Xperia Z: Burst Mode picture quality better than Normal Mode

by XB on 19th March 2013

in Imaging, Xperia Z and Xperia ZL

Garden_Burst_100The Sony Xperia Z has a very capable 13MP Exmor RS camera sensor, however one criticism that many Xperia phones have always had on its imaging is excessive post processing and noise. Interestingly, it appears that the image quality from the phone when taking pictures in Burst mode is sharper and less noisy compared to those in Normal mode.

Evidence of this can be seen below, where we’ve attached some comparison crops showing photos taken in normal mode versus those in burst mode. Click on the image to enlarge and you can clearly see that pictures in Burst mode give greater detail. Have a browse and let us know which images you prefer.

Xperia Z: Normal Mode images versus Burst Mode images

[Click to enlarge]

Xperia Z-Burst v Normal Mode

Images via xda-developers.

Thanks Higgins and all others that sent this in!

  • Xyor

    That’s so typically Sony…..

  • Exodite

    After watching the enlarged crops I must admit I’m amazed, that’s a /significant/ difference in quality!

    As an Xperia arc owner I’m well aware of how much difference software can do for image quality but this only raises the question of why Sony would ever user the lower quality mode. Especially for ‘normal’ photos.

  • Maxman

    Oh my god, i hope they`ll fix it.. Why do you develop super-duper Camera sensors in the first place, when you totally mess it up with the software. At least it`s now officially proven, that the Xperia Z has an software problem with it`s camera.

  • Mia Traykova

    shaky hand mode on the left?

  • kaizer

    I think it’s because on burst mode, the phone didn’t execute some programs to “enhance” the picture, leaving them “as is”, but as it turn out it gives better, cleaner and detailed look.. but this also highlight the real strength of experia z camera & sensor.. that`s why there are many other phone camera out there uses sony sensor..
    Hope some can hack and disable the software that`s used on normal mode so we can always have the quality of that burst mode..

  • Haidar Alamir

    burst is shot in a lower resolution

  • Patents kill

    How do third party camera apps from Google Play behave?

    Is that shitty noise reduction applied solely within Sony’s custom camera app and does not affect alternative apps, or is the filtering applied at hardware / firmware level whenever the sensor is not working in burst mode?

  • James King

    Actually when you set burst to mid it is the same resolution as the 9 megapixel 16×9 setting.

  • Guest

    my samples of xz

  • afal

    I never facing any issue on that metter.. its all about how you manage to used it wisely. I meant why blaming the sensor if the user had shaking hands. The image quality are fine if you do a proper setting before capture. Does all user knows how auto superior mode mades the image capture better? Or they just capture the image. Sony should open one tutorial guide in image capture. Cause it seems most user just bashing the sensor without admit they the one should be blame cause had no knowledge in photo capture. Iam already done a capture test and crop with 3x n 6x cropping. The result are really good for smartphone level. For scene capture the xperia sensor manage to capture quit stunning image and sharp in detail but its depend on the lights condition cause it wont be sharp image in low lights due to overburn iso. Play with the metering setting to manuplate sensor behave re-act on light condition on the scene you capturing. That will help u a lot.

  • boy_ice1987

    For the quick shoot with non-setting any more, Burst Mode will be a good choice and provides high quality photos for user. But if we set up something for Normal Mode, the photos will have higher quality than Burst Mode.

  • I think it’s because the Xperia Z usually attempts to reduce noise in Normal mode. Also, I think that once zoomed out, the normal ones would look better and more natural..maybe

  • hacke!

    you can use another camera app available on google play. there are many of them.

  • InspectorGadget80

    Can we just please RELEASE THE DAMN PHONE ON U.S. CARRIERS ALREADY and stop teasing wit pics and news for once

  • the pictures i take with my xperia z since i got it are bad! hdr on or off! the pictures over way too compressed and sharp. when you zoom in, its like someone has made a mess of an oil painting! this is a serious issue and i can’t even take pictures with my phone til this is fixed! ive seen compression on my s and arc s etc but this is over the top! sony needs to realise this very soon. i cna’t be asked to contact them but will do shortly! the hdr videos too, come out grainy. its unbelievable!

  • APai

    over aggressive software responsible for poor image quality

  • that’s why i always change settings in normal mode.

  • It’s a phone, that does EVERYTHING well. Enjoy it, don’t complain. It is truly a really great device and it will continue to get better. For all of those Sony fans you know what Sony is all about.

  • afzal

    Sample image crop

  • afzal
  • ZeroCools

    Maybe one or two Sony employees may see this other than that it’s pointless to keep saying this in every article, and besides it’s probably U.S carrier’s fault and the different bands compared to the rest of the world.

  • Galaxy S IV Also Uses Even Exmor RS, But Proven Features Photograph Superior Results !


