Skip to main content

Sony 'lens camera' will offer competition to the Lumia 1020, but looks awkward

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?

Source: SonyAlphaRumors; via AndroidCentral

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

  • lol looks sh*t !!! Who would want to carry this over the actual camera?
  • The 1020 is the current short term future option. Nobody else can touch it for now, hence the crude, haphazard attempts by other competitors. Sony are irrelevant anyway in the smartphone war, they are sp far behind Nokia and Samsung, its untrue. I remember Kodak had a 10x optical zoom in a compact camera with no physical zoom lens, using two 5x lens' with different ranges on each. If anyone gets hold of this patent from the now defunct company, that could blow even the 1020 away...
  • Kodak sold a lot of their patents to Apple...............I hope not this one
  • So you don't want apple to put out a competitive, genuinely innovative option simply because they're apple, or what? I welcome any competitive offerings from everyone. If Apple puts together a better camera than Nokia (not even close yet), then they deserve it. All it does is serve to push specs and user experience forward, and lower prices. I cheer for my favorites, but I still would love to see apple and Samsung succeed. That just means lower prices for all, and more innovation from Nokia!
  • It didn't have OIS, and wasn't actually mega thin... But it was thinner than say the bulge on the S4 zoom, and this was a few years ago, so whoever has got the patent, could have a lot more refined one, and incorporate OIS. As it stands though, nobody can touch Nokia for camera technology, even ultrapixel has been a failure, Nokia have spent too much time and money developing their technologies in partnership with a top class partner (Zeiss) and despite the 808 being out 2.5 years and the 920 almost a year, so plenty of warning, the competition have, on this occasion, been caught napping.
  • Can this optical zoom lens fit in to 1020. Do NL1020 has all the hardware for it?
  • Wasnt it a group of companies that went in with apple?
  • Is it April 1st? This looks ridiculous, not to mention who would carry this around just in case you need it
  • Well, if its Apple, Microsoft has a cross licensing agreement with Apple. Maybe they can bring it to WP as well.
  • But again there are people who still like to buy sh*t. :D
  • Looks kinda awkward ( so is the 1020's camera grip and battery accesory) but I might get one if the image quality is great , supports my phone of choice and cost below $200. Nokia should probably look into this kind of accesory. The 1020's camera UI and this will be fantastic. 
  • Yeah, the price will be interesting. But my guess is it wouldn't be less than $300. But a lot will hinge on that...
  • Its Sony so we know it won't be cheap. In any case, this attachable lens makes the phone less ergonomic and since it requires NFC to pair will drain battery faster.
  • Not to mention it is connected by wi fi also. this might spawn a slew of similar accesories but then again it might not.
    In terms of catching on, I really don't see it doing so as the whole thing about a point and shoot is just that - point and shoot. Not fiddle around with some clunky attachment. Never the less the fact that they managed to cram a whole camera into it is pretty impressive.
  • I think this would be a great thing for non Nokia WP devices.. If it's going to support Android, and iOS, then it needs to have support for all WP devices as well.. It just makes WP look bad when the majority of smartphones in the world can do something, and WP can't.. Also, not everyone who is interested in WP is willing to buy a Nokia device, and this might be even more true as the others start to pull their heads out their asses, and make more WP devices.. I'm just trying to look at this in a logical way instead of doing what iDroid fans do and just dismiss something because its new and different.. Peripheral devices like this thing, and controllers are important for WP to have if the others have them... While I find this seriously defeating the purpose of the 1020 I have to remind myself that not every WP fan wants a 1020, and some might loathe at the idea of purchasing a Nokia device,,, as crazy as it may sound... IDK.. My theory towards WP succeeding is that if the others can do something, or have something, then WP better as well.
  • It will be interesting to see the price but I can't see this coming in at a value where it will be attractive coupled with a high value smart phone.
  • Something like this was bound to happen and...boom!! First!!
