When Sony announced the QX10 and its bigger cousin the QX100, it was welcomed with a lot of attention and awe, which was followed by a lot of questions.
We are demanding much more from our smartphone cameras and Sony wants to satisfy that demand in the most unique way possible - Transforming your smartphone into a point-and-shoot with an attachment.
The idea seems more concept than reality, which is why I am so excited to review the Sony QX10 - a concept any geek would dream of, but how does it hold up in the real world?
More concept than reality
The QX10 is simple in its idea, a lens system that can function on its own, but can connect to your smartphone via NFC and Wi-Fi and even attached physically to your smartphone's back to give that point-and-shoot "feel".
Lets answer the most important question first, does the QX10 deliver great image quality? Yes, well not outstanding, but certainly better than any smartphone cameras out there, and with 10x optical zoom, that just awesome.
With specs that are more point-and-shoot than smartphone camera, there is simply no doubt in getting great photos out of this attachment. (Click here to see the full specs)
However I soon began to realise that the QX10 is simply a point-and-shoot repackaged to look like a fully functioning lens. When looking at that point, it does make me wonder if the trouble and price of the QX10 is worth it?
Is it worth the trouble and price?
For starters, it is the long set up time. It takes quite a moment to be up and ready to capture important moments with the QX10, and such moments are frequently lost when I was trying to get my QX10 up and running with my smartphone.
Sure, I could use it independently without having connect it to my smartphone first since photos can be stored on to the micro SD card, but I'd like to see my shots on a viewfinder before taking them, and the only viewfinder for the QX10 is my phone.
Having the QX10 connected all the time isn't the ideal workaround too. First there are battery concerns, but you may also cease the connection when putting your phone to sleep as that will close the playmemories app that has to be used for the QX10 to work with the smartphone. Which means you will have to reconnect the QX10 to your smartphone all over again.
The connection will lag from time to time, and while it does irritate me on some occasions, it is not enough for me to put much weight on it as a con.
I also found a problem with the fundamental design of the QX10. Despite its very small size, I find it uncomfortable just placing it in my bag. The shape of the lens also means it will awkwardly bulge out on any small bag you may want to use to carry the device.
There are also some limitation if you do not use the QX10 with a micro SD card. For instance, you will not be able to record videos without one, and full sized 18.9mp photos that the lens can capture will take a very long time to send to your phone, thus adding to that "missing moments" problem.
A smaller version of the photos you took can be sent by default to your phone, but why settle for smaller version when you paid S$350 retail for this interesting piece of technology.
And speaking on price, this lens is going against other point-and-shoot cameras that also have NFC and Wi-Fi connectivity.
And comparing to the QX10, point-and-shoots will being able to capture moments faster, last longer with generally bigger batteries, have better video capabilities, have their own built in flash, and can be stored better given their general compact bar design.
With all these in mind, I'd say that the QX10 (and its nearly double the price QX100 cousin) is more of a statement than an actual tool. It gets a lot of attention when you use it out in the open, and it does perform well, especially being the first-of-its-kind. That by itself may be enough for some to buy the QX10.