E-Mount for Smartphones

qx1 w smartphone.jpg

Sony today introduced a number of products at IFA in Europe, including the QX1, a US$400 smartphone accessory that accepts E-mount lenses, essentially making your smartphone into a mirrorless camera of sorts. While I was intrigued with the idea, I wasn’t thrilled with the actual QX10 and QX100 (the first models in the line, which have fixed lenses). Sony now seems to be trying to push the concept to its extreme by introducing two new models (the superzoom fixed lens QX30 is the other). Personally, I believe Samsung has the better idea about “connected cameras”: you don’t want to be juggling both your phone and camera; the phone ought to stay in your pocket and act as the communications hub for your camera, and you should be able to control where images go from the camera. Attaching your lens/camera thing to your phone just makes for an awkward phone and an awkward camera, and still forces you to deal with workflow issues.

In essence, the QX1 is like a Sony A5000 without the big LCD out back. Or much in the way of direct controls ;~). Or a hand grip ;~). In short, you have to use the smartphone to do all the heavy lifting, and last time I looked, the communications between the QX modules and iOS weren’t all that reliable, and had considerable lag. (Sony will release new software along with the QX1, so maybe this has improved.) 

As someone wrote me, it seems like the QX idea is a marketing-designed product that never made it past the initial conceptual idea to full rationalization. My suggestion: virtually all of the current Alpha E-mount cameras can do much the same thing with a smartphone, and they work better on their own, too. The QX1 seems like a product without a customer to me, though Sony’s marketing will likely get enough people to buy it.

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