The convenience of smartphones has all but killed the need for a compact camera. However, aside from a handful of noble decent efforts, few can match the performance of dedicated camera tech. Sony think they have the solution: rather than squeezing a hybrid phone/camera device into your pocket, they’re hoping you’ll be tempted by their new attachable DSC-QX10 and QX100 lenses, each housing a BIONZ image processor and compact-comparable sensor.
It’s a totally new concept for cameras. Communicating with a smartphone through Wi-Fi or NFC, each lens can be clipped onto a smartphone with a mounting bracket and controlled via an app, or carried around and used altogether independently, thanks to built in storage and a physical shutter button. You need then only pop them out when you’re about to take a snap, without compromising the svelte frame of the mobile in your trouser pocket. With the QX100 measuring just 62.5 x 62.5 x 55.5 mm and the QX10 62.4 x 61.8 x 33.3 mm (and weighing 179g and 105g respectively), you’ll hardly notice them when sat in your rucksack or jacket pocket.
The Sony PlayMemories Mobile app is used to control each lens, with versions available for Android, iOS and Kindle devices, adding tablet functionality into the mix alongside smartphones, and hopefully discouraging those misguided slate owners from using their large-screened tech as their primary camera devices. The physical controls onboard each lens (which also include a zoom toggle) allow each unit to be used without a smartphone or tablet too, though you of course lose the ability to preview your snaps on a screen in the process.
The two models have a few notable spec differences. The QX10 has an 18.9-megapixel 1/2.3″ (7.76mm) Exmor R CMOS sensor and 10x optical zoom, while the high-end QX100 has a 20.9-megapixel 1-inch (13.2×8.8mm) Exmor R CMOS and 3.6x optical zoom. As well as onboard storage, each unit has its own battery power.
For many then, the optical zoom functionality will be the biggest draw here, given the shocking effect digital zoom has on smartphone image quality. But it’ll come at a price – Sony’s adventurous concept sees the QX10 priced at £179 and the QX100 priced at £399. That’s a hell of a lot of money, and would-be buyers may feel a little shortchanged, given the impression they are paying top dollar for essentially half a camera. But it’s exactly this out-of-the-box thinking that makes Sony’s lenses so interesting in the first place. We’ll try to get some more hands-on time with the lenses soon, and deliver a final verdict then.