Sony QX30, QX1 Lens-style Cameras Expand Smart Phones' Picture-Taking Skills: First Look


Sony stirred up the photo industry one year ago this month when they introduced the Sony DSC-QX10 and QX100, which we described as a "camera like no other." Today, the Sony QX30 (below) and QX1 (above) represent the next generation of what they call a "Lens-Style Camera"—a self-contained camera with a zoom lens that can attach to a smart phone or tablet—was introduced.


Note: Adorama is taking pre-orders for the Sony QX30QX1 and related accessories now. Orders will be fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis. Credit cards will not be charged until orders are shipped.



Even more intriguingly, the Sony ILCE-QX1 is an interchangeable-lens module with a 20MP APS-C sized Exmor CMOS sensor and Bionz X processor. Like its self-contained sibling, the QX1 uses Wi-Fi connectivity to transform a smart phone into a powerful compact camera. The camera is compatible with Sony's full line of E-mount lenses and includes such high-end features as RAW image capture, a pop-up flash, and Superior Auto Mode. Feature by feature, the QX1 is comparable with the recently discontinued Sony Alpha A5000.

Sony ILCE-QX1 Key Features

  • 20.1MP Exmor HD CMOS sensor (23.5x15.6mm)
  • ISO range 100-16000
  • Lock-on AF, 10fps shooting
  • 25-point contrast detect AF
  • 1200-zone evaluative metering
  • Exposure compensation +/- 3EV in 1/3 steps
  • 30-1/4000 sec
  • 1080/30p HD video at 16Mbps, MP4 format
  • Stereo sound
  • Optical image stabilization
  • Wi-Fi, NFC connectivity to most smartphones
  • Saves image to camera and smart phone memory
  • Built-in flash; 1/1600 flash sync

You can control the ILCE-QX1 using controls on the camera/lens barrel, as a stand-alone unit with no monitor, or via your smart phone using the LCD for live image viewing and touch-screen operation. You can add the lens of your choice. This is a good option for users who already own a Sony MILC and want a more portable solution that they can use in tandem with their smart phone while getting the outstanding resolution and low-light/high-ISO performance that Sony sensors are famous for.

See the Sony ILCE-QX1 in action in this video, provided by Sony USA:

Unlike typical smart phones, the Sony QX1 gives users a choice of Program, Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority exposure settings via the PlayMemories Mobile App. As with previous Lens-Style Cameras, you can uncouple the QX1 and place it in hard-to-get-to locations, and operate it remotely via your smart phone.


Sony DSC-QX30

The Sony DSC-QX30 looks like a lens, but includes its own a 20MP digital camera with a 30x zoom range of 25-750mm (35mm equivalent), upping the ante in both resolution and optics over its predecessor. The Exmor R CMOS sensor measures 1/2.3" (7.82mm) and offers an ISO range of 80-3200, boostable to 12,800. It also records HD video up to 1080/60fps. This unique design brings unprecedented zooming capabilities and better overall image quality to your smart phone.

The DSC-QX30 can operate as a stand-alone unit, but lacks any kind of monitor or viewfinder. That's where the iOS or Android-based smartphone comes in. Using NFC or Wi-Fi, users can physically attach the lens-camera unit to the smartphone and use the phone's screen to control the camera, view live images, and review the images already shot. Images can be saved by transferring images to the smart phone or tablet, or by saving it to Memory Stick Micro or Micro SD memory cards.

Sony DSC-QX30  Key Features:

  • 20MP 1/2.3-inch (7.82mm) Exmor R CMOS sensor
  • 4.3-129mm (35mm equivalent: 25-750mm) f/3.5-6.3 zoom lens
  • Closest focus approx. 2 inches
  • Optical image stabilization
  • Multi-point autofocus
  • Multi-pattern metering
  • ISO range 80-3200
  • 10fps burst rate
  • Self-Timer
  • 1080p/60fps movies in MP4
  • NFC, Wi-Fi connectivity with Smart Phone and Tablet


Users can operate the camera attached to a smart phone running Apple iOS or Android via an included Smart Phone Attachment, shoot by simply holding the camera in their hands by using the controls on the lens barrel, or control the camera remotely from their smart phone app, using the phone's monitor to set exposure and focus, and to trigger the shutter.

Focus is accomplished via single-shot and touch contrast detection autofocus based on multi-point AF, and via Face Detection (up to 8 faces detectable in an image). Other controls include a dynamic range optimizer, Super Auto, Intelligent Auto, Program Auto, Shutter Priority and Aperture priority modes, a 2/10-sec self-timer, and single and continuous shooting.  


The camera includes a built-in stereo mic and mono speaker, a multi/micro USB 2.0 terminal so you can quickly download images to mass storage devices,

Both of Sony's new Lens-style cameras represent further refinements in an innovative, if not quickly adopted, concept in an attempt to capitalize on the meteoric growth in smart phone popularity, and these new models represent a big step in expanding their utility as photographic tools.

The Sony DSC-QX30 will be available for $348 and the Sony ILCE-QX1 will sell for $398 at Adorama, starting in December. Release dates to be announced.


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