Sony's new QX10/QX100 cameras are a marriage between Internet and high-res Photograph
Is it still a camera if there's no viewfinder or display screen? Sony just introduced a pair of cameras meant to pair with smart phones. But these are cameras unlike any we've ever seen before. They're just a lens, sensor, and memory card, no display screen or viewfinder. Which might leave you wondering just how to compose a shot. However, these cameras are meant to clip to the back of a smart phone, and use the smart phone as the display.
The two cameras - DSC-QX10 and DSC-QX100 - collectively rethink in a major way how you use a camera.
They differ on zoom range and resolution.
The QX100 (list price $499) takes 20.9 megapixel pictures, records onto Memory Stick Micro / microSD Memory Card / microSDHC Memory Card, has a 3.6x optical zoom over a zoom range (35mm equivalent) from 28mm-100mm .. hence, slightly wide angle to slightly telephoto. Sensitivity goes to ISO 12800 meaning it'll be a champ in low-light situations. Image dimensions in the highest resolution are 5,472 x 3,648. It shoots MP4 movies in 1440 x 1080, 30 fps.
The QX10 (list price $249) takes 18 megapixels, has a 10x optical zoom equivalent to (35mm equivalent) 27.5mm-275mm .. hence, slightly wide angle to really long telephoto. Highest resolution pictures are 4,896 x 3,672, and the movie mode records MP4's in 1440 x 1080, 30 fps. Sensitivity also goes to ISO12800.
They both clip to a smart phone - either iOS or Android - and both have a standard tripod mount.
The phones can also be used uncoupled from the smart phone. For example, you could shoot a self portrait by holding the lens towards you, while holding the smart phone somewhere else. Or you could mount the lens on a gorillapod-like tripod, attach that somewhere pointed at a scene, then from a convenient location nearby control the lens and take pictures.
Images are saved both to the lens, and into the smart phone. There are a selection of applications to do various things with the pictures like sharing onto facebook or that ilk, or doing special processing.
The connection between the lens/camera and the smart phone is with either NFC or WiFi.
What does this mean in the bigger picture? Why did I say this represents a re-think of how we use cameras?
Up until now we either used the smart phone camera as a somewhat kind of capable camera that was just good enough to not require carrying a "real camera" around, even if that "real" camera was just a small point-and-shoot. For most people the smart phone camera is good enough for lots of photography the typical people do. That should be impacting the low end of the camera market with the smart phone replacing most of what is done with small low-end point-and-shoot cameras.
Those of us who are more serious photographers, or just want to do something more serious, we want something more than the smart phone. But then we're living in two worlds. One world is the highly connected smart phone, where we can instantly tweet or facebook a picture right away, and the other world is the unconnected camera that has zero ability to connect with the Internet.
What these cameras do is bridge a credible high resolution camera with good quality lenses, attaching it to the highly connected smart phone. It means you can take a high resolution picture, instantly bring it into your mobile device, work with it with apps like the mobile iPhoto application, and instantly upload it to places like Facebook.