Last month, Sony announced two unusually shaped Wi-Fi-enabled digital cameras: The 18-megapixel Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 (with a 10x zoom lens), $250, and the 20-megapixel DSC-QX100 (with a 3.6x zoom lens), $500. The new models, available now, not only have a unique, cylindrical, lens-like shape (they look like SLR lenses), but they also give you the versatility of a digital camera and let you shoot quality photos and video on a smart phone.
This means you can use the phone's display to compose your shots. But these are not just smart-phone lenses, such as Photojojo and Olloclip. These are full-fledged standalone cameras, with sensors, processors, memory card slots, and batteries that work by connecting to a smart phone or tablet via Wi-Fi (or NFC, near-field communication, for Android phones).
Part of the promise of these cameras is that they have optical zoom, which is far superior to the digital zoom found on most smart phones. For example, the DSC-QX10 has a 25mm-250mm zoom, better than those of most phones except the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom. It also includes image stabilization, which few smart phones have.
But despite some promising features, Sony doesn't quite hit the mark. For instance, both cameras lack a built-in flash. And the QX10 doesn't have a very wide aperture range, which would provide superior low-light performance (at least in comparison to smart phones.) I had a chance to shoot with the Cyber-shot QX10, and used it with my iPhone 5. Here are my impressions.
The Cyber-shot QX10, was easy to set up and connect wirelessly with a smart phone; I used the iPhone 5. Unlike some cameras, you need to connect the QX10 to a computer via a USB cord to charge it. In the phone's settings, you must input the password that comes with your phone (found in the Quick Start Guide). On your mobile device, download Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile app to connect the two devices. When you open the app on your mobile device, you'll be connected to the QX10.
On the back of the Cybershot are two clips that allow you to attach it to the back of your phone. But you can also disconnect the camera, which is helpful for shooting hard-to-reach shots and selfies. Images and video are stored on microSD memory cards, but lower-resolution copies are also stored on your phone.