Sony Xperia 1 II evaluate: I shot a complete brief movie with this cellphone

The tall slim squared-off exterior of the Sony Xperia 1 II hides a slew of filmmaking and pictures options for creatives.


Patrick Holland/CNET

Once I advised somebody in regards to the Sony Xperia 1 II, their first response was “Sony nonetheless makes telephones?!” Granted, this cellphone is not aimed on the plenty like an iPhone 11 Professional or a Samsung Galaxy S20. Sony is after inventive varieties who need extra management over their pictures and movies. That is why the corporate packed the $1,200 Xperia with controls and instruments from its in style Alpha line of full-frame mirrorless cameras, and that is what I will be solely on this piece.

On paper, the Xperia 1 II looks as if most different Android flagship telephones powered by a Snapdragon 865 processor. It has a 6.5-inch 4K OLED display screen, 5G (exterior of the US) and on the again is a large angle primary digital camera, an ultrawide-angle digital camera and a telephoto digital camera — all of which have a 12-megapixel sensor. 

However there are issues that set this cellphone aside. As an illustration, the telephoto lens has the full-frame equivalency of a 70mm lens — which means it is really a telephoto lens! (Usually, when firms say their telephones have telephoto lenses, they’re actually someplace between 52 and 56mm.) There’s additionally a bodily shutter button on the cellphone which is sort of useful in-use. There are additionally three preloaded apps that take full benefit of the digital camera. One is the fundamental Xperia Android digital camera app. The opposite two are Photograph Professional and Cinema Professional, which offer you detailed controls over each facet of your cellphone’s picture and video seize.

To my delight these apps permit the Xperia 1 II to function extra like a digital camera than a cellphone. This made me surprise how good these cameras really have been, particularly at video seize. To search out out, I made a brief movie with the cellphone and I used to be very impressed.

I made a movie with the Cinema Professional app

The easiest way to speak about and take a look at the Xperia 1 II’s video high quality and the Cinema Professional app was to undergo the method of constructing a movie. So I wrote, shot and starred within the 4-minute movie referred to as I, Robber, which you’ll watch beneath. Each shot was captured utilizing the Xperia’s Cinema Professional app and I had a blast utilizing it.

Whereas capturing my movie, the bodily shutter button on the Xperia 1 II made it straightforward to report myself even once I could not see the display screen. The Xperia 1 can also be small when in comparison with mirrorless cameras, and it permits me to place it in numerous places for distinctive photographs and views. For instance, for one scene I taped the cellphone to the within of a cupboard door.

The left facet of the cellphone has no buttons and is comparatively flat which means that the cellphone can stand by itself… largely.

Not like different apps that provide video centric controls, Cinema Professional has an in depth but approachable format. Its minimal menus are very simple and all main settings can be found at a look. Issues like shutter angle, ISO, guide focusing are easy to regulate and you may automate a spotlight pull between two topics — which is such a pleasure to observe.

Movies are recorded in an H.265 codec with 10-bit coloration. 4K video out of the Cinema Professional app is sharp, particularly off the principle 24mm digital camera. Decision and body charges prime out at 4K 60fps or HD at 120fps. I ought to be aware that since Cinema Professional movies have a 2.39:1 facet ratio, it would not really report at full 4K UHD. As an alternative, you must use the native Xperia digital camera app to seize true UHD in a 16:9 facet ratio.

However Sony can add enhancements to the Xperia 1 II that might make it extra useful. For one factor, I want there was extra “professional,” within the Cinema Professional app. It could be nice to zoom in on the viewfinder to guide focus or have focus peaking. A real flat video profile could be good, too.

Should you’re filming outdoor, you want a impartial density filter to be able to preserve from getting overexposed movies. Because the aperture is fastened, the one technique to regulate publicity is by altering the ISO and shutter angle. On a extremely vivid day, I usually bottomed out each the ISO and shutter angle and nonetheless had an overexposed picture. One hack I discovered was to shoot at 4K 60fps (or HD 120fps), which exposes every body shorter than filming at 24fps. It is not best, however generally it could convey the publicity to a manageable place.

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The bodily shutter button made filming myself for a brief movie straightforward. After urgent the button I used to be assured my efficiency was being recorded.


Patrick Holland/CNET

There are occasions I went to reshoot a scene and needed to guess what my settings have been for the unique take. Entry to ISO and shutter pace metadata for clips I already shot, even when it’s only accessible within the challenge file, could be one other useful gizmo. Including a histogram to the Cinema Professional app (as an alternative of simply the Photograph Professional app), and extra instruments like a waveform and zebras would all be useful, too. 

