Blind camera test with Xperia Z3 and Z1 Compact against 6 other phones – see where experts ranked them

by XB on 1st March 2015

in Imaging, Xperia Z1, Xperia Z3 series

fototest-1cThe guys over at recently conducted an extensive camera shootout in Morocco against eight leading smartphones include two Sony Xperia devices – the Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z1 Compact. It then invited seven of Poland’s most famous photo editors and photographers in a blind test to determine the best smartphone camera.

Ten different scenes were analysed across a variety of day and night conditions. The pictures were assessed by the experts in both full size and cropped to determine a top three. Unfortunately the Sony Xperia models didn’t hit the top three, with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 winning in almost all categories.

Tests such as these can always be a bit subjective and can depend on a number of factors including shooting conditions, settings used etc. However, Sony Xperia users have long complained about the processing used and sometimes about noisy images. You can check out all of the images taken at the source link and the overall voting results below.

Experts’ votes:

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 – 33.57%
Apple iPhone 6 – 21.66%
Apple iPhone 5S – 14.29%
Nokia Lumia 1020 – 13.57%
LG G3 – 8.33 %
Sony Xperia Z3 – 7.15%
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact – 1.43%
HTC One M8 – 0.00%

Camera shootout


  • Ryan Kumar-jassi

    Wasnt a fair test if they viewed the photos on the phone screen rather than the same screen

  • Kiwison

    It’s the Auto mode that sucks, I guarantee

  • Niek van Rijswijk

    You can see on any screen that the photos from the Sony’s are crappier then the rest.

    Interesting point: The note 4 used a sony sensor. This shown what can be done with great software. Why is sony’s own xperia line so meh and their camera’s really awesome? See RX-100 M3 for example.

  • Ash

    I use my Z3 in manual mode, takes out brilliant photos, far better than any of those mentioned

  • SONY only

    i love sony

  • Ryan Kumar-jassi

    Well my xperia z took nice photos in normal light but in low light conditions there was way too much noise but my xperia z2 now takes photos even better and im happy about it but yeah alot of phones these days use a sony sensor so hopefully they might have made it better in lollipop

  • SONY only

    sony is the best

  • Ryan Kumar-jassi

    Lol and so do I wont ever change brand unless something drastic happens

  • Ryan Kumar-jassi

    And always will be

  • BruceLeeRoyJenkins

    Of they can build off what they already have. Put forth some real growth over the great strides they have already made. Not slight improvements and tweaks

  • DBS

    I’m pretty sure they didn’t use the Nokia 1020 in manual mode, which is the mode it was designed to work in. So that alone immediately shouts “biased”.

    HOWEVER, I am NOT surprised to see the Z1C and Z3 camera beaten by Samsung’s N4 and Apple’s iPhone. Why? Because they BOTH use Sony hardware…except Samsung and Apple ACTUALLY take time to work on the software, unlike Sony who doesn’t give a sh*t about it and hasn’t upgraded the Xperia camera software since the Z1 (which is even more evident when you dive deep into the phone’s files and find that all the camera tech is still branded as “Sony Ericsson”).

  • Rick N

    but iphone camera manufactured by sony

  • Ryan Kumar-jassi

    Well Samsung announced the galaxy s6 and it seems to be a really expensive power house with a very decent battery only thing is the xperia z4 will hopefully have an even better battery and the s6 doesnt have an sd card slot

  • Ryan Kumar-jassi

    I know right thats a joke not to mention the fact it seems to take better photos when zooming in

  • inspire

    Well I’d not say biased IF all the samples were taken in auto mode from all phones. As that’s what a normal user uses the most. But no one knows if that was the case.

  • Michael

    So true….

  • Jerry Berglund

    Hmm… definately kinda bias review. The Sony xperia lines camera (software) aint that bad. Its should at least be before LG 3. Sure it not the best, but its neither the worst either. Its kinda right in the middle. So just that should make it much higher up I think. And Yes. Sony could do much better with their software. Sorry to say its not the people in Lund doing that camera, but the Camera division I think. :-)

  • BruceLeeRoyJenkins

    A lot about the S6 screams Apple. The frame looks like the iPhone 6, no micro SD card forcing people to pay extra for more memory makes them even more like Apple.

    This is the chance every android OEM should take, Samsung messing up and screwing up two flagships in a row. AndroidAuthority said that their time with the M9 was generally positive. The new 20MP camera yields better, sharper results. But low light isn’t near the bigger OEMs and from the sample video and pics it doesn’t look like a big change.

