Sony has retained the same camera module in the Xperia Z3 from what was there in the Xperia Z2, but there are improvements according to the company. It still features the same 20.7MP camera on the rear while a 2.2MP front camera. Sony has made the device thinner and smaller than its predecessor, but there is no compromise in the camera, as we see further improvements, especially in the low light captures where the ISO sensitivity of 12800 (highest for a smartphone camera) is included this time for better photos in low light conditions.
Check out: Sony Xperia Z3 Design Overview
While we still are not convinced with the quality to sit right on the top, but this is very much comparable to the captures made from Samsung Galaxy S5, and the natural light shots are no different from what we saw in the Xperia Z2. As expected, it is the low light captures where Sony has made some improvements, and they felt no need to play around with the quality of day light captures.
Starting with the camera app, there is no difference. The modes that you find in the camera app, are as follows:
- Superior Auto: Takes care of most of the stuff with the automatically optimized settings
- Manual: You have to adjust the camera settings, useful for those who understand the White Balance, Contrast, ISO
- Sound Photos: Take photos along with background sounds
- AR Fun: Virtual objects are shown in photos and videos
- Multi Camera: Records the same scene from multiple angles, on the same screen
- Face in: Uses both cameras, and includes your face using the front camera
- 4K video: The UHD resolution video recording
- Timeshift video: Takes a video and lets you apply slow motion effects to the full video or a part of it
- Live on Youtube: Streaming the video live on Youtube
- Background defocus: Like in DSLRs, the background is defocused (blurred)
- AR effect: Virtual scenes added to photos and videos
- Creative effect: Effects added to photos and videos
- Info-eye: Gives information about the object shown in the viewfinder
- Timeshift burst: Pictures taken from before the short and after, and letting the user select the best photo
- Social live: Sharing the video live with friends on Facebook
- Sweep panorama: Taking a panoramic photo by sweeping the camera
- Evernote: Taking pictures and directly saving them to the Evernote account.
There was a very big issue with the Xperia Z2, when recording a 4K videos. It gave up in three minutes because of the heat produced, but this time, the Xperia Z3 survived for 10 minutes before forcing us to stop the recording so that the device cools down, before we can again start the recording.
It was about 30 °C initially, before starting the recording and down the line, at around 4 minutes, we were given a warning that the device is heating up, and at around 7 minutes, we were shown a message that the recording will stop soon and will get saved. At 9:56, it stopped and the temperature we got at maximum was 51.3 °C. That is very high, and one cannot hold the device easily and use it, forget about placing it near your ear to make a call with this heat near the earpiece.
With regards to the capturing, the Sony Xperia Z3 takes good photos with brilliant reproduction of color and detail in outdoor conditions, and it tries to retain as much as it can in low light, but that needs some manual adjustments by the user, because the Auto although shifts it to low light mode, the capture is not appreciable in quality. The flash is fill-in, thus there is no direct throwing or heavy brightness on the object when the flash is used, and it looks natural. But the flash is strictly to be used when there is low light, because if there is a yellow light source around, the flash makes the colors fade in the captures. The best part about the photo capturing using the Xperia Z3’s camera, is the brilliant autofocus that is fast and very accurate.
While the photo capturing is all good, the video recording is where we saw some issues, especially with the autofocus, which is little unstable in the 1080p video recording. Sony has managed to give a good stabilization to the camera for the video captures, thus all the minimal shakes while walking or little movements are all negotiated well to give a final stable video.
Background Defocus Mode
Superior Auto vs Manual vs Flash
Low Light Captures – Comparison of Modes
Very low light conditions – Sample captures
Now, the final question – Is the camera made better than that in the Xperia Z2? Yes it has been made better now. With the higher ISO sensitivity, the pictures are forced to become bright, and that is good only in the low light conditions, and you have to spend time understand the manual controls, because you can capture pictures in a better way with the manual control than the Superior Auto, which sometimes made the picture a little more brighter than one would want it to be. But overall, the camera has shown a lot of improvement from the one in the predecessor.