Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX30 Review

November 5, 2014 | Amy Davies | Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The Cyber-shot DSC-QX30 is another camera from Sony which fits into the “lens camera” category of the company’s compact camera line-up. It doesn’t include a screen, or a standard grip as you might find on an ordinary camera, looking more like a camera lens. However, it does have a dedicated imaging sensor, in this case a 20.4 million pixel, 1/2.3 inch CMOS device - the same physical size as you would find in other “ordinary” compact cameras. The biggest selling point of the camera is its 30x optical zoom lens though, which gives it an equivalent 35mm focal length of 24-720mm - in short, much more flexible than your average mobile phone. Other features include a Bionz X image processor and full HD video recording. Unlike the QX1, the Cyber-shot DSC-QX30 doesn't feature an inbuilt flash, and it can’t shoot in raw format. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX30 retails for around £250 / $350 and is available in black.

Ease of Use

As it has a 30x optical zoom, the Cyber-shot DSC-QX30 is quite a bit larger than the QX10 which was launched last year. It measures roughly the same size as an average lens for the Sony E-mount system, and you would of course be forgiven for thinking that’s what it is when you first see it.

Because of its shape, it’s definitely not something you’ll be able to fit in a jeans or trouser pocket, but if your coat pocket is quite large, it should fit inside there. This is something to consider when choosing between it and something like the Sony HX60, a compact camera which also offers a 30x optical zoom but features a much flatter design.

You’ve got two choices when it comes to using the Cyber-shotDSC-QX30. For a more conventional picture taking approach, you can attach it to your smartphone via the clip on the back of the camera. This means you hold up the phone (which acts as a screen) and the camera all in one go to take a picture.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX30
Front of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX30

Alternatively, you can control the camera remotely from a different location - such as if you have the camera mounted on a tripod (via the built-in tripod thread), desk/table or just holding it in your hand for a selfie.

You can also use the camera without first hooking it up to your phone or tablet, but that means you’ll be shooting blindly and won’t  be able to compose as there’s no screen.

The only screen you’ll find on the camera is a small panel which displays battery life and whether or not you have a memory card inserted into the camera. You can insert a Micro SD card just next to the battery. You don’t need to include a memory card if the camera is synced with your phone as you can set it so that images transfer directly to your phone. Alternatively, you can set it so that small images are transferred to the phone for quick use on social networking sites and the like, whiles larger photos are stored to the memory card for use later. 

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX30
Side of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX30

The majority of camera control is achieved via the PlayMemories app (available to download freely for Android and iOS), and as such, there are very few physical buttons on the Cyber-shot DSC-QX30 itself. You’ll find an on/off button, a shutter button, and a zoom switch. The latter two can also be controlled via the app if you prefer (or if you’re remotely controlling the camera).

By far the easiest way to connect the camera to your phone is via NFC, which is bad luck for iPhone and iPad users. If you have an NFC enabled device, all you need to do is tap the two together at the appropriate place to form a connection. If you don’t already have the PlayMemories app installed, you’ll be prompted to download it and install it the first time you tap the two devices together. After that, every time you attempt to connect it should automatically load the app.

If you don’t have an NFC device, you need to connect via Wi-Fi. You’ll find the password to connect underneath the battery flap, but once you’ve input the password once, your device should remember it.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX30
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX30 Attached to a Sony Xperia Z2

In theory both of these options are pretty simple, but in practice that’s unfortunately not always the case. On more than one occasion, I would be left waiting while the camera and phone attempted to sync up - making quick shots impossible at times, and quickly becoming frustrating. Wi-Fi seems a little more reliable, if a little more tedious to set up each time.

Another disappointing problem is shot-to-shot time. Although the display doesn’t display too much lag, you can be waiting several seconds between pressing the shutter release button and an image being taken, and it being ready to shoot again. Sometimes the wait is as much as 5-10 seconds which is much, much slower than the average compact camera.

On the plus side, zooming in and out is a pretty fluid movement, and also doesn’t present too much of a lag on the screen.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX30
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX30 In-hand

The app interface itself is thankfully a much more pleasant experience. You have the option to shoot in a variety of different exposure modes, accessed from the top left of the screen. Here you’ll find aperture priority, shutter priority, and a couple of automatic modes. There’s no manual mode.

