Sony has a history of doing odd things with mobile devices, but this is pretty out there. According to Sony Alpha Rumors, which has a good track record on all things Sony camera-related, the company will soon announce a range of "lens cameras" that snap onto Android phones so you can take better pictures. It's every bit as strange as it sounds.


The lens cameras will actually contain almost everything you need to take a picture – a built-in sensor, Bionz image processor, WiFi/NFC, and an SD card slot. Notice anything missing? Yep, there's no viewfinder, but that's what your smartphone is for. The lens will connect wirelessly to your device and use that screen as the viewfinder. All the controls will be in your phone.

DSC-QX100_DSC-QX10_InSituation_01_Xperia-Z-1200_zps932fca38 DSC-QX100_Lifestyle_02_Xperia-i1_EXP201412E-1200_zps983dabbd


The two models currently known are the DSC-QX10 and DSC-QX100. The QX100 will be based on the 20.2MP RX100 sensor and Zeis lens from the DSC-RX100M II camera, which retails for about $750. The QX10 (seen at the top) will feature 10x optical zoom and an 18MP sensor. This lens camera is expected to be similar to the $400 DSC-WX150. There are still a lot of unknowns here.

It's a strange idea, but it might have some appeal if the price and features are reasonable. Of course, compatibility will be key too. Sony Alpha Rumors implies the lens cameras will work with all Android phones and the iPhone. The lenses could be announced in late August.

[Sony Alpha Rumors via The Verge]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • Justin

    I absolutely love this idea, I want a smart camera, that can upload to dropbox and edit photos in the field, but I don't want to lug around an overly large cellphone or a second device. I could take this with me, hook it up when I want to take some serious photos, and just have the regular phone camera when I'm taking less intensive shots.

    Seems like the compromises are worth the advantages in this case, if it works as advertised.

    • Niels

      I agree wholeheartedly! I've also read this on Extremetech a while back, where they had a demo of the lens and a companion app working: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDIZImKrhg8#at=77
      Hope this won't be too expensive though...

      Complete article: http://www.extremetech.com/electronics/161753-sony-to-launch-lenses-with-built-in-image-sensors-screenless-cameras-that-can-be-attached-to-smartphones

      Edit: seems like the demo was a concept of Artefact... http://www.artefactgroup.com/wvil/ bummer.

    • OmniWrench

      I was thinking the same think, until I noticed that it had it's own SD slot... Depends on how it's implemented obviously (maybe the SD slot is optional? or it can do wireless sync of the SD card contents to the phone?) but if the pics are stored on the.. giant lens thingy... then really the phone is literally just a viewfinder, which isn't quite as useful as I'd initially thought.

      • Justin

        It could be used as a buffer to hold photos until they're transferred to your phone. If you were limited on picture speed by the transfer limit of the wireless, that could be rough. If it can snap photos away and transfer them during downtime, that'd be a great use of the SD card.

        • OmniWrench

          Yup, totally, that's what makes it both simultaneously temping and potentially annoying. :-D Just have to wait to see how it's implemented... and what it costs.

          Also opens up some interesting use cases depending on the useful range between the phone and the lense.. i.e. setup a group shot with yourself in it by putting this thing on a chair or table, then take the pic using your phone while standing in the picture...

          AndroidPolice - Please review when it's out! One way or another it'll be an interesting review...

        • RaptorOO7

          Having a lens with it's own wifi, nfc, and microsd slot and using the power of the phones battery would be awesome, it could also use the phones LTE to upload the images.

        • Pierre Gardin

          "Also, I could see the SD card being useful if you snap a photo and lose wireless connection before it's downloaded."

          Isn't it what the flash memory inside the phone is for?

          • Justin

            I'm talking if the connection between the lens and the phone is interrupted.

  • Ishaan Rajiv

    What... on earth.

  • HellG

    " Bionz image processor"
    How?! when all the processing is done on the phone side!
    am i missing something?

