Last week was an exciting one, not just for enthusiasts of mobile phones, smartwatches and tablets; there was some photography news too. Sony announced an innovative pair of cameras that look like traditional lenses and clamp onto a smartphone. I was strongly considering either the $249 QX-10 or the $499 QX-100 but after much deliberation, I opted for a Sony NEX-6 interchangable lens camera.
All three of these, however, share a key feature: Integrated Wi-Fi radios.
After just three days with the new Sony camera, I don’t think I’ll ever again buy a camera without Wi-Fi. The NEX-6 doesn’t have NFC like the lens cameras do (darn!), however, it’s still super handy to create a wireless connection between the camera and a phone or tablet for photo edits and sharing. Using my Android phone, it’s easy to share images from the NEX-6 because of how Android handles the function: Any installed app that supports image sharing appears as an option.
To make all this work, I did have to install the free Sony PlayMemories application on my Moto X and Nexus 7. That’s the software that handles incoming images from the camera I bought. It’s also the same application that you’ll need on an Android device or iPhone to use either the QX-10 or QX-100 lens after they hit the market later this month.
The software is pretty basic but works as advertised. To use the feature, I simply hit the Wi-Fi button on my camera, which becomes a wireless access point. It shows its network name and a password on the camera display. Open the PlayMemories app on a mobile device and it should automatically find the camera’s network and prompt you for the password. Enter it and all of a sudden, the captured images appear on your tablet or phone. You can also choose to send just a single image from camera to mobile device.
At that point, you can “Copy” or “Share” the images directly from your mobile device. Sony lets you choose the file size as well; handy for those on limited broadband plans or for sharing snapshots on social networks. The software also allows you to use your phone as a remote control for the camera — view the subject, shoot, zoom, touch-AF, and adjust other camera settings — I haven’t tried it yet, but plan to this week. Even without that, I’m sold on the use of Wi-Fi in a dedicated camera.
Since you need the Sony app to make all this work, I don’t see full-time photographers going the same route. After all, they likely want their RAW image files on a computer to fine-tune and process their images. This particular solution is better suited for fast image sharing, although with some third-party editing software, you could create or add interesting effects.
I had previously considered buying a phone that has Android built-in, but I see little need for that with this setup. And I was never a fan of the LTE cameras. Yes, they make it easy to share pictures too, but who wants to pay an additional monthly service fee for mobile broadband in a camera? My phone works just fine, thank you.
And so does my new camera: Even in the dark with a 2 second exposure.