One of the coolest things we played with during the Best of Sony event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was their smartphone attachable lens, the QX100 and QX10. At first, I thought it was like one of those lens you attach to your phones to improve the phone’s camera but it’s clearly way more than that. This attachment will transform even your measly Php4,000 Android phone into a respectable shooter.
First and foremost, the Sony attachable lens are cameras on their own. Yes, you can take photos with them by themselves without attaching it to any smartphone. Each has its own sensor, lens, shutter button, zoom lever, battery, microUSB port and a microSD slot. You can even attach a tripod onto it. In fact, the Sony QX100 is just like the enthusiast-level Sony Cybershot RX100 without the viewfinder, flash, menus, and dials.
The Sony QX10 has a 1/2.3-inch 18.2-megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor (same size as the Xperia Z1’s sensor) paired with a 10x optical zoom f/3.5-5.9 Sony G lens. It comes with an optical image stabilizer as well.
The Sony QX100 on the other hand has a huge 1-inch 20.2-megapixel Exmor R sensor to go with a f/1.8-4.9 Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T* lens. It’s the
To fully utilize the lens though, you need to connect it to an Android or iOS device (iPad or iPod Touch will work as well) and download the free Sony PlayMemories mobile app from the App Store or Google Play. This app will allow you to use your device as the viewfinder, control different settings (auto or manual) on the lens, use touch focus, click the shutter, and act as secondary storage for the photos/videos.
You can clip a bracket to the lens so you can clamp it to your phone. It can accommodate a device of up to 13mm thick and from 54-75mm wide. It was able to snugly clamp on my iPhone 5 even with a thick case on.
Attaching it is optional though. You can hold your phone on one hand and the lens on the other to get those angled shots. You can even place it on a table or mount it on a tripod then take the shot from a distance.
So how does it communicate to your Android or iOS device? The Sony QX100 and QX10 can broadcast its own secured WiFi network (password is n the inside of the battery lid) which you need to connect to. However, if your device have NFC, connecting is made easier although primary mode of communication is still via WiFi.
Launch the Sony PlayMemories app to fiddle with the settings such as white balance, aperture, and exposure. You can use touch-to-focus on your phone and also the on-screen zoom controls and shutter button. We got some lag on our phone as we pan the lens around so there’s still room for improvement. Saving photos on the phone also took a couple of seconds so you might want to turn that setting off if you want to take shots quickly.
Here are a couple of shots taken with the QX100 lens. Click to view it in Flickr for the full-size.
Photos appear sharp and clean even when you zoom in thanks to the f/1.8 lens.
On paper, the attachable lens of Sony is something you would strongly consider if you’re after good photos on your smartphone. You can keep your super slim phone then just take out the attachable lens when you need to take good photos. However, the experience is still far from ideal with the lag you get from the lens to the viewfinder but it’s actually not bad for a first of its kind product.
These Sony QX100 and QX10 attachable lens will be made available sometime in October along with the Xperia Z1. Local price is yet to be announced but in the US it’s going to be $500 for the QX100 and $250 for the QX10.