mobile photography technology, culture and community
www.dpreview.com

Has Sony developed an interchangeable lens for smartphones?

67
Sony's rumored attachable smartphone lens, as envisioned by SonyAlphaRumors.com.
Sony is no stranger to attaching large lenses to small cameras. Here, from 1999, the 2.1 megapixel F505 lens-with-a-camera-attached via Steves-Digicams.com.

Rumor and tech sites have been buzzing about Sony's upcoming smartphone, code-named Honami (possibly tagged Xperia i1). We reported on alleged photos of the device's camera software here but recent rumors have shifted to the possibility that the new phone will be capable of working with an interchangeable lens that's nothing like the mobile device add-on lenses we have now.

As reported by SonyAlpha Rumors and PetaPixel, the lens will have its own sensor,  some sort of storage and communicate with smart-devices wirelessly and via NFC. A photo of the rumored lens shows two clips that look like they're designed to attach onto a smartphone and allow the user to compose and possibly control photo capture parameters. Given the variation in smartphone sizes, one assumes that the lens will first be designed to fit the anticipated Honami. If these rumors are true, and the lens has its own sensor, it's likely that the lens/camera combo can function on its own. And, one would also assume that it's a Zeiss-branded lens. 

While technological advances — and better mobile photography lenses — are certainly welcome, would you want to carry a separate lens, especially one as large as that shown in the rumored photo, even to capture higher quality images? With the Honami release now rumored for September, we'll have to wait a little while to see if these interchangeable lens reports pan out. 

Comments

Total comments: 67
massimogori
By massimogori (Jul 26, 2013)

buzzing, alleged, rumors, possibility, rumored, look like, assumes, If these rumors are true, it's likely that, one would also assume...

Wow, there's smell of a Pulitzer, here.

0 upvotes
zoranT
By zoranT (Jul 24, 2013)

Ricoh introduced this lens-sensor-module system. From a photography perspective it makes sense, since the sensor is perfectly adjusted to the lens. Still, smartphone business works differently, it is all about quick snaps, and if you get a decent quality along with it, the better. But smartphones are not for elaborate set ups in general. So, Sony's concept may appeal to some photo nerds, but it feels wrong in practical terms.

1 upvote
Oliver Lang
By Oliver Lang (Jul 23, 2013)

This is an atrocious move, how can you even call this mobile photography?

I've been a mobile photographer for ages and this new style of mobile photography is a waste of time! Carrying two objects when you could just use one!

Oh please I'm just joking, I just wanted to see how the other half of DPR lived...

0 upvotes
Oliver Lang
By Oliver Lang (Jul 23, 2013)

Seriously, if Sony launched this product it would be great to watch the adoption of a mobile editing and sharing/storage workflow by photographers.

I still think that many will simply leverage existing devices and Eye-Fi/Wi-Fi technology for now, but this is a excellent move for Sony.

0 upvotes
dylanbarnhart
By dylanbarnhart (Jul 22, 2013)

It makes sense to dock the iPhone into speakers to get a boombox, or stream phone music to a car's speakers via Bluetooth. A decade ago this concept was strange, but now it's commonly accepted as the norm.

Sony's concept is basicaly the same, except for camera rather than audio.

0 upvotes
chapita
By chapita (Jul 22, 2013)

Is not more simple to put some kind of cellphone software in a reflex than put such a "thing" in a cellphone?

Either I'm getting older or just becoming philosophical...

0 upvotes
Oliver Lang
By Oliver Lang (Jul 23, 2013)

No, it's a good question, however, there needs to be a greater suite of developer tools made available to allow a user to customise the apps on the OS.

Most people on dpreview don't like the idea either as current tech doesn't allow the same level of control in post processing images as a laptop or desktop computer.

Basically, once you open up a device's software to allow photography editing options, you also create the possibility for Angry Birds, and angry photogs...

