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It is a rare occasion when someone invents a camera or imaging device that is truly unique and possibly game-changing, but that's exactly what Sony has done with today's announcement of the Sony DSC-QX10 (available from Adorama for $248) and Sony DSC-QX100 (above; $498 at Adorama). Called "Smartphone Attachable Lens-Style Cameras," these new items are unlike any picture-taken device we've ever seen. Turn the buzz factor up to 10: Techno-nerds, snapshooters, and even professional photographers are going to be talking about this one and imagining the possiblities.
The Sony DSC QX10 and QX100 can be pre-ordered from Adorama now. Orders will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Credit cards will not be charged until orders ship.
Diane Wallace and I had a chance to handle a pre-production version of the DSC-QX10, and were impressed with what we saw. Check out Diane's video featuring the DSC-QX10, and read my first impressions.
Like No Other Camera
The Sony DSC-QX10 and QX100 are self-contained cameras with no viewfinder. The lens zooms in and out; there's a port for a MicroSD card for storage, a built-in microphone, and a shutter release. But they also have Wi-Fi and NFC (Near Field Communication). They clip onto your iPhone or Android smartphone and communicate with them wirelessly via an app. The phone's touchscreen becomes the camera's LCD monitor and control center. You can turn the cell phone upside down if you'd rather use the shutter release right-handed, or use it as is with the shutter release availabe for lefties. It's been a long time since we've seen a left-handed camera!
With the lens-sensor attached to your smart phone, the combination looks and acts just like a stand-alone digital compact camera, but lets you take advantage of thousands of photo apps, image editing programs, and image sharing capabilities that have endeared so many photographers, from snapshooters to pros, to smartphones.
It gets better.
You don't have to keep the lens-sensor attached to your smartphone. You can remove it and shoot separately, using either the shutter that's built into the lens barrel, or operating it from your smartphone's touch screen. You can mount the lens-sensor to a tripod—there's a standard tripod mount—either attached to a smartphone or separately. You can also operate the lens-camera from a tablet computer, although Sony has not yet created a way to attach the unit to your tablet.
There are two models, geared and priced towards very different markets.
The Sony DSC-QX10, which will retail for $249.99 and can be pre-ordered now from Adorama, is designed for snapshooters and anyone who has given up their stand-alone compact camera but misses the better image quality and zoom lens. It has a standard 1/2.3" EXMOR R CMOS sensor that captures 18MP images and 1080/30p HD video, and a 10x zoom lens. The sensor is more than twice the size of a typical cell phone sensor so image quality will be somewhat better.
The Sony DSC-QX100, which will sell for $499.99 and can be pre-ordered from Adorama, has a 5x zoom Zeiss lens, but also is equipped with a larger sensor. The 1-inch, 20.1MP CMOS sensor (which is just a bit smaller than Four Thirds) is the same one that can be found in the highly-regarded Sony RX100, which several camera review sites have called the best compact digital camera ever made. It can capture 20.1MP images as well as full 1080p/60 fps HD video and an ISO range from 100-3600. Our dyed-in-the-wool pro photographers were drooling when Sony showed this one to us at the Adorama offices.
The possiblities for such an invention are endless: Sports photographers could place the lens-camera in difficult-to-access places and operate it remotely. Wildlife photographers could place a camera close to shy creatures and get amazing close-ups of how they live. Yes, this has been done already, but not with a unit so small. Self portraits, over-the-head and around-the-corner shots are easier to attain.
Both models are legitimate cameras in a never-before seen shape, while the way it attaches to and connects with your smartphone combines practical capabilities never before seen with an impressive "cool" factor. There is a very real possibility that, with the growing popularity of smart phone cameras, that this is the kind of product that could be the final nail in the coffin of the stand-alone compact digital camera category.
Sony Unveils High-End 4K Camcorder
In addition to its two consumer-oriented smartphone cameras, Sony has also announced a Full HD 4K camera for professional cinematographers. The Sony FDR-AX14K shoots 4K video, which is four times the resolution of standard HD video, at 60p, and captures pro audio via XLR mic outputs. Direct manual control is achieved via zoom, focus, and iris rings, plus seven assignable buttons.
The Sony XAVC-S is designed for small-scale production companies, pro-level freelancers, and prosumers (especially those who are early adapters and already own 4K TVs).
- Capture 4K/60p video
- XAVC-S codec allows extended 4K/HD video recording
- 1/2.3” 8.3MP Exmor R® CMOS image sensor
- Professional image processor for real-time 4K / 60 fps recording
- Sony G-lens with 20X (31.5-630mm eq.) smooth servo zoom
- ND filters and 5 ‘paint’ functions for expressive cinematic looks
- Built-in mic w/2x additional Pro XLR jacks for external inputs
- 7x assignable buttons and 3x control rings (focus/iris/zoom)
- Two XQD card slots for high-speed 4K recording and playback
- View 4K 60P video on compatible BRAVIA® TVs w/supplied HDMI® cable
- Zebra, Peaking, Center marker and guide frame
- High-quality XAVC-S up to 150 Mbps 4K / 50 Mbps HD recording
The Sony FDR-AX14K will be available soon for $4,498 from Adorama but can be pre-ordered now. Orders will be shipped on a first-come, first-served basis. Credit cards will not be charged until order ships.