Skip to main content

Sony’s ‘lens-style’ cameras for smartphones are real, weird, and … awesome?

sony debuts qx100 qx10 lens style cameras phil molyneux
Sony Electronics President and COO Phil Molyneux unveils the Cyber-shot QX10 during a launch event on September 4 in New York City. Image used with permission by copyright holder

Check out our review of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX100 lens-style camera.

Believe it or not, the rumors were true: Sony today officially announced plans to release two “lens-style” cameras, which add high-end camera features to your smartphone.

The new Cyber-shot DSC-QX100 and DSC-QX10 cameras clip onto any iPhone or Android smartphone (v. 3.1 or newer), and serve as a replacement for the smartphone’s built-in camera. Once the Sony lens-camera is clipped on, users simply fire up the PlayMemories Mobile app, which turns the smartphone’s screen into the Sony camera’s viewfinder and control panel. Photos snapped with the camera are saved on both the smartphone, via Wi-Fi, as well as to a Micro SD or Memory Stick micro card in the camera itself.

Sony Cyber-shot QX100 attached to a Sony Xperia smartphone.
Sony Cyber-shot QX100 attached to a Sony Xperia smartphone. Image used with permission by copyright holder

The QX100 features a 1-inch, 20.2 megapixel Exmor RCMOS sensor, a “fast f/1.8, wide-angle” Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T lens, 3.6x optical zoom, and Sony’s BIONZ image processor. In addition, the QX100 includes a focus and zoom ring for manual adjustments, and a range of shooting modes for different lighting and scene conditions.

The lower-end QX10 packs an 18.2 megapixel Exmor RCMOS sensors, and a Sony G Lens with 10x optical zoom. The QX10 also includes built-in Optical SteadyShot image stabilization; Program Auto, Intelligent Auto and Superior Auto modes; and will come in both black and white.

The QX100 will cost you $500, while the QX10 clocks in at $250.

Sony Cyber-shot QX10
Sony Cyber-shot QX10 in white. Image used with permission by copyright holder

Sony’s release of the QX100 and QX10 comes as as the point-and-shoot market succumbs to the popularity of smartphones as customers’ every-day cameras. Patrick Huang, the director of Sony’s Cyber-shot division, indicates that the new “lens-style” cameras represent the company’s “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” philosophy.

“With the new QX series 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,” said Huang in a statement. “We feel that these new products represent not only an evolution for the digital camera business, but a revolution in terms of redefining how cameras and smartphones can cooperatively flourish in today’s market.”

What do you think about Sony’s lens-style cameras? Crazy, lame, awesome, smart? Check out our hands-on with the QX100, and let us know down below.

Editors' Recommendations

Andrew Couts
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Features Editor for Digital Trends, Andrew Couts covers a wide swath of consumer technology topics, with particular focus on…
The Xperia 1 II brings Sony’s mirrorless camera tech to a smartphone
sony xperia 1 ii camera launch date xperia1ii lifestyle design man large

Sony’s Alpha-series mirrorless cameras are known for the best-in-class autofocus and fast continuous shooting, and those same features are now trickling down into Sony’s latest phone. The Xperia 1 II will ship July 24, with pre-sales beginning June 1, Sony announced today. The Android 10 device also borrows tech from Sony’s gaming and entertainment products.

No, the phone won't get a large APS-C or full-frame sensor like an Alpha camera, but Sony is integrating several key performance features of its camera line into the Xperia 1 II, like a 20-frames-per-second burst mode. That's as fast as the sports-oriented -- and $4,500 -- Sony A9 II mirrorless camera.

Read more
Sony wants to make cameras smarter with an onboard A.I. chip
sony a6400 review mem2

Over the last few years, tech companies such as Google have turned to machine learning to push the limits of what a camera can do without bulky hardware. Now, Sony, that dominates more than half of the image processing market, is throwing its hat in the ring with two new sensors that come equipped with an onboard A.I. chip.

Read more
The best cheap cameras

If you're looking for a camera that's an upgrade over your phone, but also costs less than your phone, the original Sony RX100 is the best cheap camera you can buy. Cheap, of course, is relative, but the first-generation RX100 offers great image quality in a compact size that rivals the best compact cameras of today. Better than buying used, Sony keeps older models around at lower prices, so that you can save a ton of money and still get a new-in-the-box camera with a full warranty.

Buying an older camera isn't the only way to find a good deal, however. The other strategy is to go with newer, but lower-end model. These entry-level cameras often lack the level of control offered by higher-end models, but often have image quality equal to more expensive models. For other choices, check out the best mirrorless cameras, best Black Friday camera deals, and best point-and-shoot cameras.
At a glance

Read more