Sony QX1 review

Use interchangeable lenses with your smartphone - sort of

Sony QX1

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The QX1, like the other QX cameras in the range, is a difficult one to score.

On the one hand, it produces great images which are easily comparable to those from a 'normal' compact system camera or APS-C format DSLR. On the other hand, actually using the camera is fiddly and unwieldy, making you less likely to want to use it in the first place.

While the QX10 was a cheap and fun addition to your smartphone, which gave you the added benefits of a digital zoom, using the QX1 seems a little incongruous. Surely most people who want this kind of quality, the ability to change lenses and shoot in raw format will invest in a 'proper camera'?

Although using the camera mounted to your phone is pretty unrewarding, where it is a lot more useful is when mounted to a tripod or in a different location. But, then again, this is something you can also do with many Wi-Fi/NFC enabled cameras.


It would be nice to see more apps allowing you to use this camera (Instagram, for instance) as though the PlayMemories app is fairly well featured, there's not much available for creative photographers.

Thankfully, Sony has upgraded the app to allow you to shoot in raw format and semi-automatic controls. I'm not entirely sure why full manual mode hasn't been made available though; it seems like a bit of an oversight.

The supplied kit lens is a good all-round performer and there are now a decent range of different lenses available for the E-mount. Even Zeiss lenses are availabile.

Although it seems unlikely that anybody buying this camera as a standalone unit will go on to purchase further lenses, those who already own E-mount lenses may find it appealing to know that they can use those lenses with a smaller camera. Then again, maybe they won't.

While battery life on the camera itself is good, you're tied to how well the battery on your smart device performs - which as many know all too well can be less than admirable.

At least if you were using a standalone camera and your phone battery died you'd be able to carry on shooting. While technically you can with this, not being able to see what you're composing makes it unlikely that you will.

We liked

This is a really interesting concept from Sony, and it shows that the company is thinking of different ways for photographers to enjoy its products. While I'm not entirely sure that it has pulled it off entirely, it's nice to see the company experimenting and innovating.

Images are good straight from the camera, while being able to shoot in raw format gives you the scope to work with your cameras later down the line.

We disliked

Sadly, attaching any kind of lens, even if it's small, makes the lens unit fairly unwieldy to use on your flat smartphone. Trying to hold the smartphone and the lens at the same time isn't the most comfortable. You find yourself missing the larger grip of a standard camera - especially if you're used to using a Sony compact system camera. This is especially true if you attach larger lenses to it, though it's not too bad if you're using it on a tripod.


Once again, Sony has produced a camera that is very capable in terms of image quality. Colours are fantastic, and the amount of detail resolved and performance in low light are particularly admirable. However, it's not something I can see selling in droves, even to those already equipped with a range of E-mount lenses.

On the plus side, it's cheaper to buy this than many similarly specced Sony CSCs, so if you're tempted by the quality of an APS-C sensor and can get around the drawbacks of having to use your phone to compose an image, this could be an appealing prospect.

Amy Davies

Amy has been writing about cameras, photography and associated tech since 2009. Amy was once part of the photography testing team for Future Publishing working across TechRadar, Digital Camera, PhotoPlus, N Photo and Photography Week. For her photography, she has won awards and has been exhibited. She often partakes in unusual projects - including one intense year where she used a different camera every single day. Amy is currently the Features Editor at Amateur Photographer magazine, and in her increasingly little spare time works across a number of high-profile publications including Wired, Stuff, Digital Camera World, Expert Reviews, and just a little off-tangent, PetsRadar.