With a 20-megapixel 1/2.3-inch Exmor RS sensor and f/2.0 lens, the Z1 certainly has the photographic prowess to make us sit up and pay attention.
Borrowing a few features from the Sony range of Cyber-shot cameras, as well as some new twists of its own, the Z1 makes for a fun photographic experience. Here are some sample photos from the camera, with some initial analysis.
All images below are presented straight out of the Xperia Z1's camera, with no alterations apart from cropping or resizing for web. Stay tuned for our full review of the Z1's camera soon, with plenty more photos as well.
The bold edges and squared corners of the Z1 make it a very different phone to shoot with than most other handsets currently on the market. It feels good to hold in the hand, while the sturdy construction makes the dedicated shutter button on the side panel a real breeze to use.
The Z1 produces photos with nicely saturated colours and reasonably even exposures when using the camera's automatic mode. Sony calls it superior auto — just like the mode found on its range of compact cameras. It automatically chooses the best scene from 36 different types for the best results, even in low light.
In this photo, the Z1 oversaturates the roof of the cupola a little too much for our liking, rendering it with a more orange tone than the real scene. The lighting here was tricky though, with the sun directly overhead.
Creative filters on phone camera apps can be boring (or non-existent in some cases), but the Z1 has a few tricks up its sleeve. The photo above was taken with the Harris shutter picture effect, which, unsurprisingly, re-creates the tri-colour effect it is named after.
Most high dynamic range (HDR) effects on phone cameras are pretty subtle compared to some of the results you can achieve in post-processing. The Z1 is much the same in this respect, with HDR delivering a more even, flatter exposure with extra detail in shadow and highlight areas. Also, the Z1 only lets you use HDR mode when shooting with the 8-megapixel output resolution rather than the full 20 megapixels.
One of Sony's calling cards in its stand-alone camera range is Sweep Panorama. This feature pops up in the Z1 and proves to be a very welcome addition. While the results are not perfect — for example, you can see a few wobbly lines and overlaid areas where there is lots of detail — the Z1 produces some of the best panoramas straight out of the box that we've seen from a smartphone.
With a bright lens and a sensor designed to bring out the most of low-light shots, we have high hopes for the Z1. In practice, the results are good but not great. In superior auto mode, the camera does a good job of getting a decent exposure, but the results are a little too yellow, as you can see from the image above. There is also a lot of noise on the full-resolution original, which you can inspect for yourself by clicking here.
Fed up with the same old boring images time and time again? The Z1 has an AR (augmented reality) effect mode that superimposes a number of different visual effects over images. Calibrate the camera by pointing it towards a flat surface and then compose your image with dinosaurs, butterflies, underwater creatures or disco hair effects in your shot. It's a lot of fun. Plus, dinosaurs! Need we say more?