iPhone as Camera Body Only: New Lens/Sensor Combos Redefine What iPhone Can Do

by Hugh Brownstone3 Comments

In this installment of Last Week Today, we note that the Olympus Air A01 joins the DxO One and – even more similarly – the Sony DSC QX1 to deliver image quality and lens options for the iPhone heretofore unavailable from add-on lenses alone.

The announcements came in rapid succession, and depending on your point of view are either misguided attempts to cash in on the quicksilver of the moment – iphoneography – or a portent of a tectonic shift in the camera market.

The irony should be lost on no one that just as Hasselblad’s new CEO has announced a return to core values — which one would hope includes a return to the modularity that has always been a hallmark of the brand – the new ecosystem on the block is already there (and Blackmagic Design is heading there, too, with its Micro twins).

What traditional camera manufacturers Sony and Olympus – and newcomer DxO – have figured out is that the iPhone’s strongest suit in the imaging space is perhaps its ability to act as the ultimate remote controller and monitor (courtesy of the App Store). Why fight it when you can leverage it to advance your own competencies?

Thus Olympus with its Air A01 and Sony with its DSC-QX1 offer micro-four-thirds and APS-C sensors respectively, housed in the smallest possible body with the corresponding MFT and e- lens mounts – and apps and wireless connectivity to the iPhone.

Again, depending on your point of view, this is either quite wonderful or a waste of time – after all, the keys to the iPhone’s popularity as an imaging device are its dead simplicity, high image quality for social media on the web, and its ability to disappear inside a pocket, purse or bag.

Olympus Air 3

Olympus Air A01 [B&H | Amazon]

On the one hand, the Olympus and Sony products compromise those benefits – but on the other hand, you suddenly have image quality and lens selection identical to full-blooded, single purpose cameras. Right now.

The DxO One offers a different but surprising slant: the highly regarded software company and imaging lab has stuffed a Sony sensor into a very tiny housing with high quality fixed lens of approximately equal field of view to the native iPhone lens (full frame equivalent of 32mm). It connects to the iPhone via the Lightning port, and uses software to create what it calls a SuperRAW file – essentially, multiple images blended together to reduce moiré while increasing sharpness (reducing blur).

With prices ranging from $299 for the Olympus Air A01 to $398 for the Sony DSC-QX1 and $599 for the DxO One, we look forward to getting these puppies in hand so that we can better understand the strengths and weaknesses of each and share them with you — though some of you may well have them already, in which case, please: tell us your experience with them!

For latest pricing and availability:
Olympus Air A01 [B&H | Amazon] DxO One [B&H] Sony DSC-QX1 [B&H | Amazon]

Blackmagic Design Micro Cinema and Micro Studio 4K [B&H]

Olympus brings its Air lens-style connected camera to US

Via DPReview:

Olympus is bringing its connected ‘Air' camera to the US. Announced in Japan earlier this year and shown off previously in concept form, the Air consists of the same 16MP Four Thirds sensor found on the company's E-M10 as well as a Micro Four Thirds lens mount, using your smartphone or tablet as its display. It's similar in spirit to the Sony Alpha QX1, but with a smaller body, Bluetooth connectivity, and several unique shooting modes.

Olympus Air 1

To keep the Air as small as possible, Olympus had to forgo the sensor-shift IS and anti-dust system found on its ‘regular' ILCs (although it can use the in-lens stabilization on Panasonic lenses that offer this feature). It also uses an electronic shutter rather than mechanical, which allows for a max shutter speed of 1/16000 sec. The Air can be attached to your smartphone via a ‘clamp' (even the giant Galaxy Note 4 fits) or it can be handheld, put on a tripod, or virtually anywhere that's within range of your smartphone's Wi-Fi.

The Air initiates a Wi-Fi connection to a mobile device using Bluetooth LE, which later allows the user to power on the camera simply by opening the OA.Central app. Feature-wise the Air has a host of auto modes, including a ‘genius' feature that detects subjects and provides six different creative versions of that scene. Also included are Art Filters, Photo Story (a kind of digital collage), and Clips (which combines short movies into one).

