Sony Xperia Z2 Review

September 29, 2014 | Amy Davies | |
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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.

Sony has put the same sensor in the Xperia Z2 as you can find in many compact cameras. Sony has been producing impressive sensors for some time now, so it comes as no surprise that the Z2 puts in a pretty good performance when it comes to image quality - putting it on a par with a similarly specced compact camera (in almost every area except zoom and flash).

Colours have a nice level of saturation directly from the camera, while detail is also resolved pretty well. You’ll want to avoid using high sensitivities if you can though - at ISO 1600 and ISO 3200, there’s so much noise as to make an image more or less unusable at all but the smallest of sharing sizes.

While there’s an inbuilt flash on the Sony Xperia Z2, results when using it can be a little hit and miss. While it provides a useful level of light, it can also result in red-eye when photographing people - so unless you’re willing to remove that in post-production, you might be disappointed with the results.

On the plus side, the Sony G lens is capable of stopping down to f/2.0, so you might find you don’t need to use the flash all that often anyway - the Z2’s camera fares pretty well in low light thanks to this lens and you’ll find yourself with more natural results if you stay flash free.

Automatic white balance fares reasonably well, but if the camera is faced with strong artificial lights, you will see an orange-yellowish tone. When shooting in manual mode, you can set a specific white balance setting which is useful in these situations.

Occasionally the Sony Xperia Z2’s all-purpose metering mode can struggle when photographing high contrast scenes - this can be helped out when shooting in manual mode by changing the metering setting, or by using the HDR shooting mode.

Although there is a digital zoom available, images taken at the far reach of the digital zoom’s capability suffer from a reasonably severe loss of detail, so it’s best avoided unless you’re really desperate.

There’s a range of digital filters available, which are fun to experiment with if you don’t want to step out of the native camera app and install further apps. Sweep Panorama mode is also good fun, but if you examine at 100% or want to share the image with a large file size you may be disappointed with the amount of detail resolved.

Noise

There are 7 ISO settings available on the Sony Xperia Z2. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 64 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

iso64.jpg iso100.jpg
   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

iso200.jpg iso400.jpg
   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

iso800.jpg iso1600.jpg
   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

 
iso3200.jpg  

Focal Length

The Sony Xperia Z2's fixed lens offers a wide-angle focal length of 27mm in 35mm camera terms, as illustrated by this example:

27mm

81mm (3x clear zoom)

focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg

Sharpening

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)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
   
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

The Sony Xperia Z2 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)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg

Macro

The Sony Xperia Z2 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

Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg

Flash

The flash settings on the Sony Xperia Z2 are Auto, Fill Flash, Red-eye Reduction and Off. As you can see, both the fill-flash and red-eye reduction modes suffered from obvious red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Redeye Reduction

Flash Redeye Reduction (100% Crop)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Picture Effects

The Sony Xperia Z2 offers an extensive range of creative Picture Effects.

Brightness Contrast

Clean

creative-brightness-contrast.jpg creative-clean.jpg
   

Colour Sketch

Comic

creative-coloursketch.jpg creative-comic.jpg
   

Fisheye

Harris Shutter

creative-fisheye.jpg creative-harris-shutter.jpg
   

Hue Saturation

Kaleidoscope

creative-hue-saturation.jpg creative-kaleidoscope.jpg
   

Miniature

Mirror

creative-miniature.jpg creative-mirror.jpg
   

Mosaic

Motion Effects

creative-mosaic.jpg creative-motion-effects.jpg
   

Motion Trail

Nostalgic

creative-motion-trail.jpg creative-nostalgic.jpg
   

Old Film

Partial Colour

creative-old-film.jpg creative-partial-colour.jpg
   

Pencil Sketch

Tint

creative-pencil-sketch.jpg creative-tint.jpg
   

Vivid

 

creative-vivid.jpg  

Sweep Panorama

The Sony Xperia Z2 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.

panorama.jpg