White balance is generally very good, rendering a neutral colorcast with strong and vivid color. The predictive hybrid autofocus system performs exceptionally well, delivering fast and accurate focusing in all lighting conditions when shooting both stills and video.
Its low-light performance is no less impressive when shooting stills, with well-controlled noise and excellent exposures in extreme low light, thanks to its high 12,800 ISO setting. When required, the pulse LED flash maintains good detail preservation in indoor photos, with mostly accurate white balance. Offering consistent performance across stills and video, the Xperia X Performance achieved sub-scores of 88 points in both our Photo and Video categories.
The video module offers full HD 1080p @30/60fps movie capture, with a very good score for video stabilization, thanks to the Sony Steady-shot intelligent active mode, which automatically corrects undesired motion effects in movies. Video exposure, color, and white balance are excellent, too, with good noise reduction ensuring clean movie files even in low light.
Outdoor: Excellent dynamic range in sunny conditions
Field-tested in a range of locations and in varying outdoor lighting conditions, the Sony Xperia X Performance delivered generally very good target exposures and accurate white balance. The wide dynamic range recorded in sunny scenes was impressive, making it a great smartphone for high-quality holiday, day trip or landscape photos.
When triggered, Auto HDR mode further improved dynamic range, capturing more detail in both the shadows and highlights. We did experience some inconsistencies with Auto HDR, however, which sometimes failed on consecutive shots, so it’s worth persevering to ensure getting exposure you’re after. Color in outdoor pictures is strong and vivid, with very little sign of color shading, which helps ensure those pleasant results in sunny conditions.
Converted to an 8 Mpix default mode JPEG, the high-resolution 23Mp sensor ensures well-defined edge detail, although very fine detail is lost in some areas. Noise is well-controlled, however, and although some chromatic noise is visible in certain areas, it’s negligible unless you’re viewing crops at 100%.
Indoor: Intelligent exposure control
For indoor or low-light shots, the wide-aperture f/2 lens ensures bright and accurate exposures with well-controlled noise. Even in extreme low light using a 5 lux light source, images are very acceptable, and the 1/16 sec shutter speed and ISO 2000 sensitivity setting ensures nice results. The Xperia X Performance can also detect camera shake using gyro information, so if you keep the smartphone still by either using a tripod or practicing good handling techniques, it will automatically select a slower shutter speed and lower ISO sensitivity for better image quality. During testing we found this to be very effective when using a tripod, and the resulting 0.6 sec/ISO 100 exposure settings ensured sharper and cleaner results, compared to handheld shots at 1/16 sec / ISO 1000.
When higher ISO sensitivities are used, however, some loss of detail occurs as a result of the strong noise reduction. A very minor color shift is also evident in low-light pictures, with a pink cast in the center shifting to green at the edges, but it has a limited impact and shouldn’t be a significant issue for most users.
Details: Explaining the score
Exposure and Contrast (87)
The Xperia X Performance achieves a very good score due to accurate target exposures and wide dynamic range, which ensure images with a pleasant overall feel and good levels of contrast in both outdoor and low-light conditions. When triggered, Auto HDR mode is successful in expanding the dynamic range, recording detail in the darkest and brightest tones, although we observed some inconsistencies with this feature.
With a high score for color, the Xperia X Performance offers vivid and pleasant colors in most lighting conditions. We observed some slight white balance irregularities in consecutive shots in low light, which affected the score, but these won’t be a significant issue for most photographers capturing images in isolation. Shooting outdoors in both bright and overcast conditions, white balance remained accurate and neutral, however, with color shading generally not visible in outdoor exposures.
With an outstanding score for autofocus, the Xperia X Performance’s hybrid phase/contrast detect AF system is fast and accurate in both bright and low-light conditions. Accurate focus is also very repeatable between shots using both preview and trigger mode.
Texture preservation is good with very well-defined edge details in outdoor exposures. The finest details are not preserved, however, which is probably a result of fairly heavy noise reduction that renders luminance noise barely visible in outdoor exposures. A slight chromatic noise is visible in some areas such as clouds, but you have to go looking for it in the 100% crops. Very fine detail is lost in handheld low-light pictures, too, but as mentioned, when using some camera support, the Xperia X Performance will automatically detect the static camera and use a slower shutter speed and lower ISO sensitivity for sharper and more detailed indoor pictures.
Any serious impacts due to artifacts, or optical deficiencies, are limited on the Xperia X Performance to viewing crops at 100%. Although ringing and a slight HDR halo are just visible along contrast edges in large prints, these effects won’t have a significant impact on most users’ pictures. A loss of sharpness between the center and edges of the frame is also apparent, with some “sky saturation” altering the color of the sky on failed Auto HDR exposures.
Using flash with no additional light sources, the Xperia X Performance’s pulse LED unit is well centered, providing uniform flash coverage with only slight light attenuation in the corners of the frame. Flash-only exposures are also extremely pleasant thanks to their accurate overall exposure, neutral white balance, and good detail preservation. Mixing flash with an additional tungsten light source, exposures remain good and details are preserved, but color rendering starts to become a little inconsistent. We observed this in consecutive flash exposures, which displayed some white balance irregularities, including orange, pink, or green colorcasts with some color shading visible, too.
The Xperia X Performance’s full HD 1080p video module captures motion pictures with good target exposures, nice color rendering, and accurate white balance in both indoor and outdoor movies. In very high-contrast scenes, the brightest highlights are sometimes overexposed, however, and a fine luminance noise is visible in low-light videos.
Both autofocus and video stabilization are excellent, however. Autofocus is not only fast and accurate, but copes extremely well with zoom correction, which allows users to add another dimension to their video capture. Video stabilization is particularly impressive, despite some high-frequency motion and judder effects visible while panning. Detail preservation in outdoor videos is very good, too, and although more luminance noise and loss of fine detail is visible n indoor videos, it’s not overly detrimental to video quality.
- Fast and accurate autofocus in bright and low light.
- Good target exposure and dynamic range.
- Well-controlled noise in low light.
- White balance is generally very good.
- Good detail preservation using flash.
- Very good stabilization.
- Very good noise reduction.
- Fast and accurate autofocus, with effective zoom correction.
- Good exposure and white balance.
- Auto HDR mode sometimes fails to trigger.
- Slight chromatic noise visible in outdoor pictures.
- White balance is not repeatable over consecutive shots using flash.
- Strong judder while panning.
- In bright outdoor scenes, highlights are occasionally over-exposed.
- Some jitter noticeable in walking scenes.
- Using a tungsten light source indoors, some color shading is noticeable.