Sony Xperia Z1 Review

November 5, 2013 | Mark Goldstein | |

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 20 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 6Mb.

The Sony Xperia Z1 produced images of good quality during the review period. This camera handled noise well, not becoming too obvious until ISO 400, with the fastest setting of ISO 800 also well worth using.

Chromatic aberrations were in evidence but were well-controlled, with some limited purple fringing effects appearing in high contrast situations. The images were sharp enough straight out of the camera at the default setting and didn't require any further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop.

Macro performance is good, but the built-in flash is a little underpowered. The Steadyshot anti-shake system works well when hand-holding the camera at slower shutter speeds. The Xperia Z1's slowest shutter speed of 1/8th second can't capture enough light for most after-dark situations.

Sony's now tried-and-trusted Sweep Panorama is a joy to use, while the various Picture Effects quickly produce special looks that would otherwise require you to spend a lot of time in the digital darkroom.


There are 5 ISO settings available on the Sony Xperia Z1. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 50 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)


ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)


ISO 800 (100% Crop)


Focal Length

The Sony Xperia Z1's fixed lens offers a wide-angle focal length of 27mm in 35mm camera terms, as illustrated by this example:


81mm (3x clear zoom)


Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are sharp enough and don't really benefit from further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)


Chromatic Aberrations

The Sony Xperia Z1 handled chromatic aberrations well during the review, with a little purple fringing present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)


The Sony Xperia Z1 has a close-focus distance of 8cms. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.


Macro (100% Crop)


The flash settings on the Sony Xperia Z1 are Auto, Fill Flash, Red-eye Reduction and Off. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off

Fill Flash

ISO 64 ISO 64


The Sony Xperia Z1's maximum shutter speed is 1/8th second, which is not good news if you're seriously interested in night photography, especially as you can't set it manually. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 1/8 second at ISO 50.


Night (100% Crop)


The Sony Xperia Z1 has an antishake mechanism which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, we took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the same settings. The first shot was taken with Shake Reduction turned off, the second with it turned on. Here is a 100% crop of the image to show the results. As you can see, with Shake Reduction turned on, the images are sharper than when it's turned off.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Shake Reduction Off (100% Crop)

Shake Reduction On (100% Crop)

1/50th / 27mm

High Dynamic Range

High Dynamic Range Optimiser (HDR) is Sony's solution for capturing more contrast than a single exposure can handle by combining two exposures into one image.



Picture Effects

The Sony Xperia Z1 offers an extensive range of 9 creative Picture Effects.











Partial Colour


Harris Shutter


Sweep Panorama

The Sony Xperia Z1 allows you to take panoramic images very easily, by 'sweeping' with the camera while keeping the shutter release depressed. The camera does all the processing and stitching and even successfully compensates for moving subjects.