Sony Xperia Z3 Camera vs Xperia Z2 – Comparison

September 7, 2014

Sony Xperia Z3 camera

In this article I am going to take a look at the Sony Xperia Z3 camera specs and see what changed from the Xperia Z2.  Before we go talking about the differences in-depth, let’s first take a look at the Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z2 front and rear camera specifications.

Xperia Z3
Xperia Z2
Sensor20.7 megapixels
1/2.3" Exmor RS (BSI)
6.17 x 4.55 mm dimensions
1.2 microns pixel size

Model: Sony IMX220
20.7 megapixels
1/2.3" Exmor RS (BSI)
6.17 x 4.55 mm dimensions
1.2 microns pixel size

Model: Sony IMX200
ISO50-12,800 *
(*first in a smartphone as of the time of release)
Video Max Resolution2016p 4K / Ultra High Definition resolution
(3840 x 2160 px)

30 frames per second
Stereo sound
2016p 4K / Ultra High Definition resolution
(3840 x 2160 px)

30 frames per second
Stereo sound
Water ResistantIP65 & IP68 compliant

immersion in 1.5m of fresh water up to 30 minutes / dust tight (totally prevented)
IP55 & IP58 compliant

immersion in 1m of fresh water up to 30 minutes / dust resistant (not totally prevented)
LensSony G-Lens
25mm (equivalent)
f/2.0 maximum aperture

8cm minimum focus range
Sony G-Lens
27mm (equivalent)
f/2.0 maximum aperture

10cm minimum focus range
FlashPulse Single Led

up to 3 meters
Pulse Single Led

up to 3 meters
Image Resolution5248 x 3936 pixels5248 x 3936 pixels
Image StabilizationDigital stabilization for videos
(SteadyShot) +
Intelligent Active Mode
Digital stabilization for videos

As you can see from the above Sony Xepria Z3 vs Z2 main camera specs comparison table, Sony has upgraded the camera. The first change is using the new-gen  Sony IMX220 image sensor over the IMX200, which is also rumored to be using in the upcoming iPhone 6. This sensor has improved technologies that result in sharper and more details image, as well as higher sensitivity, allowing the sensor to capture images up to ISO 12800. This is the first smartphone to offer that maximum ISO sensitivity (As of the time of the Z3 release). This of course allows Z3 allows much more flexibility as far as low-light shooting is concerned.

It’s also great to see that Sony stays with the 1/2.3″ size sensor, which is larger than many other smartphone main cameras. The reason I’m saying that is because the Z3 and Z2 have very high megapixel resolution. With such a high resolution the pixels density as higher and each pixel is very small. By choosing to go with a larger sensor, the effect on image quality is reduced compared to smaller sensors. That said, I wish that Sony would have gone with a 10MP resolution instead of 20.7MP, you can just imagine how they image quality would have been improved (but we can just imagine).

A few things about the ISO 12800. I think that in the next firmware Sony might open this ISO sensitivity in the Z2. But even if it does, it doesn’t mean that you’ll get the same image quality. ISO 12800 might look so bad that you might not use it anyways (setting the ISO is only available in manual shooting mode, the maximum ISO can also differ between stills and video recording).

The difference between ISO 3200 and ISO 12800 is two stops, which means that the sensor is four times more sensitive to light. The problem is that the higher you climb the ISO speed the more image noise you get. That said, some people don’t mind shooting with high ISO as long they get the result they need and when capturing stills and videos in lower resolutions, where image noise is not that pronounced.

Another change that we see is in the lens spec. The Xperia Z3 features the same high-quality G-lens optics, which signifies Sony’s excellence in lens optical performance, and with quality that stands in-line with Carl Zeiss optics (see the supplied link for more info).  The new lens is now 2mm wider which is almost great, because it allows you to capture more of the surroundings without stepping backwards, as well as closer focus range. The aperture stayed the same, f/2.0 aperture which is a very fast aperture that makes the Z3 rear camera an excellent low-light performer. The combination of a faster aperture lens, new next-gen sensor with super high ISO sensitivity, BSI technology — all should give photographers very high low-light capabilities.

My main criticism is that Sony didn’t include an optical image stabilization, although the video’s digital image stabilization is improved using the new “Intelligent Active Mode”. This new mode works on conjunction with Sony’s SteadyShot technology to offer more steadier video recording results.  The new Intelligent Active Mode is supported in video mode up to full HD 30fps resolution, not in 4K.

Among the other improvements is a better water and dust resistance of IP65/IP68 which allows you to take the phone 0.5m deeper underwater than the Z2 and it’s completely protected against dust penetration (safer at the beach or desert :) ).

In my opinion it’s not a big improvement, but certainly has good improvements that should make it more competitive on the market. What’s your opinion?

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