Not content with reinventing and dominating the mirrorless digital camera market, Sony is preparing to launch a lens with a built-in sensor, power source, and WiFi connectivity — or, to put it another way, a digital camera without a body or screen. The idea is that you’ll mount these lenses to your smartphone, and then a WiFi link will allow your phone to act as a viewfinder and take photos. Alternatively, you or a friend can hold the lens, or you can leave the lens lying somewhere else — and as long as you’re within WiFi range, you can see through the lens and capture photos.
According to Sony Alpha Rumors, which is generally a reliable source of Sony leaks, the first lens will feature the same sensor and lens as the recently released RX100M2 point-and-shoot camera. The RX100M2 has a 1-inch back-illuminated 21-megapixel Exmor R sensor, and a f/1.8-4.9 Carl Zeiss lens with 3.6x optical zoom. Early reviews suggest that the RX100M2 takes very nice photos indeed — far beyond the capabilities of smartphones with their small sensors and lenses (the Lumia 1020 notwithstanding). At $750, though, the point-and-shoot isn’t cheap — and the screenless version, when it’s released, probably won’t be that much cheaper. There will also be a second lens with a "smaller sensor and larger zoom," but Sony Alpha Rumors doesn’t seem to have any more details beyond that.
These lenses will be strapped onto your smartphone or tablet, which then becomes a live viewfinder. There’s no mention of the software, but presumably there will at least be an Android app that works with Sony’s Xperia range of smartphones. It’s only an educated guess, but the lens will probably use WiFi Direct, which means that most new Android smartphones (Galaxy S4, HTC One) should be compatible (as long as the mounting bracket fits). The iPhone 5′s lack of WiFi Direct probably precludes any chance of lens compatibility, though the iPhone 5S might fix that — or maybe Sony can work with Apple to MacGyver the AirPlay protocol into submission.
It would be like having a very powerful (and very expensive) wireless webcam. There’s no word on a release date, but the source suggests that it’s "soon."