Sunday, September 29, 2013, 07:31 am PT (10:31 am ET)
Review: Sony's Cyber-shot QX10 wireless camera lens for iPhone [u]
We're not professional photographers, so rather than going into great detail comparing the QX10 to other point-and-shoots, we've chosen to focus on the unique convenience, functionality and capabilities in our review. That said, image quality is obviously one of the most important aspects of a camera, so we'll address it briefly here.
Photos with the QX10 are nice, and are an improvement over the iPhone 5s. We found the focus with the QX10 to be very good, and pictures were sufficiently crisp.
Colors captured by the QX10 were more vibrant, while pictures on the iPhone 5s were more subdued. The QX10 also offers more detail than a smaller smartphone camera can provide.
QX10 and iPhone 5s photos follow. Click for full resolution.
Of course, the 10x optical zoom of the QX10 is an area where the iPhone can't compete. We snapped pictures and video from the bleachers of Yankee stadium that gave us an up-close look at the batter at home plate. Trying to do the same on an iPhone with digital zoom results in a pixelated, ugly mess. Zoomed QX10 and iPhone 5s pictures follow.
In low light, we felt the iPhone 5s camera, and Apple's native Camera app with automatic adjustments, actually produced the better quality image. Without flash, the iPhone 5s camera compensated for the low light, while pictures in the same lighting with the QX10 were not as sharp.
One trick we found to shoot videos or photos in low-light with the QX10 was to use the flashlight function Apple added to iOS 7 through the Control Center menu. The PlayMemories app does not allow control of the iPhone camera flash for snapping pictures.
For video, both were strong performers capable of 1080p high definition, but the 10x zoom capabilities of the QX10 were again a huge benefit. For a videographer on the go, the QX10 would be a great pairing with Apple's iPhone.
The truth is many decent compact digital cameras available these days already come with built-in Wi-Fi. These usually require users to rely on somewhat clunky third-party apps to transfer files. From there, users can edit and upload from their phone on the go.
The Sony WX200, from which the QX10 lens has been largely borrowed, features built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, but lacks the touch screen functionality on which the QX10 relies. The QX10 is also more portable, though setting it up and connecting it to an iPhone is a time consuming process that could cause users to miss that perfect photo.
Despite its limitations, we think there is a definite market for the QX10 — smartphone users who want an upgraded camera, strong zoom capabilities, convenient portability, and the numerous benefits that smartphone connectivity offers.
And having a lens with its own internal storage is another key. While Apple's iPhone maxes out at 64 gigabytes of capacity, the QX10 can house a 64-gigabyte MicroSD card entirely devoted to photos and videos. And because images can be reviewed before they're transferred to the iPhone, unnecessary shots won't take up space on your smartphone.
Though the QX10 has serious limitations, there's a lot of potential here. And what it currently offers is unique enough that the device is worth a try. If Sony can improve the PlayMemories app to improve reliability, add more functionality, and, most importantly, speed up the connection process, the QX10 would be easy to recommend. We'd also welcome a third-party camera app that could solve those issues.
But as it currently stands, users should try before they buy.
Updated score: 3 out of 5
- Conveniently portable
- Wireless connectivity offers new possibilities
- 10x zoom is great
- Sony's iPhone app needs work (but has been improved)
- Setup time could cost users a great shot
- Image quality in normal conditions is better than iPhone 5s — but not by a considerable amount
Pricing and availability
The QX10 has a suggested price of $249.99. It can be purchased direct through Sony, as well as resellers such as Amazon:
Amazon QX10 (black)- $248.00
Amazon QX10 (white)- $248.00
B&H Photo QX10 (black)- $248.00
B&H Photo QX10 (white)- $248.00
MacMall QX10 (black)- $259.00
MacMall QX10 (white)- $259.00
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