First Pictures of Sony’s Groundbreaking Lens Cameras Surface


There’s been a lot of doubt surrounding recent rumors that Sony is working on a couple of revolutionary “lens cameras.” The smartphone-attachable lenses — complete with built-in sensor and processor — seemed far-fetched to some, but now that we have our first leaked images, any remaining doubts should start melting away.

The original rumor was reported by sonyalpharumors, who was extremely confident the lens cams were real given the reliability of their sources in the past. But that didn’t stop CNET‘s show Rumor Has It from poking fun at SAR and calling the rumor unlikely, which in turn led the rumor site to bet CNET drinks that the lens cameras were the real deal.

Well, it looks like CNET owes sonyalpharumors a beer next time he’s in NYC, because these product shots seem quite legitimate, and it’s nowhere near April.


Along with the new pics, SAR also shared some previously unknown model names as well as a few details we hadn’t heard before.

The two lens cameras will reportedly be dubbed the DSC-QX100 and DSC-QX10. The first will be the pricier big boy of the bunch (seen on the left below). It’ll hit shelves packing the same 20.2-megapixel sensor and Zeiss glass found in/on Sony’s powerful RX100 Mark II compact.

The second will be the smaller, more affordable option that will feature an 18-megapixel 1/2.3-inch sensor and 10x optical zoom.



Both lenses are said to pack a Bionz processor and will attach magnetically to your smartphone — both Android and iOS will be supported — which will in turn control the lens cam via built-in WiFi/NEF.

This essentially turns your phone into a compact camera, with the phone serving as the LCD screen and brains, while the lens attachment contains the glass and the eye.


No word yet on when these lens cameras will be making their debut, or how much they’ll cost when they do, but Sony has a lot of exciting announcements coming up in the following months, so stay tuned and we’ll be sure to keep you up to date.

(via sonyalpharumors)

  • Graham Ferguson

    What an odd idea but the idea of travelling light like that, if the smartphone app is responsive enough and the lens/camera attachment reasonably good at shooting, is very interesting.

  • Norshan Nusi

    Now this is great….

    The size is similar to the Canon Powershot N?

  • Muhammad Malik

    am i the only one that kind of likes having some sort of bulkyness to a camera? i just like holding it

  • Dhaval Panchal

    Nope! totally agree. I prefer having a purpose built camera with a nice handgrip. I suppose this is aimed at people who want more zoom and better images to share via their smartphone as there would be no need for an extra data plan. Clever move Sony. Better than Samsung’s approach IMO.

  • Dhaval Panchal

    And if it works with the Hi-res tablets that are coming out…(a la Nexus 10) then this could be interesting…

  • Vlad Dusil

    Well played Sony, well played.

  • thecrowdedpatio

    If they price this sensibly, it would change how

  • OM-G

    I’m pretty sure the rx100 does not have an APS-C sensor.

  • James

    A creative and interesting idea for sure. The lines blur a little further.

    It would be interesting to see that idea turned into a lens receiver with the sensor and back end included but with the ability to mount any NEX lens to it.

  • Joey Duncan

    This isn’t about that. This is about being compact, and being versatile. You may want a purpose built “camera” but 99% of the rest of the world could careless and just want to take duckface pictures….

  • Joey Duncan

    I mean… .pictures of ducks…

  • Malagodi

    So the storage is on the phone?

  • Robert Mark

    I’ve thought that nothing makes one look more like a tool than taking pictures with a tablet, but now I know I’m wrong. If you buy one of these to hang on the back of your tablet, it comes with a FastPass to the front of the dumbass line.

  • carlhancock

    iOS support? Sony would have my money in a heartbeat. The iPhone (or high end Android) would make a great LCD and storage device for a camera like this. Sony would sell a ton of these. Lets hope the rumors this is real AND it will have support for iOS and non-Sony Android devices. If its a Song only phone device… it’ll fail. If it supports iPhone, Samsung, etc.? This could be a big hit. I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

