I made my Christmas list early this year and Sony's ingenious smartphone lens attachment is at the top!
Picture this...a single lens that can stand alone as a photographic device. However, this lens can also be connected to your smartphone via a clip attachment or be controlled remotely by your tablet to capture high quality images. It sounds futuristic, but the future is now here thanks to Sony's innovative thinking.
Today Sony announced the QX10 and the QX100, a new way to take pictures with your smartphone, your tablet, or (if you're feeling lucky) all by itself. The QX100 and the QX10 are brand new "lens-style" cameras that use the screen of your Smartphone or tablet to compose your pictures while allowing the lens to do most of the work. In fact, the device can even be used without a smartphone or tablet if desired.
The QX10 lens-style camera features the same type of sensor, optics and processor found in their Cybershot cameras. It has an 18.2-megapixel Exmor RCMOS sensor and 10x optical zoom Sony G Lens. The lens is lightweight and very easy to manage. It weighs less than 4 oz and measures about 2.5"X2.5"x1.3". The QX10 even has built-in Optical SteadyShot image stabilization for better results at lower shutter speeds and while hand-holding the camera. The camera offers Program Auto, Intelligent Auto and Superior Auto modes, but lacks manual shooting mode--a feature that most smartphone camera users will not miss. The QX10 will be available in September (black and white colors available) for $250.
If you are looking for a lens-style camera with a little more flair, look no further than the QX100. The Cyber-shot QX100 camera features a premium, high-quality 1.0 inch, 20.2 MP Exmor® RCMOS sensor. This sensor is the same one you will find in the RX100 II. This sensor is known for high quality images in almost any lighting condition. The optics are Carl Zeiss' Vario-Sonnar T lens with 3.6x optical zoom and a constant f1.8 aperture. The camera is powered by Sony's Bionz image processor. The QX100 even has a dedicated control ring for camera-like adjustment of manual focus and zoom. The QX100's shooting modes include Program Auto, Aperture Priority, Intelligent Auto and Superior Auto (which recognizes 44 shooting conditions). The QX100 will be available in September for $500.
DCR spent some hands-on time with both of these lenses. As an avid iPhoneographer I am excited about these lenses. Although the QX100 is a better piece of equipment, I think I would prefer owning the QX10. Its lower price and 10x zoom make it more suitable for my needs. But there is no denying the superior quality of the QX100. The optics of the QX100 are sharp and the overall speed of the lens-style camera was a bit faster than the QX10.
The cameras are connected to your smartphone or tablet through a Wi-Fi or NFC connection. Once the devices have had the initial connection and setup, subsequent connections are seamless. The cameras are supported through both Android and iOS.
In use, the cameras produced good to great image quality. The live view (as experienced through the tablet or smartphone) can be laggy and lack quality as this is a result of your Wi-Fi connection. However, once the image has been recorded, the final image quality is much better than the initial live view. The user interface was easy to navigate and simplistic in design--the perfect combbination for smartphone and tablet photographers.
Both cameras include memory by way of a micro SD card. No flash is present on the camera, but the light on your phone can be used as a flash if desired. The battery life of the camera is about 220 images before needing to be recharged.
I love the idea of this lens-style camera, but I cannot see it replacing my other cameras. This is why I would be happy to spend $250 for the QX10, but can't see myself splurging for the QX100. For someone who only wants to carry around their smartphone for high quality images, the QX100 might be a great solution for them.