0 upvotes
Marvol
By Marvol (Jul 22, 2013)

Sounds to me like a brilliantly simple idea. The future is for all smartphones to have NFC, but they will always be too thin for large sensors and zoom lenses.

Conversely why would you carry a second screen and attached hardware if most of that is already part of your phone?

Finally if you get a hybrid device like the Samsung Android camera you are buying into a device with a very limited lifespan plus it's still big (because you are always forced to bring the camera with the "phone").

This solves all of these problems. I predict more manufacturers will latch on to this idea.

1 upvote
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (Jul 22, 2013)

The phone provides the screen, interface, storage, and power. And, what it becoming all important these days, the connectivity and the apps, too.

All you are doing is substituting the phone's built in camera module for an external, better one.

It seems a more sensible arrangement than e.g. Nikon's "android camera", or Samsung's, "galaxy phone".

2 upvotes
Douglas69
By Douglas69 (Jul 21, 2013)

Curious that a German firm (DxO) has had its Gnomes busy in the background producing a version their excellent distortion correction software is claimed to rectify the optical problems camera integrated mobile phones create.

I can certainly testify to the ability of this software on HTC images. How a "digital camera in a lens" compares so far only demonstrates that Sony see a serious enough issue in lens quality to produce this object.

My personal opinion is that if you are becoming a serious enough photographer to shell out what is certain to be the generous amount of cash this stuff will cost, then surely a pocket size compact camera is a more likely choice?

A recent article in an Aussie Wedding magazine by a long time wedding photographer certainly gives credence to possibility of serious work being possible with camera phones. His article highlights lens quality as an important issue too. I can't wait to get my hands on a 'lens camera'.

1 upvote
dccdp
By dccdp (Jul 20, 2013)

Why do you use the F505 picture "via Steves-Digicams.com" when DPR has its own review on that old camera?

3 upvotes
siberstorm27
By siberstorm27 (Jul 20, 2013)

Why would anyone want this over a Lumia 1020? DPReview has already tested the 808 Pureview vs RX100 and the Pureview is comparable on many instances. Not only will you need a specific Xperia phone, but its an unsightly attachment that requires its own battery to be charged, is connected via wifi, and will balloon the device to the size of something even bigger than the RX100 sans lens. Having to attach and reattach a camera module really defeats the point&shoot nature of smartphones or even the RX100. It's also gonna be very expensive. Just get a unibody and completely packed together and optimized slim phone like the Lumia 1020 with a 10mm body and 14-15mm hump and don't bother having to have two expensive Sony products tacked together. Sony was suppose to have a real competitor with the Honami, but this thing is turning into a joke.

2 upvotes
ET2
By ET2 (Jul 21, 2013)

Why would you need a s specific phone if the module uses wifi? It should work with every phone.

Nokia is Windows only system. This could be a universal solution with any OS, even future phones when the time comes to upgrade to a new phone.

Also, Sony can release several version with different combinations. For example, 30x zoom with smaller 1/2.3" sensor. Larger sensor from RX100. Even FF or APSC versions can be planned in future.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Anfernee Cheang
By Anfernee Cheang (Jul 22, 2013)

People don't want WP8 obviously! LOL

0 upvotes
Marvol
By Marvol (Jul 22, 2013)

You sound a bit closed-minded as well as lacking in reading ability.

"Not only will you need a specific Xperia phone, but its an unsightly attachment that requires its own battery to be charged, is connected via wifi,"

Likely only the first lens will be designed for a specific Xperia phone. It connects via NFC, not WiFi. It should be trivial to create a simple communication protocol that allows this to work on literally any NFC device (not even just phones).

The flipside of unsightly attachment is that it can be removed. And replaced with a different lens arrangement. Or left off altogether.

And the flipside of having its own battery is that it won't drain your phone's.

Glass half full, not half empty...

1 upvote
GMart
By GMart (Jul 22, 2013)

Hello, the other small camera will still be there! This would reduce the need to take a large camera on travels, no?

