Android cameras have had a bit of a funny history. Every so often, a new one randomly pops up, people get excited, and then it just seems to go nowhere. Samsung’s Android-powered cameras all disappeared – to much dismay – then Yongnuo released one a few years ago that apparently didn’t leave China, although Linus Tech Tips got their hands on one, and then in 2018, Zeiss announced the ZX1.
Between the Photokina 2018 announcement and actually releasing the camera took two years. The camera didn’t become available to order until October 2020. With a price tag of $6,000, it was never going to be super popular, but it appears Zeiss hasn’t sold enough to justify continuing it. While Zeiss has not yet made an official announcement about its demise, it’s already disappearing from retailer websites.
The camera is listed as discontinued on the B&H website, with Zeiss’s only other authorised retailer, Adorama, also listing the Zeiss ZX1 as no longer available. It’s not that much of a surprise, really. While an Android-powered camera should, hypothetically, be quite a popular camera, that was never going to happen with a $6,000 price tag.
The goal of an Android-powered camera and one of the big selling points of the Zeiss ZX1 was that it allowed you to easily retouch images from within the camera – which came supplied with Adobe Lightroom pre-installed. It also allowed you to post directly to social media and other online platforms without having to transfer to a computer or dig out your smartphone. The efficiency of having both built into a single unit was the key focus.
The idea’s great, and it’s one that many people making the transition from smartphones to larger camera systems – even if, like the Zeiss ZX1, they have a fixed built-in lens – can get behind. It gives them access to all of the apps they’re used to while giving them a more “real camera” like feel, workflow, and image quality. It’s an idea that could still even potentially take off if a company can produce one that costs less than around $1,000. With Yongnuo joining the Micro Four Thirds group, I really expected that one to go somewhere, but that appears to have died in the water, too.
At the moment, the Zeiss ZX1 is still listed on the Zeiss website, but the “Check Availability” button just takes you to the B&H and Adorama links, both of which show that the item is discontinued. We may never hear an official announcement from Zeiss. The page might just suddenly disappear one day. I expect there’s still likely some stock still out there and Zeiss doesn’t want to remove the page while there are potentially still units sitting on warehouse and retail store shelves waiting to be sold.
An Android-powered camera is definitely going to face challenges. It’s always going to be difficult to convince some users to adopt this sort of integrated system. That said, it’s also going to be very easy to convince other sorts of people, especially if the price is right and the feature set matches what they’re used to using with their smartphones.
One thing’s for sure, it isn’t going to be the Zeiss ZX1 that’s going to win over the masses. Would you adopt an Android-powered camera if it had a reasonable price and worked with your existing lenses?