    Sony needs to bring a new design aspect to the table. If it’s a total revamp or adding new materials they need to do it now. It’s a pretty safe bet that the newest sensor hardware is going in the Z4, and hopefully with great software to compliment it as well, plus OIS.

  • Ryan Kumar-jassi

    Yeah your right ive asked many people if they like the design of the Z series but they say they prefer a device with a more curved back like the s3 mini

  • bbq

    l really hope they use better software on lollipop.

  • BruceLeeRoyJenkins

    I’ve always said HTC has a great design language. That they really evolved the design of the M7 with the M8, making an all around great looking device. But the M9, with it being a mixture of M7 and M8 in a smaller body I don’t think HTC really thought it through. I appalled them for making it more compact, and their are certainly some atheistic choices I like, but overall I think they took a step back

  • Rikimaru

    For sure Sony can improve the software but I never got that poor quality. with my Xperia V or Z3
    I got clearly better shot that what I saw…

  • Ryan Kumar-jassi

    Well lets hope sony takes a step forward unlike HTC and samsung taking a few steps back

  • roeshak

    The Sony xperias take great photos but the auto software struggles a lot by using too high iso values hence the high noise levels.
    As far as pixel level detail, the note 4 has a 16mp with a very narrow 31mm lens and so it’ll always capture sharper photos with more fine details. The Sony xperias use 20.7mp with a very wide 27mm lens and even worse a 25mm lens on the z3.
    Sony doesn’t focus on details and sharpness. They wouldn’t use such wide angled lenses if they did. The sensor is effectively taking photos from a very zoomed out perspective to give you more info in the frame. The downside is when you zoom in, fine details are degraded.
    These cameras have different hardware configurations and produce different results accordingly. The xperias have better colour reproduction, dynamic range and capture more light while the Samsung devices produce sharper photos. The thing with most tech blogs is photos are compared a lot using crops but there’s more to photos than that.
    I’d prefer it is Sony stopped the wide angle business because there’s no optical zoom to compensate when you want to focus on details. The note 4 is primed for that with its very narrow lens. For me, I think the 29mm lens of the iPhone strikes a good balance between information and details.
    Sony as usual have made bad choices with the lens and Samsung focus on what they know the techblogs focus on which is details.
    You guys just keep complaining about image processing but there’s more to it than that. Sure they could reduce compression but it still wouldn’t match the note 4 for sharpness and details. On the other hand more noise would creep in.
    Sony just need to ditch these very wide angle lenses and use something instead that gives better all round performance.
    Z3 and z3c with those 25mm lenses can’t compete for details. The pictures they take are way too zoomed out for their small sensors.
    It’s just the story of Sony mobile. Bad judgements. They have the best sensor but then ask too much of it by using very wide angled lenses. They just don’t think consumers care about pixel level detail. They like htc think all we want to do is take photos and share them.
    On the software side, the doggy auto mode is what needs improving as well as the limitations on the full res camera.

  • karamelakimo

    Sony need a renew in software processing image

  • Splash

    I just want to comment on the fact that this was posted despite the fact that Sony didn’t come close to winning. It’s the sign of a good news outlet and a good report to give it’s readers the straight facts and to give the good along with the bad. Stand up job Xperiablog.

  • Abdul Ghani

    ive always said since after xperia z sony ruined the processing algorithm yet they wont fix it….. z z1 z2 z3 fails hard in camera quality but sony software team is sleeping the hardware no doubt its the best other brands is using sonys sensors samsung and apple yet sony cant utilize it in their own phones

  • Raphael

    Sony will have time to mull over these terrible results when Xperia brand will be sold. Mr Yoshida has already raised the ax…

  • scw

    Sony camera (phone and compact camera) has always been over-processed. Unfortunately they never thought this was a problem.

  • mike630

    Note 4’s camera is really amazing! but not better than Lumia 1520 xD,

    Xperia Z2’s camera is better than Z3!

  • Niels d. G.

    Meanwhile: Socialife update brings Material Design icon and support for rotating to landscape orientation in browser view.

  • Timel

    I’m so pity you, You should admit the truth because anything that you’re doing now it looks very fucking stupid… Sony isn’t the best and sometime Sony is pretty suck, backward and pretty underdeveloped

    Xperia flagship phone’s Camera is really suck especially its Auto Mode while Samsung did great with Auto Mode, which is smart and easy to use, like I said before this is the new era, everything gotta be smart, easy to use and can work efficiently so end users want a good auto mode and Samsung got this!

    I actually don’t like Samsung even you guys like to say ” “I’m a Samsung fanboy” but they really did great jobs, And now Samsung is much stronger and much bigger than Sony… Why?

