Along with the Xperia Z1, Sony also launched their Smart lens accessories, a first of its kind for smartphones. Essentially, the QX100 and the QX10 are both full-fledged digital cameras minus the viewfinder. Rather than putting phone functionality into a camera (à la Samsung S4 Zoom) which is not the most ideal way of doing things, Sony has created attachments which will work with your existing smartphones, including iPhones.
The QX100 in action
Let’s start with the DSC-QX100. This is the flagship lens right now and is quite a handful. The lens is based on the same technology and features we’ve seen on the Sony RX100 II (1-inch sensor, 20MP sensor, Carl Zeiss optics and BIONZ image processor) but at almost half the cost. The QX100 has NFC and Wi-Fi direct built-in so photos are synced to your phone instantly as soon as you snap it. The lens is made up of plastic mostly and yet, manages to feel sturdy. The finish and choice of materials is very good and it feels like a premium product (which it is). The lens is bundled with an adjustable clamp to snap onto any smartphone up to 5-inches. There’s even a dedicated zoom and shutter button on the lens and a small display which shows the battery level. Here’s our quick hands-on video showcasing how it actually works.
The QX100 manages very good low-light shots which is not a surprise considering its nearly identical to the RX100 II. The colours are crisp and punch and there’s very little to no noise in the background.
Sony QX100 and QX10
The QX10 is a slightly more affordable version of the QX100, with some minor changes. You get a much better 10x optical zoom here compared to the QX100 but you sacrifice on image quality a bit as the sensor size is 1/2.3-inch. You also lose the Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T lens for the Sony’s G lens that’s found in the Z1. This is a lot more portable however as compared to the QX100 when switched off. Here’s a quick look at the QX10.
Image quality is not too bad however. Here are two sample shots, one without zoom and one with the full 10x zoom. The zoomed in shot is a little blurry since the phone was tethered to the anti-theft cable so I couldn’t get a very steady shot. In any case, there’s very little noise in the picture and colours are still accurately captured.
Sample from the QX10
At full 10x zoom
Both lens work in conjunction with the Sony PlayMemories app. You pair the lens though this app and are then greeted to a custom interface which lets you take advantage of all the features of that lens. This will be a free app available for download from the Google Play store and Apple App Store.
Sony has priced the lenses very attractively as the QX100 costs Rs 24,990 and the QX10 will set you back Rs 12,990. We must say that these lenses make a much more compelling buy than the recently released smartwatches by Samsung and Sony, as far as accessories are concerned. What you’re essentially buying here is a very good digital camera that requires a little help from your smartphone. The reason this is awesome is because you can now take DSLR-like pictures from the lens and immediately share them with your friends or store them in the cloud. And once your done, simply detach it and you have a regular phone once again. Sony’s pioneering effort in creating a brand new accessory segment could pay out really well for them if they play their cards right.