Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 Review

September 19, 2013 | Mark Goldstein | Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


It's not often that we review something completely different to the norm, but the new Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 definitely fits that description. The Sony QX10 is officially called a "lens-sensor module", and it's designed to be the perfect partner for your smartphone, rather than a standalone device. Essentially, the QX10 comprises an image sensor and a lens, but doesn't have a screen, instead relying on being paired to your smartphone via a wi-fi connection to compose and review images and change settings via Sony's PlayMemories Mobile app. Sony are hoping that frustrated smartphone owners will be tempted by the QX10's 10x zoom lens with Optical SteadyShot stabilisation and 18.2 megapixel image sensor, which are longer and bigger respectively than most smartphones offer, and by the compact size. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 retails for around £179 / £250 and is available in white or black.

Ease of Use

Looking closely at the specification, Sony have essentially taken their conventional DSC-WX200 point and shoot camera and completely changed the exterior design. Both products have the same optically stabilized 10x, 25-250mm f/3.3-5.9 lens and 18.2 megapixel Exmor R CMOS 1/2.3"-type image sensor. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 is much smaller and lighter, though, only weighing around 100g, although obviously you also have to factor in the weight and bulk of your smartphone. You can actually autofocus and fire the shutter of the QX10 independently of a paired device - just don't expect to be able to see what you're doing!

The QX10 fits onto a smartphone via the supplied bayonet mount, which clips onto the back of the device and then turns and locks into place much like the lens on a DSLR or CSC. The bayonet has two plastic arms, one of which slides out to envelop and attach the QX10 to the smartphone - we've tried it out on a Sony Xperia Z and an iPhone 3Gs with no problems. The plastic arms have an internal rubber coating to prevent scratches. It's a fairly neat system that should cope with most smartphone shapes and sizes (Sony suggests a maximum width of 54-75mm and a thickness of 13mm).

With the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 fitted, your smartphone suddenly resembles a rather over-sized compact. We used it on the mean streets of London without generating too much interest from passers-by. On the front is a long telephoto zoom lens, although it doesn't extend too far when fully zoomed out. The glass is Sony G grade which is higher than standard Sony glass. It has been brought over from Konica Minolta when Sony acquired the photo imaging side of the company back in 2006. So what you have is a capable zoom lens with significantly better quality glass used in the construction.

The QX10 itself only has three main controls - an on/off button, zoom rocker switch, and a shutter button. There's also a tripod mount, which comes in handy if you want to use the QX10 remotely, and a tiny black and white display which shows the battery life and if a microSD memory card is inserted or not.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10
Front In-hand

You don't actually have to use a memory card, as the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 can transfer full-size images directly onto your smartphone. We wouldn't recommend doing this, though, as it takes a long time to copy across an 18 megapixel image, and also you can't shoot video unless you fit a microSD card. Instead, you can either choose to just store the full-size images on the memory card, or more conveniently also send a 2Mb version to the smartphone, which is a good enough size for sharing on your favourite social network.

The QX10 uses a slim 3.6V NP-BN battery, allegedly good for 220 shots / 110 minutes video. As the QX10 has to be charged by connecting it to a computer or a portable power pack via the Multi interface port and the supplied USB cable, it's a good idea to invest in an additional battery if you want to use it for any longer than a couple of hours of shooting.

So you've charged the battery, optionally inserted a memory card, attached the bayonet mount and fitted the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 onto the rear of your smartphone - next you have to turn the QX10 on and then find the device's ad-hoc wi-fi connection on the smartphone. The first time that you do this, you also have to enter a password, which is supplied both in the user guide and on the inside of the battery cover (along with the SSID if required). If your smartphone is set to remember passwords, then you only have to do this the first time. You then need to download and install the free Sony PlayMemories Mobile app, if you haven't already done so. If your phone is NFC-enabled, you can simply tap the two devices together to do all of this, even including installing the app!

The Sony's PlayMemories Mobile app is used to control the DSC-QX10 - turn the QX10 on, open the app, and lo and behold a camera interface appears on the smartphone's screen. Rather annoyingly, though, this isn't as instantaneous as we've implied - it actually takes about 6 seconds for the connection to be made between the two devices, which is more than long enough to miss that decisive moment. You could choose to leave both devices on all the time, but doing so quickly drains the battery life of both.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10
Attached to an iPhone User Interface

There's also a slight time lag when viewing the DSC-QX10's display on the smartphone, which curiously gets worse the further you zoom through the 10x range and move the camera around. At full zoom it's bad enough to again cause you to miss the shot, especially if you're trying to track a moving subject. The final performance issue affects the zoom operation itself - there are two ways of zooming, either via the rocker switch on the side of the lens module, or via the soft buttons on the user interface. The latter method suffers from, yes, you've guessed it, a slight lag, which is frustrating rather than excruciating, but bad enough to make us use the physical switch for most shots. That in itself is a slight issue for right-handed users, as the switch is on the left side of the QX10, along with the shutter button. You can turn the QX10 upside down, but that disconcertingly flips the display too.

