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Check out our first Sony Xperia Z5 camera samples

Sony as a company has a good reputation for cameras. While there have been disappointing aspects to their recent smartphones, the new Xperia Z5 uses a new, 23MP shooter and we're excited to get to grips with it.

As we know are a lot of folks who are interested in the Z5.

Ahead of our full review we've been out with the Z5 in our pocket and snapped a few samples in various situations. The experience of using the camera and camera app is mostly good, if a little sluggish at times. We love that there's a physical camera button, though. It has two stages of depression in the camera app. Press a little to focus, all the way to take the shot.

Focusing isn't exactly slow, but in our early tests we have noticed that it can struggle to lock on from time-to-time without you actually touching the screen and showing it where to focus. It actually seems to work quicker if you press the physical camera button to focus.

In any case, the images speak for themselves and we're reasonably impressed so far. Check them out for yourselves in the gallery below. For consistency we used Superior Auto mode on the full 23MP resolution at 4:3 aspect ratio. No touch to focus was done, just the method involving the camera button detailed above. We have had to resize the images to upload to the site but no other editing was done.

Indoors in artificially lit situations the images are still pretty noisy, but that's not necessarily unexpected. In good lighting conditions the Z5 is very strong delivering crisp, bright images that don't seem to get over exposed too often. It seems to be the same story at night, too, so long as there are some strong light sources. We're reasonably impressed with its performance here.

We've only scratched the surface and there's plenty more to play around with on the camera. The early impressions are good, without being spectacular. After all, the major players in the Android space haven't been slacking on their own cameras this year and the competition is stronger than ever. We'll talk more about the Z5s shooter in the course of our full review.

91 Comments
  • Wow! Looks good :)
  • Mr. Devine you may have too much of a good eye for me these picture looks great i may not be thrill with the 4:3 ratio but thats on me and i can get use to it.
  • You can choose 16:9 as an option although it has a small frame crop. Posted via the Android Central App
  • 4:3 is necessary for 23MP. You can shoot in 16:9 at a lower resolution though. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Photography dictates that 16:9 should never be used. Everything should be 4:3 or 3:2. That is what is proper. :-) I will never buy a phone with 16:9 for photos.
  • Then dont buy any smartphone which has that option... Posted via the Android Central App From my Blackberry Priv where I am out of toilet paper
  • I would like to know how hot the phone became while the camera was on. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Not very. 4K video is another matter for another post though. Because that makes it very hot. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Unbearable hot or just small uncomfort? Posted via the Android Central App
  • I wouldn't recommend using this to shoot 4K put it that way. I nearly dropped the phone in the street.
  • Wow. That's crazy. Make me weary about wanting the 950xl with that 810. In hoping it's not as demanding. Posted via the Android Central App
  • The 950XL has liquid cooling for what it's worth. Not sure if that will make the difference or not. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Sony Z5 was reported as having dual heat pipes and thermal paste and apparently failed. So I have my concerns about the liquid cool take from MS. http://www.ubergizmo.com/2015/09/xperia-z5-teardown-dual-heat-pipes/ Posted via the Android Central App
  • A cup of coffee should help.
  • Wow dude that's terrible.... I used my Z3C to shoot 4k all of the time with no problems at all. I really wanted this phone to be great but looks like I will be using a Nexus 5X or 6P until the Z6...
  • Really? Some of the earlier reviews said they recorded 10-20 minutes of 4k and it did warm up but wasn't unbearable by any means Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yeah I saw those reviews as well. Richard's "almost dropped it" statement comes across as melodramatic IMO. This article feels like a Verge piece. I almost get the impression he was forced to write it under duress.
  • Richard, I'm sure you said it tolerable to hold ?
  • Daylight looks great but night shots look a bit grainy and a little funny. I've been looking at more Nexus 6P shots (as I said previously that the 6P's camera is killer for a Nexus) and I think that it more or less is similar to the Z5. Great outdoors in daylight, falls somewhat short at night due to the lack of OIS. As such, even though both are capable, manual controls and a tripod would help those 2, or a good implementation of OIS. On an unrelated note, are you guys in Taiwan right now? Those later pics remind me of my trip there a year ago. Awesome place to get tech stuff (And dat G4 ad). GuangHua is basically my tech hub in Asia right now. XD Here lies the "2016 Flagship Killer". It got slayed by 2015 flagships like the LG G4 being used to post this.
