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Has Sony redefined mobile photography?

24
Lens in one hand, smartphone in the other: Is this the future of photography?

Whether you're a camera snob or a smartphone photography enthusiast —  or a little of both — Sony's new QX100 and QX10 are intriguing. 

The pair of "digital cameras" are unlike anything we've seen in the DPReview offices before, proving tricky even for us to categorize and anticipate how our readers may react. We've seen manufacturers blend smartphone and compact camera before, with Samsung's Galaxy S4 Zoom probably hitting closest to the target thus far. Smartphone manufactures continue to make valiant efforts to make their products more camera-like as well: Nokia's offering a grip accessory that makes it hard to remember the Lumia 1020 is a phone and Oppo is teasing sensor-equipped plug-in optics with zoom capability. Sony's thinking is truly original: the QX100 and QX10 are transformative accessories designed to become part of your smartphone. Instead of forcing you to choose between camera or smartphone: Sony's encouraging you to have both, with an innovative cross-platform approach.

We're looking at these unique devices in a few different ways today on both DPReview.com and here on Connect.DPReview.com. We've got a news story with details specifications and pricing. Our own Allison Johnson spent the past few days trying out the QX100, while Jeff Keller took on the QX10. Keller also offers up a comparison between the two, specifically aimed at mobile photography enthusiasts, here on Connect. (We're also eager to hear how these devices may interact with the just-announced 20.7-megapixel Sony Xperia Z1 smartphonewhich we hope to get our hands on soon at the annual IFA exhibition Berlin.)

Your connected smartphone serves as the LCD screen for controlling Sony's new QX100 and QX10 digital cameras, although you can still take a photo with the device alone.

There's plenty to consider before deciding if the QX100 or QX10 is the missing link in the modern photographer's mobile kit.

Will Sony's approach become the answer we've been waiting for — the connectivity solution compacts are missing and the imaging improvements smartphones are lacking? 

Consumer adoption and sales will ultimately determine the outcome here. We're crossing our fingers that enough gadget geeks and early adopter types will indicate interest, because a v2.0 of this technology might truly prove exciting.

We'd like to see a full-featured version aimed at serious photographers. After all, isn't that the point? Yet both the high- and low-end versions of this product are missing controls over shutter speed and ISO. We'd like to see AF assist, scene modes. full HD video and separate focus and metering points.

We're curious why Sony didn't explore adding on a flash. We can imagine a small xenon flash like that of the Lumia 1020 or a ring flash as we've seen pop up on Acer's new Liquid S2 would be a boon to mobile photographers.

We hope that updates to the PlayMemories App could help with some of these requests that don't require hardware updates.

But until then, we'll admit we're intrigued. 

Comments

Total comments: 24
KariIceland

Have they redefined it? no, what a stupid question to ask, has Apple redefined laptops by bringing out the first macbook? no.

0 upvotes
AkDon

It occurs to me that one of the deciding factors I have for 'Bridge cameras' is having an articulated LCD viewfinder...rather than the "permanent" attachment of the current QC10/100, wouldn't it be nice to have an articulating mount?

0 upvotes
Combatmedic870

I think the QX10 is great, the QX100 is to large.

1 upvote
Impulses

Price isn't the biggest issue, nor some of the technical deficiencies IMO (lack of RAW, flash, shutter priority, etc)... No, the biggest issue is size. The concept isn't flawed, just poorly executed perhaps...

The person that can't be bothered to carry a P&S in addition to their phones certainly isn't gonna carry these things, and enthusiasts will just carry the more pocket friendly RX100 (or a cheaper S110/LF1, or a NEX/DSLR/etc).

What if Sony worked on minituarizing these things tho... What if the smaller model was a 5x lens instead of a 10x and it was thin enough to fit in a pocket? Suddenly it's a decent and more portable alternative to a cheap P&S.

What if the QX100 didn't try to be an RX100? Keep the sensor, dump the lens for a bright 35mm equivalent, hell make a few different models (24, 50, 90?) but make them all bright compact primes, lens/sensor packages that easily slip in a pocket...

Even at $400 a pop they'd sell a lot of those to enthusiasts that would rather carry a couple of those than buy into a mirrorless system, it's still more compact after all... Basically, I think both of these models are too ambitious lens-wise but pretty well designed otherwise.

0 upvotes
Impulses

Dumping the zoom on the higher end model(s) would also decrease the battery demand, also helping make it a more compact package... Tho having the battery behind the sensor like that will always be kind of restrictive...

No real way around it tho, unless something like NFC/inductive charging could be powerful enough to power them, but phones aren't made to charge other devices.

0 upvotes
Beat Traveller

Personally I think it's a great idea. Especially for candid photography: you can appear to looking away and busying yourself with your phone, while the lens does the actual work - and because it doesn't have the profile of a traditional camera, it won't be as attention grabbing.

Not revolutionary and certainly not an ergonomic masterpiece, but full of potential.

3 upvotes
KariIceland

I agree on the candid part, but this is something I personally would never buy, and the price point? you might as well get a sony RX100 II, throw in a cellphone price & that lens & you just spent more than the actual camera costs.

0 upvotes
tkbslc

Maybe you could install it on your belt buckle for stealth.

1 upvote
Sergio Rojkes

Just because it photographs does not mean it is a camera.
Everything is turning into portable telescopic scanners.
Im too old for this sh..

