Sony turned heads last year when it introduced the QX family of add-on lenses, which claimed to add DSLR-style high-resolution photography to any Android smartphone. The QX10 and QX100 lenses were met with a bit of skepticism on release thanks to their high price and strange form factor, but the core idea is still intriguing. Intriguing enough for the company to give it another go-round, anyway, and come out swinging with a new mounting system in addition to a new all-in-one lens.


First up is the QX1. In contrast with the other QX series gadgets, this is not an integrated lens-and-sensor combo, it's a lens mount containing only a 20.1-megapixel APS-C image sensor, an E-series mounting bracket, a flash module, and all the various guts needed to take and store photos. Like the other QX devices it relies on a wireless connection to your smartphone and the Sony PlayMemories app for control and shooting. But unlike the previous devices, it's compatible with all of Sony's E-series lenses, and can access A-series lenses with another adapter. That's a huge variety of high-powered (and expensive) glass suddenly available to your smartphone. Or at least, your smartphone with a giant mount and lens attached.

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The QX1 system connects to your phone via WiFi Direct, and records images and video either directly to its own MicroSD/Memory Stick Micro media or to the phone's storage. It's self-powered by a rechargeable and removable battery. Photo buffs will be happy to hear that the QX1 uses the same 23.2x15.4mm Exmor sensor as seen on Sony's full-sized Alpha a5000 camera, and features a pop-up flash module.

Whether or not the QX1 can live up to its promising hardware will probably depend on its connection to your phone - the previous generation was plagued with speed and storage issues, so let's hope Sony has improved things. The QX1 mount is up for pre-order now for $399.99 on Sony's store, and is estimated to ship on October 9th. The mount does not include a lens at the $400 price.


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Sony also announced the QX30, which is another combined lens-sensor gadget in the same vein as the QX10 and QX100. The new model uses a 21MP sensor paired with a 30x optical zoom lens (4.3mm-129mm). That makes it much more versatile than the previous QX models, but with F-stop values between 3.5 and 6.3, it's not anything to write home about in terms of photo quality or low-light performance. The QX30 will retail for $349.99 when it launches on October 8th, right in between the two previous models.

Both gadgets are already listed on Amazon.

Source: Sony Blog, Sony Alpha Rumors

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • SPtheALIEN

    "Photo buffs will be happy to hear that the QX1 uses the same 23/2x15.4mm Exmor sensor as seen on Sony's full-sized Alpha 7s camera"

    Instead of the word "sensor" I am pretty sure you mean "processor." Because the sensor is definitely not the same.

    • http://thegumshoe.com/ Michael Crider

      No, I meant sensor. I don't know if there's some sort of terminology issue, I'm not a pro photographer. I did mix up the equivalent cameras, though: according to this Wiki page, the sensor in the QX1 is identical to the one in the Sony A5000, not the Alpha 7S. Sorry for the mix-up, it's been corrected.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_E-mount (search for "23.2")

      • http://www.spencerpablophotography.com SPtheALIEN

        I was just trying to correct something in the inaccurate sentence. But post correction, yes, it is the same sensor as the a5000.

        • remister

          I would of flipped my α7, if it had the same full frame sensor.

        • Cesar

          I'm about to buy one of these, betweem the QX100 and this new one QX1. I have a friend who has a few E lenses, my question is, the sensor in the QX1 is much better than the one in the QX100?

          • http://www.spencerpablophotography.com SPtheALIEN

            Speaking of just the sensor (because the QX1 does not have any optics unless you add lenses), the QX1 has a larger sensor, so more light gathering capabilities. With the right lens, you'd get better subject separation from the background at the same settings (bokeh) as if you shot with the QX100. Keep in mind, though, you have to factor in the quality of the glass.

            The greatest thing about buying into this family is that you can, in essence, fit any type of contemporary lens on here, regardless of the system, with the right adapter.

          • Cesar

            thank you very much for the answer! I think I'll go for this one. Hope it gets lower prices at the end of the year. Does it come with the adapter for A type lenses?

          • http://www.spencerpablophotography.com SPtheALIEN

            No worries. As for the adapter being included, I highly doubt it as the adapter (for instance, the LAEA4) is nearly the cost of this entire camera. Keep in mind that if you adapt some A-mounts, you'll be looking at a pretty rotund set of glass hanging off your smartphone.

  • Grayson

    I have a phone with a relatively poor camera (One M8) and I also own a Sony NEX-F3 camera and several E-series lenses that would work with the QX1, so I'm the target audience, but I still can't find any reason to buy this. For just a few dollars more ($479), I could buy a NEX-6 body that has this same sensor and includes an LCD touchscreen, an electronic viewfinder, and pretty good physical controls. Or for less money, I could buy another lower end NEX body with this same sensor. So why would I buy this QX1? It's not like carrying the QX1 plus an E-series lense is much easier than carrying a standard NEX body plus lense. It's probably harder considering the lack of straps and clunkiness of having to clamp this to your phone. I think the QX1 would have to be $200 or less to tempt me into buying it. $400 is just ridiculous, especially with no lense included!

  • kgptzac

    I never used one of these things... but from the description saying it has its own storage, I assume the speed won't be an issue (since it's not like transferring raw video stream via wifi or something?)

    • Ambroos

      The API is open, it's a pretty simple REST-based protocol. The viewfinder is a stream of JPEGs, with selectable quality so you can trade off some quality for extreme speed. On shooting you can configure it to either send the full-res version to your phone or a lower quality version of a few MP for quick sharing. Then the full JPG (and/or RAW) will be stored on the SD of the QX camera/mount for later access.

      NEX cameras with WiFi can do the same, even though it's a bit slower. I have a NEX-5R and it works pretty well if you keep your camera, the in-camera app and the smartphone app updated.

  • John Smith

    the built-in flash looked funny when it popped out /giggle