  • I was there for a short trip last week. Nothing event related, just a trip :) Posted via the Android Central App
  • Ah, gotcha. I feel like going there again. There just seems to be stuff I can get for phones that I can't find anywhere else. Especially for phones that aren't Samsungs or iPhones. Nexus 5X + 6P. XPerience.
  • It's like tech nirvana. If you can't get it there I'm convinced it doesn't exist! Posted via the Android Central App
  • Got some stuff that's usually hard to find for my old HTC One M7. Convinced that they should sell stuff for the LG G4 there.
  • I've been to Taiwan 4 times, but I've never left the airport. It looks like an interesting place! Maybe I should visit . . . .
  • Sony cameras keep falling short and disappointing because of Sony itself. Their insistence in not adding OIS for aesthetic reasons and their stubbornness in not providing a real full manual control option just works against them.
    And their lack of work in the algorithms department doesn't help either. I've switched from a Z3C to a G4 and now, more than ever I know that the problem is definitely not the hardware (I didn't discard that option before since I was only accustomed to Zeiss optics on phones). It's quite infuriating to me since the Z3C (and the Z5C) are pretty close to what I consider the perfect phone). Posted via the Android Central App
  • We have discussed this issue before @DJCBS and I agree 100%. However I do believe Sony has tried harder this year than previous years and there are improvements over its predecessors. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I honestly disagree on the "harder" part. And I don't see much improvement. They changed the sensor and speed up the focus time. But that's it. The software is the same, the lack of hardware is the same...everything else is pretty much the same.
  • Well when compared with the Z3 the white balance seems to have improved,the superior auto mode can take advantage of the full resolution now too, and overall image quality is.much better. So I definitely think they at least tried harder. I'll at least give them that. I think you're being a little too hard on dear old Sony. Posted via the Android Central App
  • If the LG G4 had a dedicated shutter button with a "half-press to focus" function, would you call it the perfect phone?
  • No BUT for two and two reasons only: 1 - LG's skin is pretty ugly. I never had the need for Launchers before. On the Z3C I just used a Dark Theme and problem solved. On the G4 I had to not only go use Nova (because Nokia's Z Launcher wasn't enough this time) but also replace every single LG app to get dark themes on things like calendar, caller and messaging. Because the LG Theme engine isn't that great (it's as limited as the Xperia engine in which it's based) and I hate white and colourful themes (which is also why I hate stock Android from 5.0 onwards) 2 - Most important for me: The size. I'm putting up with the size of the G4 because of the camera which I still value more. But I absolutely hate phones this big. If Sony fixed my complaints on a Z5+ Compact or Z6C by MWC, I'd probably sell the G4 and go back to Sony. If LG learns how to make a proper G4 Compact I would also replace the G4 with it.
    Point is, I hate phablets lol Yeah, the lack of a dedicated camera shutter in a camera as good as the G4 is REALLY a shame. Specially if the non-inclusion was due to a "form over function" decision (seeing as LG already moved the rest of the buttons to the back).
    But apart from those 2 things which I hate about the G4, everything else is damn awesome.
  • would there be a compact model in the z6 iteration? I mean in the spring 2016 cycle? AC@OPO
  • At this point it's impossible to tell. The Z3C came 6 months after the Z1C, but the Z5C only came 1 year after the Z3C.
    Then the Z5 came 3 months after the Z3+... Sony's schedule are a mess, really.
    I personally only mentioned MWC because if the next Compact only comes in September 2016 I won't be buying it anymore as by then I will more than likely be already packing my stuff to return to Nokia ;)
  • Ah, gotcha. I dislike the look of LG's skin too, but I learned to live with it eventually. Here lies the "2016 Flagship Killer". It got slayed by 2015 flagships like the LG G4 being used to post this.
  • Sony Xperia's launcher works just fine. Installed it on a G Flex 2 with no hiccups and I'm sure it'll run on the G4. Doesn't help with other parts of the UI, but is a vast improvement. Posted approved via Moto Maxx
  • That's exactly what I want on a phone. A real half press to focus. I'm an avid photographer, but phone cameras just don't do it for me. The half press might bring me some of the tactile feel which might make me love my phone camera a bit more.
  • The not including OIS is something that really has me baffled. After all, Samsung uses Sony cameras with OIS and far fewer MP to achieve better results. It's been proven to be better. Why would Sony not learn from it? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Either cost-related reasons or sheer stupidity.
