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.