  • Abdullah Kakooli

    Burst Mode- has no compression
    Normal Mode- compression

  • Dr. Evil

    It’s the current flagship device and people paid a lot of money for it. If there’s a bug that obvious people MUST complain to Sony in the loudest possible fashion they can!

    As can be seen from the “normal” mode images, your super duper fanboy phone does NOT do everything well, unless you’re totally blinded by your Sony obsession.

  • Dr. Evil

    Is only iAuto mode affected? Do the manually configured pictures look similar to the burst mode setting? How about different camera apps?

  • boosook

    That’s not compression, that’s noise reduction. Normal mode has more noise reduction.

  • boosook

    Android does not zoom the full resolution image. It zooms the preview image, instead. That’s why when you zoom in you see the “oil painting”. For the record, WP and iphone do the same, I think it’s related to performance. There are apps that allow you to zoom the original image, or you can transfer the image to your PC.

  • boosook

    The solution could be really simple: provide an option to choose the desired noise reduction level, as many digicams do. Some people prefer a sharper image with more noise (like you see in the burst mode) and some prefer a softer image with less noise, like in the normal mode. Keep in mind that you will never look at the image zoomed at 100%, so you should first resize the image at the screen resolution and see which version is better, and since when you downsize you recover sharpness the normal mode version could be, in the end, better.

  • I got my z purely because I was so impressed with the 8mpeg camera on my arc I was sure the 13mp would be a further improvement. Unfortunately it’s not. The heavy processing makes images mucky and soft. Before this phone went to market did they really not compare the image quality to other models before advertising this camera as exceptional. I’m just hopeful they are now aware of this and working on a fix in 4.2. SometimesSony try to hard to help improve your photos only to obtain the opposite result

  • Dr. Evil

    What’s the point in having a 13MP camera if you MUST downscale the resulting image to get a decent picture quality?

    BTW, how does the camera behave when taking pictures in lower resolutions? Are they still noisy/grainy/ugly because not every possible pixel from the sensor is “used” in the result or does it actually look like a downscaled image with improved picture quality?

    Hm, hope you know what I mean. :-) When taking a 5MP image, does the sensor just skip every second pixel or so, or does it provide more “sensor space / hardware pixels” to the resulting image pixel sent to the camera app?

  • boosook

    I’m not saying that you must downscale, I’m saying that with EVERY camera you always look at the image downscaled, becasue the medium you’re using is tipically a screen which has a maximum resolution of 1920×1080 (full hd) if you’re lucky, and if you do the math that’s 2 megapixel, so you’re actually throwing away 11 of your 13 megapixels. This does not mean that sensors above 2mp are useless… quite the contrary, due to how the bayer sensor works we have better quality if we take an 8mp image and see it at 2mp (I can’t explain it now). And then there’s cropping: sometimes you want to extract a portion of a picture. But it’s extremely unlikely that you will look at your image without downscaling it, unless you’re zooming in to see some details.

  • pickabee

    well there’s some apparent compression involved as well. if you compare file sizes with the samsung flagship’s photos, the ones from xz are smaller.

    i don’t really understand why sony is doing this. they provide a good sensor but mess up with the software for processing the photos.

    i’m giving sony one more year. if they still don’t change, i think it’d be time to go for motorola without hesitations.

  • Amimanot

    Actually, if you use another app the results will be the same. I have read somewhere that the compression occurs in the camera driver itself. So, as long as the app uses the camera’s driver (which they are forced to do) the resuls will still be the same compared to when using the stock camera app

  • Will 3rd party camera apps bypass the Sony software processing issues in there stock camera?

  • Amimanot

    I have read somewhere that it occurs in the driver, therefore any camera app will still produce the same result

  • Amimanot

    Nope, it occurs in the camera’s driver itself, so any third party apps will produce the same result

  • boosook

    Yes, but the artifacts created by excessive jpeg compression have a well-recognizable aspect which I don’t see in these pictures, while we see the typical smearing of details created by an aggressive noise reduction. That’s why I dont’ think that compression is a problem, even if the file size is lower.

    Anyway, IMO Sony has an “average consumer oriented” philosophy, this is true even in their compact cameras. The average consumer will be perfectly ok with a softer but noise-free output. The average consumer won’t pixel-peep. I don’t think that Sony engineers are stupid… it must be a choice, and that’s why I don’t think it will change. And I think we should stop watching 100% crops of the images, because that’s a thing we never do in real life. Pixel level quality does not automatically translate in downsized image quality: I’d be curious to see the two images above downsized both to 1920×1080 pixels to see which is better once resized…

  • Dr. Evil

    It’s not about pixel-peeping. As someone mentioned before, some pictures, even when scaled down to screen size, just look artificial, like messy oil paintings.

    By the way, I totally hate this “keep it average, keep it simple, don’t even offer the option to configure anything” attitude of today’s hardware and software developers.