  • Timel

    Cute LoL

  • RedGhost05

    Man, I need to ask you. What phone do you use?

  • Faisal Armand

    Everytime sony loses a camera comparison, the tester must’ve used auto mode. But honestly, as a guy that uses xperia camera like THIS
    , those comparisons don’t mean any living SH*T. We all know Xperia Z2 & Z3 on manual trash all cameraphone above except lumia 1020

    But then I realise, there’s only probably 2-3% of people that uses manual mode extensively like me. And sony seriously need to improve. Not for me, but for the good of people

  • Timel

    Yeah And Sony is going bankrupt


    the Samsung GALAXY S6 and S6 edge ladies and gentlemen

  • Hendry Sbastian
  • Joaquim


  • Timel


    Over the last several years, smartphone cameras have been transformed from a novelty feature to a sophisticated photographic device. Small in size but large in capability, the smartphone camera now has the ability to turn any user into a budding artist, photographer or cinematographer and allow them to explore their creativity with an array of ever advancing functions and features. The more innovative we are with advancing the smartphone camera, the more we witness a growing platform of unbounded ingenuity and imagination.

    Fifteen years have passed since we introduced the cellphone with an integrated camera. In the year 2000, Samsung set an industry standard by integrating the first ever, a 0.3-megapixel camera, into our SCH-V200 model. By 2002, the mobile phone camera had rapidly evolved from a quirky gimmick to a useful device that was both practical and convenient.

    Providing the Freedom of One Device:
    Since our first camera phone, we have focused on improving the functionality and the quality of our smartphone cameras to provide consumers with the freedom of being able to carry just one mobile device. Aggressively investing in R&D, we accepted the challenge of integrating a more powerful camera into the slim body of a smartphone because we believe that a smartphone should do a lot more than just take great pictures. The image sensors in a smartphone needed to be much smaller than the sensors in even the most compact digital cameras and we worked diligently on improving image quality under these size constraints.

    You can see the progress we have made:

    Galaxy S
    Main Camera 5MP
    Front Camera VGA

    Galaxy S?
    Main Camera 8 MP
    Front Camera 1.9 MP

    Galaxy S?
    Main Camera 8 MP
    Front Camera 1.9 MP

    Galaxy S4
    Main Camera 13 MP
    Front Camera 2 MP

    Galaxy S5
    Main Camera 16 MP
    Front Camera 2 MP

    In 2014, we achieved the successful integration of a 16-megapixel camera with our Galaxy S5, which allowed it to capture the finest detail and color of any other smartphone camera on the market at the time. This brought us one step further to finally eliminating the gap between digital cameras and our smartphone cameras for good.

    Capturing an Image as our Eyes See It:
    First and foremost, we at Samsung design and engineer our smartphone cameras to produce stunning pictures. We want to make the resulting images as close as possible to what you actually see with your eyes. Our relentless efforts to innovate as well as our ability to push the limits of physics allow us to develop and build compact smartphone cameras with no compromise in the overall functionality you would expect from a world-class smartphone.

    Professional cameras equip image sensors and circuitry that are significantly larger than those of smartphone cameras, about fifty times larger in some cases. We have addressed these obstacles by exerting every effort into developing features such as real-time High Dynamic Range (HDR), Phase difference Auto Focus (PAF) and others that help the camera produce images closer to what our eyes actually see. In addition, our other R&D assets such as camera software, app development and component optimization let us overcome the physical limits of the hardware to bring the most innovative camera technology possible to consumers.

    Offering Users What They Need:
    At the heart of all Samsung product development are the needs and desires of our consumers, and their expectations motivate us, the developers, to continue pushing the limits of what can be made possible.

    The image sensors on most smartphone cameras are physically smaller than those on digital cameras, which means that even if the number of pixels is the same, each cell, or pixel, on the sensor is also smaller. These pixels can actually be as small as 1.12 microns diagonally, which makes it harder to reduce the noise among pixels. Low noise plays a key role in the real-time HDR and the Phase AF that require a quick and accurate reaction.

    The Samsung Galaxy S5 is an example of such a breakthrough – an unparalleled smartphone that sports what is currently rated by many as the best rear camera in the market. It is also the only smartphone that incorporates high performance live HDR capabilities in both video and still shots. With the HDR reverse lighting techniques, Galaxy S5 users can achieve a photo-realistic effect with their images in almost any lighting environment. Other outstanding Galaxy S5 camera features include an autofocus function that can capture moving objects in an astonishing 0.3 seconds as well as the ability to make background lighter or darker. Users can also manually isolate and alter different focal points for complete control over the final look of their pictures.

