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Sony Xperia Z5 Premium Review

Amy Davies reviews the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium with a 5.5inch 4K Ultra HD screen, 23 megapixel camera and 4K video recording.


|  Sony Xperia Z5 Premium in Camera Phones
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The Xperia Z5 Premium is a smartphone from Sony which features a 23 million pixel sensor camera. It’s a variation on the Xperia Z5 - the premium tag signifies that you get a larger screen with a 4K display. The camera is the same across all of the Z5 range though.

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium Features

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The camera’s sensor is a 1/2.3 inch CMOS device, which is pretty standard for mobile phones. It has a fixed lens, but there’s up to 8x digital zoom available.

As well as an automatic mode, there’s a manual mode which gives you some control over different camera settings, such as white balance. Unlike some other Android cameras though, it’s not possible to shoot in raw format with the Xperia Z5 Premium.

The Xperia Z5’s screen is 5.5 inches and has a 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) display, which is designed to really make your pictures and videos stand out. You can also record 4K video, too.

Other features of the phone which aren’t directly related to the camera, but are helpful to photographers include a two day battery life, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, 64-bit Octa-core processor and the fact that it is waterproof and dust tight. The Z5 Premium uses the Android operating system, of which the Marshmallow operating system can be installed on the phone.

As well as internal memory, you can add a micro SD card of up to 200GB to the Z5 Premium for additional storage. 

Key Features

  • 23MP 1/2.3 inch Exmor RS for mobile sensor (main camera)
  • 24mm (equivalent) f/2.0 G lens
  • SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode
  • 5.5 inch touch sensitive 4K UHD Display (3840 x 2160)
  • Waterproof, dust tight
  • 4K Video Recording
  • ISO up to ISO12800
  • 5x Clear Image Zoom
  • 8x Digital Zoom, Camera Apps including Sweep Panorama
  • Available in chrome, black and gold 

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium Handling

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The Z5 Premium, as is the trend for most current smartphones is quite a minimalist affair. In terms of physical buttons, you’ll find only three on the right hand side of the phone. There’s a power on/off (and sleep on/off) button, a volume rocker and a dedicated button to use with the camera.

If you hold down the camera button when the camera’s display is switched on, the camera app will launch automatically. You can then use this button to half press to acquire focus, and press all the way down to take the shot. Meanwhile, the volume rocker switch can be used to extend and retract the (digital) zoom.

The phone is on the larger size for smartphones, but the dedicated camera button is in a good place so you can hold it just like you would a compact camera - albeit without a grip on the phone to help keep it steady in your hand.

Android Marshmallow is available for the Z5 Premium, which brings with it some changes to the camera app when compared to the previous version. In essence, you still have the same functionality, but the app is slightly more streamlined.

You can swipe across the screen when in the camera app to move between the different shooting options available to you. By default, the camera will launch in superior auto mode, which is a good choice if you just want to concentrate on getting your shot, and composing the image, rather than altering settings.

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Despite the name, manual mode doesn’t actually offer that much manual control. You can set the ISO and the white balance, but you can’t control aperture or shutter speed, which seems like a bit of an oversight. In order to access the settings that you can change, there, are two on-screen buttons, one which accesses white balance settings, and another which accesses a group of settings, which includes HDR, Resolution, and more. You can only control ISO if you shoot at the 8MP resolution, rather than the full 23MP resolution the camera offers.

Another swipe on the screen takes you to video mode. In this mode you can record full HD, so if you want to record in the advertised 4K instead, then you’ll need to swipe again to go to the “camera apps” section, where you’ll find 4K video recording, along with other apps such as Sweep Panorama and Creative Effect. If you record a video in 4K, you’ll be able to save stills from the footage in camera using the “photo capture” button which appears when playing back video.

Overall, the inbuilt camera app is pretty simple and easy to understand, with just a few oddities appearing in the manual setting that may take you some time to get to know.

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The 4K screen is excellent, and almost gives the impression that shots in playback are “hyper real” because the clarity is so good. It also doesn’t suffer too badly from glare and reflections, aside from if you are using it in very direct, very bright sunlight.

The phone’s battery life is rated as lasting for two days - which is excellent by modern smartphone standards. Not only that but you can quick charge the phone to get 5.5 hours of charge in just 10 minutes. We suspect that if you were using the phone all day for picture taking, and other intensive operations, such as 4K video recording, then it wouldn’t last the full two days, but during our testing it has lasted well, certainly allowing a decent number of photos to be taken before needing a charge again.

Using the phone is pretty quick, and you can quickly activate the camera app by holding down the dedicated camera button - that means it’s ready to shoot in just a couple of seconds. Shot-to-shot times are also generally pretty speedy, but there can be a short delay if you take a lot of photos in quick succession and want to look back at them. Focusing is quick in good light, locking onto the subject with ease. As the light drops, you may find that the camera struggles a little, occasionally presenting a false confirmation of focus. If you get too close to a subject, it will still allow you to take the shot, despite the fact that the subject is clearly not in focus, so that’s something to keep an eye on. 


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Comments


Lenscapon 3 64
25 Jun 2016 9:29PM
I think the Z5 sensor is large for a mobile, as it's the same size as a compact camera's sensor and larger than most other mobiles - so not sure what meant by the opening comnent about it being a common size of sensor?

My experience is that this gives better low light performance than most other mobile phones, although nowhere near as good as a dslr or mirrorless camera.

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