0 upvotes
Tom May
By Tom May (Jul 20, 2013)

I was thinking of a similar swiveling module for the Lightning port on the iPhone 5 which would give the look of an old Nikon 880.

Alas, it would need at least a 1 inch imager (Nikon CX, Sony R100) to make it worthwhile so $400 to $500 might be the end result.

0 upvotes
Erik Magnuson
By Erik Magnuson (Jul 20, 2013)

What if Ricoh made a GXR back for their existing lens modules that was just a power source, smartphone "dock", and software? GXR modules don't currently have power but are probably a good analog for the size and capability of such products. (Possibly price as well.)

0 upvotes
Tom May
By Tom May (Jul 21, 2013)

That would be something that I would be interested in.

At any rate, such a module is a much easier effort than a "Phomera" (per Thom Hogan) and less risky.

0 upvotes
Abhijith Kannankavil
By Abhijith Kannankavil (Jul 20, 2013)

so it's more of interchangeable/attachable module camera for smartphone than interchangeable lenses for smartphones.

sounds almost like a future generation of devices.

3 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Jul 20, 2013)

cameras with no display is a good idea, that won't work well if cannot be "mounted" on smart phones made by Apple and Samsung.

1 upvote
PatMann
By PatMann (Jul 20, 2013)

This looks like an awkward mashup, opportunity to drop and break both devices if you're not careful. In an effort to find the next great thing, not a path leading to success, I think.

0 upvotes
Oliver Lang
By Oliver Lang (Jul 23, 2013)

I would like an anti-shake, anti-gravity lens too.

0 upvotes
G Brownell
By G Brownell (Jul 20, 2013)

A device such as this will certainly find a niche market, even if it doesn't have a broad market. I'm thinking of situations such as:
the need for multiple, simultaneous images (with this item you could do it with multiple lenses controlled by one smart phone instead of multiple cameras, assuming appropriate connectivity), any sort of perspective where it's really difficult to get your head to the same place as the lens (which you could do with a proper wifi enabled compact camera also); I could imagine a properly mounted lens expanding the capabilities of a wheelchair bound photographer, etc. One worry would be the memory on board the matched smartphone; my phone already labors under the requirements of a music collection, work stuff, etc. Adding a bunch of images from a 20mp sensor could take up a lot of additional space. Maybe SONY plans a phone that accept a memory card....

0 upvotes
brianj
By brianj (Jul 20, 2013)

Why carry an unweildy thing the size of a short drain pipe and a rat trap when you could carry a slim superzoom P&S and get better results.

2 upvotes
Joe Ogiba
By Joe Ogiba (Jul 20, 2013)

Whatever floats your boat, Sony has the Cyber-shot HX50V 30x compact superzoom if that is what you want. This is for people who want a large 1" sensor from the RX100 II with the same F1.8 Zeiss zoom lens to use with their smartphone.

BTW you must have the world's smallest rats were you live.

7 upvotes
fuego6
By fuego6 (Jul 20, 2013)

because - I can take a photo, edit it and upload it in a matter of seconds rather than have to wait until I transfer it to a PC/laptop, load software and hope to have a wifi connection. Its the future... and its coming soon!

4 upvotes
Erik Magnuson
By Erik Magnuson (Jul 20, 2013)

fuego6, you can do that today with any camera that has Wifi image transfer to your phone. Hmm, maybe a more lucrative market would be for plastic clips that allow you to clip your smartphone to the back of a Wifi camera. These would be much cheaper.

Comment edited 27 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
oselimg
By oselimg (Jul 20, 2013)

Another "bright" idea bites the dust.

0 upvotes
MrTaikitso
By MrTaikitso (Jul 20, 2013)

Awesome idea, because it means you can carry a less bulky camera. Phone in one pocket, lens in another, rather than the extra width created by both together. I have a Sony NEX 5R + 16-50mm power zoom, and although compact, it is still slightly tight getting it into my summer shorts pockets. But if Sone are saying, "Look you have this powerful touch screen device on you all the time, we don't want to develop a customer Android camera like Samsung - that didn't work out well for them - so we'll focus - no pun intended - on the lens and developers can create custom apps for the combo."

