Sony Xperia 1 II evaluate: I shot a whole quick movie with this cellphone

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

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Once I informed 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 lots like an iPhone 11 Professional or a Samsung Galaxy S20. Sony is after inventive varieties who need extra management over their photographs and movies. That is why the corporate packed the $1,200 Xperia with controls and instruments from its widespread Alpha line of full-frame mirrorless cameras, and that is what I will be taking a look at completely on this piece.

On paper, the Xperia 1 II looks like most different Android flagship telephones powered by a Snapdragon 865 processor. It has a 6.5-inch 4K OLED display, 5G (outdoors of the US) and on the again is a large angle important digicam, an ultrawide-angle digicam and a telephoto digicam — 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 — that means it is really a telephoto lens! (Usually, when corporations say their telephones have telephoto lenses, they’re actually someplace between 52 and 56mm.) There may be 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 digicam. One is the essential Xperia Android digicam 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 digicam than a cellphone. This made me surprise how good these cameras really have been, particularly at video seize. To seek 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

One of the simplest ways to speak about and check 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 under. 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 simple to file myself even once I could not see the display. The Xperia 1 can be small when in comparison with mirrorless cameras, and it permits me to place it in several areas for distinctive photographs and views. For instance, for one scene I taped the cellphone to the within of a cupboard door.

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

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

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

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

In the event you’re filming outdoor, you want a impartial density filter as a way to maintain from getting overexposed movies. Because the aperture is fastened, the one option to regulate publicity is by altering the ISO and shutter angle. On a very brilliant day, I typically 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 isn’t ultimate, however generally it could convey the publicity to a manageable place.


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

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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 velocity metadata for clips I already shot, even when it is just out there within the venture file, can be one other useful gizmo. Including a histogram to the Cinema Professional app (as a substitute of simply the Photograph Professional app), and extra instruments like a waveform and zebras would all be useful, too. 

I understand my wishlist really sounds just like the characteristic record of the third get together video app Filmic Professional. Whereas added instruments to Cinema Professional can 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 might be overwhelmed. Whereas Cinema Professional provides a strong place to get my toes moist and get what’s in my head captured as video.

Photograph Professional app and Eye AF rework the Xperia 1 II right into a mirrorless digicam 

After we take into consideration telephones that take nice photographs, 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 images chops does the remaining. For many individuals, that is all they ever need out of a cellphone digicam.

However for folks like me who need extra inventive management, the Xperia 1 II is an actual rattling deal with. I get entry to superior controls and might work together with them like a daily digicam.

In case you are already into the Sony Alpha digicam ecosystem the Photograph Professional app will instantly look acquainted as a result of it basically mimics a Sony Alpha digicam. There are controls for metering, focus, publicity compensation and extra. I can dial in shutter velocity and ISO and there is even an onscreen histogram and horizon stage.


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

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The perfect characteristic is Eye AF which is an autofocus software borrowed from the $3,500 Sony A9 digicam. Eye AF can determine a face in your body after which lock in in your topic’s eye. It’s jaw-dropping how nicely this works on the Xperia. 

This characteristic can be imagined to work on animals, which sounds enjoyable and it was one thing I used to be wanting ahead to. Sadly, regardless of quite a few tries, I by no means obtained 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 photographs are nice

Whether or not I used to be utilizing the default Xperia digicam app or Photograph Professional, I used to be in a position to seize persistently good photographs with the Sony Xperia 1 II. Footage had numerous element, great colours and correct focus.


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

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The Xperia 1 II was in a position to seize this difficult picture with fog in it. I actually love the colours.

James Phelan/CNET

The ultrawide-angle digicam 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 mild conditions, the Xperia 1 II produces photographs with low picture noise that look pure. Have a look under on the picture of Cheddar the cat. The kitchen has a mixture of heat and funky lighting in addition to brilliant areas and closely shadowed ones. Cheddar’s fur has great element and his white fur highlights aren’t blown out.


This indoor combined lighting picture of Cheddar the cat reveals off how nicely the Xperia 1 II can deal with medium mild environments.

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This tree actually pushes the Sony Xperia 1 II’s dynamic vary to the boundaries.

Patrick Holland/CNET

There may be not a devoted evening mode. Slightly, the cellphone can take low-light photographs like this with the primary digicam app.

Patrick Holland/CNET

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


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

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The Xperia 1 II prices $1,200

Finally the Xperia 1 II’s triple-rear digicam and preloaded digicam apps are instruments that made my pursuit of filmmaking and images really feel extra respectable on a cellphone than the LG V60 and even the iPhone 11 Professional.

However the cellphone’s $1,200 price ticket is definitely not for everyone. In case you are deep within the Sony Alpha digicam ecosystem then the Xperia 1 II is unquestionably price contemplating, particularly when you have the price range. Sony has a preorder deal the place in the event you purchase the cellphone it comes bundled with a pair of Sony WF1000XM3 wi-fi headphones that price usually $230. In case you are within the Xperia, I might undoubtedly make the most of that.

As a journalist and scrappy quick filmmaker, the cellphone prices an excessive amount of for me and I think about for lots of different folks too. Nonetheless, utilizing this cellphone was an ideal expertise and maybe Sony can port over these nice digicam methods into cheaper cellphone fashions within the close to future.

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