Meet The Sony QX10 And QX100, Smart Lenses That Turn Phones Into True Cameras

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Smartphones have cameras. But they’re mostly garbage when compared to a dedicated camera. Besides the Lumia 1020, of course. The cameras on smartphones have tiny image capture sensors and low-quality glass, the sum of which equals pictures that are just good enough — not impressive. It’s convenience over quality.

Enter the Sony QX10 and QX100 lens camera.

This system is more than just a lens. The QX10 and QX100 also pack an image sensor, thus allowing for much higher quality photographs. They simply clip onto a smartphone and communicate wirelessly.

The $250 QX10 features a 1/2.3-inch 18-megapixel sensor paired with an f/3.3-5.9 lens. The $500 QX100 has a high-quality 1-inch 20.2-megapixel Exmor R sensor and a f/1.8-4.9 Carl Zeiss lens. This line is based on fantastic Sony point-and-shoot cameras with the QX10 looking most like the WX150 and the QX100 grabbing most of the RX100m2′s magic.

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The QX10 and QX100 are essentially two thirds of a camera. Each lens camera clips onto a phone and communicates through WiFi or NFC. Or, they can act as a wireless camera. They also have a microSD and Memory Stick slot, tripod mounts and include optional clips for the back of phones. The remaining bit is your phone, acting as the viewfinder, shutter trigger, and backup storage. And that makes a lot of sense.

Think about it: Point and shoot cameras still sell in large numbers because they hit a sweet spot of portability and quality. They still lack communication, though. Pictures are stored on a memory card. The photos need to be dumped to a computer. That’s a hassle. And doesn’t make for timely sharing.

With Sony’s new system, users have the ability to take high quality pictures and then share them through their smartphone. It’s the best of both worlds.

The QX10 and QX100 work with both Android and iOS phones. Sony built the products to be device-agnostic, thus increasing their shelve life and mass appeal.

As I pointed out yesterday, this has been done before. There are countless examples on Alibaba and eBay. Will.i.am and Fusion Garage (and CrunchPad engineer) Chandra Rathakrishnan announced the i.am+ foto.sosho V.5 late last year. Thankfully it doesn’t appear to have ever hit the market. Thankfully. It was ludicrous and smelled of vapor from the start.

Sony likely doesn’t expect this product to be a mass hit, but there is definitely a market for it. Now Sony just has to convince consumers to ditch the pocket shooter, and carry a lens instead.