We had an opportunity to try out the Sony QX-10, a 18 megapixel camera. It has an interesting concept, having just the lens and sensor elements while leaving the controls and the screen on your smartphone.
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- Sony G Lens with 10x optical zoom
- 18.2MP Exmor R™ CMOS image sensor
- BIONZ Image Processing Engine
- Optical Steadyshot
- NFC and Wi-Fi
- Bundled Smartphone Attachment
It connects easily via the Sony PlayMemories Mobile application through NFC and Wifi, so even the non-tech savvy people are able to make use of it quickly. Okay, given that the iPhone users do not have NFC, it might take a little more tinkering but nothing too challenging. This is the only way to tinker with most of the controls on the camera as there is only a shutter button the camera unit itself. If you want to change the scenes or focus points, you have to run the application.
One of the main problems I faced was the time it took to turn on the camera, run the application, get the camera connected to the phone and start shooting. On a good day it takes about 10 to 20 seconds, and many previous moments can be lost in this long warm up period. Maybe we are spoilt by our DSLRs, but even the recently reviewed RX100 turns on and is ready for shooting really quickly. It gets on your nerves really fast when you spend so much time waiting just so you can use the camera for one or two shots. It came to a point where I left it turned on, burning precious phone battery.
A serious lack of controls
Even on the application, there was a serious lack of control possible for the camera. No aperture, shutter priority modes. No manual modes. Only the various scene modes and the Intelligent auto modes. While I did mention that the IA+ modes on the RX100 was great, I had hoped for more granular controls on this camera. We understand from Sony that a firmware update to the device would soon allow for shutter priority modes and manual ISO control. But not having such controls in the first place was a large let-down.
A very convenient camera to use for social media
Like all good typical Singaporeans we all like to take photos of our food and sharing them on Facebook or Instagram. The good thing about the QX10 is that it is REALLY easy, simply because the phone already acts as the camera. Photos taken with the camera are stored in the microSD card in the camera, but you can set it to automatically copy the photo (various size options available) to the phone for immediate sharing on the social networks. A great solution if you have a lousy phone camera.
Much bulkier than expected
While the camera is small, having only the lens unit, it is significantly bulkier than we expected. At about 3.3cm thick, it is not something you can easily tuck into your pocket for use unlike most compacts. In fact, it’s very unwieldy and I would prefer to have a compact camera instead. the picture above only shows the lens unit, but there is an additional attachment clip which is another 1cm thick.
Not so great photos, but still likely to be better than those taken with your phone
We were quite disappointed by the quality of the images taken by the QX10 as we were expecting more. The auto white balancing was not as good as we expected from Sony cameras as you can see from the gallery and sample photos. We had to spend quite a bit of time post-processing to get the white balance right, which is problematic for people who just want something simple.
The contrast was lacking in the unprocessed photos and photos looking a little desaturated at times. Not such a huge problem, but given Sony’s reputation in the BIONZ processing chips in their higher end camera I expected a bit more. Noise was also an issue in medium to high ISO photos, not to mention again that was limited control of all these factors.
Still a good camera for the price
This little brother of the QX100 is indeed lacking in many aspects, but if you take the price point into consideration it actually does stand out. Selling at $349 at Sony authorised retail shops in Singapore, it’s a good cheap camera addition to your smartphone if your phone’s camera is lacking. With the ability to quickly process photos on the mobile devices, great-looking photos can now be uploaded onto Facebook or Instagram very quickly.
Our biggest problem with the camera is the extremely slow start-up and connection time which might result in many missed shots or impatient moments. Pictures-wise it does well for the price. With the added connectivity options would be a good choice if you intend to quickly upload the photos for use online, letting the filters of Instagram or VSCO handle the rest.
If you are looking for great looking photos, we recommend you look else where. The other camera which we reviewed recently, the RX100-II, is fantastic choice. We think that is the best compact on the market so far and we highly recommend you take a look at that. It is also much pricer.
The Sony QX10 is available in black and white at authorised Sony resellers in Singapore for $349. For international readers, you may be able to get some good deals off Amazon below.