Along the bottom of the screen various shooting parameters will be displayed (depending on the exposure mode you’re working in). If using aperture priority, for instance, you’ll be able to see aperture, which if you tap, you’ll be able to alter by dragging a sliding bar across the screen. The same is true of other settings, such as ISO (Sensitivity). To set the autofocus point, simply tap the point on the screen you wish to focus on.

Some of the other settings are accessed via a menu which is navigated to by pressing a tools icon in the corner of the screen, for instance white balance. You can’t change the metering mode though.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX30
Top of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX30

At present, you can’t use the camera with other apps, such as Instagram, meaning you’ll need to take a photo with the PlayMemories app before editing it in something like Instagram.

When you want to view the images that you have taken, tap a square image displayed in the corner of the screen. From here you can scroll through your most recent images, or you can tap an icon which will bring up all of the photos taken on the camera, sorted by date, on one screen.

Although you can of course use the camera without a smartphone or tablet, it’s worth remembering that you’re essentially tied to the life of your smartphone or tablet, if you want to be able to compose properly, which is definitely something to consider when looking at the Cyber-shotDSC-QX30.

Image Quality

All of the images in this review (unless stated otherwise) were taken on the 20 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. This gives an average file size of around 6MB.

Directly from the camera, as we’ve come to expect of Sony cameras, images are bright and punchy displaying a good level of saturation and vibrance. There’s also a decent level of detail resolved by the 20 megapixel sensor.

Most of the time, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX30's automatic white balance setting does a decent job to produce accurate colours, albeit erring slightly towards the wrong tone with faced with certain kinds of artificial lighting. You don’t have a choice but to use the multi-segment (general purpose) metering, but thankfully this performs well in the majority of cases.

Noise isn’t too problematic, but you will start to notice it appearing from around ISO 800. ISO 1600 is decent, but ISO 3200 isn’t really recommended unless you’re particularly desperate to grab the shot.

At the furthest reach of the telephoto optic, detail is retained well, while the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX30’s optical image stabilisation system does a good job of preventing blur. Ideally, if you’re shooting at the full 30x optical zoom, you will use a tripod or other stand though for the crispest shots.


There are 7 ISO settings available on the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX30. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

iso80.jpg iso100.jpg

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

iso200.jpg iso400.jpg

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

iso800.jpg iso1600.jpg

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)


Focal Range

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX30's 30x zoom lens offers a very 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-QX30 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-QX30 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

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX30 camera, which were all taken using the 20 megapixel Fine 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-QX30 camera at the quality setting of 1920x1080 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 42 second movie is 88Mb in size.

Product Images

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30

Front of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30

Front of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30 / Lens Extended

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30

Rear of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30

Side of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30

Side of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30

Rear of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30 / Image Displayed

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30

Rear of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30 / Main Menu

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30

Rear of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30 / Aperture

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30

Side of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30


Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30

Side of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30

Top of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30

Front of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30

Front of the Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30

Memory Card Compartment

Sony CyberShot DSC-QX30

Battery Compartment


Once again, Sony has produced something which is capable of producing some excellent images, but it has a unique set of quirks when it comes to usability that you only get with QX cameras.

The idea behind these cameras that they give you lots more flexibility than your average smartphone, and of course, that is true, but when using it becomes so much more difficult than your phone - or indeed - a standard smartphone, the appeal of them starts to wear off.

Perhaps the biggest problem with the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX30 is the time it takes to connect to your smartphone or tablet - while your phone or dedicated compact camera is almost instant, here you’ve got to wait for the connection to be made - at best that might be just a few seconds, but still long enough for you to have missed the moment. At worst, the camera refuses to connect at all and you’re left frustrated by the device.

There’s also the issue of it being a little unwieldy to use - it’s quite a large device to attach to the average smartphone which is flat and therefore doesn’t offer much in the way of a grip. Its shape also means you can’t slip the Cyber-shot DSC-QX30 into your pocket as you can with plenty of other dedicated compact cameras which also boast the same type of zoom range.

It’s also crucial to remember that using this camera relies on the battery life of your smartphone - which is the sales of portable battery charges is anything to go by - can be less than reliable. So, if you’re looking for something for a holiday or travel camera, you’d probably still be better off looking for a standard compact camera.

