Sony Xperia Z3 Review

November 18, 2014 | Amy Davies | |

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 is responsible for producing some of the best standalone cameras currently on the market, so it’s no surprise to see the company utilising this technology to great effect on its smartphones.

We were impressed by the image output of the Sony Xperia Z3, and here also we’re also pretty impressed by the general overall performance of the camera. Colours are beautifully saturated directly from the camera, being punchy without being unrealistically vibrant.

In good light, detail is resolved well, and if you shoot at the highest resolution setting there’s also decent scope for cropping into an image at a later stage to improve composition if you need to. However, if you shoot at higher ISO sensitivity settings, the amount of image smoothing which appears gives images  a watercolour type appearance - it’s not so bad if you’re viewing at small sizes on your phone though.

There’s an inbuilt LED flash, which has mixed results - for instance if you’re photographing people you might find that you’re left with red eye. On the other hand, the fast lens, capable of stopping down to f/2.0, means that you shouldn’t need to use the flash in all but the very darkest of situations.

Speaking of dark situations, the Sony Xperia Z3 now has the capability of shooting at up to ISO 12800, but you can’t select that speed - it will be reached automatically if you’re shooting in the high sensitivity setting, and only if you’re in extremely dark shooting conditions.

Automatic white balance fares pretty well, producing accurate colours in the majority of conditions - erring ever so slightly towards orange or yellowish tones under artificial lighting conditions. You can change to a more appropriate white balance setting when shooting in manual mode if it’s proving to be particularly problematic though. Overall, the all-purpose metering copes well, producing well balanced exposures in the majority of conditions - if you’re shooting something with high contrast it may under or over expose slightly - again if this is proving to be problematic, you can adjust exposure compensation when shooting in manual mode.

Noise

There are 7 ISO settings available on the Sony Xperia Z3. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 50 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

iso50.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 Z3's fixed lens offers a wide-angle focal length of 27mm in 35mm camera terms, as illustrated by this example.

27mm

focal_range1.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 Z3 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 Z3 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 Z3 are Auto, Fill Flash, Red-eye Reduction and Off.

Flash Off

Flash On

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are come portrait shots.

Flash Off

Flash On

ISO 64 ISO 64

Sweep Panorama

The Sony Xperia Z3 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