French company PIXII SAS first announced their new PIXII camera almost two years ago (literally just a couple of weeks shy), and then it was radio silence until July of this year when it finally went on sale. It’s a Leica M mount digital rangefinder, but with a twist. It looks a lot like the Leica M10-D, but without a memory card slot.
The PIXII features an 11.1-megapixel sensor, comes with either 4GB or 8GB internal memory, has an APS-C global shutter (!) CMOS sensor and no LCD. Oh, and it costs over $3,000. Photographer Sam Hurd bought one and posted up a review with some sample photos. The opener doesn’t sound promising, but keep watching.
Ok. This is, without a doubt, the worst camera I have ever owned
That’s the first line of Sam’s review of the camera. And just from looking at the specs on-paper, and how you’re expected to use the PIXII, it’s not really all that surprising. 11.1-megapixel sensor and only 4GB or 8GB of internal storage with no memory card? You’re essentially required to hook it up to your smartphone if you want to get any real use out of it. Images are transferred from the camera to your phone (hence the lack of memory card slot and minimal internal storage). It doesn’t even have an LCD on the camera to review your shots.
That will be a drawback to many, but that’s the thing that actually attracted Sam to this camera in the first place. It’s a very niche camera, and Sam seems to fit within that niche and found it very intriguing. But the camera is far from perfect.
There are some positives, though. The build quality he says feels great and lenses mount to it very cleanly and firmly. “It’s not Leica-level”, he says, but it’s “in the ballpark”. It shoots DNG files, so no proprietary raw formats or software to have to deal with, and there are very few buttons or interface options on the camera itself.
It’s has only an electronic shutter, not a mechanical one. But given that it’s a global shutter CMOS, that shouldn’t really be much of a major issue as far as the actual images go. It won’t have any of the downfalls of a standard electronic rolling shutter CMOS sensor. But the sound (or lack thereof) of an electronic shutter just isn’t very satisfying. It’s like shooting with your phone on silent mode and wondering if it actually even took a picture at all. But in the case of the PIXII, as you don’t have an LCD to check back on your images, you don’t really know for sure.
The ISO, he says, also isn’t great, breaking down around ISO600-1250. Disappointing for a modern camera, but probably not entirely unexpected as global shutter CMOS sensors are still a relatively new technology in consumer products. The buffer’s also tiny, stalling after only four shots. So, don’t expect much burst mode shooting.
Despite its downfalls, though, Sam’s keeping it, because of the experience of actually using it and how tightly it integrates into a smartphone workflow. It is a very cool concept and one that I hope we see more companies pursue in their cameras. No, I don’t want Canon, Nikon, Sony or anybody else to start producing digital rangefinders, but it makes no sense these days to produce a camera that can’t easily integrate with a smartphone while shooting.
I think I’ll pass on the PIXII myself, though, and just wait for the others to catch up in that respect. If you want to check them out for yourself, head on over to the PIXII website.