  • Go home Sony, u r drunk.
  • Lol
  • Exactly
  • No, their making options for people.. There's nothing wrong with that... Some of you WP users have forgotten what it's like to have options.. Not all WP devices are Nokia devices, and this would benefit Samsung and HTC WP devices.. Just the fact that WP could support this thing the same as iDroid would give WP more credibility.. Don't be like those closed minded iDroid fans and dismiss somthing because it's new, and different...
  • Sony's all set to try its luck :P
  • Its a case of how many things do you want to carry around with you. With the Nokia, you need one thing. Not a few. I saw Samsung's hideous attempt to shy light away from the 1020 basically a galaxy s4 with some zoomable Samsung camera on the back. With the width half as wide as a house brick. Honestly for the future of mobile photography, the Nokia Lumia 1020 is the way forward. Or any high end wp8 Lumia for that matter.
  • click the link to see Samsung's attempt. Be advised small children will cry and wet themselves. So will grown ups cuz its hilarious.
  • I don't know what the author of the article is smoking. I don't want to be caught dead with this abomination.
  • They review literally every gadget. Got a tv show in the UK which is very popular. But I agree it is an abomination. Every Samsung galaxy since the s3 has been. But s4 zoom has been rushed. It shouldn't have been done. But being a Samsung galaxy, watch it walk of the shelves.
  • The 1020 camera will still be better. Watch as Nokia improves their camera tech year over year making these clunky awkward solutions less and less relevant and ever reducing the gap between a dedicated camera and an all in one smart device.
  • Dude my RX100 photos are already better than lumia 1020. I don't see how the lumia 1020 will beat the QX100, which by the way will have RX100II tech inside
  • Yes, but the thing is going to cost a minimum of $399........this is sony after all - my bet is that it will be $299 for entry level, and $399 for the QX version.............what people don't see is that this is really not a portable solution. If your going to carry that lensamera around with you, why not just carry the real camera. Why bother attaching the clunky battery eating thing to your cell phone. That's the difference between the 1020 and this, the 1020, is (1) device.....this is not
  • Exactly. I can easily slip the 1020 into my jeans pocket and take respectable pictures at any time with it. People using this will have to take 2 things out of their cases, set them up, pair them then take pictures. Why not just get a bloody camera?
  • your rx100 also cost 750 and is bulky
  • I want an RX100 so bad, how is it?
  • Your RX100 is a dedicated camera. His comment was talking about camera tech on smartphones. Smartphone cameras have been making dedicated cameras less relevant for several years now. You see less and less people bringing dedicated cameras to events and just using their phones. As the picture quality of phones gets better, you will see less dedicated cameras around. They are just more convenient and the image quality is starting to matches the results of point & shoot cameras from a few years ago. Even if the smartphone camera never truly catches up to a dedicated camera, people will still use dedicated cameras less and they will become niche tools for amateur and professional photographers.
  • They should have partnered with apple and let them brand it. Make it white and calle it iSomething. Sheeple would flock and Geniuses would be trampled.
  • Sounds stupid to say the least. Might as well carry a good compact digital camera with 10x optical zoom.
  • Example, Canon SX230 HS
  • I'm thinking that it took Nokia 5 years to make 808 so Samsung and Sony just don't have time to actually develop a pocketable supercamerasmartphone. This lens thing is a lot more niche than 1080. You can't have the lens attached at all times meaning you'd need a separate bad for it....and when you cross that line why not get a proper camera to carry around.
  • I am thinking the same. I might just as well wip out a point and shoot. Even better is the point and shoot has a wifi or bluetooth connection to my cell phone. Why make all this fuzz to attach this thing to the phone before taking the picture? Does Sony understand why we want to carry a cell phone?
  • Sony along with iPhone will most probably release some sort of unisex handbag so the people that use their tech can carry their accessories with them at all times. I can understand having different lenses for some big professional dslr camera that cost a few thousand, but on a mobile phone having detachable lenses is pretty pointless. The 1020 has cracked it though.