We've already mentioned that the QX10 is essentially a DSC-WX200 point and shoot camera in a different clothes - unfortunately this analogy doesn't extend to the camera interface and the settings, in that it's much more limited than on the WX200. The only options available on the live preview are the W/T zoom buttons, a large shutter button, Mode option for toggling between stills and video, and a shooting mode icon that lets you select from Intelligent Auto, Superior Auto and Program Auto.

As those three names suggest, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 is very much a point and shoot affair - opening the Settings menu provides up to only 8 options, the most interesting of which are the Self-Timer and White Balance options. You can't set the ISO speed or exposure compensation manually, something that even the humblest compact camera can usually do, and there are no other photographer-friendly options (metering, focus, continuous shooting etc) - you really do have to completely trust the QX10 to deliver the shot. In direct comparison with the WX200, we also missed having a built-in flash, something that every smartphone owner would like, and also Sony's clever Sweep Panorama mode. Strangely, the ISO range changes depending on the shooting mode you're in, as does the macro capability (only available in Superior Auto, as is the effective Handheld Twilight mode).

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10
Side Battery / Memory Card

When it comes to viewing the images that you've taken (if you've chosen to transfer them to the smartphone), this is done via the smartphone's interface, rather than through the PlayMemories Mobile app, as is sharing your images on social networks. Camera360 have recently announced that their software will be included on the QX10, but it wasn't installed on our test unit. Also, you can't currently take a photo directly from within a third-party app like Instagram, although Sony have released their API to encourage developers to do exactly this.

One benefit of the QX10's design is the ability to take a picture without having it attached to your smartphone. This is useful for everything from creative "selfies", to holding the QX10 above a crowd, or even for mounting it on a tripod via the included socket and capturing a subject remotely - the QX10 even has a flat bottom so you don't even have to use a tripod to keep it stable. The working range is dependent on the strength of the wi-fi signal, so just like using your laptop in the garden or the other side of the house, it largely depends on the distance and any obstructions (walls, for instance). It should be entirely feasible, though, to set the QX10 up on a tripod in one room and control it remotely from a different room - the possibilities are almost endless.

In the unusual circular box, you'll find the QX10, bayonet mount, dedicated lithium ion battery, USB cable and AC adaptor to charge the camera. You'll also get a Manual and CD software to view the pictures with and a wrist strap.

That concludes our tour of the design and performance of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 - now let's take a closer look at its image quality...

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 18 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 6Mb.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 produced images of fairly good quality during the review period (judged against similar compact cameras). Images are noise free at ISO 125-400, with limited noise and colour desaturation starting to appear at ISO 800. ISO 1600 exhibits quite visible noise, smearing of fine detail and colour desaturation, and the fastest settings of ISO 3200 is even noisier and best avoided altogether.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 dealt quite well with chromatic aberrations, with purple fringing effects appearing only in high contrast situations. The built-in flash worked well indoors, with no red-eye and adequate exposure. The night photograph was poor, with the maximum shutter speed of 4 seconds limiting what you can capture after-dark. Image stabilisation is a feature that works very well when hand-holding the camera in low-light conditions or when using the telephoto end of the zoom range.

Macro performance is excellent, allowing you to focus as close as 1cm away from the subject. The images were a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpening setting and ideally require further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera setting if you don't like the default results.


The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 doesn't allow you to manually choose the ISO speed, which meant that we haven't been able to shoot our usual test scene. Instead the ISO range differs depending on the shooting mode that you select - ISO100-3200 (iAuto), ISO100-12800 (Superior Auto), ISO100-1600 (Program Auto).

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso200.jpg

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso800.jpg

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)


Focal Range

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10's 10x zoom lens offers a versatile focal range, as demonstrated by the examples below.



focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg


Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. Unfortunately you can't change the in-camera sharpening level.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 handled chromatic aberrations well during the review, with some modest purple fringing present around the edges of objects in certain high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg



The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 offers a Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is 5cms away from the camera when the lens is set to wide-angle. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.


Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg


The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10's maximum shutter speed is 4 seconds in the iAuto mode, which is not great news if you're seriously interested in night photography, especially as the QX10 tends to inscrease the ISO speed in preference to extending the shutter speed. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 1/4 second at ISO 3200.


Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 camera, which were all taken using the 18 megapixel JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample video from the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 camera at the quality setting of 1440x1080 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 23 second movie is 34.2Mb in size.

