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Examining the Usability of the Sony QX10

Sections: Digital Cameras, Imaging

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Sony QX10

Sony’s new “lens cameras” were finally released today. Although you can’t really find them in stores right now, you can place orders through online retailers such as Amazon and Sony itself. Surprisingly, Sony’s new creation appears to be a hit in these early days. Amazon itself has sold out of the QX10 and QX100 citing a limited supply provided by Sony. Amazon is now bringing third-party sellers into the forefront as demand for these cameras remains steady.Sony is sold out of the higher end QX100 on its own website, but both the white and black versions of the QX10 are still in stock. Other online sellers such as Adorama and Best Buy still show both cameras as available for pre-order. I wouldn’t be surprised if those stores also have trouble meeting demand. One thing is for sure – the public is very interested in what Sony has come up with. I’ve found myself quite taken as well and purchased a QX10.

So why did I make that purchase? For one, I’m extremely curious as to where this whole lens camera system can go. The photography enthusiast in me also can’t say no to such an odd and potentially innovative product. If this thing takes off, I wouldn’t be surprised if Nikon and Canon did something similar. After all, they’re trying to figure out ways to regain ground that has been rapidly taken over by smartphone cameras. I’m definitely going to share my impressions with you once the camera arrives, but for now, I want to share some concerns and general thoughts I’ve been having with the QX10 specifically.

For $250, I thought the QX10 was a safe bet. I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be terrible, and it’s definitely something that can make mobile phone photography more versatile. I also think it’s worth stressing that this particular camera is not meant to replace a mirrorless or DSLR camera. The main targets are smartphone cameras. Since the QX10 fits somewhere in the middle between a point-and-shoot and smartphone camera, you have to decide which features from each of these platforms mean the most to you. For example, you lose out on physical buttons and in-depth camera settings with the QX10, but you gain physical versatility and a near constant network connection. I know not having direct control over ISO sensitivity and shutter speed is deal breaker for some, but you have to consider the audience. Most people pull out their smartphones and fire away. They don’t know or care about adjusting camera settings. I think Sony figured having three different automatic modes on the QX10 would satisfy the casual user they’re going after. I think Sony is right in that rationale. The more advanced stuff can be left for the QX100 since its audience are people who know more about photography.

I’m not making excuses for Sony, but I do understand its mindset. However, if I had my choice, I would hope for a software update that adds more manual control to the QX10. If my old HTC Sensation’s camera software could give me control over ISO sensitivity, I see no reason why Sony’s PlayMemories app can’t do the same. We also can’t rule out the software improvements third-party app developers might come up with. Sony has opened the API for the QX cameras to everyone. That means any new or existing camera app developer can make their software compatible with the QX cameras. This alone could open up a whole new slew of features that Sony didn’t bother implementing.

Still, we have to judge a product based on what it does out the box and not what it could theoretically do. Based on what I’ve seen, I believe the QX10 does what Sony says it’ll do. It takes better pictures than your smartphone camera while maintaining your smartphone’s networking capabilities. It’s certainly a niche product right now, but it could be the start of a popular trend.

Amazon Link: Sony DSC-QX10/W Smartphone Attachable 4.45-44.5mm Lens-Style Camera

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