Sony's "Imaging" Phone with a 1" Sensor | XPERIA PRO-I Camera Review
Somebody is going to figure out that they can actually use some of that camera stuff in their phones. Well, i suppose this right here is the product of that idea. Music. The inxperia pro i stands for imaging, not i am rich, although this is pretty expensive for a phone ill. Just preface this review by saying this phone costs more than some very decent dedicated cameras, so not exactly cost effective, definitely a luxury purchase in my book. So the phones got imaging in its name. Whats backing that name up is a one inch sensor powering the primary camera. Its the same. One inch sensor found on the rx100 cameras, but this one in sensor is also whats, drawing the most amount of flack for the pro eye, specifically how its not able to utilize all of it, its only using 12 out of the 20 megapixels present on the sensor. So its cropped, essentially its likely that sony was not willing for the lens to be any bigger than it already is, so that 12 megapixel area were getting is the best the lens can do in terms of image circle, and that begs another question: why not develop A custom sensor for it then well, i suppose, when you have the option to use that one inch sensor from the rx100s, why not its a sensor thats proved itself over and over again and now you can enjoy those results in an xperia phone and those results.
I would say are quite unique to a phone like this. Its biggest charm is how little it does when it comes to processing the images that might not sound like a very positive thing at first, but what you do get is quite the opposite of what one would typically expect from a modern camera phone. There is minimal tone mapping you dont, get much sharpening applied to your subjects and the way colors are rendered look far from artificial. This is also evident in the video shot on this phone, its a very natural looking 4k that resembles the kind of look you would get on a dedicated camera, its also a tremendous plus that the main camera is capable of doing up to 120 frames per. Second. In 4k id say it takes a certain degree of confidence to put images out to the user with this little amount of processing applied, especially from a phone camera, and i think thats exactly where that one inch sensor comes in its capable enough to hold its own. Without much help, however, the goodness offered by this incredible one inch sensor can only be enjoyed on the 24mm primary shooter. The 16 and 50mm cameras are very much supplementary. They do not get the same one inch treatment and in video mode they are limited to 4k. 30P, most of the time you will find yourself choosing the 24 mil, because it is that much better. The 24 is also the only lens on this phone that has a variable aperture.
Its only got two positions either f2 or f4, and if you are wondering whether stopping it down gives you sharper images, i personally dont think its a visible difference with only 12 megapixels. The pro wise minimalistic approach to image processing, while being one of its biggest merits, is also a double edged sword. It does struggle with dynamic range in high contrast scenes, even with auto hdr enabled, which is exclusive to jpeg by the way, but for stills at least you do get the option to shoot in dng raw. The raw files do allow you to recover a decent amount of highlights in post, its not a tremendous amount, but still a very helpful amount for those high contrast shots in video. There is an hdr toggle which enables you to shoot in hlg. Now my recommendation leave this on, even if youre delivering in sdr, because shooting in hlg does preserve significantly more dynamic range on the pro eye. Now lets talk about something i dont quite like about the pro i and unfortunately thats operating it, its quite confusing, because there are three camera apps theres photography, pro video pro and cinema pro photography. Pro is your only option for stills, but you can actually shoot video in all three apps cinema pro gives you the highest degree of manual control. Video pro is a slightly simpler version of that and basic mode in photography pro actually lets. You shoot video in the stills app told you its confusing, so the basic mode in the photography pro app is the closest thing youll get to a typical camera app on a phone on the pro eye.
The other modes have quite a learning curve to them. The ui is extremely reminiscent of sonys alpha cameras, which is actually pretty cool in my opinion, but the main difference on the phone here is youll, be navigating all of those settings from a touch screen. The phone also has a super wide aspect ratio, so photos being in 4×3. Youll have to get used to your preview only occupying a portion of the screen, and, despite that real estate outside of basic mode, there is no on screen shutter button, while the physical shutter button is delightful to shoot with, it does make the vertical shooting experience somewhat Awkward because youre always trying to reach for the shutter button in an odd position that physical shutter button also serves another important purpose. You can launch the camera simply by giving it a full press very useful if youre trying to catch a spur of the moment shots. However, if youre in something like manual mode, you might miss that shot anyway, because it takes a while to adjust your exposure settings for times like these. You do have the option of tweaking the shooting mode at launch, setting to always use basic mode. That way, if you ever need to fire off a quick shot, you would already be in full auto mode and between the two video apps. I tend to always use video pro simply because cinema pro is not designed for casual shooting. If you wanted to change frame rates or your resolution, for example, it requires creating an entirely new project.
The video pro app is relatively straightforward by comparison and when you hit record, you will even hear a very familiar chime as a rather familiar user of the sony. Alpha cameras, my only issue with this nice little gesture is how, when you end the recording, it still plays the same sound, which is the sound you hear when you begin recording on an alpha camera. It definitely messes with your head a little, because that is not a sound. You want to hear when you think youre pressing a button to end a recording the display on the pro. I is one of my favorite things, but also one of my biggest complaints, its an absolutely gorgeous 4k 120hz display. It is quite an experience watching full resolution videos on this thing and its something you have to see to believe. It is, however, not a very bright panel if youre shooting on the daylight. It is difficult to see whats going on the live preview youre shown when youre shooting is also not a very high quality preview, so its something that really does take quite a bit away from the shooting experience, because you dont really get to experience any of that Image quality until you actually pull up a playback of what youve just shot the phone number gets hot quite quickly, and the phone knows it. When you launch the video apps for the first time, you get a not so subtly phrased warning message: when the device temperature becomes high, the following icon will be displayed, do not hold the device directly in your hand, while this icon is displayed doing so may result In burns the pro i is, a phone that expects you to treat it like a camera.
It takes a bit more work to get your results, but it has the potential to be quite rewarding. Also, a lot of whats present on this feels very much like an homage to the alpha line for alpha users.