Why the Zeiss ZX1 failed

On paper, the Zeiss ZX1 should have been a massive success. It was made by one of the best names in optics and photography. It had a unique design. It had a powerful 37-megapixel full frame sensor and a sharp 35mm f/2 Distagon fixed lens. It also came with Adobe Lightroom, an unprecedented feature in the camera industry. Zeiss just discontinued it. So why did it fail?

Apart from the $6000 price tag, the main reason I think was the all-in-one approach Zeiss had with this camera. The Germans wanted it to be the only device people used when shooting, editing and sharing photos. That was impossible and Zeiss wasn’t the first to try it.

Back in 2012, Samsung launched the Galaxy Camera, a point-and-shoot that was running Android. It didn’t sell well. They tried it again later, with an NX mirrorless camera that was also running Android. It had the same fate as the Galaxy Camera. So it’s clear people didn’t want to use cameras for anything other than taking photos and videos.

The Samsung Galaxy Camera. Image via Engadget.

It’s easy to see why editing and sharing with a camera isn’t ideal. The Zeiss ZX1 had one of the best displays on the market, a 4.3″ 720p panel. Put it next to any modern smartphone and you’ll quickly realise it’s too small for editing. Couple that with the ZX1’s bulkiness and you get an ergonomic nightmare. Moreover, editing on a camera significantly drains the battery.

If there’s gonna be a third category of device, it’s gonna have to be better at these kinds of tasks than a laptop or a smartphone, otherwise it has no reason for being.

Steve Jobs

Jobs said that in 2010, while introducing the first iPad. The same can be said about the Zeiss ZX1: it’s not better than a smartphone when it comes to editing and sharing photos. Add the $6000 price tag and the fact Zeiss managed bring it to market a two years after announcing it, and you get a camera that will be quickly forgotten.

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