4 upvotes
dccdp
By dccdp (Jul 20, 2013)

Would this be better than simply using a wifi camera in sync with the phone? You still have to carry two devices and the size is comparable.

0 upvotes
ET2
By ET2 (Jul 20, 2013)

Size is comparable? Not even close. This will be much smaller combo than carrying two devices with large screen. In this case you just have one screen for two devices.

1 upvote
dccdp
By dccdp (Jul 20, 2013)

I doubt the screen takes that much space. The "lens" will still need space for the electronics around the sensor and the circuits that implement at least basic image processing, for the wireless (NFC) controller, the battery, etc.

Therefore yes, the size difference would be insignificant, while the price would be comparable. Not to mention that a full-fledge camera can be used by itself when you don't want to "attach" it to the smartphone.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
ET2
By ET2 (Jul 20, 2013)

"I doubt the screen takes that much space."

You can't be serious. The screen takes all the space on a cell phone, and significant portion on RX100. This is going to be much smaller and lighter combo than RX100

And probably much cheaper too, but that has to be seen.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
dccdp
By dccdp (Jul 20, 2013)

I mean "that much space" related to the lens itself. Especially if the sensor is 1" or APS-C as some seem to dream over here.

Phones don't have big lenses, as their primary function is not photography. Therefore, yes, the screens take most of the space, but only in surface, and it's exactly what users want. Still, they are very slim.

A "lens" for phones will take significant space because:
a. The lens/sensor combo must be big enough to provide better quality than a slim P&S
b. Contains the electronics for image processing, a fairly powerful processor to drive it all, NFC circuitry, etc
c. it must have a battery big enough to operate all the electronics and autofocus the lens for at least a day
d. it must have some sort of a mount to attach to the phone, which will take some additional space.

For all intents and purposes, that lens will be as complex as a camera except for, of course, the screen, but with additional hardware and software. Why should it be "much cheaper", then?

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Tom May
By Tom May (Jul 21, 2013)

You are looking at this as a problem of price, where I look at this a solution to the increasing number of devices I might carry.

The Nokia as a phone may solve some people's needs, though not mine, but, yeah, as a matter of fact, I would like 1 inch imager and I don't want to have to learn and use yet another camera interface , on yet another P&S or Compact camera.

With this device even as described in detail, I would have access to a modern smartphone UI and any of a number of iPhone 5 Camera Apps (I use 645 Pro MK II,Camera +, and Pro HDR) but the option to upgrade to whatever the next great app is.

While it makes sense for such a module to have a Lightning interface specific to an iPhone in this case, WiFi would be much more universal.

There are already a number of lens add-ons an case available for specific smartphones so this would be a natural evolution of that.

0 upvotes
Bill Cheng
By Bill Cheng (Jul 20, 2013)

Just make camera can be fully remote control by mobile include view finder is good enough than attachable lens size camera.
Bill

0 upvotes
odobo
By odobo (Jul 20, 2013)

if this is doable.... does that mean we can do the same with a FF sensor? if I am just going to carry a prime lens and can position it whatever way I want and use my phone as a VF.... why do I need a RX1?

2 upvotes
Erik Magnuson
By Erik Magnuson (Jul 20, 2013)

Take an RX-1 and trim off the screen and some of the sides & controls. It's doable but will the resulting device be useful enough given the size of the module vs compromised handling?

1 upvote
Spectro
By Spectro (Jul 20, 2013)

great idea, if it fits any smartphone, not just the sony, I am in. My nokia has NFC. this would be fun to play with, more then just filter apps on smartphone. If I don't need the lens I can leave it at home.

4 upvotes
Impulses
By Impulses (Jul 20, 2013)

I'm skeptical, it'd need to have a 1" sensor or better within that lens for it to replace other existing solutions one can carry in a second pocket opposite of a phone (i.e. an S110 or Sony's own RX100).