    • Ygor Vaz

      "The lens cameras will actually contain almost everything you need to take a picture – a built-in sensor, Bionz image processor (...)"
      It'll have a built in Bionz image processor. All your phone will do is to view what the lens is recording and to control its functions.

    • br_hermon

      Ygor is right. I see the phone as almost a "remote desktop" for the lens if you will. See and control everything that's being processed in the lens remotely from your camera (whether it's physically attached or not?).

  • The Jeffrey

    Sign me up if it's under $250. All my phone is missing is the optical zoom imo

  • http://jordanhotmann.com/ Jordan Hotmann

    Not sure if want?!?

  • Frekko

    pretty cool and innovative ! Kudos sony

  • _spaaaarks

    Really hope this works with the Nexus 4 and is affordable *excited * :D
    One of my main problems with the Nexus 4 is the camera and this can fix just that.

  • Ben Enos

    Looks like a great concept, hopefully they can make it work across the Android platform and keep the price affordable. I would definitely buy this if the price could stay below $250. More than that and I would just carry a digital camera.

  • montahchos

    It remind me my old sony ericsson phone that has separated camera devices to take pictures. Maybe someone still remember what series was that?

  • Matthew Fry

    This makes a lot more sense than putting a smartphone in your camera Samsung.

    • firesoul453

      For most people yes but there is a market for that too

    • Bleakvision

      Putting Android on a camera gives it access to the vast feature soup of the play store. There is no going back.

      • Davis Hernandez

        yeah, but or people who has already bought a smartphone this is a great idea, also is a space saver for people that travels a lot like me, but thats just my opinion

  • Yasser Syed

    The 3rd picture is HONAMI. You can see its different than Z and has G len written on it.

    • Peter Parker

      Makes sense, I think optional lenses was listed on the rumored specs when it originally leaked

  • http://them3blog.wordpress.com/ Abel

    might be weird bu this idea is actually good

  • David

    That guy on the picture is using the xperia i1 that will just be announced at ifa.. Tell me if I'm correct or not. Just looking at the back of the phone (the last picture), there is a writing beside the camera (of the phone not the attachable lens) that said g lens.

    • Faris Fitri

      That's just the Docomo S0-02E / Xperia Z

      • Faris Fitri

        Didn't realise the phone in the 3rd pic is actually different lol

    • Jonfensu

      Yes, You are right, That is the Xperia "Honami"

  • jamesfuston

    If it's WiFi direct/NFC capable, would you really need an SD card? Seems like something you could forego to cut cost.

    • firesoul453

      I'm sure an sd card is optional

      • someone755

        Buying the SD card is. But if Sony decide to put a hole in the thing to support SD cards, it's not optional, and it costs more.
        They probably won't be making an SD card and no-SD card version.

        • firesoul453

          That costs what ? $3 at most for them? Your think they'll double the price because of it or something? It wouldn't make any sense for them to make two versions since the price they charge would end up being the same.

          • someone755

            No, the SDcard module would change the whole design, and it usually ups the price. They won't double it, but they'd surely want a lot more cash.
            They wouldn't make two versions, it's somekind of a beta-stage product anyways. Google Glass doesn't have an SDcard slot, does anyone complain? No?
            As jamesfuston already said, it has WiFi direct and NFC, it exports data to your phone anyways.

          • firesoul453

            Its not like they are redesigning it, they designed it from scratch with an sd slot and the parts cost almost nothing.

            When companies leave it out its often so people will buy the higher end model where they charge 50-100$ more for double the flash memory.

            If this thing costs say $100 there is no way they would have charged $90 without the sd slot, they would have still charged $100.

          • someone755

            Every buck the company spends on a part means two bucks out of your pocket, at least.
            Just think about what you're saying. The pictures are saved on your phone, not on the camera module, so why would the module need an sdcard?

          • firesoul453

            my point was that it costs so little it doesn't matter.
            If the camera is $100 there is no way they would change it to $95 because they shaved $5 off production costs.

