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Sony Cyber-shot QX100 Review

Daniel Bell reviews the Sony Cybershot QX100 a camera which is designed to work with a smartphone using Wi-Fi. It has a 20.2 megapixel sensor and 3.6x optical zoom.

| Sony QX100 in Compact Cameras
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Sony Cyber-shot QX100 Review: Sony Cyber Shot QX100 Black (3)

The Sony Cybershot DSC-QX100 was announced in September 2013 alongside the QX10. It is designed to work with smartphones, connecting via Wi-Fi so you can control it and instantly get your pictures on your mobile device. It is available for £349. Please note, we are testing the QX100 with an iPhone 5.

Sony Cyber-shot QX100 Review: Sony Cyber Shot QX100 Black (9)

Sony Cybershot QX100 Features

The Sony Cybershot QX100 has a 20.2 megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor and a 3.6x optical zoom lens which is a 35mm equivalent of 28-100mm. At its widest, the lens has a wide aperture of f/1.8 which allows the maximum amount of light in for better shots in low light. The QX100 has Wi-Fi, which is vital as this is how you connect and use your smartphone to control it. It can also be connected quickly with NFC.

To help keep images as steady as possible there is Optical SteadyShot, this reduces the effect of shaky hands. You can manually focus or use your smartphone screen to tap your focus point. 

The QX100 has both Intelligent and Superior auto modes, as well as a P mode and aperture priority shooting. There is also a video mode which allows you to shoot in full 1080p HD.

Sony Cyber-shot QX100 Review: Sony Cyber Shot QX100 Black (6)

Key Features

  • 20.2 megapixel Exmor R CMOS 1inch sensor
  • 3.6x optical zoom f/1.8-4.9 lens (35mm equiv: 28-100mm)
  • Optical SteadyShot
  • Connects to any smartphone using Wi-Fi
  • Full 1080p HD video recording
  • ISO 160 - 25600
  • 5cm minimum focusing distance
  • Intelligent and Superior Auto shooting modes
Sony Cyber-shot QX100 Review: Sony Cyber Shot QX100 Black (7)

Sony Cybershot QX100 Handling

Fixing the camera to your smartphone is easy, on the back are two arms which can be lifted up. One of them is spring loaded so you can open it up to place your smartphone. The arms are rubberised which means it can grip your smartphone very securely. The camera doesn't have to be physically connected to your camera, the Wi-Fi has a range of 10m, so you can set it up on a tripod and shoot remotely. The camera also has flat bottom so it can rest on level surfaces.

On the side is a shutter release and zoom control and under the cover which has the Zeiss logo on is the connector for the USB cable and slot for a MicroSD / M2 memory card. On the other side is a small LCD display which tells you how much power is left. Battery life is rated at 220 shots according to CIPA test results, it's worth noting that the battery can only be charge by USB unless you purchase an optional AC adapter

Sony Cyber-shot QX100 Review: Sony Cybershot Dsc Qx100 1 Sony Cyber-shot QX100 Review: Sony Cybershot Dsc Qx100 2

When using the camera with an iOS device you need to make sure you have the Sony PlayMemories Mobile app installed. You then need to switch the camera and connect to its Wi-Fi, using the password that is written on the battery cover. You can then open the app which automatically connects. You then use it as a normal camera, using the screen to compose your shots and changed the settings.

Sony Cyber-shot QX100 Review: Sony Cybershot Dsc Qx100 3 Sony Cyber-shot QX100 Review: Sony Cybershot Dsc Qx100 4

It's a little frustrating that everytime to switch the camera off, you need to reconnect next time, which may mean you miss your shot. Another drawback is that you'll be draining the battery on your smartphone, which iPhone users will already be wary of. There isn't an option to use the flash on the smartphone, and the QX100 does not feature one.

We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response   0.05 secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response   0.25 secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response   0.3 secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo   23 secs
Shot to Shot   2.6 secs

Focus speed is quick. When switching the camera on you have to connect via Wi-Fi and then open the app, the quickest we could do this during testing was 23 seconds. We achieved an average shot time of 2.6 secs with a memory card installed and review switched off. If you have review switched on there is a transfer time of around 2-3 seconds which extends shot to shot time significantly. The Sony CyberShot DSC-QX100 doesn't have any continuous shooting options.

