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Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review - Camera Review

The Xperia Z1 Compact’s camera sounds like a corker. A 20.7-megapixel 1/2.3-inch sensor should beat the competition – bar the Nokia Lumia 1020 – hands down. Unfortunately, just like the Xperia Z1, it is slightly disappointing.

The Xperia Z1 Compact is automatically set to take photos using an intelligent auto setting at eight megapixels, which seems odd considering it has an extra twelve-odd in reserve. The reasons for this become clear when you take pictures in manual 20.7-megapixel mode. 

Photos at maximum resolution lack clarity, sharpness and definition. This is surprising considering the megapixel count. Low-light shots are extremely dark and noisy when shooting at full-res too. It’s a predictable result of packing so many pixels into such a tiny sensor but it’s disappointing that images are distinctly worse than the lower resolution Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5S.

Z1 Compact London
Results between 8MP auto and 20.7MP manual vary wildly

Use the 8-megapixel intelligent auto function, however, and things get much better. Colour accuracy and sharpness of photos taken in good light are significantly improved when compared to the murky manual mode.   

Some hefty photo post-processing leads to incredibly bright low-light shots – so incredible that I had to check twice to ensure I hadn’t left the flash on. Impressive detail levels are captured considering the darkness of the room but it is evident that the image is not particularly true to the conditions it was taken in. The colour of the tangerine is too orange, and its edges are very fuzzy. By comparison the same shot taken with an iPhone 5S looks more true to life. In a dimly lit pub, however, you may well prefer the increased detail and brightness so this is more a matter of taste. 

Z1 Compact iPhone 5S low light
The heavy post processing on the Z1 Compact leads to some plasticky surfaces but loads of light

Z1 Compact macro
The Z1 Compact copes well with macro shots

The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact can also take Full HD video. Focusing and movement capture is good although videos come out a little darker than we’d like.You won’t be taking any amazing selfies, but the 2-megapixel front camera is perfectly adequate for video calling.

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