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Sony Xperia Z Camera Phone Review

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Category: Camera Phones
Product: Sony Xperia Z
Price: £490.00
Rating: 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5

Sony Xperia Z Camera Phone Review - Daniel Bell reviews the Sony Xperia Z camera phone, it has a 13 megapixel Exmor RS sensor and shoots HDR images and videos.

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Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Sony Xperia Z

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.

Sony Xperia Z

Sony Xperia Z Camera Phone Features

The Sony Xperia Z has two sensors - a 13 megapixel BSI Exmor RS on the rear and 2.2 megapixel Exmor R on the front. The lens is a 35mm equivalent of 28mm and there is 16x digital zoom. The Xperia Z is water and dust resistant - water resistance is up to 1m for up to 30 mins.

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.

Sony Xperia Z

Key Features

  • 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
Sony Xperia Z

Sony Xperia Z Camera Phone Handling

The Sony Xperia Z has a rectangular body that is quite chunky with all the ports for headphones, USB cable etc. having covers which make the edges of the camera very smooth. This means you can stand it on it's side vertically or horizontally if you want to use the self-timer for shots. There aren't many buttons as most of the phone is controlled using the touch screen. There is an on / off button and volume buttons which also control the digital zoom.

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.

Sony Xperia Z

Sony Xperia Z Camera Phone Performance

Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Sony Xperia Z Sample Photos

Portrait | 1/40 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100

Portrait | 1/40 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

Landscape | 1/1250 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 40

Landscape | 1/1250 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 40
High-Res

Low Light | 1/10 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100

Low Light | 1/10 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

HDR | 1/4000 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100

HDR | 1/4000 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100
High-Res


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

Wide | 1/4000 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

Digital Zoom | 1/8000 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100

Digital Zoom | 1/8000 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

Trees | 1/100 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 64

Trees | 1/100 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 64
High-Res

Macro | 1/125 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100

Macro | 1/125 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100
High-Res


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

1/125 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 125
High-Res

1/200 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 200

1/200 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 200
High-Res

1/400 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 400

1/400 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 400
High-Res

1/800 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 800

1/800 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 800
High-Res

1/1600 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 1600

1/1600 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 1600
High-Res


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

AWB preset - incandescent lighting | 1/125 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 160
High-Res

Incandescent 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
High-Res

AWB preset - fluorescent lighting | 1/8 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100

AWB preset - fluorescent lighting | 1/8 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

Fluorescent preset 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
High-Res


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
Panorama

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 - Fisheye | 1/32 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

Picture Effect - Harris Shutter | 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
High-Res

Picture Effect - Kaleidoscope | 1/32 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 80

Picture Effect - Kaleidoscope | 1/32 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 80
High-Res

Picture Effect - Nostalgic | 1/32 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100

Picture Effect - Nostalgic | 1/32 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

Picture Effect - Partial Colour | 1/32 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 64

Picture Effect - Partial Colour | 1/32 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 64
High-Res

Picture Effect - Sepia | 1/32 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100

Picture Effect - Sepia | 1/32 sec | f/2.4 | 4.1 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

Picture Effect - Sketch | 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
High-Res

Picture Effect - Vivid | 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
High-Res


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 Money

The 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 Verdict

The Sony Xperia Z looks impressive and will win over many fans, but if you want to use it as your main camera, you may be disappointed and there are certainly better cameras on smart phones available. Image quality is disappointing and panoramas aren't as impressive as the iPhone 5, but HDR shots are good and the Superior Auto mode makes picture taking extremely easy.


 

Sony Xperia Z Camera Phone Pros

Stylish smart phone with a massive full HD screen
Has Superior Auto mode
Fast continuous shooting
Runs Android
Shoots HDR
Water and dust resistant

Sony Xperia Z Camera Phone Cons

Image quality is disappointing
Can't get close enough for macro shots
Portrait shots aren't particularly flattering
Panoramas do have some stitching issues

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

Sony Xperia Z Specifications

ManufacturerSony
Lens
Max Aperture f/2.4
Lens Range 4mm
35mm equivalent 28mm
Optical Zoom 1x
Image Sensor
CCD pixels 13Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W) 4128
Pixels (H) 3096
Sensor Size 1/3 inch
Sensor Size (width) No Data
Sensor Size (height) No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 16:9
  • 4:3
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor 5in
Screen resolution 1920x1080
Touch Screen Yes
Focusing
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Face Detection
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest No Data
Shutter speeds longest No Data
ISO sensitivity 125 - 1600
Video
Movie mode Yes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080
Video FPS No Data
Stereo Sound No
Other Features
Image Stabilisation Yes
Interface
USB USB 2
Wi-Fi Yes
Storage
Internal Memory 16000mb
Power Source
Battery Type Non-removable Li-Ion 2330 mAh battery
Box Contents
Box Contents Xperia¬ô Z, embedded battery, Sony MH-EX300AP headset, charger, micro USB cable for charging, synchronisation and file transfer, and user documentation.
Dimensions
Weight 146g
Width 139mm
Height 71mm
Depth 7.9mm

View Full Product Details


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Comments

LexMcColl
LexMcColl  2
4 Sep 2013 - 10:43 AM

Hi Daniel, I'm interested in the actual sensor dimensions. I see they're listed above at 3920mm x 2940mm! which must be wrong. Is there a decimal point missing? Can you also tell me does the sweep panorama use the camera in portrait orientation as the iPhone 5?
Many thanks, Lex

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