Leak reveals Sony's next iPhone-connected camera lens will feature swappable E-Mount, pop-up flash

Posted:
in iPhone edited September 2014
Sony's next-generation QX-series external camera accessory, which wirelessly connects to and is controlled by smartphones like Apple's iPhone, may include an E-Mount attachment for swapping lenses, as well as a dedicated flash.


Image via Xperia Blog.


Details on the unannounced product were revealed on Tuesday by Xperia Blog, which got its hands on promotional pictures that appear to show capabilities of the new hardware. Specifically, the images show a new QX wireless lens with a standard E-Mount attachment, which would allow users to swap out different lenses for various uses.

The unit also appears to have a pop-up flash, which could be an improvement over the built-in camera flash on Apple's iPhone and other handsets. The current Sony Playmemories app for iOS which controls the existing QX10 and QX100 lenses does not offer camera flash support when taking pictures.

Finally, the leak also suggests that the product will utilize an Exmor APC-S sensor. Aside from those changes, the unit appears to have a similar design to its predecessors, including a clip-on mount that allows it to be securely fastened to smartphones of varying sizes.

Naturally, the images show the new QX lens being used with a Sony smartphone --?in this case, the unreleased Xperia Z3. But the previous QX lenses were compatible with Apple's iPhone, as well as Android handsets.



Sony's unique QX-series camera lenses connect to Apple's iPhone via Wi-Fi direct, and are then controlled by the handset. The iPhone also acts as a live viewfinder for the accessory, while the lens can be clipped to the back of the iPhone or even positioned and controlled remotely.

As noted in AppleInsider's QX10 and QX100 reviews, the hardware took excellent pictures that were a marked improvement from the built-in iPhone 5s camera, but focus control features left much to be desired, especially when controlling the device through the buggy PlayMemories Mobile app and attempting to maintain a connection over Wi-Fi Direct. Sony has gradually updated the devices since their release late last year, squashing bugs and adding new functionality such as shutter half-press to focus, and higher-resolution MP4 video recording.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    I have a hex-6 and a rx100 3rd edition - wonderful cameras, but playmemories is really horrible, and i could not imagine Having to use that just to take a picture. Its bad enough using it to access and email the odd picture. Maybe if new iPhone 6 has NFC, and they can use that to auto pair playmemories each time it would be more usable.
  • Reply 2 of 31
    This is made for iPhone 6 right?
  • Reply 3 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Curtis Hannah View Post



    This is made for iPhone 6 right?

    No. It's made for many platforms. Looks to me like it's essentially a lens-shaped micro 4/3 camera that's teathered to a phone for the interface.

  • Reply 4 of 31

    It's an interesting solution, but I don't like the way they're solving the whole attachment issue. Looks flimsy.

  • Reply 5 of 31
    nikon133nikon133 Posts: 2,600member
    No. It's made for many platforms. Looks to me like it's essentially a lens-shaped micro 4/3 camera that's teathered to a phone for the interface.

    I think it is 1" sensor, same as in Nikon 1 platform and Sony's own RX100 cameras. It is smaller than 4/3 but larger than common P&S sensors.

    But yes, this is basically a complete screen-less camera - lens, sensor, processing/power. It uses phone for preview screen and controls... maybe storage? Not sure if these things have their own storage or not.
  • Reply 6 of 31

    This is, indeed, LEAKS SEASON !!!

  • Reply 7 of 31
    nikon133nikon133 Posts: 2,600member
    I have a hex-6 and a rx100 3rd edition - wonderful cameras, but playmemories is really horrible, and i could not imagine Having to use that just to take a picture. Its bad enough using it to access and email the odd picture. Maybe if new iPhone 6 has NFC, and they can use that to auto pair playmemories each time it would be more usable.

    I envy you! I have 1st gen RX100, and I'd really love wider lens. RX100 III starts with 24mm equivalent... and is faster across the whole zoom range... I get only 28mm... :(

    But yes, those are amazing little cameras.
  • Reply 8 of 31
    Originally Posted by Chandra69 View Post

    This is, indeed, LEAKS SEASON !!!

     

  • Reply 9 of 31

    I own the Sony QX100 lens and team it with an Apple iPhone 5S.

     

    This purchase has been one of my better investments @ around $500

    and is definitely not a toy like the other snap-on lenses available.

     

    This Carl Zeiss glass has been responsible for some amazing shots in any light conditions

     - that I normally would not have got because I couldn't be bothered lugging my big heavy SLR around.

