Smartphone photography has developed considerably over the past few years and some props manufacturers have even specialized in this segment through a number of dedicated devices. Sony itself entered the battle last year with two photographic modules: the DSC-QX10 and the DSC-QX100 . The latter has been with me now for a week and as much to say that he surprised me in more than one way.
This article follows on from the Getting Started published last week. If you have read it, you can directly skip the first two parts of the test and thus proceed to the rest of the festivities.
Contrary to what one might think, the DSC-QX100 is not a simple lens designed for our smartphones. In reality, it is a full-fledged digital compact and it ultimately comes very close to the RX100 Mark II ( tested here ) in terms of technical characteristics. The resemblance is even most striking:
- ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T * 28-100mm f / 1.8-4.9 lens.
- SteadyShot optical stabilizer.
- 20.2 megapixel Exmor R sensor.
- BIONZ processing chip.
- Sensitivity between 160 and 6400 ISO in normal mode.
- Sensitivity between 160 and 25,600 ISO in extended mode.
- WiFi, NFC, microSD / microSDHC / microSDXC card port.
- Micro USB 2.0 port.
- Dimensions: 62.5 x 62.5 x 55.5 mm.
- Weight: 165 grams.
- Average price (on 02/28/14): € 350.
The strong point of the device is undoubtedly its optics. ZEISS know-how is well established and its openness will allow it to obtain very good results in most conditions , even when ambient light is lacking.
I did not mention it the last time but it should be noted that the DSC-QX100 is not tropicalized. It will be better to avoid taking it out in the event of rain. Too bad, with a few seals, it could have established itself as a very good companion for the Xperia Z1, the Xperia Z2 or even the Xperia Z1 Compact.
Design & Ergonomics
The DSC-QX100 surprises with its size and weight. It is a little narrower than the Canon and Nikon lenses, but it is still very imposing and it will be impossible to slip it into a trouser pocket. It will thus be necessary to equip yourself with a bag or a backpack to transport it.
Once powered on, the QX100's optics will deploy a little over three centimeters. At its base, we will find a ring similar to that of the RX100. It will allow us to take control of certain settings, or even the focusing once the autofocus has been deactivated. Sony has done a great job on that side and this famous ring is a real treat to use.
The firm also had the good idea to integrate a screw thread into its objective. It will therefore be possible to attach it to a tripod, as we would with a traditional digital compact. The trigger is on the left side of the cylinder, not far from the two buttons assigned to the zoom control. As an extension, we will find a hatch concealing the Micro USB port and the port for microSD cards. Sony has integrated on the right edge of its lens a screen permanently displaying the battery status of the latter.
Since we're talking about it, the device's battery is hidden behind a hatch under the lens. This is also where we will find the connection information for the latter, to connect it via WiFi to our mobile.
The DSC-QX100 comes with a base that will be placed on our smartphone thanks to its two deployable legs. One of these is mounted on a spring and it will therefore be possible to adapt the gap between the two attachment points according to the width of our terminal. Be careful, however, because the device will not be able to attach to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 or the Sony Xperia ZU.
Getting an idea of the ergonomics of a product is not easy in a few paragraphs. This first video should allow you to see it a little more clearly.
Responsiveness & Autonomy
As much to be clear, in terms of reactivity, the DSC-QX100 does not do better than the RX100 present in the Sony catalog. It takes a little over four seconds to turn on. The worst is yet to come because we will then have to wait for it to connect to our smartphone to take advantage of the remote sighting. So count about ten seconds between the moment you press the power button and the moment you can shoot.
This is obviously very problematic when you want to take a photo on the spot.
Once lit, the guy is doing quite well with an average of a second of waiting between each shot. But its strong point, in my opinion, is its extremely fast autofocus. The focus will be done in a few tenths of a second, even when the ambient light leaves much to be desired. My Canon EOS 100D is no faster.
The theoretical autonomy announced by Sony is 220 photos, the same as most digital compacts on the market. Deal ? Yes, without any worries.
The DSC-QX100 has the same sensor and the same optics as the RX100 Mark II . We are also entitled to the same processing chip behind. Not surprisingly, the autonomous lens delivers photos of the same quality as those of the small digital compact of the firm.
In other words and to put it simply, we take it all in our eyes. The colors are realistic, the sharpness is excellent and this in all possible conditions, including low light. Between the openness of its optics and its sensitivity, we will have a lot of what to get out of it on this ground elsewhere.
An image is better than a thousand speeches, here is a small gallery of photos taken with the QX100. These images are also available on my Dropbox in their original format.
When it was launched, the DSC-QX100 was satisfied with a bastard definition for recording videos, a definition between 720p and 1080p. Sony has since rolled out a number of updates and the lens now films in Full HD at thirty frames per second. A boilerplate format that is more than enough in a personal setting, even if the firm could have pushed the concept a little further and granted us a slow motion mode.
Unsurprisingly, the videos shot with the QX100 are particularly qualitative. The guy is as impressive as the RX100 Mark II and it's really a guarantee of quality when you know what the latter is capable of. The same goes for the SteadyShot stabilizer which works wonders. The various sequences that make up the embedded video at the end of this paragraph were all shot freehand, and they will give you a little more precise idea of what the small lens is capable of.
But the QX100 still has one big flaw: its microphone . If you want to use the device in a professional setting, it will be better to opt for a back-up solution or even a dictaphone.
Control of the DSC-QX100 is done through a dedicated app, available on both iOS and Android: Play Memories . It is unfortunately not possible to get rid of it and go through other tools.
Play Memories benefits from a fairly clear and intuitive interface. The trigger is located at the bottom of the screen, between two buttons. The first gives access to the application settings while the second will send us back to the last captured image. The selection of capture and recording modes will be done through the controls at the top.
Since we are talking about it, know that the application integrates five native modes: Intelligent Auto mode , Superior Automatic mode, Program Auto mode, Aperture-priority shooting mode and shutter speed priority mode . Settings will vary from mode to mode. In some cases, it will be possible to play with the aperture or with the sensitivity, but not all the time.
Play Memories incorporates a battery of options to set a self-timer, to change the focus or even to set the recording medium. All of these features are discussed in the following video.
The moment for the verdict has finally arrived and, quite frankly, the results are rather positive. If we focus only on the quality of the images and videos delivered, then the DSC-QX100 is truly flawless and it can perfectly replace any digital compact on the market, and even some entry-level SLRs. range.
The only downside, ultimately, comes from its ergonomics and its size. It is less convenient to carry than an RX100 Mark II and it will tend to monopolize both of our hands in all circumstances. Its start-up time may also slow down some photographers.