Are objective cameras or cameras without screen? Are we dealing with an invention called to change the market for mobile photography or merely another curious "gadget" to add to the list? With the recently announced Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX100 QX10 questions accumulate on the table. And, although the details were already well known for days now, these peculiar objectives and Wi-Fi sensors have already become one of the main attractions of the new edition of the IFA ,which starts tomorrow, and who knows of the photographic conversations this autumn. Just in case, we have come to Berlin to test them.
Modules with integrated sensor and photographic lens already exist, have many pointed referring to the Ricoh GXR.Despite similarities in approach in reality have little to do one and the other device. The philosophy of the new Sony QX is becoming mobile accessories, or to call it in some way, in a kind of interchangeable lens systems that can be attached to your smartphone or control it from there.
But, as usual with all newcomers ideas, enthusiasm, curiosity and a healthy dose of skepticism intermingle in a cocktail that does not really help when looking for answers. So, with the new Xperia Z1-one very photographic Mobile that will deliver a lot of talk,- in one hand and the Cyber-shot DSC-QX100 and QX10 in the other, nothing better to start by clarifying a few issues about these devices.
Are they small?
They are mostly small and very light. Although in the case of cameras lightness sometimes scares us, in this case is appreciated, because the fundamental idea is to go light of luggage or find an alternative for those days when you want to go out without your camera and take only your mobile with you.
Features a flat base in order to support them on any surface, and the hands are quite ergonomic taking into consideration the size and form. The few controls that are in them-basically trigger and zoom- are also comfortable enough to operate them with one hand while with the other we hold the mobile.
What is the difference between QX100 and the QX10?
These are two very different models (as can be guessed by the price difference between them). The QX10 is easier with a 10x zoom (equivalent to 25-250 mm) and a sensor of 1/2, 33 inch and 18 megapixels. It is the basic configuration of a simple compact moderate zoom, or to find examples in its branch, very similar to what offers the Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom.
Nothing to do with the QX100, playing in a higher league. Concretely that of the advanced compact because this objective is actually a Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II miniature: uses the same 20 megapixel sensor and Zeiss zoom 28-100 mm f1.8-4.9. Put in another way: a combination that has already proven to be a winner.
How do they work?
Very simple: all controls are at hand, so the first thing is to download the Sony PlayMemories Mobile App and link it with the target smartphone. Something that is easier if our phone has NFC connection, by the way.
Since that moment, from the screen we can manage every shot setting, although the shot and zoom can also be operated from the QX objective controls themselves.
The images are stored in the memory card of the target, the terminal or both. In the QX device are saved in full resolution, -or in which we have chosen- and transferred to 2 megapixels by default. Or you can select the full size, which, of course, will slow down the process.
Is it only available for Sony mobile devices?
No. The QX is compatible with Android and iOS devices, both phones and tablets. In addition to working separately from the smartphone, it also can be coupled by an ingenious adapter (clamps) which is standard and is valid for most models.
Above, the clamps mechanism of the QX10, allowing to hook to the majority of mobile devices. In the image below, the QX10 on an iPhone 5.
In the case of a mobile of considerable size (such as the mentioned Xperia Z1), the assembly ends up being more or less balanced between sight and hands, provided that it attaches to the target. More controversial is the result when coupled to, for example, the iPhone 5. Maybe it’s all a matter of getting used to.
A casing that Sony has presented alongside the Xperia Z1 transforms this phone in a compact camera.
By the way, next to the new Z1 a housing also has been introduced, including some kind of bayonet to anchor these objectives QX.
Do you have manual controls?
Depending on the lens, settings and options vary. Thus, in the case of the QX10 we proved that it only offers automatic working modes and programmed exposure mode. However, when working with the QX100 aperture priority mode is activated.
Are they fast? Does the shot work well over Wi-Fi?
It is one of the issues that have concerned us since we first knew about these models and after the experiences with most cameras with Wi-Fi. In this sense we have good and not so good news.
In general, the preview image is agile and very correct. At least in good light, because a nighttime raid on Berlin quickly has proven that things get complicated in dark scenes when the sensor (the QX10 in this case) is somewhat forced. We will have to investigate further on the matter.
The shooting sequence and sending to the mobile of a photo takes about 6 or 7 seconds per shot. Many seconds if we had expected a burst at the level of a compact, but in the line with what we have seen so far on remote controls for cameras with Wi-Fi.
In any case, if what we want is that the photo do not slip, much better than the shot from the mobile screen is to use the command of the target itself. Unless, of course, if we have it at within our reach.
What about the quality of the photos?
Although we have to wait to analyze the samples obtained -and we’re at it-, actually the picture quality is a matter that has little mystery, because we are speaking of optics and sensors previously known.
Particularly interesting will be to see if the high expectations placed on the QX100 are met and up to standards of the quality offered by the RX100 II, one of the best compact cameras at the time.
What can they be used for?
This is without doubt one of the most repeated questions along this first day of IFA. Although time will help define usages -we are speaking of a brand new product type-, for now the idea is to think of a logical system of objectives to have a "real" camera coupled to the mobile.
Or in the palm of your hand, because we must not forget that this is one of the great arguments of the system with great creative potential beyond the self-portraits, which are possibly the first reaction to having one of these devices in the hands .
Different frames, allowing the camera remote shooting at some distance … also can give much room to street photography enthusiasts who want to go unnoticed. And it has never been so easy to take a picture while looking seemingly distracted at your mobile screen.