When users are looking to compare mobile phones, it is easy to pit features such as screen size, processor and operating system up against each other. What’s not so easy, however, is to compare mobile phone cameras.
You can make an educated guess at how good a phone’s camera is based on how many megapixels its lens has, though this in itself has been disputed as a method of differentiating between cameras, and has actually been coined the ‘megapixel myth’.
Sony Xperia Z
The Sony Xperia Z benefits from having a camera icon on the phone’s lock screen, which makes is super-fast to select the camera feature without even having to visit the main home screen. That said, I did find that getting the camera to load up from the lock screen took around one and a half seconds, which was a little slow.
I like the fact that rather than having to switch between the camera and video modes, the option to take still shots and to record videos is always on the main screen, meaning you can switch with minimal hassle.
The Xperia Z can be used slightly like a traditional camera, in the sense that the zoom function is activated by pressing the physical volume buttons on the side of the phone, which is a nice change to having to pinch the screen to zoom in or out.
Like the Sony, the BlackBerry Z10 allows you to access the phone’s camera straight from the lock screen, making it easier to take photos at a moment’s notice. It takes around a second to start up the Z10’s camera, which I found that little bit faster than the Xperia Z.
The BlackBerry's zoom function was enacted by pinching the screen, which made it difficult to zoom in accurately, as the phone's touch capture meant that I kept accidentally taking photographs instead of zooming in.
Sony Xperia Z
Like most touchscreen smartphones, the Xperia Z gives you the option of taking photos by pressing the shutter icon on the main screen. However, what I really liked about the Xperia Z was the fact that you also get the option of selecting the Touch Capture feature, which allows you to take still shots simply by putting your finger on any part of the screen, making it incredibly easy to snap away taking successive shots.
When actually taking the photos, though, I felt that the Xperia Z was a little slow, meaning that I had to wait for at least a second before I could take another photo.
The feature that I like most about the BlackBerry is the ability to just touch the screen anywhere to take a photo, like the Touch Capture feature on the Sony device. What’s much better than the Xperia Z, however, is the ability to take successive shots at lightning speed, as there is hardly any lag between taking photos- great for capturing those unexpected moments in life.
The camera’s main screen is far simpler than the Sony’s, as it only gives you the option of switching to the front facing camera or video mode. The settings are also fairly basic, and only allow you to change the scene from auto to action, whiteboard, night and beach or snow modes, as well as putting the flash on.
Sony Xperia Z
The Sony Xperia Z, like its predecessor, the Xperia T, boasts an impressive 13 MP lens, which beats most other smartphone cameras currently on the market. But do megapixels really matter? Let’s take a look at the evidence.
As you can see, the Xperia Z really picks up on the finer details in these images, and produces really clear and sharp photographs. Although I was unfortunate to road test the Xperia Z’s camera on a rather cloudy day, I still felt that the camera picked up on the close up details even in low light situations.
If megapixels count for anything, the BlackBerry is at an immediate disadvantage when put up against the Xperia Z due to its slightly smaller 8MP lens. However, we can’t count the BlackBerry Z10 out of the running just yet!
Taking a look at the photos that I was fortunate enough to take on a slightly dull day in Barcelona, I feel slightly let down by the BlackBerry’s camera. While the pictures depict my day out in the Spanish city perfectly, the images themselves are nothing particularly special.
The photos look a little two dimensional, and don’t show the close up detail as well as the Sony Xperia Z does.
Sony Xperia Z
I was really impressed with the pre-production editing suite available on the Sony Xperia Z. Although it doesn’t feature a post-editing suite that allows you to edit your photos Instagram-style, it does give you the option of creating really different and creative shots using different lenses and focuses.
For example, you can select the phone’s burst shot mode (as with many smartphones on the market), scene selection and sweep panorama, to create some cool looking images. Like most traditional cameras, the phone’s scene selection feature lets you select from night, pet, snow, landscape, fireworks and sports mode, to name a few.
Also, the Xperia Z offers other pre-editing features such as Partial Colour, which enables you to highlight certain objects to show colour while the background objects remain monochrome. Other effects included with the Sony Xperia Z include the fish eye lens, sketch mode, and nostalgic mode, which mean that your pictures can really stand out from the crowds, making them look more professional than photos that have simply been spruced up using post-editing filters.
Unlike the Sony Xperia Z, the BlackBerry Z10 has a built-in post production editing suite which features a number of filters which can be used to enhance your photographs. You can overlay the filters to give your images a vintage look or a sketched appearance, adding frames and having the option of enhancing the contrast or brightness.
However, while I preferred the fact that the editing features on the BlackBerry could be applied after the photos had been taken, as this didn’t require pre-planning like the Sony device does, I didn’t think that the editing suite had enough to offer, leading to disappointment, especially when other editing programs like Instagram are unavailable in BlackBerry’s app store.
After weighing up the evidence, the clear winner in this battle is the Sony Xperia Z. The Xperia’s 13 megapixels obviously add something to the phone’s camera quality, as the photos taken with the phone were sharp, clear and highlighted every little detail.
The BlackBerry fell down on this front, and while the photos taken with the Z10 were acceptable, they were nothing more than average- and in a world where camera quality matters, the BlackBerry does nothing to stand out.
One place where the BlackBerry is better than the Sony Xperia Z, however, is in the actual photo-taking experience. The Sony is slow to get started, and doesn’t allow you to take shots in quick succession like the Z10 does.
Also, while I liked the pre-production editing suite built into the Sony device, I feel that this is handy only for users that have the time to pre-plan what their photos will look like, as there is no option to apply the features after you have taken the shot.
So while the Sony might have won this one, the BlackBerry isn’t far behind…
Written by Charlotte Kertrestel