The Next Level of Mobile Photography?
I remember my excitement ten years ago when I got my first point-and-shoot Canon camera. I soon moved up to a DSLR: the Nikon D10. In addition, I had a cell phone, a Gameboy, our family’s old iMac, an iPod, and an Xbox. I even had a PSP for a few years. Now, my smartphone has taken the place of my camera, casual gaming system, iPod, and phone. There is a problem though: my smartphone doesn’t have the best camera. Sure, the iPhone has a pretty amazing camera, and the Nokia Lumia 1020 has a whopping 41.0 megapixel camera. However, point-and-shoot cameras have evolved a whole lot since the Canon cameras of our youth. While people typically associate these cameras with okay and passable image quality, cameras like the Sony RX-100 II provide DSLR-level images and video in a smaller, compact frame. Honestly, I don’t want to carry my smartphone and a point-and-shoot camera. I like being able to take a picture and instantly post it to Instagram or email it to a friend. Sony thinks its QX100 and QX10 lens cameras are a middle ground. While the QX10 is 18.2 megapixels and has 10x optical zoom, I decided to buy the QX100 due to its higher image quality.
To say that Sony’s lens cameras are unique is an understatement. A lens camera is exactly what it sounds like: all of the internals of the camera are within the lens. The only thing that is left out is a flash, but the low light performance of the QX100 made that omission a mute point. Sony basically took its 2012 first generation RX-100 point-and-shoot and put it into a lens. Now, since the camera is just a lens, an Android or iOS phone can be used as a viewfinder for the camera. The QX100 uses an expandable clamp on the back of the camera to attach it to your smartphone. The lens camera and your smartphone connect wirelessly. The fact that the lens doesn’t have to be physically attached to your phone means that you can get some pretty cool shots. I’m planning on buying a miniature tripod that I will be able to strap to a tree branch for a photojournalism project for one of my classes.
I first used the camera on a day trip my girlfriend and I took to Newport, RI. As you can see, the QX100 takes some amazing pictures. I wouldn’t expect anything less, since it basically the same camera as the RX-100. You cannot use your regular camera app with the QX-100, so you’ll have to download Sony’s PlayMemories app to control the camera. Camera360 also has built-in support for the Sony lenses. You can choose to have your photos stored solely on the camera’s micro sd card or have an additional 2 megapixel or full resolution image sent to your phone after you take a picture. If you choose the former, you’ll have to use Sony’s app to send to your phone. While I agree that the iPhone takes some great photos, they just don’t have the quality, depth, and detail that the QX10 and QX100 produce. I never once had a problem with the lens’ battery life, but I did notice my phone’s battery life took a bit of a hit.
If you’re wondering: Do I need this? No, nobody needs this. However, if you want to be able to take pictures that you would frame and have far better quality than your smartphone, then I say go ahead. The QX10 comes in either black or white with gold trim (aimed at owners of the new gold iPhone 5s) and is available for $249.99. The black-only QX100 costs $499.99. While that is a lot of money, the original RX-100 cost $649.99 at launch and the new RX-100 II cost $749.99. The QX100 isn’t a smartphone accessory; it is a high-end point-and-shoot camera that uses your smartphone as a viewfinder. So should you get it? Well, that’s up to you. It could make a great holiday present, especially the QX10. However, if you don’t have a nice point-and-shoot and you don’t want to carry around two completely separate devices, this is your best bet.