I think Sony has a great thing going with the NEX line. So, I’m very interested to see what such a camera could add to Sony’s lineup. If anything, I think a fixed-lens camera seems more accessible to a larger market. This isn’t necessarily in terms of price (the Canon G1 X isn’t cheap), but rather in terms of perceived user experience.
I still think that, even a 2-3 of years deep into the mirrorless market, the casual consumer base perceives a more advanced experience-level required to operate a camera with interchangeable lenses as opposed to a fixed lens camera. And, I think Canon’s G1 X is a response to those perceptions in the market.
Unfortunately, I think those perceptions are now misplaced. The level of sophistication required to operated a Sony NEX-C3 vs. a Canon G1 X is the same. (In fact, I would recommend the NEX-C3 over the G1 X to most casual users.) Likewise, other capable compact point and shoot models (with smaller sensors) require the same minimal level of sophistication as these “more advanced models.”
However, when consumers are looking on the camera shelf at Best Buy, I think there’s an intimidation factor that steps in when comparing interchangeable lens cameras with fixed lens cameras like the G1 X. That’s where I think a camera like the G1 X wins big – in the unsophisticated market – even though both cameras are relatively simple and easy to use.
That said, I think there’s a place in the market for the G1 X and more cameras like it. If Sony’s planning a direct competitor to the G1 X, it has a lot of foundation to build on with its NEX line. The limitation that enthusiast users will see, however, is in the lens range. The G1 X suffers from a very slow lens on the tele end, as well as a rather long minimum focus distance. (See my Canon G1 X hands-on experience.)
Physics are physics and there’s only so small that Sony can make a lens without sacrificing max aperture and focus distance too. That said a 3x zoom doesn’t sound too sexy for marketing purposes, so we’ll likely see something similar to the G1 X in terms of lens specs.
Whatever comes out, I’ll be sure to pass along the news as well as my thoughts on it when/if it hits the market. Stay tuned.