Sony Cyber-shot QX100 Review: Sony Cyber Shot QX100 Black (8)

Sony Cybershot QX100 Performance

Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Sony Cyber-shot QX100 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Images are well exposed with good colour reproduction. Portraits have good skin tones and the QX100 performs well in low light thanks to the fast aperture lens and large sensor.

Sony Cyber-shot QX100 Lens test images

Lens Performance - Detail is excellent at both ends of the lens, certainly much better than you'd get from a smartphone. There is a little purple fringing, but you have to look hard to see it. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 5cm which allows for a good macro shot.

Sony Cyber-shot QX100 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - You can't manually set the ISO speed, so we have adjusted the lights in our studio to force the camera to use higher ISO's. There are examples with an ISO less than 1000 throughout the review. Detail is good, when you get to ISO 1000, images become soft, and become softer as you get towards ISO 3200, although not much detail is lost. Superior Auto mode will shoot at ISO speeds up to 25600.

Sony Cyber-shot QX100 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - The Auto White Balance (AWB) performs well under both our incandescent and fluorescent lights in the studio. The incandescent preset also performs well under the incandescent lights. There are two fluorescent presets, one produces a cold looking image, the other has a strong magenta cast.

Video - Below is a video recorded in full 1080p HD, which also includes use of the optical zoom. Due to the transfer rate from camera to your mobile device, the video will look like it jumps on your screen during recording, but when you transfer the final video, it looks fine. 

Value For Money

The Sony Cybershot QX100 is available for £349.99. You can purchases lenses to work with smartphones, but there isn't anything else on the market to compare the QX100, other than the QX10. This is available for £149.00 and has 10x optical zoom, but the sensor size is smaller, so won't compare to the QX100 in terms of image quality.

If you do have a £349.99 budget, you may want to consider the range of compact cameras you can purchase. There is the Fujifilm FinePix XQ1 at £349.99, Canon PowerShot SX50 HS at £310, Samsung Galaxy Wi-Fi at £258 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 at £323. There are even some compact system cameras available around this price level as well.

Sony Cybershot QX100 Verdict

The Sony Cybershot QX100 is a very unusual product, it's basically a compact camera without a screen. It has a fast f/1.8 aperture lens and good quality Exmore R CMOS sensor, so picture quality is excellent. There is optical image stabilisation and ISO up to 25600.

There are however some drawbacks, it has a short battery life and getting the camera on and ready to take pictures takes around half a minute. The app is quite basic, with only four picture modes. The Intelligent and Superior Auto modes take excellent pictures, but lacks the scene modes and digital filters which are common place on most compact cameras.

The biggest drawback is the price, you can purchase decent compact cameras for less than the price of the QX100, but it is the type of product which will appeal to gadget fanatics.


Sony Cybershot QX100 Pros

Unique idea
Excellent image quality
Fast maximum aperture
Doesn't have to be physically connected to a smartphone
Connects to a tripod or sits on a flat surface
Has optical image stabilisation
ISO available up to 25600
Fits very securely to a mobile device

Sony Cybershot QX100 Cons

Takes a little while to connect when switching on
Shot to shot times are slow when reviewing images
Short battery life
App is quite basic
Doesn't come with an AC adapter


Sony Cyber-shot QX100 Specifications

Max Aperturef/1.8 - f/4.9
35mm equivalent28mm - 100mm
Optical Zoom3.6x
Image Sensor
Pixels20.1Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)5472
Pixels (H)3648
Sensor TypeBack-lit CMOS (B.S.I.)
Sensor Size1inch
Sensor Size (width)13.2mm
Sensor Size (height)8.8mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 16:9
  • 3:2
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD MonitorNo Data
Screen resolutionNo Data
Touch ScreenYes
Min Focus5cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/2000sec
Shutter speeds longest4sec
Bulb modeNo Data
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • A
  • Multi Pattern
ISO sensitivity160 - 25600
White balance
  • Auto
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
Exposure Comp+/-3
Shooting Options
Continuous shootingNo Data
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1440x1080
Video FPS30
Stereo SoundNo Data
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
USBNo Data
Card Type
  • Micro SD
  • Micro SDHC
  • Memory Stick Micro (Sony M2)
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeN Series Lithium-Ion
Battery Life (CIPA rating)220shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsRechargeable Battery Pack (NP-BN), Micro USB cable, Wrist Strap, Smartphone attachment, Instruction Manual

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