On the plus side, image quality is good, and it is good to have the opportunity to use something which zooms to such an extent as opposed to the fixed (optical at least) length lens of the average smartphone.

Overall the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX30 is an interesting concept, but there’s still some quirks that need to be ironed out to make it even better. If you like taking a lot of selfies, group photos or others that require you to have a device separate from the screen, it’s particularly appealing.

3.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 3.5
Features 3.5
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 4
Value for money 3

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX30.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 is a completely new type of device that adds a 10x zoom lens and 18 megapixel sensor to your smartphone. Priced at around £179 / $250, read our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 review to find out if it's what every smartphone user has been waiting for...


The Sony ILCE-QX1 is a completely new type of device that converts your smartphone into an interchangeable lens camera. The Sony QX1 is a smart lens device that features a 20 megapixel APS-C sensor, Sony e-mount, RAW support, full 1080p video recording, and built-in wi-fi and NFC connectivity. Priced at around £249 / $398, read our Sony ILCE-QX1 review to find out if it's what every smartphone owner is looking for...


Size & Weight

Dimensions (W x H x D) (CIPA)
68.4 x 65.1 x 57.6 mm
Weight (CIPA)
178 g (Body only), 193 g (With battery and media)

What's In The Box

  • Rechargeable Battery Pack NP-BN
  • Micro USB cable
  • Wrist Strap
  • Smartphone attachment
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Reference Guide


Sensor Type
1/2.3" type (7.82mm) Exmor R™ CMOS sensor
Effective pixels


Lens type
Sony G Lens
F3.5 (W) - 6.3 (T)
Focal length
f=4.3-129 mm


Optical Zoom
Clear Image Zoom
Still Image: 20M Approx. 60x / 10M Approx. 85x / 5M Approx. 120x / 0.3M Approx. 486x / 15M (16:9) Approx. 60x / 2M (16:9) Approx. 162x; Movie: Approx. 60x

Image Stabilization



Focus Mode
Single-shot AF, Touch AF
Focus Range
5 cm - Infinity (W), 2 m - Infinity (T)
Light Metering Mode
Multi Pattern


Screen Type
Segment LCD


Shutter Speed
iAuto(1/1600-4) / Program Auto(1/1600-1) / Aperture Priority(1/1600-8) / Shutter Priority(1/1600-30)

White Balance

White Balance Modes
Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluor: Cool White / Day white / Daylight, Incandescent

Storage Media

Compatible Recording Media
Memory Stick Micro, Memory Stick Micro (Mark2), microSD Memory Card, microSDHC Memory Card, microSDXC Memory Card


Still Image Resolution
3:2 mode: 18M (5,184×3,456) / 8.9M (3,648×2,432) / 4.5M (2,592×1,728); 4:3 mode: 20M (5,184×3,888) / 10M (3,648×2,736) / 5M (2,592×1,944) /0.3M (640x480); 16:9 mode: 15M (5,184×2,920) / 7.5M (3,648×2,056) / 2.1M (1,920×1,080); 1:1 mode: 15M (3,888×3,888) / 7.5M (2,736×2,736) / 3.7M (1,920×1,920)
Movie Resolution
MP4: 28M PS (1,920x1080/60fps)/ 16M HQ (1,920x1080/30fps)
Movie Recording Mode
MP4 (up to 1,920 x 1,080/60fps)
Recording Format
Still Images: JPEG (DCF, Exif, MPF Baseline) compliant


Image Processor
Shooting Mode
Superior Auto, Intelligent Auto, Program Auto, Aperture Priority, Shutter Speed Priority, Movie Mode
Continuous Shooting Speed (maximum)
10 fps (for up to 10 shots)
10sec. / 2sec.
Shooting Functions
Face Detection


ISO Sensitivity (Still Image)
ISO 80-12800


Battery Life (CIPA, Still Images)
Up to 200 shots / 100 minutes


Input and Output Terminals
Hi-Speed USB (USB 2.0), Multi/Micro USB Terminal
Wi-Fi Connectivity
NFC One-touch functionality, Wi-Fi

In The Box

PlayMemories Home

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