Product Images

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Front of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Front of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10 / Lens Extended

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Side of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Side of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Side of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10 / Turned On

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Side of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Front of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Side of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Side of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10


Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Rear of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10 / Turned On

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Rear of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10 / Mode Menu

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Rear of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10 / Shooting Mode Menu

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Rear of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10 / Settings Menu

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Top of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Bottom of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Side of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Side of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Front of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Front of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX10

Memory Card / Battery Compartment


Trying to evaluate the unique Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 has proved to be very difficult. On one hand, it's a dumbed-down, over-priced point and shoot camera that has some intrinsic performance issues. On the other, it's an innovative way for smartphone owners to take better-quality, more versatile photos and quickly share them.

The overall appeal of the DSC-QX10 essentially boils down to two things - how quickly do you want to share your photos, and do you want better image quality than your smartphone provides? If the answer to the first question is yes, then the QX10 will appeal because most compacts don't offer a good sharing experience. If the answer to the second question is yes, then most smartphone owners will benefit from using the QX10 as the sensor and lens are so much better.

What we can't quite decide on is if pairing a smartphone with the QX10 is better than pairing it with a good compact, much like the WX200 that the QX10 is clearly based upon. That particular camera offers a lot more features, faster performance and a similar ability to control it and share photos by pairing it with, yes, you've guessed it, your smartphone. And it's cheaper than the QX10 too (but also bigger and heavier).

While suddenly having a 10x zoom will instantly please smartphone owners with their fixed lenses, the QX10's image quality isn't quite the panacea that Sony would have us believe. Judged against comparable compact cameras, it's fine rather than outstanding, much like the WX200 that we've previously reviewed. Compared to the majority of smartphones, though, its a long way ahead in terms of image quality. As with most things about the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10, evaluating it depends entirely on the type of camera that you currently use and what you do with your photos once you've taken them.

Ultimately the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 just falls a little short, regardless of whether you're a smartphone or compact shooter. It doesn't quite come up to scratch in terms of performance, feature-set or image quality, and is also a little over-priced too, perhaps inevitable given that it's a first-generation product. At the moment we'd choose a smartphone and wi-fi enabled compact to quickly share images, though that solution has its own challenges. Still, hats off to Sony for trying something new as smartphones cannabilise the entry-level compact camera market - it may well be that we'll all be using something like the Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 sooner rather than later...

3.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 3.5
Ease-of-use 3.5
Image quality 3.5
Value for money 3.5

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10.

Canon IXUS 140

The Canon IXUS 140 (also known as the PowerShot ELPH 130 IS) is a stylish new point-and-shoot compact camera that won't break the bank. Stand-out features include a 16 megapixel sensor, built-in wi-fi connectivity, a 3 inch LCD screen, 8x wide-angle zoom lens and a metal body. Read our in-depth Canon IXUS 140 review to find out if it offers a winning combination of style and substance...

Canon IXUS 255 HS

The Canon IXUS 255 HS (also known as the PowerShot ELPH 330 HS) is a small and stylish new point-and-shoot compact camera. The IXUS 255 HS' stand-out features include a 12 megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor, 10x wide-angle zoom lens, full 1080p HD movie recording, 3 inch LCD screen and built-in wi-fi connectivity. Read our in-depth Canon IXUS 255 HS review to find out if this tiny camera is worth the £199.99 / $229.99 price-tag.

Fujifilm FinePix T400

The Fujifilm FinePix T400 compact camera offers a 10x zoom, 16 megapixel sensor, 3 inch LCD screen and 720p movies, all for a street price of just £70 / $90. Read our Fujifilm FinePix T400 review to find out if it's a genuine bargain or one to avoid...

Nikon Coolpix S3500

The Nikon Coolpix S3500 is an affordable and easy-to-use point-and-shoot compact camera. Featuring a 7x, 26-182mm lens and a 20 megapixel CCD sensor, the S3500 also offers 720p HD movies and a range of special effects. Read our in-depth Nikon Coolpix S3500 review now...

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ9

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ9 is a brand new travel-zoom compact camera. The stylish Panasonic SZ9 offers 16 megapixels, a 10x zoom lens (25-250mm), 3 inch LCD screen, built-in wi-fi connectivity, 10fps burst shooting and 1080p HD movies. Read our expert Panasonic DMC-SZ9 review now...

Samsung WB30F

The Samsung WB30F is a new travel-zoom camera that won't break the bank. The WB30F offers a wide-angle 10x zoom lens, 16.2 megapixel sensor, 720p video recording, 3 inch LCD screen and built-in wi-fi. Read our in-depth Samsung WB30F review to find out if it's worth the modest asking price....

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX200

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX200 is a slim and stylish compact camera with built-in wi-fi. The WX200 also features a 10x zoom lens, 18 megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor, 10fps continuous shooting and Full HD movie recording. Priced at around £199, read our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX200 review to find out if it's worth checking out...