Read full article at DPReview “Olympus brings its Air lens-style connected camera to US”


Sony Alpha QX1

Via B&H:

Convert your smartphone into an interchangeable lens camera with the ILCE-QX1 Mirrorless Lens-Style Digital Camera from Sony. This model features the Sony E lens mount along with a 20.1-megapixel APS-C Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor and the BIONZ X image processor to provide detailed imagery and full high definition video at 30p. This camera also has a built-in flash with a guide number of 13′ for working in low-light conditions.

In addition to these shooting capabilities, the QX1 has the ability to record RAW image files for use with advanced editing techniques. It can also shoot continuously at a rate of 3.5 fps for up to 15 frames and utilizes a 25-point contrast detection autofocus system for quickly capturing sharp images. This system can lock on to moving subjects.

The QX1 has built-in Wi-Fi which connects to your iOS or Android smartphone and uses the PlayMemories Mobile App to turn your phone into a viewer and menu control for the camera. With Android smartphones, NFC (Near Field Communication) enables a Wi-Fi connection with just a simple tap between the phone and camera. Furthermore, with the Wi-Fi connection enabled, you can use your smartphone as a remote control and shoot with the camera detached from the smartphone. In addition, a zoom lever and shutter button on the camera enable you to shoot without a smartphone and view your images later. The camera can utilize Memory Stick Micro, Memory Stick Micro Mark II and microSD and microSDHC memory cards for image storage.

Sony Alpha QX1

Product Highlights

– Clips to Smartphone and Shoots Uncoupled
– Sony E Lens Mount
– 20.1MP APS-C Exmor APS HD CMOS Sensor
– BIONZ X Image Processor
– Full HD 1080p Video Recording at 30 fps
– RAW Shooting & ISO Range up to 16000
– Wi-Fi Connectivity with NFC
– Continuous Shooting up to 3.5 fps
– Built-In Flash with Guide Number of 13′
microSD and Memory Stick Micro Card Slot

Learn more about the Sony Alpha QX1

DxO One

Via B&H:

Upping your mobile photography capabilities, the DxO ONE is a sleek digital camera designed for use with your iPhone or iPad. Its compact, take-everywhere form factor incorporates a Lightning connector for attaching to your iOS device, and a dedicated app offers intuitive camera control, image playback, and live view shooting. In regards to imaging, the ONE features a large 20.2 MP 1″ BSI-CMOS sensor to benefit working in a variety of lighting conditions and enables the SuperRAW capture mode for increased clarity and reduced noise for extreme low-light shooting. Full HD 1080p/30 video recording is also supported as well as the use of shutter speeds up to 1/8000 sec. and sensitivities to ISO 51200. The wide-angle 32mm f/1.8 equivalent lens also complements working in difficult lighting conditions, as well as enables greater control over depth of field. The ONE is built to expand mobile imaging possibilities while retaining the intuitiveness and efficiency of always having your camera with you.

As a complement to your existing iPhone or iPad, the ONE retains a self-contained design and utilizes an internal lithium-ion battery for power and accepts microSD memory cards for saving your imagery. Dedicated shooting modes, such as Selfie or Sports, can be used in addition to conventional manual exposure modes, and a contrast-detection AF system helps to ensure sharp results with touch-to-focus control accessible via the iOS app.


Product Highlights:

– Fits iPhone/iPad via Lightning Connector
– Dedicated iOS App Interface
– 20.2 MP 1″ BSI-CMOS Sensor
– 11.9mm f/1.8 Lens (32mm Equivalent)
– Full HD 1080p Video Recording at 30 fps
– ISO 51200, Shutter Speed to 1/8000 sec.
– Pivoting Design, Built-In Li-Ion Battery
– JPG + DNG and DxO SuperRAW
– Contrast-Detect AF with Face Detection
– OLED Touchscreen for Settings Control

Learn more about the DxO One.

Note: it is our policy to give credit as well as deserved traffic to our news sources – so we don't repost the entire article – sorry, I know you want the juicy bits, but I feel it is only fair that their site get the traffic and besides, you just might make a new friend and find an advertiser that has something you've never seen before

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)


  1. Just wondering do any of these work with native camera apps, like periscope for example ?

  2. TonyAnastasi GREAT question! I’ve reached out to Olympus America and should have an answer soon!

  3. HughBrownstone TonyAnastasi great stuff, thanks mate.. if they can be used with periscope – it will sell like hotcakes big time!.. all periscope users are currently scrambling to buy addon wide and fisheye lenses, but having something like would completely up the game for the broadcasters on there..

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