Sony launches QX1 and QX30 ‘lens’ cameras

Smartphone video

The APS-C based Sony QX1
The APS-C based QX1 features an E-mount lens system. Pictiure: Sony
Sony has added two new “lens” style digital cameras to its line-up of smartphone controlled, minicams.

Announced at IFA 2014 in Berlin, the QX1 and QX30 join Sony’s existing QX10 and QX100, launched last year. The company has also updated its PlayMemories app for controlling the QX camera range.

The QX series is a range of cameras, or “smart lenses”, as Sony terms them, which are controlled by, and can attach to, smartphones. The original QX10 featured a 10x zoom lens and consumer camcorder type sensor. The QX100 features a higher-end Carl Zeiss lens and a 1-inch sensor.

Both models will stay on sale, but Sony has now added a 30x zoom model, the QX30, and the QX1 which has no lens at all, but instead attaches to Sony E-mount lenses.

The QX30 features optical image stabilisation, and couples this with a focal length range equivalent to 24mm to 720mm. The sensor is a 1/2.3” back-side illuminated chip, similar in size to those in entry-level pro camcorders such as the PMW-100.

Video recording for the QX30 is up to 1080p at 60fps – there is no word as yet on whether Sony will support PAL frame rates – and recording is to a micro SD or a Sony Memory Stick. ISO sensitivity goes up to 3200.

The Sony QX30
The QX30. Picture: Sony

Whilst the QX30 gives a boost to the zoom range over the QX10’s already useful reach, the QX1 takes a very different approach. Sony has taken the idea of a modular smartphone camera a step further, and created an interchangeable lens system. The QX1 can take any of the company’s E-mount lenses, and potentially almost any stills lens via a Metabones Speedbooster or similar adapter.

Given the added cost of a separate lens, Sony has perhaps wisely opted to boost the specifications of the QX1 too, so they appeal to higher-end users.

As well as an APS-C sensor, the QX1 includes features such as an ISO range from 100 to 16,000, manual focus, and manual white balance – although there is no fully manual shooting mode.

The QX1 does lose the 60fps mode of the QX30, but instead adds a much larger battery – with a 150 minute claimed battery life – and features such as a built-in flash. Image stabilisation is supported, if supported by the lens.

The QX1 also comes with a multi-angle grip accessory, which Sony will sell as an optional add-on for its other models.

The new cameras are due to go on sale in October.