Sony gives love to the mobile crowd

Posted on February 3, 2014


Anyone looking to shoot mobile video should take a look at what Sony has been up to over the past 18 months. In 2012 and 2013 the company brought out a number of exciting camera products that were perfect for the mobile and handheld market. From audiophile cams to hook on mobile lenses it produced a range of tech for mobile journalists, camera enthusiasts and film-makers


Smart lens
The Cyber-shot QX10 and its more expensive partner the QX100 are perfect companions to your smartphone as they offer a massive boost to image quality for the average mobile. Compatible with any Android or iOS device – no Windows or Blackberry – the unit resembles a detached camera lens but is in reality a camera with 10x optical zoom that you can clip onto, or remotely control with, your phone.

The unit contains a micro-SD memory slot for storing images and HD video. At 90g you can slip the QX10 into your bag or coat pocket. Pair it to your device using WiFi or, if your phone is NFC (near field communication) ready, you simply tap the devices together at their NFC logos. Control is via an installed app. The real beauty of the QX lenses is the zoom that allows you to get much more accurate detail than most smartphone cameras. Optical stabilisation steadies the image to take some of the shake out of the equation.

Disadvantage – there is no flash and it cannot access that of the smartphone. Still, an intriguing addition to mobile imaging.

Sony NEX-5

Sony NEX-5

NEX please
Mirrorless cameras are often talked about as the future of photography and Sony’s NEX range are among the current contenders for best in show. Most people want a point and shoot experience, quick image capture with quality taking a back seat, so they go for small compacts or use their smartphone’s onboard camera. The NEX range offers a lot more and is a bridge camera between the smartphone and expensive DSLR kit. Cost-wise they are extremely affordable. The NEX-5 and NEX-6 sound like the pick of the bunch and weigh in at around £400-£500 depending on what features and lenses you opt for. Like the DSLR you can upgrade your lens and buy lenses for different types of shot – telephoto, wide angle etc.

Look into the technology and there are both pros and cons for mirrorless cameras. Technically speaking, the DSLR uses a mirror to project an image into the viewfinder so you see exactly what the camera sees, this mirror then flips out of the way to allow the sensor to capture the image. Mirrorless kit simply allows light straight into the sensor as in point and shoot cameras. The camera bodies are lighter and smaller as they do not have to carry the extra mirror mechanisms.

Sony NEX-6

Sony NEX-6

Speed-wise the DSLR is the quicker option in terms of focus, it works better in low light conditions and has a greater range of lenses. Image and video-wise there is little between the two and mirrorless technology is improving all the time. Sony’s NEX-5R, 5T and 6 have large 16.1MP CMOS sensors, capture video at 1080p up to 60 fps and have built in WiFi and NFC for quick upload. For audio there is a built in stereo microphone that does a pretty good job, or a Sony attachable (that gets mixed reviews – would have been better to build in the option to attach your own shotgun mic). All in all this looks like an incredible piece of kit, similar in quality to the Panasonic Lumix G5, but with the extra connectability that will turn on the mobile crowd.

Sony HDR-MV1 (left) and QX10

Sony HDR-MV1 (left) and QX10

Music scene
Last up is the Sony HDR-MV1. Basically a refined stereo microphone with a fixed focal length full HD camera, it is the perfect beast for capturing live music sessions. Bands, DJs or string quartets can pick up this handy cam for around £260 in the UK and record their practice sessions and live performances with audio precision. Capture video on the 120 degree wide angle Carl Zeiss lens and record using the angled stereo microphones or via a connected mic. Added WiFi and NFC capability make this another mobile wonder.

Opening app
A surprising move from Sony is the opening up of the NEX and QX software (along with other models including the HDR-MV1 video recorder) to independent developers. Now anyone looking to create camera apps to control the cameras remotely can use the Sony API developer pack from the company’s website. Remote control zoom, viewfinder, timer settings, image and video capture using Sony’s own javascript (JSON) assets.