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Video Mode

In Superior Auto Mode the Xperia Z2 does not offer any control over video capture but it's possible to capture still images while recording.

In the Xperia Z2's default Superior Auto mode you can capture 1080p Full-HD video and take still photos while filming without interrupting the video. However, you have no control over any shooting parameters. By switching into manual mode you can select scene modes for your video or apply exposure compensation and manual white balance settings. You can also deactivate digital image stabilization which is on by default in Superior Auto and, as usual, slightly crops the image.

Video menu options are limited in Superior Auto Mode.
In manual mode you can select scene modes and apply exposure compensation.

The Z2 is also capable of capturing 4K-video but for unknown reasons the mode has not been implemented as just another video resolution. Instead 4K has its own dedicated mode and is accessible through the mode button and screen rather than the standard video button. The user interface looks like a hybrid between Superior Auto and manual video and allows you to apply exposure compensation and digital image stabilization.

Below you can see a still frame that was taken from a 4K-clip. The footage offers more detail than standard 1080p output but, as you can see in the 100% crop, the image also shows noise and processing and compression artifacts. Given the huge memory requirements and still relatively low prevalence of 4K-screens shooting 1080p is arguably still the better option for most users but it's good to know the feature is there in case you need it.

Screen grab from 4K-video clip, 3840 x 2160 pixels 
100% crop

Video sample 1: 1080p video in bright light

This video was taken handheld in bright sunlight. As you can see the Xperia Z2 captures smooth video with good detail in these light conditions but the focus hunting is a routine occurrence in all light conditions and therefore quite problematic. Digital image stabilization helps keep things steady though and sound quality is decent for a smartphone.

Video sample 2: 1080p video in low light

This video was shot handheld at night. There is some noise in the footage but overall it is clean and still shows decent detail. That said, the constant focus hunting which is even worse in darker conditions renders the footage almost useless. 

Video sample 3: Timeshift video

Timeshift video allows you to slow down a portion of a video after shooting it.

Timeshift video is accessible through the mode button and shoots 720p video. Afterwards you can mark a portion of the video on a slider to slow it down to approximately 4x slow motion. As you see in the sample this works pretty well and the function is a lot of fun to play with when recording action scenes. However, it's advisable to switch off sound recording in order to avoid the strange sound effects you can hear in the video below.

Comments

Total comments: 37
oznikonian
By oznikonian (1 month ago)

Lars just letting you know the camera app on my Z2 remembers the mode you were in last.(selecting the camera icon on the home screen) its only when you use the button to launch the app that it reverts to the Superior Auto mode.

1 upvote
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (1 month ago)

Poor showing for the level of hardware this phone is carrying.

0 upvotes
ageha
By ageha (1 month ago)

The phone will be obsolete in a few days.

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (1 month ago)

for the past couple of years or so Sony has been replacing its top-of-the-line model every 6 months. However, that does not mean the previous model is not available for purchase anymore. You'll be able to buy a Z2 for quite some time. Equally, whatever gets announced at IFA most likely won't be available in the shops straightaway.

0 upvotes
ET2
By ET2 (1 month ago)

where are studio shots?

1 upvote
Yudi Hilmawan
By Yudi Hilmawan (1 month ago)

Next time it would be much better if you just can show us image comparison tools like comparometer from the imaging resource other than this kind of review.
I'm really disappointed with your review because even some other non photography related site can provide us with more better and detailed review.

1 upvote
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (1 month ago)

can you specify where we find those great reviews from non-camera people? Just so I can have a look.

2 upvotes
BarnET
By BarnET (1 month ago)

Lars you gave an Sony phone an good review.
For some that is enough reason to call you all sorts of things.

0 upvotes
Toshik
By Toshik (1 month ago)

Why would cameras need to crank up iso while using flash? Flash helps to illuminate the subject and therefore lower iso as there is more light.

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (1 month ago)

part of the problem is that most smartphones don't have real flash units but tiny LEDs which do not nearly produce the illumination of a Xenon flash.

