Sony’s line of smartphone pairing, camera-in-a-lens gadgets are designed for taking high quality images using a smartphone. Polaroid has a cute little mini cam that attaches to the back of your device. It’s very hip.

Olympus just couldn’t sit back and watch other camera manufacturers get all of the attention. According to Engadget, the company has revealed much more information on its upcoming Olympus Air camera-in-a-lens kit.

Image via Engadget
Image via Engadget

The Olympus Air will be compatible with Android and iOS. Users will be able to pair their smartphone wirelessly to use the screen as a viewfinder. The 16-megapixel camera features a Live MOS sensor and can take as many as 320 shots on a single charge.

Olympus plans to make the Air an open platform camera, allowing third-party developers to create dedication applications for use with it.

The company boasts that images are SLR-quality and will be compatible with any Micro Four Thirds lens.

Engadget has a series of pictures showing off the new lens, which will only be available in Japan when it launches next month.

You can see from the pictures that the lens mounts to the backside of a smartphone at a slight angle so you can set the gadget on a tabletop or mount it to a tripod and be able to look down at the viewfinder to see the shot.

There is no information as to pricing. However, it will most likely be comparable to Sony’s QX lenses, which run between $350 and $400.

The idea of attaching a huge camera lens to the back of a smartphone does not appeal to me. However, I love the idea of having a SLR quality camera that comes with third-party apps. So it is, sort of, just a mini DSLR, if you think about it.

Hopefully, Olympus will decide to produce the Air for the U.S. market some time in the future.

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9 replies on “Olympus joins the smartphone camera-pairing market with the Olympus Air”

  1. The QX10 is pretty cheap now.
    With the latest firmware it’s more controllable in manual mode and does true HD video recording.
    I want to hang it on some kind of RC thingamabob and not on my phone, but it works great with my Android phone, tablet and stick PCs.
    That being said…yeah these are a bit too cumbersome for daily use, (mine won’t fit on my Note 2 with a case on it and will barely fit without one) but they have some interesting oddball applications.
    Wait for ’em to go on sale, or pick up one of the older Sony lens cams for a toy or specific application IMHO.

    1. The QX10 is a compact zoom lens on a rather small sensor. It really isn’t all that useful compared to this one. This one is just a sensor, if you own a DSLR, you can mount any of your own lens on to this.

      1. Actually there aren’t any DSLR lenses that would work on this device. It only supports Micro Four Third lenses.

        1. There are different adapters. Most DSLR’s have longer flange distances for their lenses than M4/3 so it wouldn’t be a problem. I have an adapter that fits all my Pentax lens to my girlfriends Olympus M4/3 albeit everything becomes manual. But manual is part of the fun.

          1. Sure there’s adapters for everything, but thats very different than saying “you can mount any of your own lenses on to this”.

            I’m waiting for Nikon to make a phone/device with their CX-sensor, and mount. I would love to use something like that with the Nikon FT1 adapter (retains autofocus), and my Nikon 85mm f1.8g lens. It would become a 230mm f1.8 lens.

          2. Well, it’s semantics I guess. By mount I mean actually using commercially available parts to make it work without having to disassemble and engineer your own assembly to make it fit. The only way you can make it work on the QX10 is if you made a DOF adapter, but that degrades quality and really isn’t utilizing the actual sensor.

            230mm would be nice. I have an 85mm F1.4 that I use on the Olympus M4/3… but that’s only 170mm

  2. This is definitely preferable to Sony’s idea. The M43 lens mount offers alot of great options. You have great prime lenses like the Voightlander 25mm f/0.95, and fast zoom lenses like the Panasonic 35-100mm F/2.8.

    Having said that, I don’t see myself using something like this. It looks awkward to hold, and the appeal of having photos available to share immediately doesn’t actually appeal to me at all. I prefer to look through my pictures and work on them in Lightroom before sharing them with anyone.

    A few other observations: If it supports RAW files, you would be limited to using/viewing the RAW file inside it’s native app, you wouldn’t be able to do anything with the file on your phone. So the benefit of having the picture on your phone actually becomes an annoyance.

    Also, the device itself is very large, considering what you see in the picture does not actually contain a lens.

    One group of people this will REALLY appeal to is astronomy photographers. A telescope with a Micro Four Thirds mount would make a really good setup with something like this. You could broadcast a feed of your telescope via Google Hangouts (assuming Hangouts could access the camera).

    1. If Nikon is listening, I would much prefer an Android device with an integrated Nikon CX lens mount.

  3. Such a dumb gadget. Why carry around something nearly as big as a camera but without the ergonomics or manual controls? Oh and it ties up your phone and uses the battery on screen time and wifi? As far as sony’s offering, you can get the same sensor and lens in the rx100 compact camera for less than the price of a qx100.

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