[Hands on] Sony Xperia Z1 Android waterproof phone with 1/2.3" sensor


wonglp

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#1
Marking a new recent trend in large sensor smartphone is the latest from Sony Xperia Z1, touting a 1/2.3" sensor, 20.7MP, with waterproof/dustproof capability. Will be doing some photo reviews on different usage. It's a camera phone so do set the expectations based on that as well.



Some specs:
- 1/2.3" sensor, F2.0, Sony G lens, BIONZ processing engine, 27mm equivalent wide.
- Google Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean), 2.2 GHz Qualcomm MSM8974 Quad Core
- 144.4 x 73.9 x 8.5 mm, 169grams
- 5.0 inch Full HD TRILUMINOS™ Display for mobile with X-Reality™, 16,777,216 colours, 1920x1080 pixels. Ok, this is awesome as using outdoors the display is just so bright, crisp and clear.
- Waterproof and dustproof with IP 58 (Ingress protection), basically it's submersible in water up to 1.5m for up to 30min (note not sea water, in case some are wondering already :bsmilie:)

Pictures to follow.
 

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wonglp

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Underwater usage.

The specs says the camera is IP58, can go diving for 1.5m for 30mins, not that I can last that long...do note all the covers for charging port sim card slots must be covered, except for the earphone jack which is expose, so interestingly this jack is waterproof as well.

Took it for some shots in water with daughter, I used to have Pentax waterproof camera a couple years back, didn't really like the IQ then, the shots from Z1 is actually very pleasing and good IQ. Though at certain times, the touchscreen was hard to use when wet. There's SteadyShot (Image Stabilizer) for video mode as well.

Here's a video I took for my daughter, forgot to bring my goggles so had to shoot in "blind". Click on link and can watch in HD

[video]http://www.flickr.com/photos/24674993@N07/11050932654/[/video]​
Here's some shots with in the pool




 

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wonglp

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#3
User Interface & controls



There's a dedicated snap on the bottom right of the camera, it also functions as a quick start button whenever u want to do a quick snap shot. Simply press it hard down, it will turn on the camera and snap, this motion takes about 1-2secs.

There's a Manual mode, but as the aperture is a fixed one, you can't really change, so the camera shoots at F2 all the time. Being in manual mode allows you to change picture resolution and aspect ratio, 4:3/16:9, ISO and metering . Using the standard Superior sometimes uses a lower resolution files and 16:9 aspect ratio and picks the "best" ISO which will help to handhold.

Simple enough and powerful enough to make any shot. Though unlike a typical camera control, you can't see the shutter speed. And unfortunately, still can't do a long exposure with this camera, 3rd party apps and hotshoe clamp may help to get it done, cool thing about using smartphones.
 

wonglp

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Lens performance


A couple of shots to show the IQ and sharpness of the lens. All are F2.0, OOC jpeg. Click on picture and choose it in high resolution.



Cropped



 

wonglp

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#5
Night Shots

Night shot with Z1 is a breeze with F2.0 lens & SteadyShot Image Stabilizer on, here's a couple handheld. Was able to shoot 1/8s rather easily. No post process done below.

ISO100, F2.0, 1/8s, this was shot with M mode, where I control the ISO and the picture size to get the higher IQ and resolution, however, using M mode it seems the camera takes a longer time to AF. And sometimes there are misfocus shots, once nailed though it's very good.


Cropped 100% of above shot. Details retained.



ISO400, F2.0, 1/25s, this is still very useable personally. This was shot in Superior Auto mode, which defines the resolution, crop factor and ISO automatically, somehow it automate the shot to 16:9 crop.
 

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wonglp

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#6
Some food photography





Some depth of field is achievable with a larger sensor.


 

zaren

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impressive IQ.
 

zapp!

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LP u bought this phone? How's the quality and your take on it? Am considering changing to this phone but had read reports that the camera firmware and software does not take full advantage of the sensor
 

wonglp

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I'm impressed haha

LP u bought this phone? How's the quality and your take on it? Am considering changing to this phone but had read reports that the camera firmware and software does not take full advantage of the sensor
Hi Zapp, it's a loaned set for CS review. Quality had been really awesome, especially low light. I read that some reviews not very impressed with low night noise, from my samples shots at KL petronas tower, I feel it's very good for a camera phone, I was rather stunned actually. The corner sharpness though could be better, but then it's a camera phone.

Here's a shot on bright day, and here's high resolution file on the below shot, you can see marked softness difference in 2/3 of the frame onwards, centre sharpness is certainly excellent. Coming from a handphone, I have no complains. Of course there would be some who would differ.

As for the software I find it's rather lacking in some settings in superior auto to choose the crop factor, it goes to 16:9 quite often strangely, almost always thinking I'm shooting landscape haha. As for M mode, i was hoping to be able to do long exposure with it, probably 3rd party app.


 

wonglp

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A few sunrise and sunset shots to share. Some are snapseed process, some from iphoto, simple edits. The files, though jpgs does allow some highlights and shadows recovery









Snapseeded
 

wonglp

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#11
Sweep panorama mode, up down left or right directions can be chosen.

 

Rashkae

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Sweep panorama mode, up down left or right directions can be chosen.

That's usually quite a challenging scene for panorama software... Looks like it did a good job, with a HDR-like effect.
 

wonglp

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That's usually quite a challenging scene for panorama software... Looks like it did a good job, with a HDR-like effect.
The right to left sweep mode was used so to expose better (left to right was overexposed), did some highlight and shadow recovery too. Hence the hdr like look perhaps. This larger (than most handphone) sensor should help with the dynamic range as well. Nothing that took more that 30secs to tweak:)
 

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dinosau4

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#14
i own the xperia z1 for 6 weeks. overall very impressed with the camera's quality unless in extreme low light.

share with u guys a sunrise picture, no pp.

 

wonglp

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i own the xperia z1 for 6 weeks. overall very impressed with the camera's quality unless in extreme low light.

share with u guys a sunrise picture, no pp.
Manual mode AF is rather poor compared to HTC 1 that I use.

May I ask in the "Manual" mode, could you set the shutter speed? Thanks.
No, can't change, only ISO, crop factor, some exposure, contrast, saturation. unfortunate, need 3rd party app to open up more settings. seems it's fixed ard 1/8s as min shutter speed in manual mode, the screen will turn dark on low light, so u gauge by adjusting ISO higher to brighten up.
 

wonglp

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#17
Some of the filters "picture effect" that can use with this camera, one of the more fun ones is "partial colors".





 

wonglp

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Nice Review!! :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:
Thanks guys yeah it's good.

Just a quick summary of pros and cons imho after using for couple of weeks:

Pros:
- Awesome IQ including night shots, F2.0 lens, sharp especially centre
- SteadyShot works well, even video.
- waterproof (just need to ensure the ports are covered & no seawater)
- superb sharp and crisp screen even on bright day!
- dedicated snap button that can start the phone camera to shoot even when in standby.
- time burst mode is very fun, snaps picture even before you press shutter (albeit a lower res). and u choose the best picture/moment that you want.
- very nice premium built, one piece aluminum frame

Cons
- AF is not the most snappy especially low light and M mode
- limited controls for M mode, at least the shutter should be able to control
- Auto mode tends to change to 16:9 crop easily, no way to set the image quality or fix crop mode.
- when in water the screen is hard to use
- Auto WB sometimes is not so accurate

I think Sony should make a "tough" series camera that's drop-proof! or at least an accessory cover that hopefully but unlikely Sony will make. saw some on alibaba just not sure about the quality.

There are other accessories useful for Z1 users here.

Will continue to share more shots from here.
 

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