  • Sony decided to not include OIS for aesthetic reasons. They didn't want "humps".
    That's the answer I got directly from Sony when I asked them about that. So I think it's option number 2. Sheer stupidity.
  • If they wanted to eliminate the camera hump, they should've increased the thickness to make it smaller or eliminate it. Then, they have space for something that improves low-light shots and also space for a bigger battery. Here lies the "2016 Flagship Killer". It got slayed by 2015 flagships like the LG G4 being used to post this.
  • THAT was EXACTLY what I answered them when I hear their justification. Honest to God lol
    They said they'd take it into consideration but we know Sony...they will just ignore it and live in their own fantasy World.
  • Yeah, they even mocked iPhone 6's for the bump lol even when their own phones are nowhere near as good in camera quality.
  • Proven to be better by whom? The top most professionals DXO mark have said otherwise and rated the Z5 the best camera on a smartphone. From several real comparison tests i have seen the Z5 beats the best Samsung has to offer. You guys need to understand that this is a smartphone at the end of the day, do you know how much top notch cameras cost? You want Sony to add all hardware features and top notch specs on a smartphone to the detriment of their camera division? would you pay well over the norm as well for these features you want included to make it flawless? All smartphone cameras have limitations and i understand that and won't expect the greatest performance in all conditions. Go buy a top notch mid or high level professional camera from Sony if your looking for a flawless performance. Most people use their smartphone pics basically for social media and small presentations for work or business.
  • All I'm asking for is Sony to put OIS into their phones........
  • It's frustrating because we all know Sony is capable of making a fantastic camera. Their DSLR and mirrorless cameras are some of the world's best, and I say that as a staunch Canon shooter.
  • Agreed I have a Sony a6000 mirrorless and it's simply a joy to use. With a proper lens, it takes stunning images and has a ridiculously fast AF and burst speed. My friends call it "the machine gun of cameras". It's a shame that Sony didn't really put much effort for their phones. It's a good camera, but not all it could be. Here lies the "2016 Flagship Killer". It got slayed by 2015 flagships like the LG G4 being used to post this.
  • The Sony A7r mark 11 is the best top notch professional camera in the world without a doubt, also rated the best by dxomark as well.
  • How do these look https://www.flickr.com/photos/136945683@N06/sets/72157659728750492 https://www.flickr.com/photos/fuglstad/sets/72157657452370734 They`re from the xda forums, starting from page 15: http://forum.xda-developers.com/xperia-z5/general/disappointed-z5-camera...
  • Why you always use Superior Auto Mode for night shots? Handheld Twilight, Night Portrait and Night Scene modes are using different exposure time and iso values.Even if it says one of these in Superior Auto Mode ,parameters and results are very different when you choose directly these scenes in manual mode.
  • The article says that he used the same mode in all photos for consistency, presumably because this is just a first look and not a formal review. I'm sure we can expect a *lot* of detail about the camera when the review is posted.
  • Because this is a) a quick test and b) the average joe "open the camera and snap a photo" test. I am an average Joe.
  • It's also best to have a tripod handy for night modes but not hand held since no OIS. At least I've found that to be the case with my Xperia Z3. You really can get some stunning results but Sony's algorithms are what's hurting the images. For instance if I take a picture with the same settings on my Lumia 920 and Xperia Z3, pictures come out brighter and sharper on my Lumia 920. Maybe I'll do a test and post in the forums. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yep, people gonna go to the bar with a tripod. Honestly, all of these ridiculous "it's best to have" excuses are getting old. The phone should take decent low light images hand-held. Other OEMs have managed to do that, so there shouldn't be any excuses or "what would be betters."
  • This is Taipei in Taiwan :)
  • Gotta love Guanghua Electronics Market
  • looking forward to a detailed review of z5c...mainly heat related.. that's the only thing AC@OPO
  • Doesn't heat at all - except while recording 4k. via AC App on
    VZW Moto X DE/N7
  • nice!..hoping that's the case as I am planning to get it once the price falls to 475-500 bucks AC@OPO
  • If you're wondering, yes, it does overheat, but only when recording 4K video for a really long time. In short, even though it has a Snaptoaster 810, it manages heat much better than the Z3+. WAY BETTER.
