Camera Of The Year. That's one hell of a statement in a year that brought us some stellar pieces of kit like the D800, A99, D600, RX100, GH3, and E-M5.
I can barely contain my excitement for this camera. Three years ago, I bought the GF1 at launch because of comments people made in early reviews talking about how the camera, combined with the 20mm lens, made them get up and go take photos in a way that no camera had motivated them to do for years. It was a new kind of tool. It was compact, fast, with great image quality for the size. It was more than just a tool; it begged you to use it.
This is the same thing. It is the GF1 on steroids. The comparison is closer than it would appear, since even though the GF1 was an IL camera, neither I nor anyone I knew ever really took the 20mm lens off. It was the lens that completed the GF1's raison d'être. With an equivalent of 40mm, it's only 5mm off from what the 35mm lens on the Sony has.
My only complaint, and I don't think it insignificant, is that the lens is not optically corrected. For the price, that is a shame. It's as though the one thing that other companies took away from m4/3 was that it is totally fine to release crap optics if you can correct them in software. NO! You correct the lenses optically, especially when you want to charge a bucket of money for them. It's why I will never, ever buy the 12mm Olympus unless I can buy it for a song. It's why I laugh at the Panasonic 12-35mm. When your lenses are rocking 6% distortion, they are bad fucking lenses.
There, with that out of my system, I certainly hope that the distortion is small. 2% or below is fine for me. If I was an architecture photographer, I would be pissed, but I am not... so I am not. Moreover, from what I have seen, the lens is sharp across the frame, meaning that any distortion can't be too bad, since anything significant would be lossy.
Steve also mentions again the autofocus — it hunts. This isn't surprising since the camera is CDAF-only, but after using the E-M5 and even to a lesser degree the G5, where autofocus seems to work in almost any light level, it's a small let-down. While I ranted and raved about Olympus not using current technology in their cameras, I should have also been ranting about how other companies couldn't make a functional autofocus if their lives depended on it. It's the one thing Oly nailed.
All of that is beside the point. The camera's gestalt is incredibly impressive. They have taken many of the characteristics that drove photogs into the overpriced arms of Leica and created a ground-breaking camera. If they can manage another version of the camera with a zoom lens, there will be no doubts: the RX1 in both guises will be the go-to compact camera for every photography enthusiast on the planet. And probably a few well-off soccer parents as well.
The RX1 is an amazing camera, and I cannot wait to own one.