  • The Android buffs will simply carry this in their man-purse, er, I mean, European hand bag.
  • I just feel if you have to strap something to a phone, then it defeats the point. May as well just get a nice canon rebel, with a good lens add on.
  • There is a segment of society that embraces the "strap-on". Might be popular with that crowd.
  • im not one to bash sony for making an effort but nokias approach seems more practical and less cumbersome when speaking in terms of mobile photography.
  • +1 and nice to see you here agian old friend :P
  • Likewise lol just went back to mobile with a 925 awesome phone
  • OMG, this is what I would expect some Chinese ripoff of the 1020 to look like.
    This is hilarious.  I saw something like this when I was watchin You Only Live Twice on netflix last night.
  • "looks awkward" is an understatement. If i am to carry around lenses, then i don't see why i wouldn't want to carry around a dedicated smaller camera with all the benifits that come along with that.
  • Precisely! But then Nokia's solution is far better and at the pace at which nokia is moving, who knows what amazing technology they got in their labs. Dan, just asking, you got any clue about Nokia's next-gen camera tech?
  • Sorry, no. No idea, though they did invest in Pelican.
  • That's hideous. You'd have to be a complete imbecile to want that.
  • Its not better than 1020 but its innovative, i would say very innovative. Does take away the spontaneity of shooting but yeah freaking amazing that "they jammed basically a whole camera into a lens ". Great concept indeed :)
  • This actually looks like a decent accessory, I'll go against all the bias in the comments. Lumia 920 is less awkward than this sure, but there's no taking away from a good sensor with a big lens. The weight on that bad boy might be too much, but I applaud Sony for taking a 'risk', much like Nokia has been doing. Who knows, in the future this could be very thin and light, and for fast shots you use the normal camera on phone, and for landscapes and scenes and whatnot, this could be a great attachment. Course, it'll probably be priced to leave, knowing Sony... But why not take a risk.
  • Looks very clunky, but this trend is potentially dangerous for Nokia... you see once iOS get an accessory that allows the iSheep to take great pics they have the power of mass users to spread the word and suddenly the 1020 will become a museum piece. Its sad and i don't agree with this, but its all about volume and until WP / Nokia is a mass market product then they'll innovate and then Apple will steal the show a few months later. I'm sure there will be many features in the iphone 5s that the Lumia already has but because Apple release it with razzmatazz and the media love them we'll always be in 3rd place :-(
  • + 1 sad one.
  • Don't forget it still uses NFC. Something that iPhones don't have yet.
  • True, but with rumors that the iPhone 5s will support NFC you can bet the media will say that Apple have innovated again :-(
  • Copy catters..
  • What exactly did they copy, may I ask?
  • No, you may not ask.
  • May I apologize for some of my WP brothers responding like the typical iDroid fan who dismisses WP just because it's new, and different.. Personally I love the idea of the 1020 with a great camera built in... But, I think the Sony device looks cool, and is going to definitely yield some great pictures.. Sony makes great cameras period... But, I'm seriously disappointed in my WP/Nokia fans because we all know if this thing had a big fat Nokia stamp on it everyone here would be going nutz❗... I hope if Sony gives support for this camera to iDroid, then they let WP devices support it as well because that just adds credibility to the WP platform... Its never good to let hatred of other things get in the way of logical thinking.. My first thought was "This defeats the purpose of the 1020".. Then I remembered that not everyone who wants a WP device is going to like the 1020, 1030, 1040, or Nokia devices in general.. Maybe a user of a HTC 8x might find this interesting... It's just that I've been struggling with closed minded iDroid fans, mostly Android fans, for a long time now, And I refuse to drop to their level... BTW I use a Red Nokia Lumia 920... So, if any WP fans want to hate you can't tell me $hit,, because I'm old money WP,, I'm talking Windows Mobile old money❕
  • Way to go, brother! :)
  • No, rodney, even if this device had a Nokia stamp, I would not touch it with a barge pole.
