Sony’s Fun “Lens Camera” Concept

Sony Cybershot QX100Lots of announcements today (technically yesterday, but who’s counting) for new products from Sony and Samsung. The latter don’t interest me that much, and perhaps the reasons for that will be a future post, but the Sony announcement (which I had seen the leaks about beforehand) did include something of interest: a whole new camera concept.

The Best Camera

There is a saying that the best camera for the job is the one that you have with you. In most cases today for me, that means a smartphone camera. Additionally, I love the flexibility of being able to shoot the photo, do some simple edits on the phone and share it immediately. While my DSLR, even though it is getting old now, takes amazing photos, I rarely carry it on my commutes because of the extra bag that entails, and I am also forced to wait until I can get the images off the CF card onto my computer before I can edit or share them.

Sony’s new concept is to provide an external camera that connects via Wi-Fi to your smartphone and uses the phone’s screen for its viewfinder and controls. Essentially replacing the tiny embedded camera with one capable of much, much better image quality. In the case of the one in the photo, a 20 mega-pixel 1″ sensor with an f/1.8 aperture and Carl Zeiss glass. Much better than my iPhone or Nexus 4 can deliver, or for that matter even the Nokia phones that also use Carl Zeiss glass.

Two Models

Sony announced two models: the cheaper DSC-QX10 model, using Sony glass and a smaller, and slightly lower resolution at 18MP, sensor, but with a longer zoom (27.5-275mm or 10x), and the premium DSC-QX100 with the Carl Zeiss glass & larger sensor, but less zoom (30-108mm or 3.6x).

Both are capable of 1080P HD video at 30 frames per second. Both have clips to attach to your phone if you want to shoot that way, or they can be used separately for more “interesting” shots. Both have tripod mounts too if you want to go for some interesting remote controlled time lapse style photography, or even just make that group shot a little less of a rush.

Prices in the US are about $250 and $500 respectively, and they should start shipping right at the end of September (a few days after I could have used one). Amazon is warning though that they expect demand to outstrip the supply they have been allocated by Sony, so if you must have one as soon as they start shipping, pre-order now!

Sony Reliability

One of my biggest concerns, and definitely one reason why I have not been that keen on buying any Sony gear for a while now, is the lack of reliability that seems to have plagued them for a number of years now. And the pathetic warranty terms on these don’t exactly fill me confidence either (1 year parts, but only 90 days labor). So, add another $60 or so to the price of the DSC-QX100 for a proper warranty, which will also add accidental damage coverage so is probably a good idea anyway.

It is such a novel concept though that I think this one is worthy of the risk (especially with that extended warranty to cover any problems).

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