Will Sony's QX10 snare the smartphone snapper?
In a bid to catch the attention of smartphone snappers Sony launched its wireless lens for mobile phone photography with added control. But just how useful is this companion for those on the go? Lorna Dockerill finds out
The beauty of photography is that it enables us to capture a memory, an instant that will never happen again. And we’ve seen camera equipped smartphones become our best buds because they remain an essential gadget, always firmly in a back pocket, and help us record scenarios on-the-spot so we never have to miss a fleeting moment.
Even some hardcore photographers are adding iPhone albums to their portfolios and major players in the photography industry are churning out 3G and WiFi/Android enabled cameras. Samsung announced the Galaxy S4 Zoom this year – a smartphone packed with a 16MP camera and 10x optical zoom – the zoom, Samsung claims, the first of its kind to feature in a smartphone. Companies are running to catch up with the technology hungry consumer and it seems Sony is the one of the latest to reach out for a piece of the pie.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10, a wireless lens which connects to a smartphone, boasts an 18MP Exmor R CMOS sensor and, just like the Galaxy S4 Zoom, a 10x optical zoom to draw in distance subjects. Designed as an accessory for those seeking a high-performance camera, it connects to your phone via a wireless link-up that works with the Sony Play Memories mobile app.
The connection method varies depending on the type of smartphone, but once you’ve partnered the lens and phone, you’ll be able to shoot with it while the image pops up on your screen. This seems simple enough with only three real controls on the body – an on/off switch, zoom slider and the shutter.
When bounding around the history hub that is the city of York one weekend, I had chance to see the lens in action. During a leisurely Sunday morning walk amid leafy paths alongside the River Ouse, a colourful tour boat sailed toward me in mottled light – which would have made a great token shot of the weekend. Yet it was unfortunately missed due to the length of time the QX10 took to connect with my iPhone via the Play Memories app, and this delay is probably the biggest downfall of the product. The resulting image was a snapshot of the boat cruising away – the moment gone.
This lengthy connection time seemed to be an ongoing theme, although as long as you keep the lens and your phone ready to go, this won’t be an issue, particularly if it’s posed portraits, food and still life that you’re looking to shoot. With a battery life of 110 minutes though, you may want to think twice before doing so. When tethered, you’re free to remove the QX10 from the front of the phone releasing it via the extending arms, and move it around, ideal for selfies with great backdrops. Prepare for puzzled expressions from onlookers when doing so on the street, as it does tend to look a little odd. I found the 10x zoom to be stable with a crisp image maintained, ideal for detailing the architecture of York Minster. If you are looking to unlock the full 18MP potential and shoot video you’ll need a microSD card, but without you can still transmit 2Mb images to your phone – which is perfectly adequate and is what I opted for.
Those photographers seeking more manual control can switch between exposure modes in the Play Memories app and will appreciate the ability to use a phones touchscreen for Autofocusing and controlling shutter speed. There are a handful of differing white balance options, an ISO range of 100-3200 (iAuto) and face detection, which also come in handy.
For £180, this won’t break the bank but it also won’t change your life. It does everything it says on the tin, but in reality the lagging connectivity and the fact that your trusty smartphone is raring to go without faffing with WiFi etc, means that your dog and bone camera is much more reliable. On this weekend break I found myself reaching for my DSLR when I wanted to capture something special without the fuss and my phone for quick snapshots, and sadly that left little room for the QX10. However, there is no doubt in my mind that this unique toy will be a hit with gadget geeks this Christmas.
18MP Exmor R CMOS sensor
10x optical zoom
Optical SteadyShot Active mode
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