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Sony RX100 vs. Sony QX10

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Santa was awesome this year and took me by complete surprise and brought me a Sony QX10 camera.  What’s so special about the QX10?  It’s essentially a camera inside a lens that is wirelessly controlled by your smartphone (iPhone or Android).

I took the opportunity today (a brief winter weather break) to head out, test it out and see how the QX10 would fare against my RX100.  This is also a little bit of a review of the QX10.

Trees

Image Quality / Sharpness

I took quite a few pictures today from the same spot with the intention of seeing if I could tell a difference in the shots both in regular view and 100% cropped. Important to note, the RX100 is a 20MP camera while the QX10 is 18MP.  Additionally, the RX100 has a larger sensor than the QX10.

This first image was taken at the Observatory in Cincinnati.  

At first glance the images looked pretty similar.  The colors about the same and generally nice shots.  

Shot3

Then I zoomed in. The RX100 (image on the left) is drastically sharper.  Notice the bricks and grass.

Shot3_zoom

I headed into the Ault Park forest and grabbed this shot of a newly built bridge.  This was in a bit of a darker area to test a lower light situation.  Again, the standard image looks pretty good and is very usable.

SHOT1

Zooming to 100%, you again see the difference in sharpness.

SHOT1_zoom

What does this all mean? All depends on what you’re using your pictures for. Since the QX10 is meant to be an upgrade to your smartphone camera, then I would definitely say this is an upgrade from my iPhone 4S camera. I have not yet tested an iPhone 5 or 5S which may be on par with the QX10. If that’s the case, then the QX10 may not be the best option.

Bokeh

The ability to blur a background to focus on your subject in photography is known as bokeh.

Here is the QX10. Not much bokeh.
RidgeQX10

Here is the QX100. A fair amount of bokeh.
RidgeRX100

Without getting too scientific, the amount of bokeh you can achieve is dependent upon sensor size and aperture size. Larger sensor, larger aperture equals more bokeh. Given that the RX100 has a larger sensor and larger aperture (f/1.8 vs. f/3.3), it’s not a surprise that the RX100 has these better results.

What I love about the QX10

  • Bold innovation
  • Small size (on it’s own)
  • Loads full resolution images onto iPhone for easy sharing
  • Wireless control makes for easy self portraits of yourself and with others
  • Easy to get unique angles
  • Much cheaper than the RX100
  • Tripod mount

What leaves me wanting more

  • Very slow startup process
  • Inconsistent connection quality causes pauses during crucial moments
  • When attached to iPhone (using included bracket), much bigger than RX100
  • Image quality
  • No flash, so won’t really work once the sun goes down
  • Wifi solution is terrible

Closing Thoughts

The QX10 is a nice upgrade from the iPhone 4S camera and has some unique features that I can’t duplicate with any of my other cameras. Images are still good enough for web use and general printing. I know the QX100 version of this camera would solve my image quality issues (and some low-light problems), but it’s increased size would likely be too much for me.

What is keeping me from recommending to anyone (with an iPhone at least), and will likely limit daily use, is the amount of time it takes to take a picture. Anyone who has ever used a camera is used to less than 5 seconds from on to snapping shots. I’d love for Sony to adopt GoPro’s approach of allowing you to keep the Wifi signal on. Yes, this would reduce battery life, but if I knew I was going to be taken pictures fairly often then I could likely have a far better experience.

I have not tried this camera with a NFC-capable device. This is supposed to offer a much better experience that I’ll hopefully be able to have in the future versions of the iPhone.

Santa, if you’re reading this, I still love the gift, but I wanted to share my experience with folks.

How does the QX10 work if it doesn’t have a screen?

Using my iPhone 4, I search for the QX10 Wifi network, connect and then open the Sony PlayMemories app.

This camera can be used to take pictures without using your phone, but you then have to guess how you’re framing the shot.

How well does this work?

Honestly, not that well in practice.

Startup Time: It takes a minimum of about 15 seconds to be able to take a picture (best case). For comparison, the RX100 takes about 2-3 seconds.

Live View: There is often a ‘buffering’ that occurs where the image on the phone’s screen freezes, spinning wheel and wait. Really can’t understand why this happening when my phone is literally touching the camera.

The images in this post were not edited in any way. Both cameras were set to take JPEG files at highest resolution.

Leap Motion Device

Leap Motion Initial Review

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I recently received my brand new Leap Motion Controller in the mail.  I had a gift certificate from Best Buy so I figured why not give it a try.

I read about this project months ago where they were demonstrating a device that would bring ‘Minority Report-like’ controls to life.  Consider me interested.  I followed this device somewhat loosely as I wasn’t sold on motion controls, but with implementations like the Wii and Xbox Kinect, things have definitely been moving in the right direction.

Out of the box you have this tiny little device that’s about the size of a package of Watermelon Bubble Yum.  You plug it into an available USB port, download the software and you’re all set.

You are taken through a series of demos that show how the device tracks your hands and familiarizes you with the space you can work within.  It shows your hand tracking in 3D space.  Not a functional piece of software, but it gets you pretty excited to use this thing.  It’s amazingly accurate at tracking your movements.

Leap Motion Tracking My Hand

Leap Motion Tracking My Hand

Once you get past the Orientation you enter the Airspace store where, like the Apple App Store, are able to purchase additional software that can make use of the Leap Motion device. It’s a nice store, laid out well and easy to find new software. The selection is fairly limited for now, but in the past few weeks I’ve seen the selection almost double so there are obviously people developing for this.

What’s my take?

Now that it’s 2013 we’re starting to see some really great uses of touch controls on tablet and computing devices.  Remember when the iPhone first came out?  The touch felt more like a gimmick than an benefit and people complained that it would never be as fast as using their traditional keys on their Blackberry devices.  Now you never hear anyone complain about the touch screen and we’re seeing more and more UX/UI changes that really utilize the technology.  Swiping to access menus just makes sense.  Multiple fingers to access different functionality on the fly is efficient.

Why am I talking about touch screens when this thing requires you to touch nothing?  Growing pains.  Like every new innovate technology it takes years to be able to really truly make good use of it. Look at the Playstation.  It typically takes developers 2-3 years to able to make really stunning games that can use the full capability of the system.  It’s proven that that cycle is shorter now, but the analogy holds true.

Every day, more and more apps are added to the Airspace store by developers.  I give it a couple of months and we’ll start to see some original content that really takes advantage of this device.  It’s too early to say it’s not worth it; after all, I kind of said the same thing about the iPhone.