  • +1
  • That's just your opinion.. There are a lot of people who might want to use this for whatever reason they please, and WP being included on the list of platforms that are compatible with things like this can only be a good thing... Who gives a flip if I don't like it, or you don't like it... It's another option, and WP needs as many options as the others... Nevertheless, I beg to differ that you wouldn't be excited if Nokia came up with this first.. How long do you think I've been around son..
  • Ugh.  Just carry around an actual camera if you're going to have some separate bulky thing in addition to your phone.  This makes no sense.
  • I can see some advantages of the device,, not comparing it to anything else is best for perspective on it... Most cameras aren't connected the same way smartphones are to the web, and the apps a smartphone has would give a device like this unlimited possibilities.. Not to mention that people could use this on existing lower end devices with poor cameras... Judging by the way the thing looks, and that Sony makes terrific cameras, we should be holding our breath to see the quality of the photos this thing will produce... If this thing is successful then Nokia will have to do something similar will its next camera grip... I wouldn't dismiss any new innovations in the smartphone market just yet... Everything is just getting started... Remember those who said WP would never amount to anything❔... We don't want to be like them....
  • I think this product has 2 advantages over the 1020: It supports iOS (7? NFC) & Android devices and ALL carriers.  That's huge!  No need to jump to AT&T to get it (yes, I realize this is likely a temporary restriction on the 1020 tech). It seems that it might provide more of a DSLR/SLR look & feel to the camera experience which will be very attractive to those who are more concerned with looking like a photographer than the convenience of the all-in-one 1020. Personally, I wouldn't want to carry it around or have to find it in my wife's purse so I can attach it before I can use it.  The WP camera has been, for a couple of years, the most convenient and this won't change that.
  • The thing is the added price. $200? Sure, impressive. $500 or more (especially for the one with Zeiss)? Now we're talking small margins and it not being widely adopted.
  • Wow!  That's the first time Daniel's ever responded to one of my posts.
    I feel honored. 
  • Sammy looks to be a little desperate to me.
  • Go through all that trouble might as well just a regular camera. Speaking of tanks, damn!
  • Yep, I'm sold! Why carry around a sleek 1020 when I could look like a true pro with this? Awesome!!!!!! /s
  • Lol. the comments on androidcentral about how awesome this is, is killing me.
    oh well lol
  • Good for Sony then.
  • What kind of Android device do you have❔
  • This would only be good if you are going into a situation where you know you will be taking a lot of pictures.  Zoos, museums, sports events would all be great places.  I imagine the price will be the prohibitive factor here.  If you are really into photography you probably have an SLR.  The average picturetaker won't want anything to do with this.
  • Wow, that's exactly what the haters said about the 1020.. EXACTLY what the haters said❗
  • I think the 1020 makes much more sense than this thing.  The 1020 makes taking great pictures easy.  This makes taking great pictures more of a hassle.  It's pretty easy to see the difference, but I know what you're saying.  I read a lot of the same things.
  • Its no different than strapping on the camera grip.. Maybe it would be good for other WP Devices than Nokia devices.. Remember those❔... Lol.. It just would add more credibility to WP if our platform supported this along with the others.. I look at it the same way I see someone with a GS4 being able to use a controller, but the Ativ S not having support because it's "WP"... I'm tired of that $hit..
  • Samsung way? Android camera?
    Who needs this when you can buy Lumia 1020?
  • Nokia should make a camera grip that has an optical zoom lens on it. Make it wide enough to let in enough light. Dont need it to be 10x optical zoom. Don't want it too thick. Maybe just 3x.
  • That would admittedly be awesome.
  • Fantastic idea!  I hope they're paying attention to you.
  • Brilliant!
