Phones turn DSLR

Phones turn DSLR

Besides asking about the screen size, the second most common question asked about a new mobile phone is most likely to be: "How's the camera?".

Since the beginning of the year, every phone company has started to up the ante for its cameras and over the year, consumers became spoiled for choice when it came to camera choices and its capabilities.

The IFA in Berlin recently showed off Sony's QX10 and QX100, two very interesting accessories for any iOS or Android device.

A brief introduction

The QX10 and QX100 lens' cameras are available to be synced to your smartphone via WiFi or Near Field Communication (NFC).

The lens camera then becomes part of your phone as a downloadable application that transforms your phone into a viewfinder.

The lens camera then can be attached via a clip to the back of your smartphone and you use it as if you've just bought a new interchangeable lens camera.

Or, you can hold the lens camera on one hand and your smartphone on the other to release its shutter.

Sounds like a great idea for selfies, doesn't it? It will also allow many creative angles; think waist shots or anything from a less-than-normal perspective as you can still view your frame on the smart device.

QX10

The QX10 is the lower end of the two devices.

It has a 2/3-inch 18-megapixel sensor with a f3.5 to f5.9 aperture range.

That alone is already as good as, if not better, than your average point and shoot camera.

In the States, it retails for US$249 ($325), with a 10x optical zoom (25 to 250mm) and a memory card slot, it's really the price of your average point and shoot.

QX100

The US$499 lens camera has a 20.2-megapixel 1.0-inch Exmor R sensor, similar to Sony's RX100 Mk II, which is an extremely good point and shoot.

It has a 28-100 mm equivalent focal length with a large f1.8 to f4.9 aperture.

The QX100 also gives you more creative freedom with a limited manual control in the form of aperture, auto and exposure compensation, optical image stabilisation and a MicroSD card slot.

Functionality

When you open up the back panel of either device, you get a WiFi SSID and password which you will need if there is no NFC on your smartphone.

The battery inside the lens camera is estimated to be good enough for 220 shots per charge, which isn't a whole lot, but the good thing is that you can charge the battery internally via a USB connection and a tiny LCD panel shows you how much battery life is left. To use, it you'll need Sony's PlayMemories app, which is fairly basic with a shutter release button, zoom button, and a setup button.

Touching anywhere on the screen causes the camera to focus on that area, and you have to take a picture via the shutter button.

There is no way to modify the shutter button to a physical button on your smartphone yet, which I think is something that will be really handy if doable.

After taking a picture, when both devices are interconnected, the picture will be automatically transferred to your smartphone.

It also allows a choice of either two-megapixels, or a full-sized image, which will eat up most of your memory fairly quickly.

The bad part is that you'll be spending all that money without the power to change shutter speeds or ISO levels.

In video mode, both can do 1440x1080 at 30 frames per second with MPEG-4 and there are two tiny microphones on the lens cameras to record sound. It's strange that the two lens cameras aren't able to record full HD video, seeing as every other smartphone is able to do so.

Worth it or not?

Both are pretty pricey when you take account that they do not offer manual controls, nor RAW images especially on "pro version" QX100. As the QX100 is a small fraction of the RX100 Mk II price, which shares the same sensor, it will give you very high quality images without the controls of a real camera.

However, is it worth $499 when you can get a $299 version which is lighter and smaller, with a longer focal length but less superior quality?

I would probably go for the cheaper option seeing as you will be likely be using it as a "holiday" camera, and the QX100 doesn't give you enough manual options to fully utilise its wonderful sensor.

One thing's for sure, Sony's release of the two QXs is a game changer for mobile photography.

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