I notice my wishlist really sounds just like the function listing of the third celebration video app Filmic Professional. Whereas added instruments to Cinema Professional could be nice, I do perceive that Cinema Professional and Filmic Professional are two essentially totally different apps and a part of what I like in regards to the former is that it is fairly easy. If I used Filmic Professional once I was a younger scrappy filmmaker I would be overwhelmed. Whereas Cinema Professional presents a stable place to get my ft moist and get what’s in my head captured as video.

Photograph Professional app and Eye AF remodel the Xperia 1 II right into a mirrorless digital camera 

Once we take into consideration telephones that take nice pictures, just like the iPhone 11 Professional or Google Pixel 4, they stand out as a result of they’ll seize a second, course of it and optimize it to create a single image that appears as excellent as attainable. After you faucet the shutter button the cellphone’s computational pictures chops does the remainder. For many individuals, that is all they ever need out of a cellphone digital camera.

However for individuals like me who need extra inventive management, the Xperia 1 II is an actual rattling deal with. I get entry to superior controls and may work together with them like an everyday digital camera.

If you’re already into the Sony Alpha digital camera ecosystem the Photograph Professional app will instantly look acquainted as a result of it primarily mimics a Sony Alpha digital camera. There are controls for metering, focus, publicity compensation and extra. I can dial in shutter pace and ISO and there is even an onscreen histogram and horizon stage.

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The Photograph Professional app copies the onscreen controls and dials discovered on Sony’s Alpha line of mirrorless cameras.


James Phelan/CNET

One of the best function is Eye AF which is an autofocus instrument borrowed from the $3,500 Sony A9 digital camera. Eye AF can determine a face in your body after which lock in in your topic’s eye. It’s jaw-dropping how effectively this works on the Xperia. 

This function can also be purported to work on animals, which sounds enjoyable and it was one thing I used to be trying ahead to. Sadly, regardless of quite a few tries, I by no means bought the attention focus field to pop up for my roommate’s cat Cheddar. My video producer tried it on his canine Max and the inexperienced field did not pop up on his eyes both. I am working with Sony to determine precisely what is going on on.

Xperia 1 II pictures are nice

Whether or not I used to be utilizing the default Xperia digital camera app or Photograph Professional, I used to be capable of seize constantly good pictures with the Sony Xperia 1 II. Footage had a lot of element, great colours and correct focus.

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This picture of Sutro Tower has numerous element and does effectively balancing highlights within the clouds and shadows.


James Phelan/CNET
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The Xperia 1 II was capable of seize this difficult picture with fog in it. I actually love the colours.


James Phelan/CNET
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The ultrawide-angle digital camera is a blast to make use of. There’s even a setting to maintain or take away distortion.


Patrick Holland/CNET

Even indoors and in medium and low gentle conditions, the Xperia 1 II produces pictures with low picture noise that look pure. Have a look beneath on the picture of Cheddar the cat. The kitchen has a mixture of heat and funky lighting in addition to vivid areas and closely shadowed ones. Cheddar’s fur has great element and his white fur highlights aren’t blown out.

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This indoor combined lighting picture of Cheddar the cat exhibits off how effectively the Xperia 1 II can deal with medium gentle environments.


Patrick Holland/CNET
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This tree actually pushes the Sony Xperia 1 II’s dynamic vary to the bounds.


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There’s not a devoted evening mode. Moderately, the cellphone can take low-light photographs like this with the principle digital camera app.


Patrick Holland/CNET

The one place I am disenchanted is with the selfie digital camera, which takes solely average-quality pictures. Picture high quality is an enormous step down in comparison with the rear digital camera and there’s a magnificence mode that smooths the pores and skin and enlarges eyes to some extent that’s too excessive. Some individuals may favor this, however I am not one.

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Magnificence mode made me feel and look like one other particular person.


Patrick Holland/CNET

The Xperia 1 II prices $1,200

In the end the Xperia 1 II’s triple-rear digital camera and preloaded digital camera apps are instruments that made my pursuit of filmmaking and pictures really feel extra official on a cellphone than the LG V60 and even the iPhone 11 Professional.

However the cellphone’s $1,200 price ticket is actually not for everyone. If you’re deep within the Sony Alpha digital camera ecosystem then the Xperia 1 II is unquestionably price contemplating, particularly if in case you have the funds. Sony has a preorder deal the place should you purchase the cellphone it comes bundled with a pair of Sony WF1000XM3 wi-fi headphones that value usually $230. If you’re within the Xperia, I would undoubtedly reap the benefits of that.

As a journalist and scrappy brief filmmaker, the cellphone prices an excessive amount of for me and I think about for lots of different individuals too. Nonetheless, utilizing this cellphone was a fantastic expertise and maybe Sony can port over these nice digital camera tips into cheaper cellphone fashions within the close to future.


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