  • Renato Murakami

    Several questions and thoughts about this, but looks interesting nonetheless.
    Seems the sensor is still smaller than the one on Nokia 1020 (1/2.3″ vs 1/1.5″), but… it’s a Sony. :P I suspect the quality could come out better depending on how the sensor is built and how the image is processed. It’ll be harder when it comes to low light though… depends no how fast those lens are I guess.
    For comparison:
    (iPhone 5 has a 1/3.2″ sensor)
    Hopefully, storing the images in the smartphone via Wi-fi or… (what the heck is NEF? Isn’t it nfc?) won’t be a bottleneck to the system. Maybe the lens itself has some sort of buffer. Also, shutter lag, etc.
    And then battery. Let’s say it also works detached with Wi-fi, it has to have some sort of independent battery there… which can be good since it won’t draw from the smartphone, or bad because it’s an extra cost.
    I think it’s missing a quarter inch thread for tripod mount… not that I’m expecting it to be a pro camera replacement or anything like that, but even for point ‘n shoots I think it’s kind of a nice add.
    I’m guessing the real problem though will be pricing. Not to put people down, but basically the most expensive parts of a camera are there (sensor, lens and processor)… I don’t think it’ll be too cheap. Probably a bit lower than the price of a nice point ‘n shoot camera, since we’re not paying for an LCD screen. Sensor size is about the same. You know, like I said… it’s a Sony. :P
    But even so, it’ll be a very interesting option for better pics on the fly if the quality is decent on tests. I’d definitely get one if I had a Sony smartphone.

  • derekdj

    It’s interesting especially if Sony can work out the high speed wireless transfer of images, Nikon’s wifi app for iPhone is cool “when it works”, it tends to choke with previews and transfers. But this is could be a cool piece of gear that will really dent of the point and shoot market even more.

  • C-NET

    Complete Stupidity. Here at C-Net, we will continue to doubt! There is absolutely no reason that this will actually be a thing. Pictures don’t mean squat.

  • Kieran Grasby

    If you use the phone’s wi-fi signal to control the thing, why do there appear to be controls on the units themselves? I guess remote operation away from your phone could be an option, but how far away would you realistically expect them to operate?
    Also, how many shots per battery charge do we reckon these things will do? I’m guessing that the answer is “not loads”.

  • Mark Gold

    NEF is short for Nikon Electronic Format, a RAW file format. Sony uses ARW.

    As for the battery issue you mentioned. Battery consumption will be an issue regardless of whether the Sony lens cameras have their own power source. Broadcasting over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth while streaming live video along with all of the features to control the camera and store the images will chew through the phone’s battery like nobody’s business.

  • Jared Jantzer

    Still no love for the windows phone user… I see how it is…. Just because I like my Xbox means I can’t have a cool lens to use with my Lumia 920. Luckily I own an a77

  • S2N

    Is there a Micro SD in the lens or will the camera house the storage device?

  • Mark Gold

    I shoot plenty of pics on my iPhone in addition to regularly shooting with my Nikon D7000. Frankly, this Sony lens camera is an interesting idea, however, it’s a dumb idea as well. It’s one thing to carry a static add-on lens in your pocket for the occasional zoom or fisheye shot (like the Olloclip), and it’s another thing to lug the QX-10 or QX-100 with you. Seriously, there are much better choices out there. I’m not sure what Sony would charge for this, but I would rather spend the money on a dedicated point and shoot. My personal choice would probably be a Canon G15, however, there are a ton of other great choices out there.

    Also, who in their right mind needs 20 megapixels from a “point and shoot” with a cropped sensor? Seriously people, learn to crop in camera!

    My last issue with the idea of a Sony lens camera is battery life. Even if it has it’s own built-in power source, the battery drain on the phone will likely be pretty immense. Streaming live video over wi-fi, controlling the camera functions and then transferring that 20MP image file will chew through the battery like nobody’s business!

  • Dhaval Panchal

    But what if you’re an aspiring disabled photographer?

  • JoeNoName

    in the lense, microSD

  • Anthony Harden

    This is an interesting concept and all. But was anyone else unnecessarily bothered at all by seeing the lenses and phones casually laying on rough stones? Shudder.

  • David Liang

    There’s an SD slot on the lens/sensor as well so possible both?

  • David Liang

    According to the report on SAR there is a slot for SD on the lens/sensor.

  • David Liang

    How is this any different in function with Canon/Nikon adding wifi function to their DSLRS? And tethering apps for smart phones and ipads?
    Seems Sony likes that idea also but instead of making the user carry a DSLR and their phone, they can carry something the size of a kit lens or smaller, and use a bright 5″ retina display as rear LCD.
    Tell me how much of a difference this is than carrying a smartphone and a separate point and shoot as you suggest? It’s not. Neither are superior ideas but it gives consumers another option.

  • Mike



  • MJ Coffey

    Well, I think there we have the future of point & shoot cameras. So if the rumors about sony offering iOS support are true, then this concept is gonna be a really big deal in the industry. I’m quite excited.

