September 17, 2013
by Chris Gampat, The Phoblographer
Yes, the rumors have been circulating for a very long time now and we have to admit: they’ve been true. The Sony QX10 and QX100 lenses with sensors built in are indeed real–and they totally connect to your mobile device. The QX10 and QX100 have a very specific naming for really good reasons. For the most part, the QX10 is a small sensor unit with a long zoom range while the QX100 is a larger sensor unit that is akin to the company’s RX100 camera. So just imagine it: the excellent photo shooting capabilities of the RX100 and your phone–connected together in true harmony via Wifi or NFC. Your Instagram is about to get a heck of a lot better.
For ease of convenience, know that both the QX10 and QX100 really look almost identical. The units themselves are very cylindrical in design and ergonomically, they’re also quite interesting. In these units is encased a lens, sensor, and communication electronics along with a couple of buttons and controls.
On one side of the units, you’ve got the zooming slider and shutter release. Just like a point and shoot, the wide angle side is clearly marked with the W while the telephoto end has a T. The body’s design is also rather smooth–and in hands that are sweaty from the NYC heat I’m afraid that they might be a bit too smooth. The very curvaceous design could be a bit too much to handle for some–as ergonomically speaking they could possibly slip out of your hand.
In general, the units are also pretty darned compact but can have an attachment on the back to connect it to a phone as well–which obviously makes the package larger. But in our brief time with the units, we found the QX10 and QX100 able to fit into skinny jeans. In real life though, you probably may not want to do this: it’s a bit tight.
On this side you’ll also find a USB port outlet to connect it to a computer or anything else.
When ready to shoot, the lens extends outward–making the package even larger. But in all seriousness, it may only be deployed like this for a couple of minutes and will never be stuffed into your bag or pocket like this.
The really nice thing about these accessories is that when they are shut off, your lens is also protected. That means that you won’t need a lens cap at all.
Ease of Use
There are a couple of ways to use the units. For starters, many folks might like using the lens accessories with a clip that will attach onto your phone to simulate a semi-point and shoot experience. However, others might opt to keep the lens off the camera phone and instead just place it where ever they want. Either way is acceptable, but the latter is what will really earn you some cooler photos.
When connected to the phone wirelessly, Sony recommends the use of an app that will help to you to get a better control experience and then recommends that you port the images over to your favorite sharing service afterward. Unfortunately, there is no manual control over the settings and you’ll only have very basic shooting modes such as sports, landscape, etc. However, there is a P mode–not for professional, but for program.
using the app you will have some control over certain aspects, such as settings for a self-timer, image size, etc. It gives you a lot more power than what was previously capable.
Connecting the unit to your phone requires the use of a little backpack and the clip. Ergonomically, I wouldn’t want to put the lens in the middle of the camera but instead a little bit off to the side.
To focus, you can use the touchscreen interface of your phone and app, or you can use the button on the lens. We’re not quite used to the idea of focusing and shooting by pressing a button on a lens though. And with that said, we feel that most users will opt for the touch screen.
Focusing on the pre-production models that we handled were quite speedy–but they’re also point and shoots; and so we know that Sony has improved the focusing of these cameras quite a bit more than was previously available.
Holding one of these units in your hand feels like you’re holding one of the company’s little NEX series lenses. With that said, they’re small, compact and pretty darn smooth to the touch. And like any lens, if it takes a tumble, you can surely say goodbye to it.
Given the fact that one of these cameras is basically an RX100, we’re positive that we’re going to be floored by the image quality. However, the units that we tested were pre-production models and we weren’t able to snag any photos off the phones we tested them with.
Also note that they will only shoot JPEGs.
We think that Sony needs to be given a lot of credit. Years ago, they told us flat out that they took a major hit in the digital imaging division because of smartphones–but most of that was centered around point and shoots. To adapt, they started to focus more on their interchangeable lens and larger sensor cameras. To adapt even further, they decided to embrace the smartphone market rather than fight it. And with their new QX10 and QX100 units, they surely will be able to. Users will be able to give their phone a real optical zoom and get some glorious bokeh and significantly better high ISO imagery with the units if used correctly.
Though we haven’t been loaned official review units yet, Sony needs to be commended for adapting and surely taking a risk. If the first generation of these products isn’t successful, the second one might be.