  • nice! AC@OPO
  • The one I have only takes a minute or so to get too hot to make me want to keep on holding on to it. Shouldn't be a feature IMO if it does that to the phone. Edit: just tried again and it took much longer to heat up. I guess roaming may have played a part potentially in superfast heat
  • Probably so. I think we need more tests on this thing before we can conclude. You guys have the Premium yet? Apparently, Sony put heatpipes in it.
  • They all have the dual heat-pipes from what I know (or, as Microsoft called it, "water-cooling" lol)
  • as long as the issue is 4k specific.. that's livable to certain extent.. as the feature is more of novelty at this time AC@OPO
  • It's hard to come to any conclusions without a side-by-side comparison with some other camera, but they look really good to me.
  • The benchmark for phone cameras right now is both the iPhone 6S and Galaxy Note 5. There was a blind comparison and both the 6S and N5 took 1st and 2nd. The Z5 got third and my beloved G4 got 4th. I'm not complaining, though. They all performed admirably.
  • Yeah but that "blind comparison" was rigged from the beginning. They amateurishly forgot to remove the info from the pictures and shortly after the information was in the comment section which led Apple and Samsung fan-boys to simply battle each other on the votes.
  • I picked C (iPhone 6S) but I never checked the phone data. I simply judged the photo with my own 2 eyes. I tallied up my findings and really, it was a close match. The 6S got first in my books, followed very closely by the LG G4, then the Note 5 and then the Z5. The difference was as small as 0.2 points.
  • Oh jeez, guys, a lot of reviewers have screwed up the camera review by taking everything in 23mp mode. Sony's algorithm is intended to work best in 8mp mode so it can downsample, sharpen, and enhance the lighting. Please make sure you investigate shooting that way too.
  • So why shout out about 23 MPixel if it's meant to be used as 8, and where do they say this? Or is it what you've found works better? The issue here is about taking the phone and shooting pictures with minimal setup like other phones from other OEMs who mostly buy camera sensors from Sony Posted via the AC App from SM-N910F
  • "The issue here is about taking the phone and shooting pictures with minimal setup like other phones from other OEMs who mostly buy camera sensors from Sony" The default is 8mp. DxOmark also used 8mp. From xdaforums: https://www.flickr.com/photos/136945683@N06/sets/72157659728750492 and https://www.flickr.com/photos/fuglstad/sets/72157657452370734 credit goes to tim austin and tordfuglstad
  • If you use a Sony phone on a stand you can use the full 20 or 23MPx. Hand held use 8, which is the practical optical limit for ordinary phone shots anyway. Having more px downsampled to 8 makes software optimisation more effective. DxOMark of course understand all this, hence the way they perform their tests.
    Sony's problem, basically, is that they don't make their phone cameras for "ordinary Joes", they make them for the sort of people who also have DSLRs and so know what's reasonable. I think unfortunately there are not enough of them to keep Sony profitable in phones.
  • These pictures look great.
  • See, stuff like this only serves to prove most mobile phone reviewers are at best, talking out of their ass. The Z5, if used in Superior Auto, is best used in the default 8MP mode. This image is downsampled to reduce noise while preserving most of the detail of the full resolution. It makes no sense that these "reviewers", even if it's only a quick hands on, can't figure this out. This has been the case since the Z1. If you want to use the full res with no downsampling on the Z5, download Manual Camera since the Z5 supports camera2api. Otherwise, stop over-complicating things and use the phone in its default mode and it'll prove to be pretty damn good in lower light, much better than these "reviews" would indicate.
  • Speaking of people talking out of their arses... "download Manual Camera since the Z5 supports camera2api." No, it does not.
  • Yes, it does. Legacy only so no RAW support though.
  • Can you prove it?
    Because things like manual focus and shutter speed are NOT available in the Xperia camera. Not only that, the Z3 family supported those camera2api on 5.0.2 Lollipop and then Sony removed the support on 5.1.
    So, with that track record and those things absent from the Z5 stock camera app and no proof whatsoever that the Z5 ACTUALLY supports them, I will say it doesn't. (And RAW support will likely come "never" so that people don't see how bad the algorithms Sony uses actually are).
  • http://www.xperiablog.net/2015/09/11/xperia-z5-family-supports-most-manu....
  • "Download Manual Camera" Uh, you do realize that most people aren't gonna use a paid app just to take photos, right? Shutterbugs might, but most phone users aren't shutterbugs. If a phone can take a great pic without much effort, then it's a winner. Shutterbugs prefer DSLRs anyway. That said, many shutterbugs appreciate proper manual controls on a phone. LG has done really well in that department with the G4 and V10. Shame that Sony couldn't do the same.
