The QX30 ($349) is Sony’s second lens-style camera to be released at IFA. Its design is closer to the original QX series in the sense that its lens is not interchangeable, but Sony has added what many users have been demanding: a powerful zoom capability, along with 60FPS 1080p movie recording.
The QX30 has a 30X optical zoom lens, and if you chose to use the Digital zoom, you can push it to an artificial “60X”. This can be handy if you want to use the zoomed image right away for sharing, instead of capturing a 30X zoom image, then editing it later. Sony also points out that its auto-focus (AF) system can track moving subjects during photo sessions. This feature is not available in video mode.
While the QX1 focuses on absolute image quality, it’s fair to say that the Sony QX30 is aimed at a more casual usage, like shooting kids running around, or snapping a well frame shot during a touristic visit, or maybe at a concert/event.
Both the QX30 and QX1 are backed by an updated version of PlayMemories, a Sony smartphone application that lets users control the camera and take shots. With Playmemories 5.0, Sony has improved the user’s ability to take one-handed pictures, which is critical because the other hand is likely to be holding the QX camera. A generic touch shutter for example can be much more convenient than trying to reach a specific region of the screen.
PlayMemories 5.0 also lets the user manage data from the QX camera without having to create a local copy. For instance, it is possible to play a file, then delete it, without having to copy it to the handset. Deleting bad shots right away is the best way to save time in general. If you don’t, chances are that you will end up keeping those files forever.
This version of the software is also capable of Geo-tagging the photos during their transfer from the QX camera to the handset (using the handset’s GPS info). This will let you sort files by location later, in addition to date. If you take a lot of pictures, any additional sorting parameter can help save a lot of time.
Both cameras also feature NFC now. This means that you will be able to pair the camera to the PlayMemories app without having to find and enter a password. This saves you a couple of minutes and removes a whole lot of friction for the less tech-savvy among us. This is a great move.
As usual, the QX camera can also run in stand-alone mode, where you aim and shoot without being connected to a smartphone. Sony claims that this function is now 50% faster than it used to be, and probably has a lot to do with the new BIONZ X image processor (vs BIONZ previously). Finally, Sony points out that if you don’t have a smartphone, it is also possible to control the camera with Sony’s own wrist live-view remote, the Sony RM-LVR1 and RM-LVR2V.