Smartphone cameras keep getting better and better. Most are good enough to replace low end point and shoot cameras but they still suffer from less than perfect lenses and small sensors. Well, Sony has a solution that marries the editing and sharing benefits of the smartphone with high quality optics and a big sensor. Sony’s QX-series Cyber-shot cameras are Wi-Fi Direct devices that wirelessly connect to a smartphone, which acts as the viewfinder. The lenses can be clipped onto the iPhone for a traditional shooting experience, or it can be mounted on a tripod and controlled remotely for more interesting shots. Each QX camera uses a MicroSD card to store shots remotely from the smartphone, though pictures can be transferred to the phone manually or automatically. The two devices are connected through Sony’s PlayMemories app for iOS or Android phones.
The QX10 and QX100 should not be confused with add-on lenses. They are real cameras — the only thing they are missing is a viewfinder. That’s where your smartphone comes in, it becomes the viewfinder, hard drive, and remote control for a much better camera than the one that came with your smartphone. The lens comes with a telescoping clamp that will lock it to pretty much any smartphone.
The QX10 is the smaller of the two, 2.5 inches in diameter and a little more than an inch tall and weighs about 6 ounces. The QX100 is about twice as tall and a couple of ounces heavier. Both devices are well built and look to be able to cope with some abuse. The phone and lens communicate via WiFi through the PlayMemories Mobile app which first has to be installed to your phone. You have to use the WiFi settings on your phone to create an ad-hoc network with the lens..the username and password are hidden under the battery cover of the lens. A clunky procedure at best. It is much easier if your phone is equipped with NFC. Then it is simply a matter of waving the phone at the lens and the WiFi credentials will be entered by NFC. Still the whole process can take up to 30 seconds before you are ready to shoot. Lots of room for improvement here. http://youtu.be/tBogmUEEmis The QX100 20-megapixel, one inch image sensor and 28-100mm (35mm equivalent) f/1.8-4.9 Carl Zeiss zoom lens are slightly modified versions of what you will find in Sony’s terrific RX100 II point-and-shoot. The result is way better pictures than you would normally get from your smartphone. Actually quite spectacular especially in low light. Look at the night shot. The quality of the Zeiss optics in the QC100 make the difference here. Here are some examples.
1080p videos at 30fps are excellent. http://youtu.be/YzKxE6WHBoU The QX1o while still much better that your smartphone camera it is still quite a step down (especially in low light conditions) to an optically stabilized 10x, 25-250mm f/3.3-5.9 lens and 18.2 megapixel Exmor R CMOS 1/2.3″-type image sensor. Still pretty impressive, take a look at these examples:
1080p videos at 30fps are pretty good too. http://youtu.be/YnRh1-7-nr4 While there is no argument about the quality of these two lenses, the system is kind of clunky, slow to start up and the PlayMemories app is pretty limited. However the fact the two parts are not physically connected allows for some pretty creative shooting..holding the lens down low or up high for example for a different perspective. Mount it on a tripod and it is great for getting spectacular wildlife shots while keeping your distance. The Sony Cyber-shot smartphone attachable cameras are available wherever Sony cameras are sold. the Q10 sells for $249 while the QX100 is $549.