Sony QX1 Brief Review


REVIEW SUMMARY

Specifications

  • 20.4 megapixel APS-C sensor
  • Compatible with Sony E Mount lenses
  • Operates through a smartphone with NFC or Wi-Fi
  • 19 fps burst speed (up to 10 shots)
  • Manual modes
  • Built-in flash
  • 1080p HD video in MP4 format
  • Record images to phone or micro SD card
  • Li-ion battery rated at 440 shots
  • Weighs 7.6 ounces
  • Release Date:
  • Final Grade: 83 4.15 Star Rating: Recommended

4.15 Star Rating: Recommended
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Sony QX1 gives smartphones mirrorless camera capabilities
Sony's response to smartphone photography with the introduction of the QX line was surprising--but not as surprising as the accessory that turns a smartphone into a mirrorless camera.
By Hillary Grigonis, Last updated on: 9/9/2014

It's a digital camera without a lens and without a screen--but it's likely to be a very popular option. The Sony QX1 essentially turns a smartphone into a mirrorless camera, complete with manual modes and even RAW compatibility. The QX1 is an APS-C sensor, a processor, a pop-up flash and a shutter release--but not a whole lot else.

The screen is your smartphone, and it communicates with the camera via wi-fi or NFC. This means you can use image editing apps and share images just as quickly as you can share shots taken with your smartphone's camera. Unfortunately, that also means the camera will likely be slow. We tested out the QX10 last year, and since the screen is communicating with the camera wirelessly, there's a significant delay between the time you tell the phone to take the picture, and when the image is actually taken. You can compensate some by using the shutter release that's located directly on the camera, instead of using the phone, and that's likely where the 10 fps burst speed comes in. You can even use the QX1 without attatching it to a smartphone, but composing images without a screen will be tough.

The QX1 is compatible with Sony's mirrorless E mount lenses, which means there are plenty of options already on the market--there's a lens to fit pretty much any shot you might want to snap with the QX1. Image stabilization, however, is not built in to the camera, so you'll want to purchase lenses that have a stabilization system inside (making them a bit pricier).

Being able to use interchangeable lenses and a big APS-C sensor with your smartphone is a pretty big accomplishment--but Sony has also managed to include manual modes, and even RAW capability. RAW files won't transfer to your phone, but will save to a mini-SD card for editing later on the computer. ISO sensitivity reaches 16,000, like Sony's mirrorless models.

The QX1 will probably get you the best "smartphone pictures" you've ever taken--but a Sony mirrorless camera with built-in wi-fi offers the same capability, without slowing the camera down. We haven't tried out the QX1 yet, but the previous QX models saw a significant delay while the camera communicated with the smartphone wirelessly. Despite this, there's still likely a big spot on the market for the QX1. Smartphone photographers will love the big sensor, interchangeable lenses, manual mode capabilities and RAW shooting, while still being able to shoot with their phones.

The Sony QX1 will be available beginning mid-October 2014 for a $399 list price.

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Sony Reviews

Sony has been at the forefront of the market for consumer electronics for the past 30 years by offering innovative imaging products in response to changes in the market. Sony has made cameras that are ideal for casual users, hobbyists, and professional photographers through their dedication to implementing the most current technology with a sleek and minimal style, resulting in an end result of the highest quality.

Sony was the first to put a full-frame sensor inside of a mirrorless camera, the A7 and A7R, and a little later, the A7S. While the first-of-its-kind cameras aren't without flaws, Sony executed their ideas fairly well and made some pretty solid cameras to start the new line.

Speaking of first-of-its kind, Sony also designed a “camera-without-a-camera,” the QX10 and QX100. These cameras have a sensor and lens, but no operating system—instead, consumers use their smartphone via wi-fi or NFC to operate the camera. While the cameras certainly have flaws (mainly in the slow response due to operating through wi-fi), we still have to applaud Sony for the way they've responded to the rise in smartphone photography (plus the cameras have actually sold remarkably well).

Sony has also been highly successful with the RX compact camera line that began with the RX100, a compact camera with a 1” sensor, excellent image quality and full manual modes. The camera has since seen some solid updates, and remains a good option. Sony also added the RX10, a camera with a 1” sensor but instead of focusing on compact size, adds a much bigger zoom.

While their focus is on more advanced models, it’s usually a pretty safe bet to pick up a Sony compact, even a budget priced one, and still get a lot of bang for your buck. We're also big fans of Sony's designs, making their cameras easy to use and adjust, like the HX400 that has an automatic sensor on the electronic viewfinder as well as a control ring around the lens.

We here at Digital Camera HQ offer unbiased, informative reviews and recommendations to guide you to the right camera. We're not an actual store; we're just here to help you find the perfect camera at the best price possible by using our camera grades. Let us know if you have any problems or questions, we're happy to help.