When it comes to mobile photography, one could make the statement that Nokia right now is the company to watch. But firms like Samsung, Apple and even Sony cannot be dismissed either. Two of those tech giants can leverage their independent camera divisions for mobile and are seething with cash (sorry, HTC).
Today, Sony’s rumored ‘lens camera’ has been leaked and we’re at once curious and befuddled by the concept. But make no mistake, when this range of accessories goes public, comparisons to the Nokia Lumia 1020 will undoubtedly come forth.
So, what is it?
The Sony lens camera is exactly what it sounds like: it’s an all in one lens that has a sensor, Wi-Fi/NFC for pairing, and even a microSD card for storage. It’s literally a mini digital camera that you strap onto your Android or iOS device, giving a new level of quality to mobile users. The device pairs via NFC and connects over Wi-Fi making your smartphone basically a giant viewfinder.
See, now after reading that, it sounds less exciting, right?
The devices, DSC-QX10 and DSC-QX100, have some impressive specs with the entry-level version (pictured) said to feature a 1/2.3-inch 18-megapixel sensor behind an f/3.3-5.9 Sony G lens with 10X optical zoom. No price was given for either.
But will consumers want it?
While it’s an interesting solution, akin to Samsung’s S4 Zoom, it seems a bit clunky to us, especially when compared to a literal camera-phone like the Lumia 1020. For one, you have to carry this lens-camera in your pocket or bag and by the shape of it (round bulge) it probably won’t be too form fitting in your slacks.
Next, in order to use it, it has to pair via NFC-WiFi to make use of your screen, then the user needs to mount it to their phone. All of that takes away any potential spontaneity with the dual combo. It’s also unclear if you have access to the photos on the smartphone directly, though we’ll presume that you do.
We don’t want to criticize Sony too much here though. Mobile photography is still in its infancy and companies need to experiment to push the boundaries and see where we can go. Maybe some niche photo buffs will prefer the Sony method over carrying around a high quality point and shoot camera—indeed, it is smaller. Not to mention, it's quite impressive that they jammed basically a whole camera into a lens--think about that for a second.
But for the masses, the Nokia approach to us seems radical in all the core areas (sensor, technology), but conservative in others (size, integration), resulting an impressive device that feels familiar. That’s a great selling point too.
We've been saying that 2013 - 2014 would be the year of the camera for smartphones, and now competition is heating up. What do you think about Sony’s approach? Hit, miss or it’s completely dependent on price?