Sony Releases Stand-Alone Imager


Less than one month ago I predicted that eventually DSLR's as we know them will disappear, and instead you will buy lenses with the imaging chip (CMOS) built right in to the back of the lens.  Then you will only attach a simple body to it that gives you IO and a viewing monitor.  This is because CMOS chips are constantly coming down in price, but the really important part, the glass, will always be expensive.

This is an interesting idea for us because it will allow us to lift only the imager section, without carrying the weight of the DLSR body, which will cut in half the weight of a quality imager.

Well, it is already starting.  Sony have just released the QX10 and the QX100.  Both are basically intended as high(er) quality imagers, for use with your existing smart phone. They sort of clip on front of the phone, and you use the smart phone as the IO system.  They can apparently operate independently as well.

The QX100 is particularly interesting, because it weighs only 179g, but gives you a 1" CMOS chip, along with some decent quality glass.  Pretty amazing.  You can imagine building a nice little brushless gimbal around this thing and have a pretty nice setup for only about twice the weight of a GoPro.

However, I must say that I am quite disappointed in some of the specs.  Sony seem to have dumbed down performance, particularly video, as it's only capable of 1440x1080 at 30 FPS whereas the RX100 which uses the same chip can do 1920x1080 at 60FPS.

But still, this is a very interesting development for aerial photography.

Otherwise, I imagine this will be a market flop as it doesn't really make a lot of sense.  It's 2/3rd's the price of an RX100, but doesn't have the same performance or features (limited manual control). Every time you want to use it, you have to pull it out of your pocket, attach it to your camera, flip to the camera app...  Meanwhile somebody with a stand alone camera could have turned it on and snapped several pics already.


Maybe the QX10 is actually a more interesting candidate for aerial photography.  The lens and imager on this is the same as Sony's mid-range point and shoots.  In reality, the image quality is quite good.  And at 105g, it's only slightly heavier than a GoPro.  You could mount this on any tiny quad, and get pretty good photos and video. (no GoPro fisheye!!!).  It also has optical image stabilization.  

I'm not sure this will be a home run product either.  But both units are signs of more interesting things to come in this market.

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  • Hi Guys,

    Do you have any suggestions what settings I should use on the QX1 in a fixed wing mapping platform (@15m/s using the SEL20F28 lens and 200 m height)?



  • Great thanks for the info. I was unaware of the Mono solution.

  • Hi Glen,

    VP-Systems and Mono from SkySight are OK with QX1.


  • Oh I see QX1 is now listed on gentles website:

  • @Marc LE BRET can you confirm the Sony QX1 can be controlled through the MultiPort (USB)? Most other sony cameras can be controlled through there propriety multiport (which essentially adds 10 connectors to a standard micro USB) with for example the gentles or vp-systems controllers. 

    It would be good to confirm the QX1 can also be controlled via this method? If so intend to figure out the MultiPort protocol can we can build this into an autopilot (or make our own standalone controllers that don't cost $120). 

    If anyone knows any information about the MultiPort protocol I would be most interested.

  • Hello,

    It is built in the code. My Mono is plugged on an output of my VRBrain (compatible italian pixhawk dev.) and camera trigger is configured in the mission planner gimball options (CH7).

    I can activate trigger via R/C, and expect to do it via VRBrain in AutoMode.


  • Hello,

    @Marc Le Bret: Do you think  it's possible to trigger QX1 by autopilot Pixhawk?



  • Hello,

    I have a QX1. There are at least two products available to control it via R/C and multi-USB plug.

    VP-Systems CamRemote 2A is the more complete and you can also control the zoom.

    Mono from SkySight control shutter (with or without AF, single or multiples).

    QX1 standby time is 2mn. If you do not take pictures during this lap, it will shut down.


  • Developer

    Jaime Machuca has a MavProxy enhancement that can run on an intel edison and trigger a Sony QX1 camera using it's wifi link.  Because the command is very short he hasn't seen any (noticeable) interference with the RC or GPS.  When using the wifi to retrieve images from the camera though (which takes about 5sec) we have seen problems.  I hope Jaime will do a blog post in the near-ish future.

  • I am not very interested in using 2.4 wifi because of rc interference, notwithstanding one may use different spektrum rc. I also have not found any solutions on how to connect to a wifi direct over a network (don't make sense does it)

    Best of luck

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