0 upvotes
jeremiah_rubix
By jeremiah_rubix (Jul 20, 2013)

According to sonyalpharumors the first one will have same sensor and lens as rx100 mik ii.

0 upvotes
Impulses
By Impulses (Jul 20, 2013)

Heh, your post wasn't up when I replied... That might make it a very interesting concept, they could release a number of different modules down the line (34mm prime, power zoom, etc.). Wonder how it's powered though, doesn't seem like there'd be much room in there for a sensor plus a decent battery, though I guess you don't need much battery life without a display...

0 upvotes
RobG67
By RobG67 (Jul 20, 2013)

Has Sony managed another unpaid product placement ad in an over-visited website?

Too right they have.

1 upvote
Andy Crowe
By Andy Crowe (Jul 20, 2013)

Couldn't you say that about every news story involving any camera company?

3 upvotes
Optimal Prime
By Optimal Prime (Jul 20, 2013)

"Sony is no stranger to attaching large lenses to small cameras."

Very true. It's called NEX.

0 upvotes
Simonsimon
By Simonsimon (Jul 19, 2013)

Does seem to take away the pocket portability of the ever advancing smartphones, but i can see the attraction for those who dont own an interchangeable camera, would be fun. May even get some people more into photography that wouldn't have had the confidence.

0 upvotes
Stephen Scharf
By Stephen Scharf (Jul 19, 2013)

Personally, I think the whole interchangeable lens thing for cell phones is getting out of hand. What is the point when you could use a proper camera and get better results?

"Hey, let's put a really good interchangeable lens on a crap sensor! Yeah!"

As Carroll Shelby, developer of the Ford Cobra once said, "Just because you stick a candle on a cowpie, doesn't make it a birthday cake."

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
Benarm
By Benarm (Jul 19, 2013)

read the article more carefully, the lens will have its own sensor, it won't use the cell phone's sensor

6 upvotes
Alec
By Alec (Jul 20, 2013)

Stephen, I believe social software like Vine, Instagram, even Facebook, plus an infinity of other sites, make the smartphone photography fundamentally different from any conventional camera system, of even comparable form factor.

A lot of people may simply want their social images with the added oomph of narrow DOF and better low-light performance. Sites like Vine don't let you import external videos at all, by design, and others make it cumbersome.

0 upvotes
westlake31
By westlake31 (Jul 19, 2013)

Go visit the Artefact Group (http://www.artefactgroup.com/) and look for their WVIL camera concept... is this the basis of Sony's idea?

0 upvotes
neo_nights
By neo_nights (Jul 19, 2013)

Depending on the size of the lens, I see no problem carrying it around. Just recently I've done a photoshoot with my Nex 6. Since it was a cold day (it's winter here in my country), I wore a jacket with large pockets. Put the Nex 6 (with the 16-50mm PZ attached) into one pocket and the 50mm F1.8 into another pocket. Simple, easy, discreet and really nice not having to carry a camera bag around (even if it needed to be a small one).

0 upvotes
Summi Luchs
By Summi Luchs (Jul 19, 2013)

Nice concept, similar to Ricoh's GXR without the need of a camera body. Assuming you carry a smartphone anyway, it is only very little additional bulk for having a quality photo device in your pocket. Usefulness will depend greatly upon a well thought implementation of camera control and display/shutter lags.

0 upvotes
Mistral75
By Mistral75 (Jul 19, 2013)

And Ricoh GXR was itself similar to Minolta Dimage EX 1500 announced on August 31st, 1998:

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/minolta1500

Comment edited 11 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
LJohnK2
By LJohnK2 (Jul 19, 2013)

.....I just wish they could get tolerances and qc of regular DSLR gear more precise.....seems the whole sub pro camera industry is madly off in all direction...... instead of doing anything truly good....they do whole bunch of things half baked.
....well except for Olympus, the newest m4/3rds stuff seems well thought out (grudging admission), but I'm confident they will implode shortly as per past experience.

