Sony's QX1 will turn your smartphone into a mirrorless camera
Not content with transforming smartphones into compact cameras with its quirky smart lenses, Sony now wants them to be interchangeable lens cameras too. Revealed at IFA 2014, the firm's new lens-style QX1 camera boasts a much bigger sensor than its predecessors, and swaps their built-in lenses for the ability to use interchangeable E-mount glass.
Like the QX10 and QX100, the QX1 is essentially a standalone camera which lacks a body or a monitor. Using Wi-Fi and NFC, it wirelessly connects to iOS or Android devices which act as a remote viewfinder and can be used to focus, adjust settings, and control the shutter. An updated PlayMemories app makes this easy with a new user interface, and offers faster connection speeds when pairing devices.
The camera, which can be used remotely or while physically connected to a phone with an attachment plate, features a 20.1-megapixel APS-C size (23.5 x 15.6 mm) Exmor CMOS sensor. Combined with the fact it uses interchangeable E-mount lenses, this should mean the QX1 produces the same sort of image quality as dedicated mirrorless cameras like the Sony A5000.
Inside the barrel there's the same BIONZ X image processor we've seen in cameras like the A5100 and A7, meaning the QX1 should be able to capture detailed images with low noise. Indeed, it has an ISO range of 100 to 16,000 and can also record Full HD 1080p video at 30 fps. It also contains a battery which is said to be good for 440 shots, a pop-up flash, and space for a microSD or Memory Stick Micro memory card.
Because the camera uses E-mount lenses (and A-mount lenses with an adapter) there's a growing number of glass options available. However, if you're going to be carrying interchangeable lenses anyway, you might want to consider if you'd be better served by a dedicated camera. The QX1 measures 74.0 x 69.5 x 52.5 mm (2.9 x 2.7 x 2.1 in) before you've added the smartphone attachment or a lens, and weighs 216 g (7.6 oz).
The Sony ILCE-QX1 will be available in October for US$400 body-only.
Sony has also announced the DSC-QX30, which is more like the lens-style cameras we were introduced to last year as it contains a sensor and lens within its barrel body. This time it's a 1/2.3-inch type 20.4-megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor, paired with a 24-720-mm equivalent F3.5-F6.3 zoom lens. This 30x zoom gives the camera considerably more reach than previous models, which is why it's good news that optical image stabilization is on hand to reduce any wobble-induced blur.
The QX30 uses the same BIONZ X image processor as the QX1, but has an ISO range of 80 to 12,800, and can only shoot JPEG stills, rather than the more post-processing friendly RAW files of its interchangeable lens sibling. However, the QX30 boasts lock-on AF for tracking moving subjects, is capable of continuous shooting at up to 10 fps, and can record Full HD 1080 video at 60 fps.
Measuring 68.4 x 65.1 x 57.6 mm (2.7 x 2.6 x 2.3 in) and weighing 193 g (6.8 oz), the QX30 is an easy-to-carry way of boosting your smartphone photography if you're constantly in need of more reach. Its battery is said to be good for around 200 shots, and as with the QX1 it can shoot directly to the smart device, or a microSD or Memory Stick Micro memory card.
The Sony DSC-QX30 will be available in September and will set you back $350.
You can check out the QX1 in the Sony promo video below.
Product pages: Sony ILCE-QX1, Sony DSC-QX30
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What I'd like to see is this much work being put into a GOOD lens system for existing smartphone cameras. Many of them have good sensors, but inadequate lenses that don't gather enough light (among other things).
There are relatively cheap products available that augment your smartphone's camera, but nothing really decent. I think that could be done FAR cheaper than this. The quality might not be quite the same, but the equipment would also be smaller. The quality of smartphone cameras is already not bad. It could just be made better with things like better lenses that included better light gathering.
There's nothing wrong with using the smartphone as an interface. You get a much bigger screen than a dedicated camera has. The interface could be changed and updated as necessary to add features.