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Sony QX10 Mobile Lens Hands-On: This Is The Future Of Mobile Photography

No matter how many likes you get on Instagram, no matter how many filters or apps you put your photos through: if you took the shot on a smartphone, it sucks. Meet the saviour of mobile photography: the Sony Q lens series. A portable Franken-lens that clips onto any smartphone and immediately turns you into the Ken Duncan of mobile photos.

We went hands on with the QX10 lens today, which Sony claims provides the same image quality as its Cybershot DSC-WX200 compact camera — a very capable shooter in its own right.

The QX10 is packing a 20x optical zoom, a 1/2.3-inch image sensor and a slot for a microSD card. It takes standard Sony Cybershot camera batteries and it’s able to be charged up via the microUSB slot on the back. It lasts for 110 minutes on still shots and 55 minutes on continuous video recording. It’s set to hit the market soon and it’ll cost you $279.

This thing is perfect for mobile photography. Stick it in your jacket pocket or even into your bag as you leave the house and you’ve got an ultra compact shooter that dumps images straight onto your phone.

The shots it takes look pretty awesome, but the zoom function is where it really shines. That’s what the QX10 lens is meant to be great at: zoom. Low-light functionality suffers somewhat, but that’s where the next model up comes in.

The QX100 is designed to produce the same image quality as the gorgeous Sony RX-100 Mark II that was announced at IFA in Berlin. It’s packing all the same features, but under the hood lurks a 1-inch Exmor R sensor for low-light shooting. That one’s still on its way and will cost $599 when it gets here.

The only thing we’re worried about is the placement of the zoom rocker and shutter button. It’s designed to be clipped onto the back of a phone via a bracket or a case (only for the Xperia Z or Xperia Z1) and connected to the phone via Bluetooth. That way, the photos are picked up by the Sony PlayMemories app and transferred directly to the phone as you snap them. Curiously, however, you can also go free with the lens and disconnect it from your phone to use it in your hand.

The only problem with that is how you hold it while holding your phone as a viewfinder at the same time. It all gets a bit complicated. Add to that the fact that the shutter button and zoom rocker are on the left hand side of the lens under your thumb and it all gets a little clumsy.

You can certainly try and hold it so that the shutter and zoom functions are under your index and middle fingers on the top, but then the orientation sensor freaks out.

We’ll know if this is really an issue we should care about when we get one in for review in a few weeks.