One of the mantras we often hear is that the introduction of digital imaging means that cameras don’t have to look like cameras any more. The mechanics, wind-on mechanisms and motors are, of course, obsolete nowadays, and even optical viewfinders and single-lens reflex systems are found less frequently. Yet despite this, the basic design of cameras has remained roughly the same. In fact, most compact system cameras are designed to look like the models of yesteryear, whether they are styled as a rangefinder or an SLR.

That said, alternative designs have appeared recently – the Lytro Light Field Camera was launched earlier this year and now we have new Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 and QX100.

If you have missed our coverage of these innovative devices, they are cameras that consist simply of a sensor and a lens. There is no screen or viewfinder with which to compose and view images. Instead, the cameras connect to a smartphone or tablet and utilise the screen of the secondary device. Many people now have a smartphone or tablet with a sophisticated computer and a large, high-definition screen that is often more powerful and of a better quality than that found on a camera. The idea of using a large screen is also appealing, as using a tablet to compose images on a 7-10in screen is similar to using a 5x4in or larger format camera. A tablet has an even greater advantage in that the exposure, colour and contrast can all be previewed live while composing the image.

One of the complaints concerning smartphone cameras is the lack of quality and the absence of a zoom lens. The Sony QX cameras are designed to solve both these issues, providing a larger sensor and an optical zoom. With the market for smartphones and tablets around six times bigger than the digital camera market, and sales of consumer compact cameras declining, Sony’s reasoning behind the new QX range is clear. The concept is certainly innovative, but what are the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 and QX100 like to use?

Image: Taken at sunrise, this image was shot on a new, rather unconventional camera

See Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX100 sample shots

See Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 sample shots

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