In the department of crazy concept devices you can actually buy, Sony unveiled two lens cameras today, the QX10 and the QX100, over at Mandarin Oriental along with the regional launch of the Xperia Z1.
Both these Smart Lenses will function on their own; it has its own N-type battery, microSD card slot, dedicated shutter button, battery indicator, zoom rocker, stereo microphone, and tripod mount.
The way it works is by tapping an Android phone with an NFC chip embedded to the lens camera, and it’ll pair itself via Wi-Fi Direct. On iOS, the process has to be done manually. Unfortunately in our attempt to pair it with the HTC One, it was only successful two out of four times. A fifty-fifty chance is OK, right? To be fair, we tried it earlier today at the event where there’s a lot of Wi-Fi interference up in the air.
QX100 has a 20.2-megapixel, 1-inch sensor, the same Carl Zeiss T Lens and BIONZ image processing as the RX100M2 point-and-shoot camera. It has an optical zoom of 3.6x. Malaysian pricing is not yet known, but it’s at whopping US$499 (RM1,649.12), at which price you could get a decent standalone camera already.
QX10 has a smaller 18.2-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch sensor, similar in size to the Xperia Z1, but has its optical zoom bumped up to 10x. Is uses Sony’s G Lens, and has a lower ISO level of 3200 at maximum, as compared to QX100’s ISO 6400. QX10 will be going for US$250 (RM826.31), though official Malaysian pricing is not announced yet.
Both modules have plastic brackets included in the package; with the maximum width able to hold smartphones with display sizes up to 5 inches. Phones like the S4, Xperia Z, et cetera, are fine, but phablets are out of the question.
This is a breakthrough concept considering one could just snap on one of these bad boys and turn their smartphones into a very capable point-and-shoot cameras. However, the lens camera is only as good as the smartphone app.
As mentioned earlier, when I tried to pair the QX10 with my HTC One, it failed after two attempts. When I tried it later with the QX100, it paired successfully twice. Upon pairing, the PlayMemories camera app will launch automatically with the viewfinder ready.
Test shots with QX100
Now, if you were to press the Home button to exit out of it, it’ll effectively disconnect the camera. Relaunch the app, and you’ll have to reconnect to the lens camera again. Every single time.
This is not to mention the delay in image transfer. Without a microSD card in the lens camera, you can’t capture videos. Period. As for photos, without an inserted microSD card, each photo will take around 3-4 seconds for it to transfer to the phone via Wi-Fi Direct.
The PlayMemories app is also very lackluster at best; it only has a zoom toggle, shutter button, camera/video modes, and settings button. You can’t change the ISO or white balance from the app, or at least I wasn’t able to do so in my brief time with it.
All in all, this is a very interesting concept and something that could potentially breath new life into our aging smartphones, in terms of its camera capabilities. If only the app is equally as good as the camera. Both QX10 and QX100 will officially be available in Malaysia by mid-October.