1 upvote
vlad0
By vlad0 (1 month ago)

No studio shots ?

1 upvote
seliscan
By seliscan (1 month ago)

Sony cameras have the most unpleasant jpg engine from all companies that I know of, this phone make no exception. The heavy NR + heavy sharpening applied in the photos make the unusable. It is very sad.

3 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (1 month ago)

I wish they had RAW output. (Not that I would purchase these phones... Sony is one of the worst companies WRT phasing out their "old" models - about every half a year. In this regard, all major manufacturers are better - Apple, LG, Samsung, Nokia/MS etc.)

3 upvotes
bigley Ling
By bigley Ling (1 month ago)

Yes, but the Z2 does seem to improve the JPG engine to a degree, as there seems to be less heavy handed noise reduction. That being said, images at higher ISOs still lack detail, and are indeed noisy.

0 upvotes
bigley Ling
By bigley Ling (1 month ago)

Menneisyys , I think the android phone that has RAW output currently is the OPPO find 7.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (1 month ago)

"Menneisyys , I think the android phone that has RAW output currently is the OPPO find 7."

Nevertheless, Sony has always put a LOT of emphasis on the cameras of their phones. I would really like them to give their customers RAW. After all, it can't be THAT hard to implement (unless they use some kind of a chipset where there's absolutely no access to the sensor data w/o preprocessing / JPEG compressing first.)

0 upvotes
bigley Ling
By bigley Ling (1 month ago)

@Menneisyys

Absolutely agree. It could well be the output from their sensor is not all that it is made out to be, and the need for clever image processing may have been required give a semi descent output.

1 upvote
new boyz
By new boyz (1 month ago)

You haven't seen Lenovo's yet. Its IQ(or lack thereof) makes you wanna give up on taking picture.

Comment edited 16 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Markol
By Markol (1 month ago)

Looking at the samples my first thought is: if your camera can't handle 20 MP, don't even bother to make them available. Just offer the downsized versions, who will benefit from so lousy 20 MP photos?
Maybe it's my eyes or personal taste but the Sony 20 MP smart phones really disappoint big time. And I'm so waiting for a decent Android camera phone. Other than the S5. Nokia 808 decent. Look at the full size images from the 808 and then look at the 20 MP images here- this is my gold standard and not even the 1020 came close IMHO:
http://img230.imagevenue.com/img.php?image=436190887_2013_07_14_2952_122_424lo.jpg

Just to be clear_ I don't doubt that downsampliong these photos will give good results but I wonder why they use such a bad 20 MP sensor, just look at the ISO 50 photo of the roofs with antennae.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (1 month ago)

Absolutely agreed. The 808 is and still remains the stills IQ king. You need to carry around significantly larger & more expensive cameras to produce photos with equal or better pixel-level sharpness.

For example, my 16 Mpixel Fuji X-E1 with its 18-55 lens operating at one of its sweet spots, f/5.6 at 18mm, delivers appr. the same pixel-level detail level. (Its DR, noise, OIS, contrast etc. are significantly better, of course.) Even DSLR cameras with worse lens / lens not operating at their sweet spot / with an AA filter may produce worse results than the 808 WRT detail.

Comment edited 27 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
vlad0
By vlad0 (1 month ago)

808 is in a different league when it comes to IQ.. Sony are still struggling to get to N8 IQ levels.

0 upvotes
bigley Ling
By bigley Ling (1 month ago)

vlad0 , agree completely, the n8 has abnormally large micron pixels which help contribute to good dyanmic range and lower noise. The only gripe I had with the n8 was the whole camera interface experience. It was good when it was released, but once I got the taste of the 808 camera UI, the n8 controls paled in comparison and actually got annoying to use.

0 upvotes
vlad0
By vlad0 (1 month ago)

@bigley, yes.. I think they messed up the UX with the "anna" update. I still have mine...its a pretty good smartphone.

The pixels on it are at 1.75 microns I believe.... so I am not 100% sure but I think it still has the largest physical pixels of any smartphone camera out there.

