Lincoln Han
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Review: Sony DSC-QX10 wireless camera module

Date: Jan. 2015


The Sony QX-10 is an interesting concept to add a more capable camera to a smart phone or tablet. It comes with a 1/2.3" Exmor R CMOS sensor that is found in most compact cameras of this price range, and it produces 18 mega-pixel photos. Its optical reach and quality is unbeatable by even the best smart phone on the market, reaching 10X optical zoom. The QX-100 has a much bigger ASP-C size sensor, but it comes at the cost of a significant increase in size. I usually carry a micro four-thirds camera which gives a optimal quality and size balance, however, sometimes when I want to carry very light, and still need something that is more capable than what a smartphone camera can do, I decided to try this.

I usually prefer to carry separate devices to achieve the maximum battery life – so it doesn’t happen such case which I need the camera and the phone battery is depleted. Instead of a smart phone, I carry an Apple iPod Touch 5th generation, and here is my experience Under iOS 7 using PlayMemories 5.1. In short summary, the Sony QX-10 is designed for deliberate shooting and allows you to be away from the subject, or shoot from an unusual perspective. It is not designed for quick shooting, as a dedicated camera is. With NFC connectivity, it takes few seconds to get ready, without it, it can take up to half a minute. It’s simply not the type of camera for someone who needs a responsive camera.

Image quality is typical for a compact camera using this type of sensor. The optical quality is good for its class.

Pairing to the camera involves turning it on, going to iOS setting, choose the camera’s wifi SSID and connect. Then, go back to the home screen to start the Sony PlayMemories application.

Video recording: More than enough for a small sensor (up to 1920x1080 full HD after recent firmware upgrade), but no option to choose the lower 720P for some reason. Often 720P is enough and quick to post-process, so this is a neglected feature. There is no indicator for time lapsed or remaining, cannot change exposure or resolution.

Does not transfer video to phone afterward, probably because the video size is too big for a quick transfer.

No flash, bad for moving object without sufficient light

Low light is good for stationary subject shot using a tripod

There can be lags at times, recording a large video can experience lockup especially if the WiFi signal becomes week.

Stereo recording, while cannot compare to higher end cameras with dedicated mics, it’s not bad.

No manual control – just Programmed Mode, cannot set shutter or aperture speed.
Wifi range limited (considering the size and amplifier power): when there is no obstacle, it is possible to achieve 10 to 15 meters. When in door, blocked by a heavy door, the range drops to about 5~8 meters. When blocked by brick walls and angles, even at 5 meters it barely connects.

For sport competitions, it could be handy if you have no one to film you; but if you give this to someone, and your match does not start immediately, the person may fail to launch the recording software after the camera goes to standby.

Sometimes you need to restart the Sony app to successfully connect the camera.
It can be slow to turn off existing wifi, connect to the camera, and launch the app. You have to connect to the camera before launching the app, it does not connect to the camera automatically.

The battery doesn’t last that long (2 hours) if you leave it on most of the time. It will go into standby after a while, but with occasional recording throughout this period, it drains the battery quickly.

In conclusion, it’s not what photographers consider a responsive camera. It’s a niche camera. If you don’t mind the extra steps each time you need to shoot and you don’t shoot often, it is a much better substitute for your smart phone’s camera. The optical 10X zoom is unbeatable.

As a security camera, it’s not good because when you connect it to USB power it does not allow camera to operate. The wireless distance is also relatively short.

If you often need quick shots, this is not the camera for you. There is no comparison to a compact camera like Ricoh GR Digital III, IV or Panasonic  Lumix LF1 which power on in less than a second and can focus very quickly to take the shot. I replaced it with a Panasonic Lumix LF-1, which has 7x optical zoom, wide aperture (F 2.0) at the wide end, and is very responsive. It also has ability to connect to an iOS or Android device through WiFi using the Panasonic imaging application. On top of that, it’s just a big bigger than the Sony QX-10, which does not make much difference when I need to carry light.

 

Day and night video test 1080P

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