Sony's detachable smartphone lenses aim to rejuvenate mobile photography

The QX-10 and QX-100 use connected smartphones for a viewfinder, but might be too niche for widespread adoption.

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The Independent Tech

In a bid to take mobile photography in a new direction Sony has launched a pair of stand-alone lenses that connect to smartphones via Wi-Fi or NFC.

In a bid to take mobile photography in a new direction Sony has launched a pair of stand-alone lens that connect to smartphones via Wi-Fi or NFC.

The QX-100 and QX-10 are essentially a new category of consumer product, offering the high quality photography of digital cameras whilst connecting to users’ smartphones for adjusting and cropping images, and sharing them via social media.

Sony hopes that the new products will be “a dream come true for anyone who loves their smartphone, but wants the photo quality that only a dedicated camera can deliver.”

Both the QX-100 and QX-10 connect to Android and iOS smartphones via Wi-Fi and can either be clipped onto the mobile itself or operated independently, using your phone’s screen as a viewfinder.

The QX-10 will cost around £170 a 10x optical zoom and 18.2MP lens. The QX-100 has a small 3.6x zoom but a bigger sensor with a resolution 20.2MP and an aperture that goes as wide as f1.8. It should retail for around £399.

The QX-10 will be better suited for close-ups of people and shot of distant landmarks (think holiday snaps) whilst the QX-100 seems aimed at a more professional market, offering manual control of the lens and better performance under low lighting.

The launch of the two lenses comes at the same time as Sony reveals its Z1 Xperia smartphone: a waterproof handset with a 5-inch HD screen that Sony is hoping will take on premium Android devices like the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4.

(Click here to read our in-depth hands-on with the Z1)

The QX-100 shown attached to the back of the Xperia Z1.

It remains to be seen whether or not Sony's innovations will be met with enthusiasm by customers. Mobile phones have eroded the sale of digital cameras but mainly because they are simply more convenient - toting around a second lens, no matter how well designed it is, might not bridge this gap.

Sony seems to recognise this, with Yosuke Aoki, a digital imaging spokesman for the firm, telling the BBC that the company is still discussing how many units to prepare. "We're waiting for after the Ifa announcement to see what the feedback will be to the models,” said Aoki.