With the camera technology being one of the battle fronts among smartphone and tablet manufacturers, it is no surprise that many buyers look keenly at how good a device camera is before making a decision whether to purchase the device or not.  HTC came up with a new kind of camera – an ultrapixel camera that has proven to be quite revolutionary.  Nokia on the other hand is pushing its luck with a 41 megapixels camera on a Lumia windows phone and Samsung launched a camera-focused version of its Galaxy S4 flagship phone called Zoom, which has a 16 megapixels camera with an optical zoom.  Sony Xperia Z’s core feature is not the camera though, the company puts a lot of effort in marketing the device’s build, high definition screen resolution and of course, the name.

 

The Sony Xperia Z comes with an impressive 13 megapixels camera with a backside illuminated sensor.  The camera boasts of a F2.4 lens, LED flash and HDR (image and video recording) and Panorama modes.  The primary camera has a 16X digital zoom capability and features a digital image stabilization technology.  The front camera, optimized for taking self-images and video calls, is a 2 megapixels camera capable of recording full HD 1080p video, just like the primary camera

Build and design

The 13 megapixels Sony Xperia Z camera is not the most dazzling in the market, but with the company’s focus on build and quality of hardware, the camera is well located on the top edge of the phone, about a third of the phone’s width.  This position makes it easier to take images and video in landscape mode and unlike cameras at the center top of the device, the camera on this device rarely get interrupted by the user’s fingers.  The phone’s Exif’s data show that the actual focal length of the camera is 33mm and it has a F2.4 lens which is generally slower than the F2.0 on offer by other manufacturers, especially when taking images in low light conditions.

The photographic ergonomics of the Xperia Z are hampered by the company’s move to use a dedicated shutter button.  To make matters worse, the camera application does not use the volume rocker buttons for shutter release; instead these buttons are programmed to zoom.  This means that the only option the user has is to use the screen controls.  The phone’s water, dust and shock resistance however means that users can take images and video even in foul weather and dangerous conditions without the fear of damaging the phone.

Camera App

Sony Xperia’s camera application is feature rich but busy and can be very complicated for first time users.  Sony has a very convenient screen lock shortcut that takes the user right to the camera app with just a slide into the camera ‘Superior Auto’ mode.  When the phone is active, users can access the camera app by tapping on the icon located on the top left corner which will open an array of shooting mode options.  These modes include the default Superior Auto, Normal, Video, Burst, Picture Effect, Panorama, Scene and Front camera still and video modes.

When in Normal mode, the camera app presents a very convenient functional interface where the user can easily access the most commonly used settings.  The controls are located to the left and include: configure the flash, toggle HDR mode, set exposure compensation and advanced settings.  Taking a picture involves tapping on the camera button while tapping and holding the button sets and adjusts focus and exposure till the finger is lifted to trigger the shutter.  By default, you can tap anywhere to set the focus point in ‘Touch Focus’ mode.  The camera screen has a prominent shutter button and a red circle to quickly star recording a video.

Camera Features

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High Dynamic Range (HDR)

The High Dynamic Range mode shoots multiple image frames in quick succession in order to capture the bright elements as well as the dark shadows of scenes but within a brightness range.Bla bla bla bla

Superior Auto and Scene Modes

This is Sony’s point-and-shoot feature that combines the best of the phone’s many scene modes with the special situation features without too much user input.  This mode automatically chooses the scene mode that best suits the situation

Sweep Panorama

This is a panorama picture that involves taking images and merging them with minimal artifacts.  The final image is a 1080 x 4912 5 megapixels.  The user can pan the phone in any direction but the best panorama is one taken with the phone’s long edge always parallel to the direction of pan.  The native Camera app has a functional panoramic mode but the results are not that spectacular.

Continuous Shooting

With its high speed three speed burst and resolution, continuous shooting mode is one of the best features of the Xperia Z camera.  In continuous shooting mode, the camera can record images up to 9 megapixels at 6.5 frames every second as long as the user holds the shoot button.

Stabilization

The Xperia Z’s camera stabilization is actually an ISO boost that raises shutter speeds in order to minimize the chances of taking blurry images.  This is not something to write home about, it lacks the true optical stabilization.

Picture Effect

The picture effect mode on the Xperia Z presents the user with a range of special effects filters and a grid-level view of thumbnails of each effect applied in real time.  This mode utilizes the phone’s processor power and RAM.  However, the images taken in this mode are limited to 2 megapixels and 16:9 aspect ratio.

Gallery and Editor

The Sony Xperia has an effective Album application to browse images and video.  The app has a ‘pinch’ feature to zoom in and out of small thumbnails.  The album also links to photo sharing services including Sony’s PlayMemories and social media sites.

SensMe Slideshow

This is a slideshow app easily lets the user view images in an album application and find and listen to music as well.  It has many features including 3D frames theme, ‘Spin and Flip’, ‘Fade’ and ‘Zoom & Grid’

Video

There is a way to set up the Sony Xperia Z such that swiping the lock screen takes the user right into video mode.  The user has a lot of control on the video parameters such as white balance, focus modes, metering and exposure.  The user also gets to choose from a wide range of modes including soft snap, beach, party, landscape, snow, night and sports.  The standard video mode is full HD 1080p 30 frames per second recording and it comes with a digital video stabilization feature.