Camera Reviews

IFA 2014: Hands On With Sony's ILCE-QX1 Interchangeable Lens Camera

Now, I already had a vague inkling that Japan’s most adventurous tech company would have some interesting announcements at IFA 2014. Sony has done the unthinkable, though — shoe-horned a relatively massive APS-C imaging sensor into one of its cut-down lens cameras. No screen, just a few buttons — just a whole bunch of pixels and Wi-Fi working their magic.

Campbell Simpson travelled to Berlin and IFA 2014 as a guest of Sony Mobile Australia.

The ILCE-QX1 is one of Sony’s slowly expanding family of lens cameras — it’s a small cylinder that you can hold in your hand or clamp onto any flat-backed smartphone up to around 6 inches in size. It is unique from the other QX100 and QX10 lens cameras and the other new releases, though, in that it’s closer to a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera than it is a compact, with a huge APS-C imaging sensor and Sony E lens mount.

Sony has half a dozen QX1 lens cameras attached to various E-mount lenses at IFA 2014, from the low-end 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 power zoom (which I’m using on the e6000 at the moment, actually) to a Zeiss 24-70mm f2.8 and 70-200mm f2.8. Most intriguing for me, though, was seeing the QX1 clamped to a new Xperia Z3 with a Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 prime on the lens mount — now that’s a great selfie camera setup.

The QX1 uses a 20.1-megapixel APS-C imaging sensor — not the massive full frame sensors used in its Alpha 7 series of cameras, but still much larger than the fingernail-sized sensors used in its previous compact-esque lens cameras. We don’t have any confirmed Australian pricing for the QX1, or even confirmation that it’ll be available Down Under, but at roughly US$400 it’s pretty pricey when you consider you’ll have to buy a lens as well, and also the fact that you’re buying an interchangeable-lens shooter to use more than one lens.

If you’ve used a Sony mirrorless camera before, the shooting interface is instantly familiar. Everything is done via the app, although there’s a physical shutter button on the QX1 if snapping photos by tapping a touchscreen icon doesn’t feel tactile enough for you. Honestly, because the QX1 is so simple — almost everything is controlled via the smartphone app on your paired Android phone — there’s not that much to say about it. It has a huge amount of potential for anyone who is keen on the idea of cameras with inbuilt Wi-Fi, because that’s purely what it’s designed for — getting your photos in high quality onto your smartphone straight away.

Rushing around IFA 2014 and snapping photos by the dozen, then trying to get them uploaded — like during our Sony and ASUS live blogs — would have been a hell of a lot easier with a camera designed expressly for that purpose. We’ll have more info on the QX1’s Australian plans in the coming days.

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