equipped with a high-performance lens and made it as small as you possibly could.
(Product Planning): That pretty much sums it up. But if we were to develop an interchangeable zoom lens with a maximum aperture of F1.8, it would be quite large. So we used the design benefits of compact cameras with their built-in lenses to get the most out of this lens, positioning the image sensor at just the right angle relative to the lens for optimal performance. The results speak for themselves: superb quality images despite the cameraís compact size.
So what youíre saying is that image quality changes drastically if the position of the image sensor changes by just several millimetres?
(Lens Design): Not millimetres, microns. Sensors are tilted slightly in order to achieve the highest possible image quality. You canít do that with interchangeable-lens DSLR cameras. Control ring and graphic interface enable intuitive operation.
The most eye-catching feature is the control ring surrounding the lens. Does this make operation noticeably different from previous Cyber-shots?
(User Interface Design): Depending on shooting mode, the control ring can be used to change zoom ratio, aperture, shutter speed and other settings. It can also be customised to adjust nine other settings, including white balance and ISO. This type of control has been used in other premium compact cameras but we added some features to give it a distinctly Sony feel that adds to shooting enjoyment.
People mostly use the control ring to change exposure, zoom and other items with settings appearing on the LCD. But with the DSC-RX100, as the ring is turned, an icon showing its movement also appears, providing a nice connect between camera and user. Icons are also arranged in a pleasing arc.
Furthermore, users can program the Fn (function) button on the back with up to seven functions, eliminating the need to dig through menus to access a frequently used function.
The menu design is similar to that of α Series cameras for fast operation that even high-end users will appreciate. But rather than simply copying the design, we changed the looks to add to a sense of precision; something that is so important in a premium compact camera. Itís incredibly easy to view in a wide range of shooting environments and, again, fully meets the expectations of high-end users
(Project Leader): Thereís one more thing about the control ring: We intentionally left out the click feel. Many other compact cameras have a click feel when controls are operated. But our control ring has a nice smooth feel with just the right amount of tension. And when zooming or focusing, itís easier to make fine adjustments if there are no clicks. In addition, since clicks can be recorded when recording video, excluding them was a good decision.
On the other hand, itís nice to hear a click sound when setting exposure or aperture, so we designed the control ring to make a click sound when adjusting certain settings. These are not mechanical clicks, just programmed sounds that mimic them. They really do aid in adjusting settings and are another example of Sonyís added-value approach to compact camera design.
(User Interface Design): Sony has many sound specialists and the pleasing operation sounds of the control ring and other items reflect this. The shutter sound, in particular, was created especially to match the look and feel of this compact camera. The sound you hear when photographing a subject affects you unconsciously, influencing your mood. Because of this we fine-tuned it to best suit the DSC-RX100. Users are really going to like the sound and feel of this shutter.
(Product Design): I think the design and user interface are very important for luxury-class products or products used for a serious hobby. Thus, we wanted to give users a certain degree of freedom in customising operation: Users can assign favourite functions to the Fn (function) button. And for faster operation, the control ring works with the control wheel to provide an easy means of making adjustments while shooting. In addition, less camera-savvy users can employ Photo Creativity as a hassle-free way to adjust settings and take fantastic photos. Our attention to the interface makes this compact camera great for anyone.
A great deal of thinking went into the straightforward, two-dimensional design and matte black finish.
What influenced your choice for the body design?
(Body Design): Simply put, not getting in the way of the fantastic functionality and amazing lens, which are key features. The design of the DSC-RX100 is the essence of simplicity. And to reflect dependable operation ó a key development goal ó we decided to give it a minimalistic two-dimensional look. We definitely did not want curved surfaces that would impart a flowing three-dimensionality.
For example, we only put one groove at the front, a point that was decided on after carefully examining the balance between horizontal and vertical surfaces in conjunction with the lens. The top has a sharp, edgy look that we achieved by cutting the aluminium aperture control components in straight lines. Above all, we wanted the camera to look simple. And despite daily battles with the mechanical designers over this, we finally got the look we wanted (laughs).
Why did you choose black? Didnít you consider other colours?
(Body Design): Black was the obvious choice. From a practical standpoint, cameras should be black since brightly coloured or shiny ones may be reflected on the subject; specifically, matte black to remain as inconspicuous as possible. So black it was (laughs). The body is made of un-coated, machined alumite, which has no gloss and lends a certain amount of grace perfectly suited for a premium compact camera. Body markings were imprinted using laser printing, although users may not realise this until one day in the distant future they wonder why the markings havenít worn off. And I really hope they hold onto this compact camera for a long time.
Superfluous space is non-existent with engineers and designers skirmishing daily over the design.
Mr. Miyashita, who was in charge of body design, mentioned that he quarrelled with the mechanical designers everyday.Miyatani
(Mechanical Design): After glancing at the design my honest opinion was that it would be impossible to achieve (laughs). Mr. Miyashita just mentioned a metal body was chosen to impart a luxury feel. I understand his logic. Creating a straightforward design is possible since it is only a matter of cutting. But itís difficult to mass-produce a product designed this way. So we had to think of ways to realise the design while employing existing manufacturing technologies.
I heard it was also a tough challenge to make the camera this small.
(Mechanical Design): It is mostly comprised of the lens. After accounting for the battery there was hardly any room for anything else. So we concentrated on making the control ring, its surroundings, and flash smaller. On other Cyber-shots with a control ring, the lens protrudes so there is more space for everything else. But space in the DSC-RX100 is so limited that it was quite a challenge to pack all the functions in there.
(Product Planning): To be honest, development was fairly straightforward from start to finish. We normally create one mock-up in the early development stages and another one toward the end to confirm how the finished product will look. But we didnít need a second mock-up this time. Sure, there were some twists and turns along the way with a lot of people claiming it was impossible to put everything into this small a space. But we worked out the problems and were able to go to market without revising the initial mock-up. This almost never happens.
(Body Design): Yes. It certainly was extraordinary.
Is there anything you want to say to prospective DSC-RX100 owners?
(Image Quality Design): I have a lot of female friends who have DSLRs, many of whom say they own one because a compact camera cannot adequately capture photos of their children growing up. I want people who think similarly to know that DSC-RX100 is on par with DSLRs. All it takes is a single shot to realize this.
(Product Planning): What I like most is that it can capture children running around for sharp photos without blur thanks to the fast AF and lens. Whether you couldnít care less about the inner workings of a camera or just want something good, really consider the DSC-RX100. My dream is for it to become an integral part of peopleís lifestyles, and that owners will develop a keener interest in photography and spend more time taking photos. Hopefully, theyíll begin to realise that this compact camera is really important in preserving lifeís precious moments.
(Project Leader): If I liken the DSC-RX100 to a culinary dish then each part, material and device are its ingredients. We engineers are the chefs who created this divine dish using only the best ingredients, be it the lens, image sensor or whatever. I want users to savour it; indulge themselves in all its flavours, from the obvious ones that immediately stand out to subtle ones that take time to appreciate. We were able to create a delicate balance in all aspects. I invite users to make the most of it and enjoy its hidden flavours.