As any regular Gizmag reader will know, there’s currently quite an assortment of add-on lenses available for smartphone cameras. The problem is, no matter how good those lenses may be, the light ultimately ends up having to squeeze through the phone’s own tiny lens, to be processed by the phone’s tiny sensor. Sony is taking a fresh approach, however, with its much-rumored but just-officially-announced Cyber-shot QX series of lens-style cameras.
The two QX models may look like lenses, but they’re actually self-contained cameras that are mounted on the user’s iOS or Android smartphone or tablet via different adapters. They communicate with a mobile device via Wi-Fi, with NFC allowing one touch setup on compatible devices. Once connected, the cameras utilize the mobile device's screen as a viewfinder, and as a means of accessing functions such as shutter release/video record, shooting mode, zoom and focus.
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They can even be used detached from the mobile device. As long as they’re still within Wi-Fi range, the phone can be used as a remote control unit. If they’re out of range, though, they can still be used on their own – both models are equipped with their own shutter release, rechargeable battery and memory card (they're compatible with Memory Stick Micro/Memory Stick Micro Mark 2 and Class 4 or higher Micro SD/SDHC/SDXC Memory Cards) ... they just don’t have a viewfinder.
In the regular with-the-phone configuration, images are saved to both the phone and the camera.
Users who want high-quality images above all other considerations will probably want to go with the US$500 DSC-QX100 model. It features a 1.0-inch, 20.2-megapixel Exmor RCMOS sensor (which is also found in the Cyber-shot RX100 II camera), and a wide-aperture Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens with 3.6x optical zoom and a BIONZ image processor. It also has a physical control ring for manual control of focus and zoom, along with a variety of shooting modes including a Superior Auto setting that recognizes and adjusts for up to 33 different types of shooting conditions.
If telephoto shots and/or portability are more of a priority, the smaller and lighter $250 DSC-QX10 might be a better choice. It has a 10x optical zoom Sony G Lens, Optical SteadyShot image stabilization, and an 18.2 effective megapixel Exmor RCMOS sensor.
Both cameras should be available later this month. More information is available in the video below.