     

    Yes Ive missed not having a flash a few times.

     

    But I can leave the lens on a table and take the ultimate high quality group selfie

    - controlled by the iPhone and the Sony Play Memories App

    which can be a little slow to connect @ times

    (I haven't performed the recent upgrade)

     

    But the real benefit is the enormous saving in space and weight.

     

    I can go anywhere e.g. a nightclub and the whole kit fits easily in my jeans pocket

    along with my wallet and keys. Amazing. I cant achieve that with my Nikon D90

    - which is sadly gathering dust in the cupboard.

     

    I think its fair to say that Photography is on the edge of a major change

     - where phone cameras are making the traditional SLR completely redundant

    for normal enthusiasts like myself

  • Reply 10 of 31
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Curtis Hannah View Post



    This is made for iPhone 6 right?



    not really, both Android and iOS. The phone case that has the lens lock-in mount built in to it is only for their own Xperia line thou.

  • Reply 11 of 31
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,989member
    I have a hex-6 and a rx100 3rd edition - wonderful cameras, but playmemories is really horrible, and i could not imagine Having to use that just to take a picture. Its bad enough using it to access and email the odd picture. Maybe if new iPhone 6 has NFC, and they can use that to auto pair playmemories each time it would be more usable.

    I have an NEX-5 and an NEX-7, along with four emount lenses ranging from a macro to a 200mm telephoto.

    This might go well with the iPhone I plan to get on launch day, while the most of the world is still asleep.
  • Reply 12 of 31
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by hill60 View Post





    I have an NEX-5 and an NEX-7, along with four emount lenses ranging from a macro to a 200mm telephoto.



    This might go well with the iPhone I plan to get on launch day, while the most of the world is still asleep.

    I started my sony collection with NEX-7 - on 'long term loan' with a colleague. I bought the NEX-6 because i liked the built in wifi. I have a few lenses - and thats the problem - i can't ever just bring the hex-6 with only one lens - so i stopped bringing it. The rx100 is really quite small- and has the built in wifi. The killer feature for me was the built in viewfinder - i have a new grandson - and i find it a real pain to try to take pictures without a viewfinder. I hope i too can get a phone on launch day - for me it will be the smallest version!

  • Reply 13 of 31
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Right_said_fred View Post

     

    I started my sony collection with NEX-7 - on 'long term loan' with a colleague. I bought the NEX-6 because i liked the built in wifi. I have a few lenses - and thats the problem - i can't ever just bring the hex-6 with only one lens - so i stopped bringing it. The rx100 is really quite small- and has the built in wifi. The killer feature for me was the built in viewfinder - i have a new grandson - and i find it a real pain to try to take pictures without a viewfinder. I hope i too can get a phone on launch day - for me it will be the smallest version!


     

    Yeah, a viewfinder is key for me, and I prefer an optical viewfinder. I'm also hooked on speed, and this burdens me with both the joy and the weight a Canon 1D and too much glass.     O_o

  • Reply 14 of 31
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by waterrockets View Post

     

     

    Yeah, a viewfinder is key for me, and I prefer an optical viewfinder. I'm also hooked on speed, and this burdens me with both the joy and the weight a Canon 1D and too much glass.     O_o


    Im at (past) the age i need glasses for reading - a non optical viewfinder can be adjusted so i can cope without glasses. I can't read the back LCD text at all.A true optical viewfinder is so much quicker and better - shame the cameras end up being so big and heavy!

  • Reply 15 of 31
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by waterrockets View Post

     

    No. It's made for many platforms. Looks to me like it's essentially a lens-shaped micro 4/3 camera that's teathered to a phone for the interface.




    Hmmm. Micro fourth-thirds implies a specific lens mount and a specific size of sensor, and there is absolutely no possibility  that either will apply to this camera device.

  • Reply 16 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nikon133 View Post





    I think it is 1" sensor, same as in Nikon 1 platform and Sony's own RX100 cameras. It is smaller than 4/3 but larger than common P&S sensors.



    But yes, this is basically a complete screen-less camera - lens, sensor, processing/power. It uses phone for preview screen and controls... maybe storage? Not sure if these things have their own storage or not.



