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The Sony Xperia Z was announced in January 2013 at CES and is a smart phone with a 13 megapixel Exmor RS image sensor. You can also shoot HDR pictures and videos as well as shoot in Superior Auto mode. It is available for around £500 or free on a Three mobile phone contract.
There is Superior Auto mode to make picture taking simple - settings are adjusted automatically for the detected scene. Also included is a HDR mode which combines images at different exposure levels and is also available when shooting videos. There is also Sweep Panorama mode, filter effects and burst mode can record 9 megapixel images at 10 fps.
Videos are recorded in full 1080p HD and you can also take pictures at the same time as recording.
- 13 megapixel Exmor RS sensor
- 2.2 megapixel Exmor R front facing camera
- 4.1mm f/2.4 lens (35mm equiv: 28mm)
- 16x digital zoom
- Image stabiliser
- 5.0 inch full HD TFT display
- Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean)
- Superior Auto mode
- Water resistant and dust proof
- Full 1080p HD video recording
- ISO 125-1600
- 10cm minimum focusing distance
- HDR mode
- Sweep panorama
When the Xperia Z is locked you can gain access to the camera quickly by pressing the on button and sliding the camera icon to the side. When the camera is active there are video record, shutter release, playback and front / rear camera buttons on one side and other settings down the other. The menu system in the camera app is easy to use.
One of the most impressive features on the Xperia Z is the full 1080p HD screen which is makes it excellent for viewing your pictures and videos, although we did find it a little hard to see in bright light.
You're only likely to get a day of use from the phone on one charge, but this is typical of a smart phone, so you'll want to put it on to charge every night. We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.
|Shutter Response||0.7 secs|
|Wide - Focus / Shutter Response||0.8 secs|
|Switch on Time to Taking a Photo||37 secs|
|Shot to Shot without Flash||0.4 secs|
|Shot to Shot with Flash||0.6 secs|
|Burst - High||15 fps|
|Burst - Mid||7.3 fps|
|Burst - Low||4 fps|
Burst mode high records at 1280 x 720 pixels, mid at 3920 x 2204 pixels and low at 1920 x 1080 pixels, all at 16:9 ratio.
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Sony Xperia Z Sample Photos
Portrait | 1/40 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100
Landscape | 1/1250 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 40
Low Light | 1/10 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100
HDR | 1/4000 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100
Sample Photos - The Xperia Z takes colourful images which are well exposed - great for sharing on the web with friends and family. The fixed 28mm (35mm equiv.) isn't the best for portraits shots but skin tones aren't bad. The HDR mode does a good job of retaining some detail in the shadows.
Sony Xperia Z Lens test images
Wide | 1/4000 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100
Digital Zoom | 1/8000 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100
Trees | 1/100 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 64
Macro | 1/125 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100
Lens Performance - The detail in the images is OK, but when viewing full size you can almost see the individual pixels, which means that curves etc. look jagged rather than smooth - but as pictures taken on a smart phone tend to be shared on the web, it's not a big concern. You can't get all that close to your subject, so shooting macros is difficult and detail just isn't quite good enough.
Sony Xperia Z ISO test images
1/125 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 125
1/200 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 200
1/400 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 400
1/800 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 800
1/1600 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 1600
ISO Noise Performance - Noise is low at ISO 125, but there is enough at ISO 200 to cause the images to become soft. At ISO 400, there are only issues with image quality in contrasting areas in the image and it doesn't get all that worse at ISO 800. At the highest setting of ISO 1600, image quality is poor.
Sony Xperia Z White-balance test images
AWB preset - incandescent lighting | 1/125 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 160
Incandescent preset - incandescent lighting | 1/125 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 160
AWB preset - fluorescent lighting | 1/8 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100
Fluorescent preset lighting | 1/8 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100
White Balance Performance - Under our studio lights, whether it be incandescent or fluorescent, the Auto White Balance (AWB) performs well. Identical images are also produced by the respective presets.
Panorama mode - Panoramic images have a decent amount of detail and are fairly well stitched, although there are some slight issues when viewing full size.
Sony Xperia Z Digital filters
Picture Effect - Fisheye | 1/32 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100
Picture Effect - Harris Shutter | 1/32 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100
Picture Effect - Kaleidoscope | 1/32 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 80
Picture Effect - Nostalgic | 1/32 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100
Picture Effect - Partial Colour | 1/32 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 64
Picture Effect - Sepia | 1/32 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100
Picture Effect - Sketch | 1/32 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100
Picture Effect - Vivid | 1/32 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100
Digital Filters - The Xperia Z has a range of unique and unusual filters - we've included a number of examples above.
Video - Video quality is decent, below is one recorded in full 1080p HD.
Value For MoneyThe Sony Xperia Z is available for £479 with 16GB which makes it reasonable value for money, in a similar price range as its competitors, or it's available for free on a Three mobile phone contract. It's also available with 32GB and is up against the following high-end smartphones:
Apple iPhone 5, 8mp, f/2.4, 16GB, £505
Samsung Galaxy S4, 13mp, f/2.2, 16GB, £465
HTC One, 4mp, f/2.0, OIS, 32GB, £489
Nokia Lumia 925, 8.7mp, f/2.0, 16GB, £489
Sony Xperia Z Camera Phone ProsStylish smart phone with a massive full HD screen
Has Superior Auto mode
Fast continuous shooting
Water and dust resistant
Sony Xperia Z Camera Phone ConsImage quality is disappointing
Can't get close enough for macro shots
Portrait shots aren't particularly flattering
Panoramas do have some stitching issues
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
Sony Xperia Z Specifications
|CCD pixels||13Mp (Megapixels)|
|Sensor Size||1/3 inch|
|Sensor Size (width)||No Data|
|Sensor Size (height)||No Data|
|Shutter speeds shortest||No Data|
|Shutter speeds longest||No Data|
|ISO sensitivity||125 - 1600|
|Video FPS||No Data|
|Battery Type||Non-removable Li-Ion 2330 mAh battery|
|Box Contents||Xperia Z, embedded battery, Sony MH-EX300AP headset, charger, micro USB cable for charging, synchronisation and file transfer, and user documentation.|