The Sony QX10 (£179) and QX100 (£379) look like lenses, but are actually cameras that connect with your smartphone to take higher-res pictures with better optical zoom.
- QX10 has 10x optical zoom, 18-megapixel sensor
- QX100 is 20-megapixels with 1-inch sensor
- Image stabilisation
- Connect with Sony 'OneTouch'
- Fit any smartphone with attached bracket or case
"With the new QX100 and QX10 cameras, we are making it easier for the ever-growing population of 'mobile photographers' to capture far superior, higher-quality content without sacrificing the convenience and accessibility of their existing mobile network or the familiar 'phone-style' shooting experience that they've grown accustomed to."
Sony's QX10 and QX100 smartphone "companion" cameras are very weird products at first glance. They basically look like someone chopped the lens off a regular camera.
Which is not a surprise. Because that's exactly what they are.
Both the 10x optical zoom, 18-megapixel QX10 (based on a Cyber-shot WX200) and the higher-end QX100 (20 megapixels, with Zeiss glass, a 1-inch sensor) are full compact system cameras, with image stabilisation, except instead of a screen and a camera body they rely on your smartphone to do the heavy lifting - literally, as it turns out, by attaching to the phone with an included bracket or a specially-designed case.
The idea is simple: you take the lens, connect it (digitally) to your smartphone via NFC or WIFI direct, and use Sony's PlayMemories Mobile app on your smartphone (Android or iOS) to take your pictures. They are stored on the device itself, and also on your phone - either at 2MP or in full resolution.
It's an odd system, but it's a surprisingly flexible one. There are physical controls on the lens - including a shutter button and optical zoom controls - or you make the same adjustments via the app. You can attach it to the bracket, or just keep it separate - trying out new and ever-more-hipster angles from which to take your pictures.
The quality also seems very good, and while we'd like to see for ourselves Sony insist that the essential guts of each lens are identical to their compact system cameras.
And in terms of price, the news is also not that terrible. The QX10 is about £179, while the QX100 is closer to £399. That sounds like a lot, and it is -- until you remember that the camera on which the QX100 is based costs almost exactly twice that amount, for the same essential hardware.
Clearly Sony is out on a bit of a limb with these accessories - but it might also be onto a winner, particularly if it can find a way to bundle the products together in a lower-price package. It might - just might - mean one less bulky gadget in your bag. And that can't be a bad thing. They're out in September.