  • Mark Gold

    Dedicated digital cameras are just that, dedicated to taking photographs and videos and are engineered specifically for that purpose. Battery consumption is considered in the overall design.

    There’s a difference between the Wi-Fi and tethering functions on DSLRs and this type of setup. I’ve seen tethered setups and they’re often times used in a studio situation where power consumption is not an issue. If you’re out and about taking pics on your iPhone with a QX-10 and the battery runs out (on the phone), not only are you left not being able to take photos, but you’re left without a way to make a phone call. If the battery runs out on a point and shoot (or a DSLR for that matter), you simply swap the battery. BTW, I can get over 1,000 shots on my D7000. Yes, I pay a weight penalty, but I’ve never run out of power and can shoot all day.

    My point is that for the size and potential weight of the QX-10 and QX-100 along with the disadvantages of pairing it with your phone, I would prefer instead to have a compact point and shoot if the built-in camera features of the phone are insufficient. Sony even makes some fantastic compact cameras, like the RX-100, HX-50V and the WX-300, so I’m not sure why they would even be considering this smartphone doodad.

  • Michal

    Stupid. Redefined.

  • JoeNoName

    too big lenses, then people would say: THIS IS TOO BIG!

  • Alfonso Jaramillo G√≥mez

    I love my 5Dmk2 and my rebel, and my big aperture (and heavy) lenses. But unfortunately I can’t have them with me at all times. This is perfect for all those other times, cos the best camera is the one you have at that moment.

  • Josh Zytkiewicz

    Imagine this with Google Glass. To be able to hold the lens in your hand and see the image on your head mounted display…it opens up a lot of possibilities.

  • Josh Zytkiewicz

    I disagree. The actual component cost for a smartphone camera assembly is less than $20. Manufacturers aren’t going to ship a smartphone without a camera because the majority of consumers won’t buy something like this.

    Even if manufacturers stop improving or downgrade the cameras in their phones I doubt that would save more than $10 on component costs. On phones that cost $400-$600 or more, that’s not going to result in a significant or likely any price reduction.

  • kassim

    NEX would be too big. Smaller mount will do.

  • Brian

    Actually, yes! Imagine it with Google Glass! A huge lens mounted on glasses frames! That would make a great Saturday Night Live skit!

    “I got this great auxiliary lens for my Google Glass glasses. Now everything is so much better!” ;)

  • YS

    OMG. I might buy this. 12 year Sony boycott notwithstanding.

  • dontbedumb

    So get a RX-100ii? Everybody has different needs and different wants. This could easily stick into a coat pocket or in a small shoulder bag/purse, and will probably be cheaper than a RX-100ii because of the LCD savings. Same lens and image quality, so why do you even care? Don’t vote with your money. Others including myself will. Know-it-all photographer wannabees on the web these days.

  • Nikky

    Hmmm… As a photographer with a big DSLR and multiple lenses, I’d prefer carrying compact camera-phone like the Nokia Lumia 1020. The 1020 will fit my pocket just fine and I won’t have to worry about carrying/protecting another piece of lens. The quality of photos is good enough to take small prints and post on FB. For anything bigger than that, I’d rather use my DSLR for the best quality.

    I had bought a separate attachable fish-eye lens for my old iPhone and I found myself using it only 2-3 times because of the inconvenience of carrying a separate lens and attaching it when needed and then storing it away later. Seems like a very similiar concept with this Sony lens-camera (obviously its quality will be better than the iPhone lens).

  • Norshan Nusi

    They probably learnt about that from the Alpha NEX cameras.

  • aim120

    There are two sizes of sensors available one is a 1″ size and the other a 1/2.3″.So there will be no phone or tablet on the market that can compete with the 1″ size sensor.

  • Graf Almassy

    As the previous rumors stated: The lens will communicate with your phone via NFC. Does iOS devices have NFC?

  • agour


  • Mark Wheadon

    Magnetic? Really? There’s enough ferrous material in all / most smartphones for that to work? Not sure I believe that.

  • Mark Wheadon

    Perhaps it will be supplied with a set of permanently sticky bellows.

  • Norshan Nusi

    As long they don’t install the camera hidden in their shoes, facing up.

  • Tony

    This still looks like a fake. The lens looks real, but is fitted on the LCD side of the camera. You can see the phone camera lens to the right of the snap on lens.

  • Mark Wheadon

    It’s fitted to the same side as the rear facing phone camera lens — i.e. the other side to the LCD.