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Hands on: Sony’s QX1 interchangeable lens pocket camera

We checked out Sony’s QX1 lens at IFA 2014. This nifty portable 20.1-megapixel lens clips onto your smartphone and adds optical zooming and the ability to change lenses on the fly. Here’s our hands-on review.

We loved last year’s portable QX10 and QX100 lenses, which snap onto the back of your smartphone and add a powerful 18 or 20-megapixel camera with optical zoom; truly a marvellous way to capture razor-sharp photos on the go without lugging a hefty DSLR around.

Now Sony has gone one further with its ILCE-QX1 camera mount, which allows Sony camera fans to fix on their existing E-mount lenses and adds funky features like a pop-out flash.

Sony QX1 interchangeable lens specs and hands-on review at IFA 2014

As you can see, the Sony QX1 is a bit of a beast, adding about five or six inches to the thickness of your humble smartphone. Chances are pretty good you’ll attract a few stares rocking this bad boy out in the street, but at least the shutter button is well placed so you can support the lens underneath and easily take shots.

Of course, the QX1 isn’t exactly pocket-sized like the QX10, so you’ll still need a bag to carry it about. Which then begs the question (especially given the £250 price tag), should I just grab a DSLR instead?

One of the saving graces is the QX1 lens’ compatibility with Sony’s E-Mount lenses, which means you can add a variety of zoom, wide angle, tele or macro lenses (there are about 24 to choose from) to get whatever kind of shot you like. If you’ve invested in Sony’s A-Mount lenses an adapter will let you attach those too. A range of 37 of those, plus the 24 E-Mount options makes this one versatile smartphone camera. There’s a button on the side which allows you to quickly snap off the current lens, before slotting on a new one.

Sony QX1 interchangeable lens specs and hands-on review at IFA 2014

The Sony QX1 packs an Exmor CMOS sensor with 20.1-megapixels, and unlike the QX10 and QX100, it’s now capable of shooting RAW images. Great news for professional photographers looking for a backup device perhaps, although once again we’d imagine most pro shooters would just pack another DSLR.

Stuffed inside is Sony’s advanced BIONZ X processor, which helps to limit graininess from low-light photos. We haven’t had a chance to test this out yet, but we will do in our full review. However, the shots we took using Sony’s Xperia Z3 smartphone came out well in the brightly-lit demo area. And you can also grab great bokeh focus shots, with the back or foreground blurred out to draw the eye to your subject.

One of our favourite (and decidedly ultra-cute) features is the tiny pop-up flash which can be activated with a quick button press. It seems strong enough to light a small room, but we’ll give it a full testing.

Sony QX1 interchangeable lens specs and hands-on review at IFA 2014

The Sony QX1 lens will be available to buy in the UK from October, retailing for £249.

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