  • Dr. Evil

    That makes no sense to me. The bottom line to me is: Image quality at 13 MP is crap. Sony should just have the balls to market this sensor as what it is: NOT a 13 MP sensor. It’s obviously capable of making decent 5 MP images, so why not go that direction, leaving simply more “sensor” per pixel, like common digital cameras do?

  • Basharca

    Guys we seriously need to report this to Sony. I would also encourage xperia blog to do the same. We can’t just sit and complain about it, it would be such a waste for an amazing camera. Sony needs to be aware of this problem, and the fix should be a priority in their next update.

  • Pfn

    I have not seen so many wows in any phone unboxing regardless of websites, even the cnet people are impressed!

  • lovebmw

    its not a software problem, it’s there ignorance for the last many years saying there is nothing wrong with there camera in all of there phones

  • i dun face any of this problem…and the camera is amazing!!!

  • boosook

    I agree with you (and prefer the burst mode version).

  • boosook

    Xperia blog, it’s sharper, yes, but NOT less noisy… it’s MORE noisy, and it’s sharper because it’s more noisy! (i.e. there’s less noise reduction). I also prefer more noise and less noise reduction. Sony should just put an option to set the desired level of NR, like many digicam manufacturers do.

  • I think you are missing the key point, ”It’s a phone”. There are just too many variables to take the camera thing to heart. You can check other blogs, posts etc.. and there are excellent camera shots. Sometimes I take a pic with my XZ and it is horrible (variables) and other times, perfect. I have NEVER seen a mobile phone that worked as advertised. They ALL work well.

  • daniel

    Auto superior mode sometimes had problem to detect what scene you trying to capture and sometimes auto superior provide false setting . For example if you pointing your focus at a white wall the auto scene will detect “document” mode which is will burst brightness. I suggest to used normal mode which u can play with setting to create your desire capture style.

  • never try different camera apps. in some pictures better than burst mode (change default setting from auto to manual from iso , white balance etc). but when i change to default setting, it’s not quite good enough. if i want to take quick shoot, then i only activate superior auto, sometimes good, sometimes not so good. but that depends on personal.

  • john

    do you guys have this problem too? because i have.. and it is annoying when we look at it..

  • Joss

    Yes, we need a feedback from Sony – if there isn’t an solution within next weeks, i’ll send all phone i just bought for my company back to the provider….

  • lovebmw

    You won’t get a response on this matter anytime soon, we begged for the last 3years to increase the size of the picture. You have 13 mega Pixle camera and I only get 2mb picture size….. It’s monkey business. Lol iPhone with 5px phone stores the picture at 5 mb size.


  • Monty Alexander

    Sony Xperia Z runs on Quad-core 1.5 GHz Qualcomm processors and boasts of 2GB RAM. The screen is 5-inch TFT Reality display with Bravia Engine 2 for shaper picture and better clarity. The phone comes with a 13.1 MP rear-end snapper and 2 MP fully HD front camera. Slightly thicker than the ultra-slim smartphones, Xperia Z is 7.9 mm thick. Specifications apart, the phone is packed with a host of other features. The highlight of the phone is it is a “bath-friendly” phone. Sony Xpaeria Z is water resistant and can survive for 30 minutes in one meter of water. Definitely good news for those who bundle their phones in plastic at the mere sight of water! And that is not all. Sony Xperia Z comes with a special Battery Stamina mode. The mode reportedly improves standby time by four times. The apps are automatically shut when the screen is locked and are re-activated when the screen is brought back on.
    To Know more about Sony Xperia Z log on

  • Pingback: Xperia Z: ???????? ?????? ?????, ??? ??????? ????? | ?????????? ? ??????????? | Xperia Z, iPhone 5S, Xperia V()

  • Haldi

    lol, lucky in didnt make a picture of my own home but of a neighbour.

    And yes its horrible to see how Sony’s antinoise Filter is behaving :(
    and I also sent a message to Sony support asking them about that. They said they don’t have any knowledge if there will be an update of camera :(

  • alwaz best

    how to set retail mode for xperia z???

  • Gregg Lowden

    Nope, international users are complaining (India in particular) so it may finally be addressed. Rumours of 4.6 million sets being sold globally, class action or local suits if Sony dosen’t listen and fix.

  • woodgnome

    on the other hand the burst mode timed by me over a minute equates to over 15-yes 15 frames per second and resolution drops automatically to 12 meg if selected burst seems sensor is overcrowded and was possibly only ever really suited to about 10.1 meg

  • Amit Garoo

    i tried clicking pictures using PICART and the quality is much better with smaller picture size. So i presume the issue is with excessive capability of the camera which is trying to perfect the picture too much. The shots taken in sunlight are extremely good with clear details. The moment it gets into dim lights the camera is figuring out and trying to perfect it too much. try using picarts for simple pictures. I hope Sony fixes it with an update as i feel they have a great product, just minor tweaks here and there. Burst mode pictures are better quality due to least processing.

  • erewt

    Screen replacement will fix it.

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