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Sony is redefining the word camera with its new “lens-type” cameras. Announced Wednesday at IFA in Berlin, the company’s two new cameras look like lenses, but are, in fact, full-blown digital cameras. You attach them to your phone only when you need an external viewfinder or if you want to instantly share your images.
Leaked a few times over the past few weeks, early reports described the lenses as phone attachments. While they do have brackets on their rear so they can be connected to your phone, they don’t need a phone to operate. That means you can hold the lens above a crowd, or slip it into a literal hole in the wall to get the perfect shot, all without the bulk of a traditional camera body.
Sony is launching two different versions of the camera. One is a “high-zoom” model with an 18.2-megapixel sensor and 10x optical zoom, and another is the “Quality” version with a 28mm lens, 20.2-megapixel resolution and 3.6x optical zoom.
Both cameras have a shutter button and zoom rocker on the side, allowing them to be used just like any other camera, independent of a phone.
When you do want to connect your phone, pairing is done with just a tap using NFC (provided your phone has NFC. iPhones will use Wi-Fi). Once paired, you can share photos taken with the Lens-Type camera via your phone’s email and social media apps.
I had the opportunity to spend a little time with both models and walked away fairly impressed. A totally different genre of camera, the lenses seem like the ideal device to take with you to a concert or crowded event. They’re pocketable, but offer more power than a phone camera. However, unlike most traditional, pocket-sized point and shoots, they can, if you want, be used in-concert with your phone.
Both lenses work with Android smartphones as well as the iPhone and are exceptionally easy to use. Snapping the lenses off and on your phone can be done in a matter of seconds.
Sony’s Lens-Type cameras will be available later this year in all black, as well as a white and gold combination. The high zoom model (DSC-QX100) will be available for $249, and the higher-resolution “Quality” model (DSC-QX10) for $499.