Sony's rumored "lens camera" and why it could be the real deal

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Sony is reportedly close to releasing an accessory designed to significantly boost the quality of photos taken with a smartphone. The accessory, referred to as a “lens camera,” could mount on the back of your device and would transmit images via NFC or Wi-Fi to your smartphone or tablet.

Interestingly enough, the lens is said to have a built-in image sensor, battery and its own memory according to two “trusted” sources as reported by Sony Alpha Rumors. The publication describes it as a completely new kind of photography and likely the smallest camera ever made on a large sensor.

The first lens to launch will supposedly use the same 1-Inch 20.2-megapixel Exmor R sensor and f/1.8 Carl Zeiss lens as the Sony RX100M II. This unit will be followed by a second model with a smaller sensor and larger zoom, we’re told.

When mounted on a smartphone, the lens camera will essentially do all of the photography – the phone is simply used as a screen for the camera to see what you are shooting. The lens camera can also be used as a standalone camera – pretty cool.

As a photography enthusiast, this certainly sounds like a neat idea. But as a tech enthusiast, I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical when I first started reading about the lens camera despite the publication rating this as an SR5 (almost certainly correct) rumor coming from two top sources. That is, until I stumbled across the video embedded above.

This video shows a wireless viewfinder interchangeable lens camera system from a company called WVIL. It’s essentially exactly what Sony is allegedly working on. A quick visit to WVIL’s website notes the camera isn’t a real product, but is instead just a concept (which did appear at CES 2011 as a working camera / phone). Could Sony have purchased the rights to WVIL’s assets or simply copied the idea completely?

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