If the rumors are true, and my math is right, the iPhone 6 will finally surpass it with 1.9µm pixels... can't wait to see Apple's marketing frenzy behind "big pixels" vs. megapixel count :)

Comment edited 38 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
bigley Ling
By bigley Ling (1 month ago)

exciting stuff, this IPhone 6. Will wait in great anticipation for it's release and camera offerings. Ignoring the camera quality, I still will be upgrading to an IP6 as I enjoy the way iOS as an operating system works in general

1 upvote
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (1 month ago)

The iPhone6 will be a major release. For example, the sweep pano implementation has always one of the best in iPhones - and is orders of magnitude better than that of Sony (or, for that matter, Google in their stock Camera app). The only problem with iOS8 is that it still lacks any kind of RAW output.

1 upvote
thx1138
By thx1138 (1 month ago)

Crazy generous score. The photo IQ is simply second rate at any thing other than viewing it on the phone itself. I'm sure it's a relative score and only compared to other phones but the score is crazy. I reckon DxO would rate this better than a 5D III sensor.

3 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (1 month ago)

pixel-level image quality is one component of the score but there a other things the X2 is pretty good at, that's how we get to this score.

0 upvotes
ukkisavosta
By ukkisavosta (1 month ago)

Thanks for the interesting review. Might I suggest one additional but very crucial item to your testing scenarios: camera lens scratch resistance.

A good camera is useless on a phone, if the lens scratches easily, and my experience with Sony isn't exactly rewarding in this sense.

I recently upgraded my trusty old Nokia N8 to a Sony Xperia SP, and after a couple months of light use (with the phone protected by a fleece-lined case) the camera lens is full of microscopic scratches that have rendered the camera basically useless -- all shots are soft with an ugly glow and the camera struggles to AF.

I've handled the phone very carefully and it is still in like-new condition, except for the lens, which is obviously made of some sub-par glass (or plastic even!). My N8's lens was scratch-free after 3 years of hard use.

I like Sony's products, and I've been happy with my A7 and NEX-C3 cameras, but the Xperia SP has definitely been a disappointment in this respect.

2 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (1 month ago)

Personally I have not had any problems of this kind with the phones I have tested and I have a feeling that the manufacturers would not be too happy about me deliberately scratching their test units. However, if it happened during normal use in the testing process I would certainly mention that in the review.

1 upvote
ukkisavosta
By ukkisavosta (1 month ago)

Ah, too bad, but I perfectly understand.

I'm amazed that these units passed the manufacturers' (or Sony's in this case) scratch resistance tests during the design stage. Surely such basic tests are part of the basic testing process.

Anyway, just wanted to raise this issue to others looking at buying a Sony phone. I'm quite peeved about this and still debating whether to send my Xperia in for a warranty fix (problem would likely turn up again later, or more likely I'd be accused of 'incorrect handling' and charged for the job).

Caveat emptor!

1 upvote
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (1 month ago)

well, it's worth a try I would say!

0 upvotes
ipecaca
By ipecaca (1 month ago)

I have an xperia ION lte and the camera became useless because of the scrached lens in about 3 months as well.

1 upvote
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (1 month ago)

Yuck. Sounds awful. I won't be recommending Sony smartphones to friends, then. (So far, I've told them to go for them if they like flashy and, most importantly, water resistant stuff.)

1 upvote
dbo
By dbo (1 month ago)

"...only 1080p.."
ONLY????
Cmon, it's a cell phone. Who does really want and/or need 4k in a cell phone?

1 upvote
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (1 month ago)

are you talking about the special mode output at 1080p? Yes, that is indeed a small image size for a smartphone in 2014, especially a high-end unit.

0 upvotes
Johannes Zander
By Johannes Zander (1 month ago)

What! No PSAM dial... No articulated screen... No hot shoe to mount standart flashes...
I think I keep my D800, also the pohone part is very badly implemented.

0 upvotes
noirdesir
By noirdesir (1 month ago)

Not that the D800 would have a PSAM dial or articulated screen.

1 upvote
Total comments: 37
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