    We make sure that our smartphone cameras are fast, intuitive and easy to use, giving users a smooth seamless experience. Our users do not need to worry about the appropriate camera settings for different lighting environments or where to find different functions or how to edit and share the photo they just took.

    Building the Next Big Thing:
    The front-facing camera of the smartphone is now considered as an essential feature. When the Galaxy S was first introduced, a front-facing camera was also included, catering to the consumer need for two-way video chat. A few Galaxy smartphone models later, the front-facing camera had transformed into something much more.

    In recent years, as social media trends popularized the “selfie,” the demand for a high-quality front-facing camera became paramount. The front camera in the Galaxy S5 is capable of capturing FHD videos, and allows the users to enjoy ultra clear video calls. Advancing these features even further is the 3.7MP front camera and F1.9 lens on the Galaxy Note 4 that supports a 90º wide-angle mode that lets users capture the perfect selfie or group selfie – the “wefie.”

    Taking this even further, the Galaxy A7, A5 and A3 all feature a monster 5MP front-facing camera for even better-looking selfies. While earlier front-facing cameras were regarded as an “extra”, superfluous to the “main” camera on the rear, this is clearly no longer the case anymore.

    We meticulously evaluate every single facet of our smartphone cameras by taking over 10,000 photos in every imaginable lighting environment for analysis. The same passion and dedication has been put into building the cameras for the release of our 2015 flagship model. It will be intelligent and do all the thinking for users, allowing them to take amazing pictures under any conditions, without having to worry about anything more than just pressing the shutter button.

    It will demonstrate just how far Samsung has advanced smartphone cameras, and once again will open the creative side of our users for new ideas and new possibilities.

    At Samsung, camera innovation continues.

  • Kunal Shukla

    I would never expect sony phones to win any camera tests… never they have the worst image processing algorithms.

  • Christian

    Hey stupid! Can I ask you a little favor? Next time, before you post, can you please have some time to check your grammar? Thank you! P.S. Please do yourself a favor and stop showing everyone how stupid you are! :P

  • danny wood

    Z3 camera and the abysmal app has been a total letdown for me. White balance and colour accuracy are out to lunch. Focus is dodgy and unreliable. The rest of the phone is fantastic!

  • Christian

    if they are using the Xperia’s superior auto for these tests, that’s a no brainer that it would suck! But if the settings are correct (exposure, iso, metering, etc.), I bet the result would be different. I compared my Z3 with my sister’s iPhone 6 and friend’s Note 4 on different light conditions and scenes, and the Z3 owns them!

  • Christian

    are you using superior auto on that?

  • Afzal Zainal Rddz

    Lets see how sony xperia z4 can keep up with s6 n m9 or not. Hoping for a better performence in auto mode. In manual mode i had not much to argue just need a full manual focus control. That should be awesome.

    Gudluck sony… :-)

  • Jeff Martinez

    If Sony doesn’t deliver then I’ll be jumping on the Edge S6. My eyes are now fixated on you Sony…

  • CAQO

    Best cammera sensor on sony IMO, was the K800, never again got such a pictures like that.

  • Alex Norris

    Sony is the best…? Are you kidding me? Like always Sony & HTC on last place. Stupid Sony programmers from Sweden, many years still can`t make good soft. And future James Bond phone Xperia Z4, will have the same big problems. This is real sony camera×360.jpg Only AR effects )))))

  • Alex Norris

    All who use sony sensors can make good software, only Sony can’t make quality soft for their cameras. Because Camera – is not only sensor… Camera is – Sensor, Optical system & QUALITY Soft.!

  • Ballsack


    Gimme a chil pill.

  • RedGhost05

    It doesn’t even has a Micro SD slot nor water/dust protection.

  • Eduardo Otero

    Totally agree!!!

  • Christian

    have you tried Xperia Z3 and Compact in Manual Mode? Funny how if it’s Nokia 1020 not used in Manual, it’s “biased”. But if it’s Xperia, it’s because they don’t give a sh*t? I’ve compared my Xperia (in Manual) , and it owns the Note 4 and iPhone6s.

  • Christian

    I agree that Xperia’s superior auto sucked! But when used in Manual mode, it takes very detailed and real life colors. The problem with us though is if we are IGNORANT in using Manual, then we blame the camera.

  • jag

    Yah… good question! I am also interested in what phone he (TIMEL) is using. Is there anyone who can give an up vote for this?

  • OSlo

    Who is the hell is so called Experts…in this play ground every one is expert..