0 upvotes
JKP
By JKP (Jul 19, 2013)

Nice concept, expect I would always forget the lens/CMOS part home.

0 upvotes
sportyaccordy
By sportyaccordy (Jul 19, 2013)

Another step closer to the logical next step in cameraphones for serious photographers. I also like the idea of a hard connection, if for nothing else than to save battery life and speed up continuous FPS. A fully integrated case with an APS-C sensor would be great... maybe enough to not do the logical APS-C phone.

3 upvotes
joe6pack
By joe6pack (Jul 19, 2013)

If it is true. I am interested to see if someone can make the lens attachment work as-is. It is like someone holding a zoom lens but the lens can take picture by itself.

0 upvotes
Trollshavethebestcandy
By Trollshavethebestcandy (Jul 19, 2013)

I posted an idea similar but instead of using wifi there was a hard case that would sync with the port. Use all the guts of the smart phone but a lens mount for M43. Think of the Ricoh modular but an iPhone instead. This idea by Sony needs some serious ibis to use without being attached hand held. I like it sorta but I would want a lens mount/sensor that only requires M4/3 legacy glass. Please Oly make a smart phone mount/sensor module to plug onto my iPhone. Just update phone mount/sensor modules and you can make lots of money on modules and glass. Get to it!!!

3 upvotes
ET2
By ET2 (Jul 20, 2013)

If it's the same lens as RX100. it should already have lens based IS.

0 upvotes
fallenartist
By fallenartist (Jul 22, 2013)

Yes! I immediately thought of similar idea after reading the article. Just do a M43 (or Leica M, you can always use an adapter) compatible sensor attachment so you can use the lenses you already have. I'd buy that.

0 upvotes
ybizzle
By ybizzle (Jul 19, 2013)

Recently purchased a Nokia PV 808 for $250. Now here is a phone camera that has been compared to the likes of Canon 5D Mark III and Pentax 645D full frame and medium format DSLRs. If that doesn't scream image quality in your pocket, I don't know what does. Who knew a camera on a cell phone would out-resolve a full frame and although it did not match up to the 645D, it still held it's own.

645D vs 808
http://www.quesabesde.com/noticias/nokia-808-pureview-pentax-645-comparativa-40-mp,1_8958

808 vs 5D MKIII
http://blog.gsmarena.com/nokia-808-pureview-vs-olympus-e-pl2-vs-canon-5d-mark-iii-vs-apple-iphone-4s-38mp-shootout/

1 upvote
Joe Ogiba
By Joe Ogiba (Jul 19, 2013)

The 808 held it's own ? You need to get your eyes examined.
http://www.quesabesde.com/camdig/noticias/Nokia_Pentax_recortes_grande.jpg

2 upvotes
ybizzle
By ybizzle (Jul 20, 2013)

Show me another cell phone camera that has been compared to a medium format cam. Yes I know the 645 images are better which is not shocking. What is shocking is how good the images of the 808 are on their own. $10000 camera and lens vs $350 phone cam. Plus you can make calls on it and more while still fitting it in your pocket. Nuff said.

0 upvotes
GMart
By GMart (Jul 22, 2013)

Would love to see that 808 photo is a dark church with lovely bokeh going on...

0 upvotes
jcmarfilph
By jcmarfilph (Jul 19, 2013)

Tsk... tsk... when will they learn that attaching a lens on a mediocre brick is useless. And will it fit in your pocket?

I'd rather carry my smartphone and use it as a phone and my bridgecam for taking pictures and be happy than making myself look like a dork.

1 upvote
Zlik
By Zlik (Jul 19, 2013)

Why should it be attached to a "mediocre brick" the rumor is about a module formed by lens + sensor. I don't see why that sensor should be worse than a bridge camera. The smartphone is only for commanding (processor + screen + UI), if I understood the concept correctly.

10 upvotes
Total comments: 67
About us
Sitemap
Connect