  • Yes, I do. You are completely missing the point. Most people aren't even going to change the phone from the default 8MP setting to 23MP. The camera was designed to work best in Superior Auto at 8MP. The only reason I say to download manual camera is because the only way that you will get a better shot at 23MP than at 8 consistently enough on the z5 is with manual control. I agree that LG did great to include manual control within their own app but it's such a cheap fix at $2.99 for many phones that it isn't a major advantage.
  • Nice photos especially the night time photos there not that bad.
  • Watched this camera comparison between the new iPhone and the Z5 the other day on youtube. I like how this guy does camera comparisons/reviews. As you can see the Z5 can take great shots but has a tendency to blow out the sky when in the background. My Z3 did the same thing. https://youtu.be/4CeTMrevIcc
  • I would be anxious to see some side-by-side shots between this and the 6P.
  • When does this phone come out? Sprint? Posted via Android Central App
  • I had been with Win for 7 years, Z3 was my first Android phone. I love it, I want Z5 I told Sony I wanted Z5 when I heard rumors that Z3 was the last. However, I am extremely concerned to hear that they may use the exact type of processor. Two months ago, my beautiful Z3 fell off the countertop while I was watching some show on CW. It shattered the screen and my phone became useless. Two nights ago, I was watching a show on CW and fell asleep. In 3 hours I woke up to notice my phone hot like a pizza and dead. What's worse is that it hasn't shown life ever since. Yes I know, stop watching shows on the CWtv app lol. But seriously, it concern me that we are seeing the same type of processor on Z5
  • What is Xperia? To those who don't know, sure according to this comment combined with my previous posting, you may conclude is a powerful machine in a very fragile body. The microphone and become a speaker making your phone a fantastic media center with two powerful front facing speakers. I had Netflix on my Touch Pro 2 (microsoft) HTC Radar (microsoft) I think I averaged maybe 10 minutes per week on netflix and not more than 20 on youtube. Using those apps on this phone may become a daily thing thank to the color richness, powerful frontal speakers, big screen. No buttons which make the phone smaller despite having a huge screen.
    Camera: 23 MP has been announced but 20MP is the norm since Xperia Z til now. Aside from rich pictures you have modes like HDR, 4K video, defocus, color select, black and white, and why not? video and photo effects all available for free. This phone automatically make a movie of all the pictures taken on the day, week, month even the best of the year. Very common to take a screenshot of the phone's screen, but have you heard about screen recording? I have had other phones in my hand including the Iphone and Galaxy but nothing compare to this phone. My only concern is the processor and the fact that there are not many covers available for a phone that DEFINITELY NEED ONE since is a phone made out of glass with a metal band to hold them together.
  • "a powerful machine in a very fragile body." My Z3C fell more than half a dozen times and not a single scratch. You're just really unlucky I guess. The rest of your comment just read like a Sony commercial, mate. That kind that Sony never even bothers doing :P
  • That's it I'm getting the z5 compact!
  • I waited until I got home so I could view these full screen on my 27" iMac. They are a tiny bit "soft" (not razor edge sharp), but not bad.
    The best I can compare it to is 720p vs 1080p on a good 50" plasma. Both are good.
    What impresses me with these photos is the color. I feel like the camera did a really great job with color overall. Even in some of the lower light photos.
    The iMac comes calibrated fairly accurate. I could be happy with this camera for the most part, but, no sony sold by AT&T, and I don't trust Sony enough to pay outright online and not have a local store to get a refund.
  • When can you buy these and will they work on US carriers (AT&T) and have a good connection (LTE,4G, etc)
  • I really love this phone. Its the media who bias while delivering to customers the right information. Yes Apple copied HTC design, back then when HTC released its first touch screen smartphone, everyone copied the same design. At the end of the day HTC and Apple signed 10 year no lawsuit agreement in 2012 so that both the companies can cross utilize the efforts of designers and researchers in both companies. Being a customer one shouldn't be worried at this fact, because ultimately we are getting the best phones
  • It is important to note that while Sony claim the camera is 23MP it is ONLY TRUE WHEN USING THEIR APP. The have a broken interface that means that it is impossible for any other app to get more than 8.3MP. This is important of use use a scanner app, a better camera app, or any other custom camera application. It's a very misleading claim by Sony.