  • jag

    Z4 tablet just launched
    Xperia Z4 Tablet – The new lightest and slimmest Android tablet from Sony:

  • Fujitsu

    If only they would let the Camera Alpha line programmer do the job for the Xperia Z line(or maybe the entire Xperia), it might outbest all of them

  • Billy de Fretes

    auto mode… that’s the main focus for smartphone.. auto mode enables user to capture scene fast without delay… and of course to eliminate pocket camera so there’s no need to bring 2 devices when travelling / commute.

    I know my xperia Z manual mode capable to produce better image than any phones when released but why i have to set manually when there’s an object to capture ?

    some of samsung phones using sony sensor even apple main camera still using sony sensor since earlier day. and yet, apple can deliver perfect shoot in auto (no manual mode until these day) while xperia can’t..

  • Jaywalker

    Now Sony can see one more time why people don’t buy their phone. Like they didn’t know it. Do something with that camera instead of useless mumbo jumbo features. Awful pictures there, blue tents noise, whiteish shadows no contrast…I don’t know what they’re doing there. Even in manual mode, hello people, we can’t set for every picture new settings, that’s why people invented the software. We are in 2015 not in old cameras era. If others can do it, why Sony can’t? Easy as that. Super sensor, super camera, tens of MP and for nothing. And I’m a Xperia user and the photos are below the competition like in that test. So trying to defense Sony at any cost won’t work. Face the reality.

  • Alex Norris

    Honestly , i can`t understand why Sony don`t seeking the help of a good programmers and I just don’t understand why cybershot not engaged in the camera software …?

  • Solano

    That’s an UGLY device! The sides are like on the iCrap 6. Please no more cheap Korean Shit!

  • Christian

    here’s the original article. They do admit that they’re only using Auto Mode in these comparisons. For those who own an Xperia, please don’t use the Superior Auto, it sucks. (Probably the worst Auto Mode). I’m surprised it does not come last. But if that would have been on Manual (if the camera is capable), the result would have been different. Probably Nokia, then the two Xperias. Anyways, enjoy.

  • Christian

    I totally agree! I have never used the superior auto intentionally since I got my Xperias. They sucked at that! But they owned the competition if you know how to use your camera.

  • Hi there DBS,
    Yes, as you can read in the source – all phones were shooting in “auto” mode as this test was targeted for the average Joe i.e. people spend no more than 5-15 seconds for taking a picture. In the full review we mentioned several times that the image quality (especially white balance) of the 1020 is A LOT better if you have a while to adjust manual settings. So I wouldn’t say the test was biased, just made for non-experts.

    For your second comment… sad, but true :( :(

  • I wouldn’t say so, the biggest difference is in white balance (the difference can sometimes be HUGE, see our examples below), but digital noise and relatively low level of details still make it not as good as the other top phones in the test..

  • that was the case, it’s explained in the source (link above or the full article:

  • N’v Ng

    Samsung lag

  • N’v Ng

    Never buy any product of this brand

  • Lmfao

  • FredrikAn

    Timel is a troll, ignore him.

  • Nemanja Nemanjic

    Samsung camera innovation? You think SONY cameras innovation in samsung? :)

  • Nemanja Nemanjic

    and better camera in z4 :)

  • Lunkz

    We don’t speaking about Color Balance. Show us the Original Size of the Pictures, resized Pictures don’t say anything.

  • Lunkz

    To bad CM12 does not have manual mode…

  • danny wood

    On any mode the white balance is poop. Even with Camera FV-5 the white balance is out. This comes from 25 years in the photo industry…I’ve contacted Sony to trouble shoot. No help. They want me to send it in for evaluation…but I wouldn’t have a phone for three weeks if I did that! I KNOW that its out of calibration. I cleared partition cache, cleared camera help. Its bad. But it also seems like different folks have no issues, some say they have the same as me…its all over the place. If I’m lucky, maybe there’s a fix baked in to Lollipop for it. Regardless, I’m buying a camera in a month.

  • Solano

    Of Samy or iCrap? Me neither! Sticking to SONY! ;)

  • EQ

    Worthless test that can be considered pure garbage. Z1 Compact had scratched lens and grease on it. So did some other phones. Then the test images are of resolution 900×675 and a size of 80-100KB (0,08-0,1MB). This completly invalidates the test aswell as they seem to deliberately change settings between shootings to make some cameras look worse as in for example the Xperia phones they changed scenery mode to completly wrong ones for the current scene visible and yet they say it was on “auto mode”. They also modified some photos in image editor and forgot the remove the hidden exif modification number. Busted big time.

  • EQ

    Reading an article of someone with 25 years experience doesn’t give you that experience.

  • EQ

    This. Dont feed that troll and troll site.

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