Review: Sony Cybershot DSC-QX100

Digital Cameras Digital SLR Cameras Reviews

Someone from the Sony’s product design team is working overtime. The hard work shows in the overall design and features this product accompanies. The new Cybershot DSC-QX100 from Sony’s stable is a lens-style camera that clips to your smartphone, allowing you to take DSLR-quality pictures.

What’s more, since it is already clipped to your smartphone, you can then go ahead and share the pictures through social media apps. The camera features a 1-inch sensor and a Carl Zeiss f/1.8 lens, thus allowing you to also capture de-focused backgrounds on your photos.

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To use the camera, all you need to do is attach the QX100 to any smartphone using the provided clip, thus turning your smartphone into a DSLR that can shoot photos with resolutions of up to 20-megapixels. Since the QX100 is NFC and Wi-Fi enabled, you can use ether of the technologies to pair the camera with your smartphone. In addition, the QX100 is compatible with both iOS and Android devices.

Fixing the camera to your smartphone is easy – on the back are two arms which can be lifted up. One of them is spring loaded so you can open it up to place your smartphone. The arms are rubberised which means it can grip your smartphone very securely. The camera doesn’t have to be physically connected to your camera, the Wi-Fi has a range of 10m, so you can set it up on a tripod and shoot remotely.

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On the side is a shutter release and zoom control and under the cover which has the Zeiss logo on is the connector for the USB cable and slot for a MicroSD / M2 memory card. On the other side is a small LCD display which tells you how much power is left. Battery life is rated at 220 shots according to CIPA test results, it’s worth noting that the battery can only be charge by USB unless you purchase an optional AC adapter.

Once the QX100 is connected to your smartphone, you can use Sony’s free PlayMemories app to access all its features and operate the camera. The app also allows you to organise, edit, and share you photos from within you smartphone. Controls such as shutter speed, zoom, aperture, exposure, white balance and so on can also be accessed through the PlayMemories app.

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That’s not all. The QX100 in itself can also be used uncoupled from the smartphone. Hold the camera in one hand and your phone in the other, or use the universal tripod screw to mount your camera to any number of mounts. Since your phone is now paired with the camera, you can literally shoot your pictures from anywhere in the room.

The QX100 comes with an optical zoom capability of 3.6x. To help keep images as steady as possible there is Optical SteadyShot, which reduces the effect of shaky hands. You can manually focus or use your smartphone screen to tap your focus point. The QX100 has both Intelligent and Superior auto modes, as well as a P mode and aperture priority shooting. There is also a video mode which allows you to shoot in full 1080p HD in MP4 video format.

Using the QX100 with the PlayMemories app is quite intuitive. However, there are a few quirks Sony might want to address. For one, while reiewing the QX100 with several smartphones, we found that certain older iOS and Android devices showed greater lag in the live view image on the screen. Also, by default, once you capture a picture, it appears on the phone’s screen for review.

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But once you have reviewed the photo and returned back to the shooting screen, there’s no way to review images saved to your smartphone gallery again, without breaking the connection. In addition, it’s a little frustrating that everytime to switch the camera off, you need to reconnect next time, which may mean you miss your shot. Another drawback is that you’ll be draining the battery on your smartphone, when using the QX100. Also, there isn’t an option to use the flash on the smartphone, and the QX100 does not feature one.

While everything looks fine on paper and works well in real world tests, in this age of mobility, we are not sure how many people out there would actually want to carry around two devices, just to capture images. The QX100 is a bit bulky and hence less pocketable, than most smartphones and point-and-shoots out there. Granted, the specs are high-end, but so is the price tag of AED 1699.

This move by Sony to take all the best parts from its Cybershot range and pack it all into a lens-style camera is commendable. While the QX100 is indeed a unique product, we really would want to see as to how well it is received by customers.

Price: AED 1699

Specifications:
Optical Zoom: 3.6x
Image Sensor: 20.1-Megapixels
Sensor Type: Back-lit CMOS (B.S.I.)
Sensor Size: 1-inch
ISO Sensitivity: 160 – 25600
Movie Mode: Yes
Video Resolution: 1920×1080
Video FPS: 30
Weight: 165-gms

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Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is easily excited by the smallest of technologies around. He is an Android fanboy at heart, who also owns an iPhone, a Windows Phone, and a BlackBerry. Though he uses a MacBook Pro at work, he also uses a Windows PC, an Xbox One and an Xbox 360 for all his gaming requirements. True gadget lover at heart!