Richard Sibley explains why we should get over our fixed ideas of what a camera should look like. Read the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX100 and QX10 review...
Image: The QX cameras connect wirelessly to a smartphone or tablet
It would be quite easy to dismiss the QX cameras as novelties, but the technology they employ is borrowed straight from existing Sony cameras. The QX10 has a 10x optical zoom and a 1/2.3in, 18.9-million-pixel, compact camera sensor. The QX100 has an even better specification, boasting a 1in, 20.9-million-pixel CMOS sensor paired with an f/1.8 3.6x Carl Zeiss lens. Effectively, the QX10 and QX100 are the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-WX150 and RX100 II cameras respectively, minus the LCD screens and packed in a different body.
Both cameras have tripod sockets and take Micro SD cards, which plug into small covered sockets on the side of the cameras. At the back is a compartment for a battery, which is charged via an increasingly common micro USB socket. A tiny LCD screen, smaller than a little fingernail, shows the battery life and whether a Micro SD card is installed. Sadly, the display does not show the number of remaining images that can be recorded to the memory card.
There are few physical controls on the QX cameras, with just a zoom toggle, shutter button and power switch on the exterior. All the other controls are accessed via the Sony Play Memories Mobile app for iOS and Android devices. The QX cameras connect via Wi-Fi to a smart device and the Sony app then streams the live view from the cameras.
Each camera provides photographers with a different level of control. The more consumer-targeted QX10 is quite limited, with just auto, intelligent auto and program modes available. Exposure compensation is available in program mode, and it is possible to change the white-balance setting.
The QX100 is more advanced, adding aperture priority and manual focusing. However, it still lacks a few key features that would really make it stand out. On both cameras the ISO sensitivity is set automatically, and images are only saved as JPEG files, with no option to save raw images.
While the point-and-shoot market should be quite happy with the QX10’s automatic ISO setting and shouldn’t miss a raw-shooting mode, those investing in the high-quality 1in sensor and f/1.8-4.9 3.6x Carl Zeiss zoom lens will demand more control.
Larger raw files could easily be saved to the memory card, with a lower 2-million-pixel file saved to the connected device. Currently, there is the option to save a full-resolution JPEG to the QX camera and a 2-million-pixel image to the smart device, then transfer full-resolution images on an individual basis. Working in this way is clearly designed to preserve space on the smart device by not filling it with high-resolution files when most people will simply upload them to Instagram or Facebook. It also saves the confusion of trying to transfer raw images to the device and then finding that these cannot be opened in the most commonly used mobile image-editing software. Of course, the solution would be to save raw and JPEG images to the internal QX camera memory, and a low-resolution image to the connected device, but then things become complicated and the device would potentially slow down. However, I still think that most enthusiast photographers want the option to shoot raw images.