Product Review: Sony QX100 Camera

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited by the Sony team to test drive one of their latest creations – the DSC-QX100 camera. I had seen images of it before floating around the web and thought it was just a large attachment for a smartphone, but it’s a lot more than that and finally got the opportunity to figure out the ins and outs of it.

What Is It?

A portable camera lens that is about 1.5x the size of a small tuna can (albeit 2x the weight) that can take hi-resolution photos. It works with smartphones (Android/iOS only) but can also be used by itself without a phone – it just means you won’t know what photos you’re taking until you upload them to your computer.

Specs are 20-megapixel, F/1.8-4.9 Carl Zeiss zoom lens with 3.6x optical zoom

How’s It Work?

First you need to install the Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile app. After that, the lens connects to the phone through its own WiFi network, utilising the phone as a display screen. This means that you can point the lens anywhere and the image will project to your phone. I’ve got a Samsung phone with NFC which lets me connect by just tapping the lens to my phone, but others will need to manually open the app and turn on the lens to get it working. After that, you just point the lens and watch the display on your phone. Your phone screen will also be where you can tap to adjust the focus and zoom before hitting the shutter icon to take a photo. It then saves a lo-res version on your phone and a hi-res version on the external memory card which is in the lens.

Sony QX100 in action!

It takes a while to get used to using the lens, especially coordinating both hands and keeping the one holding the lens dead still. But otherwise it’s quite intuitive and fun to use, also enabling you to take photos from different angles that might be more difficult otherwise.

For those with shaky hands or wanting a bit more stability, there’s also an option to attach it to your phone, essentially turning it into a compact camera. I find it a lot easier to use this way but it does turn your phone into a large clunky object.

Test Drive

We were testing the Sony lens in a low light environment and despite the poor lighting, it managed to take pretty decent photos! The focus and resolution is also really good, out performing any smartphone that I’ve played with and mirroring that of actual cameras. Below are some actual photos taken on the night with the Sony QX100:

Verdict

I’m thoroughly impressed by the camera and functionality. It’s a very practical option for those without portable cameras (ie. reliant on their smartphone camera) and those with huge heavy DLSR cameras, but otherwise probably not the best route for owners of small compact cameras since it’s roughly the same size and weight (albeit in a different shape). At a price of AUD$599, you’ll need to consider if you’re better off getting a lower-priced compact camera which takes moderate photos or if you’d like beautiful hi-res photos without the $1k+ price tag of a DLSR. For a food blogger, it’s a great compact solution to subtlety snap up food photos from high angles without having to loom over my food with a giant camera, and would also pair up quite nicely for travellers and photo-buffs.

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