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Kodak smart lens cameras try to take on Sony


January 18, 2014

The Kodak PixPro smart lens cameras are similar to the Sony QX devices

The Kodak PixPro smart lens cameras are similar to the Sony QX devices

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When Sony launched its quirky QX lens-style cameras last year, they were something of an oddity and very different to anything else on offer. But now other firms are getting in on the action, including JK Imaging, which recently announced a pair of Kodak-branded smart lens cameras that offer 10x and 25x optical zooms.

The Kodak PixPro SL10 and SL25 look, and appear to work, a lot like the Sony QX lens cameras. As self-contained lens-style cameras, they have everything needed to take and store images (though without a display to compose and review shots). As with the Sony ones, they're designed to be used with a smartphone which acts as the monitor, and can be used to wirelessly control the lenses. Resulting files can then be transferred to the phone for editing and sharing.

Specifications for the duo are still a little thin on the ground, with JK Imaging yet to confirm basics like what size and resolution sensors the cameras will contain. This makes it impossible to even guess what sort of image quality they will be capable of and what they will add, other than the optical zoom, to your smartphone photography.

However, there are a few things we do know about the upcoming shooters. The SL10 will feature a F3.2-F5.6 10x optical zoom, giving a 35-mm-format focal length equivalent of 28-280-mm. It'll boast optical image stabilization, be capable of Full HD 1080p video recording, and store to a micro SD card. The SL25 is much the same, but ups the lens ante with a wider and longer 25x 24-600-mm equivalent F3.7-F6.2 offering.

The smart lens cameras have a flip-out grip that snaps around a smartphone to make handling (a bit) more like using a traditional camera, though being wireless they don't have to be attached to be used. They also have a built-in sleep mode so they can be ready to go quickly, and free companion apps will be available for both Android and iOS.

Hopefully, we'll get to know a little more about the smart lens cameras before their scheduled launch in the next couple of months. The Kodak PixPro SL10 is due to go on sale for US$200, and the Kodak PixPro SL25 will set you back $300.

Source: JK Imaging

Update (23 Jan 2014): JK Imaging has now supplied some more specs. Both Smart Lenses will feature a 16 megapixel BSI 1/2.3-in CMOS sensor, sensitivity of up to ISO3200, and a burst shooting speed of 6 frames per second at full resolution. Each will be powered by its own 900 mAh Li-ion battery for approximately 300 shots between charges, and have built-in Wireless-N Wi-Fi and NFC technology. A few shooting modes will also be included, such as Face Beautifier and HDR.

About the Author
Simon Crisp Simon is a journalist and photographer who has spent the last ten years working for national UK newspapers - but has never hacked a mobile phone - and specializes in writing about weird products and photography technology. When not writing for Gizmag, Simon is often found playing with LEGO and drinking far too much coffee. All articles by Simon Crisp

Sounds good, if the optical performance is at all decent. Not much more expensive than a decent Lumix superzoom point and shoot, and the app-based control interface can be flexible and upgradeable, unlike ones in dedicated cameras. Hopefully, no more need to navigate through five levels of cryptic menus to do anything, or to have the user manual with you.


We need faster lens. So the images better

Utomo Prawiro

+1 Utomo One of the big advantages that such a lens/camera could offer is speed. At a max aperture of f3.7 it's not what you'd call fast. How about an f1.8 version?


I don't see the value here. It's a whole camera minus a viewfinder where you supply one using a smartphone. If I have to carry two devices I'm gonna have my phone AND a pocket camera. But I just carry my phone. Honestly, who is going to carry this thing around just to use their iphone as the viewfinder?


"Honestly, who is going to carry this thing around just to use their iphone as the viewfinder?"

I would estimate three or four million.

Looks like a smart idea to me, pay for a quality lens that is interchangeable with any unit that can act as a monitor,. so you could mount the lens where ever you wish, keep you phone in you pocket and capture still photos or video.

Potentially the good thing about this about this, is they make the lens a quality build with a high specification. This would, in my opinion, be a better buy than the 'handy cams' people have mounted on their bike / skiing helmets.


@ErinTarn makes a good point - furthermore, it looks as though the sensor on this camera is half the size of the one in the Sony, which itself is already much smaller than DSLRs. And smaller sensors have lower quality low-light performance and more depth of field (so everything is in focus rather than the subject you want to keep sharp while blurring the background), meaning the image quality is quite possibly sub-par.

At some point, when EVFs are good enough to truly replace optical viewfinders then the notion of the composing/focusing viewfinder being separate from the lens/imaging chip will become commonplace, but since the laws of optics necessitate a larger CCD (or whatever tech is used as the image capture device) to enable shallower DOF the lens/chip unit will always need to be of a certain size and bulk.


@ARU666 did you just compare an action cam to a LENS?! It would have made more sens to compare it with a dash cam, but an action cam? Anyone who has a "handy cam" as you wrongly named it for skiing or has one mounted on a bike has it for the durability and its ability to FILM in HD...

Lupoi Alexandru-Nicolae

I have the Sony lens and it takes good pictures - outdoors and in good indoor light. But it won't fire the cell phone flash and so for most indoor pictures I find it horrible. It needs it's own flash. I barely use mine since I got it for that reason.

Louis Brusco

If it works with my new Motorola it would be a great boon to me. I already carry two Sony A99's and have a NEX3 for candids but would love to have a decent lens system for the cellphone.

Phil Kipnis
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