Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10

The Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 is the cheaper of the two models, priced at $250. It features a 1/2.3" BSI-CMOS sensor and a 10X, 25-250mm lens with optical image stabilization. In other words, the QX10 is a lot like a midrange Sony compact camera. 

The wide (25mm) and telephoto (250mm) ends of the QX10's Sony G lens.

Feature-wise, the QX10 is pretty much point and shoot. There are three shooting modes: iAuto, Superior Auto and Program. The first two both have automatic scene selection, with Superior Auto adding in multi-shot capability such as HDR. There are no manual exposure controls on the QX10, unless you count exposure compensation. Something else you cannot adjust is the ISO sensitivity - even on the more expensive QX100 below. 

On both cameras, movies are recorded at 1440 x 1080 at 30 fps, using the MPEG-4 codec. Sound is recorded in stereo courtesy of the two mics on the top of the camera unit. We were disappointed to find out that the QX siblings cannot record Full HD video, which is a common feature on higher-end smartphones.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX100

The QX100 is the big brother to the QX10, is priced at $500, and packs a higher quality lens and sensor combination. Both the 20-megapixel, 1-inch-type BSI-CMOS and F1.8-4.9, 28-100mm Carl Zeiss lens are borrowed from Sony's RX100 II premium compact. Thus, while you don't get as much zoom power as on the QX10, the QX100 will produce vastly superior images in both good light and bad.

The QX100 features a 3.6X, 28-100mm Carl Zeiss T* lens. Also note the zoom and shutter release buttons, which allow you to take photos without your smartphone.

The QX100 has more features than its cheaper counterpart, but not nearly as many as the RX100 II on which it is based. In addition to the three shooting modes covered in the QX10 section, the QX100 has an aperture priority mode, manual focus, and color temperature adjustment. There's no shutter priority or full manual mode on the QX100, much to our dismay. Something else missing on this pricey camera is support for the Raw image format.

Final Thoughts

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 and QX100 offer a totally new way of shooting on your mobile device. These cameras leave the world of tiny sensors and fixed lenses behind, offering you a choice of high zoom power or excellent photo quality. But are they worth the price?

The QX10 is the cheaper of the two cameras ($250), and features an 18-megapixel sensor and a 10X optical zoom lens. Sure that's more pixels than any smartphone - aside from a few Nokias - but will the typical smartphone user notice the difference? As for the zoom, you can pick up teleconverters such as this one for a lot less that the QX10. Sure, you can't zoom in and out, nor will the image quality be as good, but $35 is a lot cheaper than $250.

While it's based on the RX100 II, the QX100 is a bit underwhelming. On the positive side, it offers the same high-quality lens and sensor as the camera on which it is based. That said, it's missing quite a few features, including shutter priority and manual exposure modes, adjustable ISO sensitivity, Raw support, and Full HD video. Add in the bulk and the price ($500) and you might be wondering if you should just carry around a premium compact camera instead.

Will the QX10 and QX100 succeed? We're not sure at this point. Ultimately, the market will decide, and we'll be watching closely.