Sony brings a 30x zoom to your smartphone (sort of) with QX30 lens camera

At IFA 2014, Sony announced a second round of its lens-style QX-series cameras that use your smartphone's screen for their viewfinder and controls.

Joshua Goldman

Joshua Goldman

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Joshua Goldman is a senior editor for CNET Reviews, covering laptops and the occasional action cam or drone and related accessories. He has been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software since 2000.

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Sony made a big splash at IFA 2013 with its 10x zoom QX10 lens camera . At IFA 2014, it's back to wade through those waters again with the 30x zoom Cyber-shot DSC-QX30.

Like the QX10, the QX30 is an entire camera -- minus a screen -- packed in a cylindrical body. The camera wirelessly connects to your Android or iOS device via Wi-Fi so you can use its screen to see a live view from the camera to frame and review your shots as well as control the camera and its settings.

Though you can clip the camera onto your phone to make it feel more like you're shooting with a regular camera, it does not use your phone's camera in any way. Again, it is an entire camera all on its own and can be used without connecting to any mobile device (though without a screen you'll be shooting blindly). That means the picture quality is completely dependent on what's inside the QX30.

Lori Grunin/CNET

It appears Sony grabbed the 30x, f3.5-6.3, 24-720mm lens and the 1/2.3-inch 20-megapixel Exmor R sensor from its Cyber-shot HX50V . That's a good thing for the most part, as that camera is capable of turning out some very nice photos and video.

Shooting options include Sony's Superior and Intelligent Auto as well as Program Auto, and shutter-speed- and aperture-priority modes, and the QX30 can record MP4 clips at 1,920x1,080 resolution at 60fps -- something that wasn't originally available on the QX10 when it was first released.

The camera stores directly to microSD cards up to 64GB or Memory Stick Micro cards up to 16GB (neither is supplied). Sony says its removable, rechargeable battery is good for up to 200 shots or 25 minutes of movie capture.

Sony's definitely improved the features with the QX30 compared to the QX10, but it's still all about the design. For me, if I'm going to be carrying around a second device anyway, I'd rather it be a complete camera.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX30 reaches stores this month for about $350, which converts to £210/$AU375.