Manufacturers have been including cameras in mobile phones for over a decade and as phones get more powerful and portable, so have the built-in cameras. With these advances in camera technologies, consumers want to be able to take high quality photos from a device that comes in a fairly small package. The challenge that most manufacturers face is where to draw the line, in terms of the quality and functionality of the cameras that they include. With a device like the QX100 which is based around the idea of being attached to a Smartphone, it is not surprising that there is some criticism to why consumers need a separate camera that is controlled via their Smartphone.
It does seem as though Sony have chosen an interesting path, in order to explore new ways that consumers will use detachable cameras with their Smartphones. The introduction of their QX range of lens-style cameras to the Australian market, has definitely thrown a spanner in the works with semi-professional compact cameras which are controllable by any Android or iOS device.
The QX100 has been available in Australia for a couple of months, though at the initial release of the device there were number of features that were not available which would mean that the device would not be tested to its full potential. As features such as an adjustable ISO Setting, full 1080p recording and Shutter speed priority were not available at the initial release, it was good to get a review unit of the QX100 once these features had been added.
When first unpacking the QX100 I was fairly surprised at how small the device was, taking into consideration all of the features and functionality that has been crammed into this lens body. One key concern that I have discussed with family and friends while reviewing the QX100 is the portability of the camera, as the QX100 may be too big to carry around in most pockets. Alternatively for me I wasn’t too fussed over the physical size of the camera, as the camera can be easily carried around in a backpack, handbag or messenger bag for quick access when you may want to attach it to your Smartphone.
When people think of a compact camera, it is not unusual to expect the device to have a screen so that the user can easily view what they are taking a photo of or recording. With the QX Lens-style cameras, most of the hardware controls that you would generally find on a compact camera have been removed. As the QX Lens-style cameras are controlled via the user’s Android or iOS Smartphone, these controls and the camera’s viewfinder are accessible via the PlayMemories Mobile app.
My first thoughts on the build quality of the QX100, is that it does feel like a well manufactured device. The outer shell of the camera feels solid and fairly well pieced together. The microSD slot and USB port are covered by a simple plastic flap, though it doesn’t feel as though this cover will break after a couple of years of general wear and tear. When moving the camera around, you can feel a slight movement within the body of the camera. This is nothing to be worried about as the QX100 does contain In-lens Optical stabilisation.
The fine focus ring on the QX100 feels as though there is a slight amount of resistance while turning the ring, this means that the user can make slight responsive changes to focus on certain objects. The shutter button and zoom slider also feel as though they are well made, fortunately these don’t feel as though they will break if the user was to press too hard.
Included with the QX100 is a mount to attach the camera to any Android or iOS Smartphone, I have tested this attachment mount with My Xperia Z1 and a Galaxy note 2 which work really well providing you don’t have a flip cover on. When attaching the camera to the phone, I noticed there is a gap where you can pull the phone back and forth a bit in the mount, this is primarily done so users can use a Smartphone of practically any size.
Out of the box the camera will not have full 1080p video recording, adjustable ISO control or shutter speed priority functionality, therefore it would be a good idea to update to the latest firmware as soon as possible to be able to use these features.
Unfortunately to use the QX100 with your Android or iOS Smartphone, you do need to have the PlayMemories mobile app installed on your phone. While using the PlayMemories app to control the QX100 I found the app to work relatively well, although there was the rare occasion that I noticed a few performance issues where the app would freeze for a couple of seconds.
The PlayMemories app will also only display photos and videos that have been taken with the application, therefore if you decide to take photos without having the camera connected to your phone, these photos can only be accessed by connecting the camera to a computer.
I have had a number of people ask me while I have been reviewing the QX100, why would you need a separate camera that can be connected and controlled via a Smartphone? The answer to this is fairly difficult, as there are a number of SLR and compact cameras out on the market at the moment which have very similar connectivity features to the QX range. Not to mention some high-end Smartphones that can also take similar quality photos. So why would someone who is moderately into photography choose the QX100 over a similar compact camera or even a SLR? The QX lens-style cameras weren’t designed to be a replacement for compact or SLR cameras, though these cameras are more focused on improving the type of photography that users can take with their smartphones.
Ideally the QX100 was designed to capture SLR quality photos and videos in a device that is practically the same size as a lens from a compact camera. For me, I can see myself using the QX100 a lot as it is a simple, easy to operate camera that I can take practically anywhere in a backpack. Though at $599 for the QX100 from Sony Australia, it is easy to see why this camera is not on a lot of christmas shopping lists. Although if you’re not too fussed with having as many fancy features (e.g. aperture priority, higher MP sensor), the QX10 may be a reasonable alternative at the more affordable price of $279.
Thankyou again to Jamie from Sony Australia for allowing me to review the QX100.