    Hmmm. Why would you think it would use a 1" sensor? Why would you think that the sensor from the RX100 would apply to this? I don't think this is at all likely. It would not take advantage of the E-mount, which originated with the NEX series cameras, and which Sony has more recently expanded for use with cameras that have full-frame sensors. As such, it is entirely possibly that it would use a full-frame sensor. Although that is easily possible and would not be terribly surprising, I think it is somewhat unlikely, for two reasons. First, that would make it a very expensive camera. Two, the article, referring to the leak, says it uses an APS-C sensor (the article unfortunately transposed the letters, but there can be no question that APC-S was supposed to be APS-C). Now, since the article actually identifies the size of the sensor, why are people speculating that it will be micro four-thirds or 1"? Why this speculation, when the article says what it is? Do people think they know more than the people who leaked the information, or did they just not read the article, or do they not know what APS-C refers to? Sony has used several different APS-C sensors in the NEX cameras and the subsequent cameras that similarly use E-mount. Lately they have been favoring the sensors that have special sensing elements embedded directly in the sensor, to permit the use of phase-detection auto-focus. These sensors are commonly referred to as "hybrid sensors". I think it is highly likely that it will use one of the hybrid sensors. Regardless, if you want to know what sensor it is likely to use, all you need do is go read up on the latest mirrorless cameras that Sony has introduced, that use sensors in the APS-C size. Using this size of sensor, as opposed to full-frame, insures that all E-mount lenses will work with the camera. This camera will have strong appeal to anyone who already owns an E-mount camera and who has one or more existing E-mount lenses.

  • Reply 17 of 31

    Sony's latest mirrorless cameras that use E-mount and APS-C sensors are the a5100 and the a6000. Both use the same sensor: a 24 megapixel sensor that incorporates the special sensor elements needed for fast phase-detect autofocus. It is highly likely that if this leak is true, which I think it very likely is, that this camera will use this same sensor. This technology only became available a couple of years ago, with the NEX-6. Previously, a camera needed to have a mirror in order to use this faster type of autofocus, because the special sensors needed were separate and dedicated to the function of autofocus (as opposed to capturing the image). If this leak proves correct, which I believe it will because it makes very good sense, this camera is going to make a very big splash. People who already own a Sony camera with E-mount lenses will be especially drawn to it. The ability to use the same interchangeable lenses on your Sony mirrorless camera and also with this setup, together with a smart phone, is huge. It means that when you don't want to carry your camera around with you, you can leave it home and use your smart phone instead, with the lenses from your E-mount camera and a top-notch sensor, and without having to pay for additional lenses the way that you have to today, with either of the two existing, similar Sony cameras.

  • Reply 18 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by kaiser_soze View Post

    People who already own a Sony camera with E-mount lenses will be especially drawn to it. The ability to use the same interchangeable lenses on your Sony mirrorless camera and also with this setup, together with a smart phone, is huge. It means that when you don't want to carry your camera around with you, you can leave it home and use your smart phone instead, with the lenses from your E-mount camera and a top-notch sensor, and without having to pay for additional lenses the way that you have to today, with either of the two existing, similar Sony cameras.

     

    I don't know, Kaiser, I've got a Sony NEX 5 camera, two actually, and I don't think this is all that appealing.

    As it is the camera is pretty much the smallest and lightest part of the entire package anyway, so still carrying around the lenses and this mini-camera means you're not going to be saving very much weight or space. And I don't know what kind of battery this uses, but it can't be as large as the ones in the NEX camera, so another negative there.

    The 55-210mm lens I have already looks quite obscene on the tiny NEX body, I dread to think how odd it would look hanging off the back of an iPhone!
  • Reply 19 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by kaiser_soze View Post

     



    Hmmm. Micro fourth-thirds implies a specific lens mount and a specific size of sensor, and there is absolutely no possibility  that either will apply to this camera device.


     

    Okay Literal Man. This is a mirrorless camera shaped like a lens mount that takes interchangeable lenses.

  • Reply 20 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by kaiser_soze View Post

     



     it is entirely possibly that it would use a full-frame sensor. Although that is easily possible and would not be terribly surprising, I think it is somewhat unlikely, for two reasons. First, that would make it a very expensive camera. Two, the article, referring to the leak, says it uses an APS-C sensor (the article unfortunately transposed the letters, but there can be no question that APC-S was supposed to be APS-C).


     

    FF would mean lenses that are way too heavy to snap onto a phone unless they're all f/5.6 or smaller.

     

    I think APS-C is unlikely as well, for the same reason. Even a modest APS-C lens, like the Canon 15-85, would be too heavy to rely on a universal phone mount to hold it from falling.

     

    I think it would be easier to add smartphone functionality to a mirrorless camera. Pop in your sim card for the day and head out.

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