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Sony preps Bluetooth lens attachments for iPhones, Android phones

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
A set of images leaked on Monday claim to show off a new device from Sony aimed at turning smartphones like the iPhone into something approaching a full-fledged camera.



The photos supposedly reveal Sony's "lens-camera" device, which the company is preparing to release in the near future, according to Sony Alpha Rumors. The devices will essentially pack the power of a high-end point-and-shoot camera into a lens that attaches to a smartphone and pairs with an Android or iOS app over Bluetooth.

Of the two variations planned, one will feature the same sensor-lens pairing from the Sony RX100, one of Sony's more celebrated point-and-shoot cameras of late. That will mean a 1-inch, 20.2-megapixel Exmor R sensor with a 2/1.8 Carl Zeiss lens. The other device is said to have an 18-megapixel CMOS sensor with a 10x zoom lens, similar to the $400 Sony WX150.

The DSC-QX10 and the DSC-QX100 will have built-in camera sensors, Bionz processor, Wi-Fi, near-field communications connectivity, and an SD card slot. Those wireless connectivity options, paired with the requisite mobile apps, will allow users to control the lens-cameras with their smartphones.

Judging from the leaked press shots for the devices, users will not be required to center the lenses over the built-in lens of a smartphone. A number of manufacturers have attempted to push lens attachments for devices like the iPhone, but both the success and the quality of those products have been questionable.

The new lens-cameras do not yet have a specific release date, as they have not even been announced. Some speculate, though, that Sony could well reveal them on September 4.
post #2 of 28
Interesting concept, if they could get it to work seamlessly with the phone.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #3 of 28
Interesting approach.

But I'd probably just as soon see them keep making good cameras (Bluetooth-enabled) smaller and smaller, and leave the phone in my pocket. And that's certainly happening.

If it weren't for telephoto (and maybe light field tech), I'd have no interest in any camera beyond my iPhone.
post #4 of 28

Apple should make a camera smartphone that's more camera than phone.  Call it the iPhone Photo, or whatever.  Give it a real optical telescopic lens.  Sure, it would be "fatter," but something the size of a Canon Powershot SX260 or so would be manageable for me and probably lots of others.

post #5 of 28

Originally Posted by coffeetime View Post
Apple should make a camera smartphone that's more camera than phone.

 

Except it's a phone. If you want a camera, buy a camera. They won't ever do this, nor "should" they.

 

The best camera is the one you have on you.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

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Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

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post #6 of 28

That's why I used a Canon PowerShot as an example.  It's not that much bigger than a phone, and I'd carry it on me in exactly the same way as I do my current iPhone 4S.  Don't get me wrong, what Apple can do with the current iPhone camera is superb, but in so many instances I find it lacking (such as a lack of zoom for videos).  Everything's a tradeoff in life.  I'd gladly tradeoff a little more width and heft for a smartphone with a much better camera.  Sure, it's not what everyone would want, but it should at least warrant a study to see if such a market existed (if they haven't done one already, that is).

post #7 of 28
I wish Sony great luck with this idea. Very novel.
post #8 of 28
I question how this would work in practice. Those lenses are gigantic compared to the thickness of an iPhone. There's no way you'll put it on and leave it there forever. Therefore you'll be left dragging around a thick lens and assembly for the moments you decide to attach it... So why not actually carry around a sleek point and shoot in those cases instead? Sounds kind of ridiculous as a product, I think.
post #9 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Except it's a phone.
Except it's not. I agree with the rest of your post but to reduce the iPhone to a 'phone' is wrong, in spite of its name.
post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shogun View Post

I question how this would work in practice. Those lenses are gigantic compared to the thickness of an iPhone. There's no way you'll put it on and leave it there forever. Therefore you'll be left dragging around a thick lens and assembly for the moments you decide to attach it... So why not actually carry around a sleek point and shoot in those cases instead? Sounds kind of ridiculous as a product, I think.