      • jamesfuston

        Let me rephrase. If it's WiFi direct/NFC capable, would you really need an SD card slot? Seems like something you could forego to cut cost.

  • Mandeep Singh

    Idea seems great
    Want to see how would they implement it

  • Joshua P Nixon

    I really hope they make it so it can snap onto non-sony devices, my HTC One wants this bad.

    • CoreRooted

      "Sony Alpha Rumors implies the lens cameras will work with all Android phones and the iPhone." I would take it that means non-Sony devices. Then again, we've seen Sony do some weird things before at the last minute.

  • Vardan Nazaretyan

    This is the right thing to do. I like this idea even better than the Lumia 1020/808 Pureview. Your phone will take decent picture with it's own camera, but if you need professional quality, then you could put this on your phone and there you go!

  • Jeremiah Rice

    I think this is a really cool idea. Shoving all the parts of a "prosumer" camera into a tiny package, then using a high-powered phone as the rest? That's inspired. It would make a really great companion for trade shows, where you're weighed down with laptops and batteries, and every ounce and cubic inch counts.

    • andy_o

      These are not parts of a "prosumer" camera though, it's just parts of your regular run-of-the-mill compact, complete with small sensor (bigger than a smartphone's though), slow lens and 10x zoom. Of course it has more potential in software dependent features such as manual adjustments, effects and editing.

  • firesoul453

    If this is cheap I'm all for it.

  • Baris Uraz

    The third picture is the i1(honami) because the jpg's name is DSC-QX100_Lifestyle_02_Xperia-i1_EXP201412E-120

    @Ryan Whitwam it really looks like the third Picture is honami

  • someone755

    Make it under 100€ and I'm all yours, Sony.

  • RaptorOO7

    It's pretty smart idea, but they need to make it work with any smartphone not just Sony products. This will greatly expand their platform and offerings.

  • master94

    Moto phones need this so much. Can't tell you how many times a picture came out awful because Moto doesn't know how to make camera software. Thanks Sony.

  • Thomas

    I like the idea but the price-point is too high for me, you can get a good camera for that amount of money. $100 for a lower-end model and I'd be in

  • Morrissex

    If it fits my Nexus 7 (2012),Sony I'm yours.

  • tHE_uKER

    This is a total win by Sony. Looks like it would fit the Nexus 4 real good too.

  • hp420

    I think if this were just a telephoto lens attachment or something similar this may be really cool. But as a full camera that only needs the android's screen for a viewfinder it's a really strange concept. As I said, though....make that puppy just a lens attachment that amps my pictures out and makes them look awesome, and you've got yourself a sale in me :)

  • TSON1

    This is actually an awesome idea. Just needs competitive pricing.

  • winter

    Am I the only one worried about battery life?
    In addition, there seems to be no built-in flash. My phone's flash is ok, but nowhere near what I have on my camera.
    Still, the portability aspect of it might be a winner for me.

  • Primalxconvoy

    As it's Sony here, I predict:

    1/ They're only compatible with Sony phones.
    2/ They're too expensive.
    3/ They'll involve some proprietary nonsense or another.
    4/ Hardly anyone will buy them.

    • someone755

      As I am a Sony customer lots of times, I'll tell you that:
      1/ It connects to the phone via NFC/WiFi direct, so that probably isn't true. You can't really tell what a phone is through NFC.
      2/ Is a bit false. It won't be 400$, I'm looking at somewhere <$200 for the cheap one.
      3/ Correct. But even if so, you can take pictures with it. And that's the only thing this thing is meant to do.
      4/ Depending on the price point.

  • Sergio

    Make a fixed focal full frame lens and take my money

  • Johnny

    Seems good but how's the power supply like?? Looks bulky....

  • Lance

    Considering it has both Wi-Fi and NFC built in I'm assuming that the wireless connection will be similar to Wi-Fi direct. That should be pretty fast.

    • firesoul453

      wifi direct is simply using wifi without a 3rd party router.

  • mony1