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Sony Xperia Z: "Chasseur d'Images" review

By Chasseur d'Images - Friday August 02 2013

Mobile Review
Introduction | Android enhanced by Sony | Handling and ergonomics | A little disappointing video photo results | Measurements | Conclusion

The beautiful screen of Xperia Z and the 13 million pixels in its sensor made us dream... but after reviewing the results, we must admit our disappointment. As long as we looked at the photos and video on the device everything was fine, images looked vibrant; but as soon as the images transferred to a computer to print them or to simply view them, we discovered their limitations.

The Xperia Z exposes well, its color rendering is very good, excellent even, but deal with subjects very rich in fine details (foliage, hair or tissue) and the quality of the images become unconvincing, regardless of the lighting conditions. We had detected the problem as soon as the first images were captured with our usual tests subjects: the teddy bear coat seemed unclear and we could not distinguish the contours in the densest areas of our standard test chart. The DxO Mark measurements confirm those impressions and the appearance of the radar charts that we would like to see showing the broadest and most regular possible, demonstrate the weak points.

xperia-z-photo

More unexpected is the autofocus operation, which is often erratic in low light. A phenomenon exacerbated by the risk of blur resulting from the little functional grip a cameraphone can have, but also by exposure programs that don't hesitate to select slow shutter speeds that are inconsistent with moving subjects. The Xperia Z is capable of delivering very good images outdoors in well-lit scenes, while inside, blur from camera shake and missed focus are both common mistakes.

In the end, the verdict arising from the DxOMark notes may seem severe... but such is the purpose of a test. Assess and, above all, compare with competing models. We will therefore end on these words: the Xperia Z is a very good cameraphone, its robustness and sealing features are a real plus for the user but with regards to image quality it remains behind the Nokia PureView 808 (whose other features have unfortunately aged badly), the Samsung Galaxy S4 (brand new all beautiful) and the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4s with their skimpy screens are otherwise excellent choices.