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 from around the web. »

Earlier this month at IFA, Sony introduced an entirely new type of point-and-shoot camera. The QX10 and its big brother, the QX100, are missing a built-in LCD. Instead, framing, image review, configuration and even storage are all handled on another device: your smartphone. These "lens cameras," as they've become unofficially known, mount directly on a handset you already own, pairing with Sony's PlayMemories Mobile app via WiFi. The benefits are considerable.
Read the full review »



Optical Zoom 10x zoom (Still & Movie)
Clear Image Zoom -
Digital Zoom -
F F3.3(W)-5.9(T)
Focal Length (f= mm) f=10.4-37.1mm
Focal Length (f=35mm conversion) f=25-250mm ( still image 4:3 mode)
Macro (cm) iAuto:AF(W:Approx.5cm(0.16') to Infinity, T:Approx.150cm(4.92') to Infinity) / Program Auto:AF(W:Approx.5cm(0.16') to Infinity, T:Approx.150cm(4.92') to Infinity)
Filter Diameter (mm) NO
Conversion Lens compatibility NO
Carl Zeiss® lens NO
Sony G YES

Image Sensory

Sensor Type Exmor™ R CMOS Sensor
Size (Inches) 1/2.3 type (7.76mm)


Effective Pixels (Mega Pixels) Approx. 18.2
Bionz Processor YES
Face Detection YES
Background Defocus NO
Waterproof NO
Picture Effect NO
Auto Focus Area (Multi Point) NO
Auto Focus Area (Centre weighted) YES
Auto Focus Area (Spot) NO
Auto Focus Area (Flexible Spot) NO
Manual Focus YES (Touch Auto Focus)
Aperture Auto Mode iAuto (F3.3/F8.0 (W)) / Program Auto (F3.3/F8.0 (W))
Aperture Priority Mode -
Aperture Manual Mode -
Shutter Speed Auto Mode (sec) iAuto (4 - 1/1600) / Program Auto (1 - 1/1600)
NR Slow Shutter NO
Hand Shake Alert NO
Exposure Control ± 2.0 EV, 1/3 EV step
White Balance Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent white balance 0-1-2
Automatic White Balance YES
Light Metering (Multi Pattern) YES
Light Metering (Centre weighted) NO
Light Metering (Spot) NO
Sharpness Setting NO
Saturation Setting NO
Contrast Setting NO
ISO Sensitivity (REI) ISO100-3200(iAuto), ISO100-12800(Superior Auto), ISO100-1600(Program Auto)
Scene Selection NO
Ctrl with Smartphone YES
Send to Smartphone YES
NFC / One-touch remote YES


SteadyShot capability NO
Optical SteadyShot capability YES

Auto Focus System

AF Illuminator NO


Recording Media Memory Stick Micro* / Memory Stick Micro (mark 2)*
Recording Media II microSD Memory Card / microSDHC Memory Card / microSDXC Memory Card
Recording Format JPEG, MP4
DCF (Design rule for Camera File System) YES
DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) NO
Burst Mode (shots) NO
Burst Interval (approximately sec) NO
Still Image size (20M 5472×3648) (3:2 mode) NO
Still Image size (18M 4864×3648) (4:3 mode) YES
Still Image size (5M 2592×1944) (4:3 mode) YES
Still Image size (13M 4896×2752) (16:9 mode) YES
Still Image size (4.2M 2720×1528) (16:9 mode) YES
Still Image size (13M 3648×3648) (1:1 mode) YES
Still Image size (2M 1920×1080) YES
Moving Image Size (1440x1080 30fps Fine Approx.12Mbps) (MP4) YES


Battery Remaining Indicator YES
Histogram Indicator NO
PTP (Picture Transfer Protocol) NO
Print Image Matching YES
PictBridge NO
Shop Front Mode YES
Menu Language English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Polish, Czech, Hungarian , Turkish, Greek, Bulgarian, Croatian, Romanian, Russian


Multi use Terminal with HD Multi/Micro USB Terminal, Hi-Speed USB
Multi use Terminal YES
USB 2.0 Hi-Speed YES

Power/ Others

Battery System Lithium-ion
Supplied Battery NP-BN
Stamina (battery life) with the supplied battery(s) in normal shooting condition Approx. 220 / Approx. 110min
Battery for Clock NO
Weight (g) Approx. 90g (3.2oz.)
Weight with Accessories (g) Approx. 105g (3.7oz.)
Supplied Software PlayMemories Home
Supplied Accessories Rechargeable Battery Pack (NP-BN), Micro USB cable, Wrist Strap, Smartphone attachment, Instruction Manual


Width (mm) 62.4
Height (mm) 61.8
Depth (mm) 33.3

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