I wonder if it even needs to be attached to an iPhone. If it is interacting with an app by BT and has its own sensor and SD card, theoretically one could mount it to a tall monopod and be able to see through the viewfinder through the app. I do this all the time when I want a shot from a vantage point I cannot reach. I just mount my dSLR on an expandable monopod and hold it as high as I can using the shutter timer. But you can't see what you are shooting so it is trial and error. With the Sony perhaps you could actually see your shot. Just a thought.

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post #11 of 28
post #12 of 28
Much of what is in a quality point-and-shoot is already in an iPhone, or can be added via app or future evolution. What's missing is the great lens and/or sensor. It makes perfect sense to avoid duplication by letting the phone (which is really a small computer) do what it does best and let the optics people do what they do best by providing the front end. Maybe some day an optical array will replace traditional lenses, but for now I see this working.
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A.k.a. AppleHead on other forums.
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post #13 of 28

It is an interesting idea, but with smartphone battery capacity being as limited as it is, I do not really see the point. Pumping tons of "live view" data to the phone, then transferring 20 MP files wirelessly, just to then delete 90% of them anyhow... You will have an empty phone battery in no time, while lugging around an accessory that is more bulky, and likely more expensive, than a dedicated point-and-shoot.

post #14 of 28

While at first this seems interesting, there are a lot of problems.

 

1) Awkward size issue: The iPhone fits in your pocket and you take it everywhere, but the lens doesn't fit so easily in your pocket.  Once you put it in a protective cover, you're not saving that much space from a normal compact P&S camera.  Realistically, if I had one of these lenses, I wouldn't have it any more with me than I do now with my compact P&S.

 

2) Won't likely work with many cases... specifically battery cases. 

 

3) WiFi lag: I have apps and such that I use with my DSLR and other P&S.  They work, but aren't ideal.  You use them when you need to control the camera with your iPhone or iPad via WiFi, not because these devices create a better user experience than using the physical controls that came with the camera.  Imagine taking pictures measured in FPS versus several seconds per frame.

 

4) Battery: I can't imagine that the lens holds enough of a battery to match the life of an equivalent camera.  Even if it does, you're still also draining your iPhone battery when taking pictures. 

 

At best, assuming the device itself is flawless, and the required app is flawless, you're still looking at something that is only better than a full camera in that it has slightly less weight/size and is potentially less expensive, but there are far too many negatives to offset that little benefit.

 

I'll stick with a dedicated camera and Eye-Fi or any number of cameras that have built-in wifi.

post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

I wonder if it even needs to be attached to an iPhone. If it is interacting with an app by BT and has its own sensor and SD card, theoretically one could mount it to a tall monopod and be able to see through the viewfinder through the app. I do this all the time when I want a shot from a vantage point I cannot reach. I just mount my dSLR on an expandable monopod and hold it as high as I can using the shutter timer. But you can't see what you are shooting so it is trial and error. With the Sony perhaps you could actually see your shot. Just a thought.

 

It's WiFi-Direct, and doesn't need to be attached.  Many cameras are coming out now with WiFi-Direct, and you can even get WiFi-Direct attachments.  I have one for my Canon 5D and 7D, and it works pretty well.  See http://www.cameramator.com

post #16 of 28
Having attachable cameras is great but problem will be is keeping it enough ahead of the on board camera.
post #17 of 28
Being Bluetooth, I would think that the lens need not be attached to the phone body at all, rather it can be placed up to 10 meters away, especially as the OS simply controls the camera and displays the image that the camera sees. I can see potentially great artistry in having a lens that can be placed in a different location from the body (such as news crews putting a lens on a pole to take pictures and video from above) but also the potential for abuse. I would like to know how the lens is powered and whether that power can be augmented.
post #18 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by coffeetime View Post

Apple should make a camera smartphone that's more camera than phone.  Call it the iPhone Photo, or whatever.  Give it a real optical telescopic lens.  Sure, it would be "fatter," but something the size of a Canon Powershot SX260 or so would be manageable for me and probably lots of others.

