gadget / mobile / reviews / 10/01/2014

Review: Sony QX10 Lens

Sony-QX10_whiteThe Sony Cyber-shot QX10 clip on lens for Android and iPhone was released last year along with the higher end QX100 lens.

Both lenses connect to a smartphone via its built-in WiFi, and uses the phone’s screen as a viewfinder when taking photos. It comes it two colours: white & gold, and black.

The main differences between the higher end (and bigger) QX100 apart from the larger sensor is the 20.2 megapixels, 3.6x optical zoom and manual focus, with a R6 170 price tag.

The smaller QX10 has 18.2 megapixels, 10x optical zoom and no manual focus and costs R2 770. When they were announced last year, I was most eager to get my hands on the Qx10 because of the optical zoom. I got to review the black QX10.

Sony-QX10

What I wasn’t expecting was the lens to be as bulky as it was. It does make your smartphone a lot heavier when in use and you have to make sure it’s protected if you’re carrying it around in a bag.

The QX10 has a power button to the top, zoom functions to the left, tripod mount at the bottom, and NFC built in. The charging port is covered by a flap at the bottom left. The more technical specs are as follows:

– Focal length f=10.4-37.1mm
– Sensor: Exmor R CMOS
– Sensor size: 1/2.3 type (7.76mm)
– Optical image stabilisation
– Still format in JPEG and video in MP4 (@30fps)

To get started, you have to download the PlayMemories app from either Google Play or the App Store. Then turn on the WiFi on the lens and connect to it from your smartphone. A generic password is provided via a sticker on the manual. Once you’re connected, open the app to start using the camera.

sonyqx10-buttonsPhoto credit: Photojojo.com

Essentially you have a more professional camera/lens connected to your smartphone and images or video get stored on your phone’s camera roll for immediate sharing. You can choose how large you want the images either in a 4:3 ratio in 5- or 18-megapixels or 16:9 ratio in 2- or 13-megapixels.

The images are what you’d expect from Sony – excellent quality and the 10x optical zoom took clear photos. You can choose between three auto modes only (so no manual settings) – intelligent, superior and program auto.

Here are two sample shots with full 10x zoom next to it (click on images to enlargen):

ocean-zoom

I love the detail you get with the 10x zoom. I didn’t know the river looked like that without the lens.

river-zoom

Here’s an example of the various levels of zoom:

river-zoom-level

What also impressed me, apart from the optical zoom, is shooting images at night. All pics haven’t been edited in any way, except for resizing to fit this blog post:

durban-night

This is what images at night look like on an iPhone:

durban-night-iphone

From the above images you can see that it definitely takes better pics than a smartphone. Optical zoom can’t compare to digital zoom found on smartphones, and even when the zoom is at its maximum, pictures are still clear enough. As for images taken in low light or night, it just takes superior images.

When you take pictures, it takes a few seconds before the image appears on your screen. Since there is no burst mode of some sort, it may be difficult capturing any sport etc. I took these pics on NYE, and when you’re taking pics of fireworks, the few seconds that the image takes to appear on screen is most noticeable. The rest of the pics from that evening were just a blur. So don’t expect a ‘snappy’ experience.

photo-8

I uploaded a couple of photos on Flickr, and I don’t know if this matters but when I looked at the EXIF data, it showed that the images were taken on an iPhone 5, and not the Sony QX10. Technically they came from the QX10 so I’d expect it to appear somewhere.

If you want to shoot video – in 1080p, it won’t save to your camera roll, you have to put a memory card into it – it takes a microSD. Video is shot in MP4 at 30fps (1440 x 1080).

sonyqx10-memoryPhoto credit: Photojojo.com

There two issues about the lens I’d like to see fixed – it’s too slow when displaying images after shooting and WiFi connection is buggy. Battery life could be better – it promises 110 minutes of use in one charge. I felt that it lasted slightly less than that but I’d pin that on the WiFi connection.

The Sony QX10 clip-on lens is not cheap, but it’s very good at what it does. It’s aimed at those who want to take better photos than what their mobile handsets are capable of but are not interested in buying a professional camera – so somewhere between these two. It’s an excellent travel companion and can be taken around in your bag provided it’s protected properly. It’s best used at the “right moment” and not for continuous shooting of whatever is in sight.

If you want to experience what Sony felt smartphones were lacking – optical zoom, optical image stabilisation, high-res image quality and low-light performance, then the clip-on Cyber-shot QX10 lens is for you.

It left me with one feeling: wanting to take more photos… especially at night.

IN SUMMARY

Price: R2 770
Colour: Black or White & Gold
Purchase: Orange Store SA
Rating: 8/10
Compatible with: Android and iPhone
Pros: Optical zoom is the best you will experience on a smartphone; excellent night pictures; great for travel.
Cons: No manual focus/settings; WiFi connection buggy on Android.



Nafisa Akabor
Always online... except when I'm offline.




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