Talking tech since 2003

Confirming what was only a rumor a few weeks ago, Sony today unveiled two models of the QX Smart Lens, a new smartphone accessory that can turn any mobile into a high-end DSLR camera. The Verge reports that the Sony QX10 and QX100 will cost $250 and $500, respectively, and will match the power of the more expensive, full-camera counterparts, the WX150 and RX100M2.

The QX100 will offer up a 20 megapixel, 1-inch sensor, along with 3.6x zoom capabilities. While the 10 won’t have as much power, with an 18.2 megapixel sensor slightly bigger than half an inch, but with a 10x zoom. While a lot of add-on lenses for smartphones are merely physical augmentations of built in hardware, these lenses will literally use the phone’s screen as a viewfinder, connecting to the device via near-field communication, or NFC. According to the post, they’ll play nice with both Android and iOS devices, and will have slots to take microSD cards, or Sony’s proprietary format, the Memory Stick.

sony-qx-smart-lens-2Either lens is far more powerful than any camera built into a phone already, and may be just what serious photographers are after if they don’t feel like carrying around bulky DSLR cameras all the time. I have to say, I’m extremely interested in these lenses considering how often I take photos myself, and the fact that, despite my smartphone’s great built-in camera, it’s still kind of on the crappy side in the grand scheme of things. I just got back from an event in Seattle, and I would’ve loved to have had one of these lenses to help me document my experiences while freeing me from having to carry a full camera bag.

That said, I still have some questions. Just how much and in what capacity will this lens take over the phone’s functions? What I mean is, when I turn on a DSLR and hold it up to take a photo, the time between powering it on and snapping the picture is pretty minimal. When I try to do the same with my phone, chances are pretty good that the moment’s passed by the time I manage to turn on the camera app. So will the QX lens somehow allow me to turn on my phone right in the picture taking app, without having to go through the lock screen? I have a podcast app that does that—this would seem like a good one for that as well.

Furthermore, what happens if you’re in the middle of shooting a photo, and you get a phone call? Again, this is fairly standard stuff for built-in camera apps, but I’m curious to see what the lens’s companion app will do. What about shutter lag? Most DSLRs are pretty great about eliminating lag these days, but smartphones…not so much.

That said, I’m still dying to get my hands on one these to give it a try. From what I can tell, there’s been no information on when either the QX10 or QX100 will be coming out, but chances are pretty good that it’s soon. Stay tuned.

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