QuickTake 200.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #19 of 28

More photos

 

Shut up and go away, you useless, pathetic FUDmonger - Tallest Skil
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Shut up and go away, you useless, pathetic FUDmonger - Tallest Skil
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post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by coffeetime View Post

Apple should make a camera smartphone that's more camera than phone.  Call it the iPhone Photo, or whatever.  Give it a real optical telescopic lens.  Sure, it would be "fatter," but something the size of a Canon Powershot SX260 or so would be manageable for me and probably lots of others.
That thing will never happen.
post #21 of 28
Never say never
http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/nz/products/blackmagicpocketcinemacamera/

About the same size as an iPhone but different intent of course, its a camera.
Check the frankenrig below.
Convergence of tech is inevitable. It's another thing altogether which of the competing techs will win customers $$$$
post #22 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by RobM View Post

Never say never
http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/nz/products/blackmagicpocketcinemacamera/

About the same size as an iPhone but different intent of course, its a camera.
Check the frankenrig below.
Convergence of tech is inevitable. It's another thing altogether which of the competing techs will win customers $$$$

Looks pretty rad, shame it looks like its geared toward HD video, which is cool, bit pricey, i think the new PEN 5 or GX7 are the 4/3's cameras that look nice to me.
 

PS, if this sony thingy works on iOS....SHUT UP & TAKE MY MONEY!!! :) id just put it on my iPod touch :D

post #23 of 28
lol
Just realised I linked to bmds nz site
They'll think everybody in NZ must want one.
oh well, let them have a moment. 1biggrin.gif
post #24 of 28

I'm keen to go to NZ, its not too far from here :D

post #25 of 28

There is this similar campaign running on Indiegogo to attached a High Resolution camera to iPhone.

 

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ladibird-attach-a-high-tech-portraiture-camera-to-your-iphone-5/x/4167518

post #26 of 28

Originally Posted by paxman View Post
Except it's not. I agree with the rest of your post but to reduce the iPhone to a 'phone' is wrong, in spite of its name.

 

Except it is. Maybe instead of the schoolyard argument we can go back to the facts? It's a phone. Period. Not reduce, expound. It's a phone. It will be used like a phone, carried like a phone, operated like a phone, and work like a phone. It is not a camera. It has a camera, but it is not a camera. It should not be a camera, because it is a phone, and everything else it does, before it is a camera. 

 

This doesn't let you use apps well. It barely lets you use them at all. You don't actually want this. 

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply
post #27 of 28
I shoot with a Sony A77. Ever since I made the switch from Nikon to Sony in late 2011, I've been blown away by the approach Sony is taking. Canon and Nikon feel so out of date by comparison. Sadly though, I think Sony is further ahead of the curve than consumers are.
post #28 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

Except it is. Maybe instead of the schoolyard argument we can go back to the facts? It's a phone. Period. Not reduce, expound. It's a phone. It will be used like a phone, carried like a phone, operated like a phone, and work like a phone. It is not a camera. It has a camera, but it is not a camera. It should not be a camera, because it is a phone, and everything else it does, before it is a camera. 

 

 

I think he may have meant that, the iPhone isn't just a phone, speaking for myself, i use email, safari, social media apps, texting, playing some odd games maybe some youtube, sometimes, sometimes I make & receive calls (usually for work), I have the feeling looking around at other peoples use of the iPhone, seems pretty similar to mine, so i wouldn't call it a phone with other things, its a whole lot of things with a phone in it (the most phone thing about it is its name)
The way you hold & use stuff is kinda limited by the way humans hands are designed, so many things are held or operated "like a phone" like a banana or a TV remote or a hand help gaming console. 

I think if somethings primary use is to make phone calls, that's what makes something a phone, if most people don't use it that way, what is it?.

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