It’s hard to beat the all-in-one convenience of a smartphone, with its neat packaging of telecommunications, endless apps and, of course, camera. What does come up wanting is the picture quality possible with the little lens that typically services the photographic component. With its quarter-inch diameter, you can hardly expect it to bring the world into its sensors. But, what if you had the option of attaching a lens more reminiscent of the optics that come with a single-lens-reflex camera? Wouldn’t that be choice.
Which is exactly the choice the Sony’s High-Zoom Cyber-shot QX10 offers. With it comes a 10x optical zoom (as opposed to the digital zoom that your phone already has, which essentially crops and enlarges the image rather than actually zooming in). The QX10 has its own huge (18.2 effective megapixel) sensor and focuses within two inches of the subject. The shot quality is excellent in a low-light situation, although it really needs to be since there is no flash or flash attachment. What’s more you’ll find an improved autofocus, as well as the option to focus manually.
Not just a lens, this lightweight (four-ounce) device is more like a camera as it stores its own images on an SD card even as it displays the shot on your Apple or Android phone. (Tablet mounts are rumored to be in the works.) It connects by Wi-Fi to your phone, so it needn’t be mounted to operate. You can hold the lens in one hand, while viewing the image on the phone in your other hand. This is a particularly good option for when you want to take pictures over crowds or around corners. (Truth be told, you don’t even need the phone, although you would be flying blind with no idea whether the subject were framed or in focus.)
While the QX10 will mount on a tripod, it also trumps your camera phone by adding Optical SteadyShot image stabilization, Sony’s technology that senses the jittery movements of your hands and automatically compensates. And wanna-be Coppolas can switch to video mode.
Set up is simple. Download the app to your phone, turn the lens on and then connect via Wi-Fi. For the $250 price tag, it also includes the obligatory Facebook and Twitter sharing link.