0 upvotes
Petrogel

Unfortunately the merciless marketers, the stupid CEO'S and the distasteful advertisers have put us right here reviewing kitsch devises , technological fireworks with questionable future.
I don't think Sony can redefine anything, people will,

2 upvotes
wansai

Look, I really do think it's a really cool gadget but ultimately it isn't a very good photographic tool. In all the promo shots we see, arms stretched here holding one thing, another stretched there holding the phone. Every one I've seen, you're much better off just tilting your camera display & shooting.

Case in point above marketing shot. Best way to get that shot he's going for? I tilt my display, hold the camera up with both hands, stabilise firmly (depending on shutter speed), frame & shoot.

Ultimately you're paying $500 for what is a stripped down camera that costs nearly as much as the full featured version while being TWICE as bulky.

It's one of those products where, no matter how popular this item becomes, it doesn't invalidate that it's an expensive way to get a very poor ergonomic & poor photographic experience.

2 upvotes
jorg14

While some people might find this useful, that lens isn't very compact. For a marginally bigger device, I'd rather put a whole camera in my pocket like the Sony R100 and have a lot more control.

3 upvotes
tkbslc

As mentioned in some of the reviews, a separate camera may actually even be MORE portable because it is a flat device instead of a wider cylinder.

2 upvotes
Raist3d

I have to call fail. I went from fail to "ok maybe this makes sense" to "mm no."

Here are the issues as I see them:
- Now you have to worry about not one but TWO batteries and charges. I don't like the idea of my phone getting battery dead because I was taking shots.
- The "cool" aspect and possibilities of this combo is to use the lens/sensor in a different position from the LCD/viewfinder as shown in the shot- and here's the biggest problem-

How is this any different from the latest Olympus, Sony's own RX100 MK2, and more to come cameras? What exactly is the difference?

- Finally- give me some buttons and levels (mechanical) over full on touch screen control any day. There's something to be said about camera response, muscle memory here and the ability to change settings while *looking* at a view finder 100% - not obscure it with touching here and there.

It makes business sense if enough people think "it's kewl" whether it's good or not.

Comment edited 24 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Raist3d

Ironically perhaps one aspect this wins over Sony's own offering of the RX100 is simplicity to end user. Now, if Sony got more serious and yanked off the pet mode and Super Intelligent Auto Mode II Turbo Champion Edition + Alpha features and alike from the RX100, the RX100 would become a more focused photographer-oriented camera.

Comment edited 24 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Raist3d

Yet one more problem with this- Sony is marketing this to the Facebook crowd. The Facebook crowd is more than fine with whatever camera their phone already shipped with.

2 upvotes
unknown member
By (unknown member) (Sep 4, 2013)

1) Yeah, humans only have one battery to worry about while traveling or with the RX100 they also have with them or going anywhere at all ever. That's what happens. Uh huh. Yep.
2) Money is the difference.
3) Touch screens are so useless. Nobody uses them. They ruin products. Yep. That's the way the world is going, away from touch screens. Nobody likes them or buys them. Nope. Very unpopular and awkward.

Comment edited 49 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer

And because manufacturers are using touch screens and customers have less and less choice, that means touch screens are superior. I see the reasoning. My old car radio had knobs but the new one is superior because you have to take your eyes off the road. Now it makes sense.

3 upvotes
Raist3d

Howard- you should read what I said with more thought and less mockery

The battery life issue is still an issue. Sure, you will carry more than one battery for your rx100 but most likely NOT for your phone.

As for touchscreen you can't compare touching a screen to make a phone call to quickly setting up a camera with a touchscreen (with lag i may add) Two completely different cases with different needs.

As for money- ok I its cheap enough, sure. But at the point you are spending $500 usd for the better sensor you are well into the consideration of a separate camera. The cheaper lens and adapter may work at the price- it all depends how much you value a jump from a cellphone sensor to a still relatively small sensor with all the workflow issues I mentioned.

For the Facebook crowd? What you think they'll use? Phone camera.

0 upvotes
wansai

@Howardroark

1. Do you not see the problem with carrying 2 devices that drains 2 battery sources at the same time for effectively doing a single task?

I guess you can be snarky all day but it still remains that if I spend money on a separate camera, I'd expect that if I drain battery, it only drains the camera battery and not drain my phone battery as well.

You are discharging 2 batteries to do a single task.

2. You say money is the difference. If that was the case, you have better solutions for $500.

3. Touchscreens are not the best solution for everything. It has its uses but to be used on a dedicated camera, it's still massively clunky compared to physical controls.

I'd like you to try your hands on a Galaxy NX with a touchscreen control scheme. Then use a camera like the much cheaper OMD EM5 with physical controls AND touchscreen. Chances are you won't ever use the touchscreen for shooting ever again after using proper controls.

1 upvote
ET2

"I have to call fail. "

You don't get to define "failure" The market does. If it fails to sell then it's a failure. If not, it is not.

Right now QX100 is the best selling camera on amazon .. lets see how that lasts in the next 4 months.

0 upvotes
tkbslc

This article asked a question and then didn't attempt to answer it.

5 upvotes
Raist3d

I have to totally agree with you here.

1 upvote
unknown member
By (unknown member) (Sep 4, 2013)

Rhetorical. The question was rhetorical. It presented the possibility in order for the reader to ponder the question while reading what the camera was all about.

1 upvote
Total comments: 24
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