  • I had the same idea when the grip for the 1020 was first leaked! I think Nokia should have had the camera centered in the hump at back, and designed the camera grip such that it would allow for interchangeable lenses. This would give people the ability to take great pictures all the time, and have great optical zoom when needed.
  • Alright. It's a plan then! Umm... What do we do now? LoL
  • Great idea❕
  • I think I'll stick with my L920 and my Nikon CoolPix P520 for now, and maybe I will buy the L1020 closer to the holidays
  • Looks 100% fail to me.
    Nice try though Sony.
  • That's not fair.
  • Lmao...
  • Its a quality piece of kit, but its not exactly on the same level of portability as the 1020. I can hardly see myself taking this with me on a night out with my friends :S "Oh, just wait a sec while i get the lens out of my bag (another inconvenience) and then nfc pair it with my phone"... Oops, I've missed the picture.
  • I honestly prefer this solution than ruining the design of a phone like Nokia did with the L1020, thus creating an horrible looking phone. It also means I don't have to carry around the monster phone when I'm sure I won't need the camera (like, saying, 5 days a week, whenever I go to the office). Had Nokia opted for this solution and I would have considered buying it.
  • It's really not a monster phone. Most people think it is unwieldy because of the large black surface area, but its impact on thickness is rather minimal.
  • My guess is DJCBS hasn't actually touched a 1020, because almost all reviews noted how non-bulky it is and the "hump" is hardly a hump.
  • I mean "monster" as in "horrible, ugly, monstrous".
    But I actually have had one in my hands. I found the hump is most uncomfortable.
  • You might as well as carry a DSLR instead of that horrible lens
  • Let me know the last time you managed to put an DSLR in your pocket, will you?
  • Looking at this lens, I doubt it'll even match a DSLR. A good point and shoot at most.
    Ironically the Galaxy S4 Zoom takes worst photo than the 1020. So which is innovation and what is kitchen sink?
    Figure it out yourself.
  • Are you really comparing Samsung with anything else? They've yet to produce a single decent thing.
  • Either way you just proved that WP needs more options than just one.. It's no sense in us arguing about what we like because the reality is that something like this outboard camera would be excellent if other WP devices, besides the 1020, could support and use this.. Not everyone wants a Nokia device.. We need to stay open minded... If iDroid has it then WP should have it as well.. BOTTOM LINE❗
  • What monster phone are you talking about?!  The 1020 little bump is far from any monster...and its a decent payoff for the best pocketable camera on a phone at this time.
    Now this sony thing is a freak...
    If you know when you don't need a camera with your phone then buy a phone and camera separate! 
    Since 'you never know when', i like the convenience of having both decent camera and phone on me all the time in the form of an easily pocketalbe cellphone..and thats the 1020
  • You lost me at the picture. The point is that I don't want to tote additional crap around with me.
  • Wow this looks butt ugly. It'll just make Android and iOS devices a lot less attractive then what they already are.
  • Damn if i have to carry something that big around, I'll just take my 18x Panasonic camera. That doesn't look like its going to fit in a pocket very well.
  • Sony is looking more like Samsung, a kitchen sink company.
  • I think Sony is missing the point.
    If I wanted something too big to carry I'd bring my DSLR.  
  • Sony isn't missing the point.. Its just another option for taking great pictures with a smartphone.. By us always comparing everything to what Nokia does closes our minds like CloneDroid fools, and makes us look like fearful haters... What Nokia does is great, and the others are going to try to do some great things, but in their own way.. At least this is a different idea than what Nokia has for now because if it was a 35mp camera built into a experia device we would all be saying Sony copied Nokia.. That's the sign of a bunch of true hatters... Like closed minded iSheep think that the iPhone was first, so its best.. No❕
  • I have both the lumia 1020 and Sony RX100, and after using both the devices, I would buy the QX100(RX100II sensor) even of it costs 400USD. Im sure developer will come up with an app to connect it to WP through WiFi. 1" senso