Sony’s latest flagships, the Xperia XZ Premium and XZs, launched with a brand new camera. Gone was the 23MP 1/2.3-inch sensor with 24mm wide-angle G Lens that Sony had used since the Xperia Z5. Instead, this was replaced with a 19MP 1/2.3-inch sensor with a redesigned 25mm wide-angle G Lens.
Sony dubbed this the ‘Motion Eye’ camera – it features predicative capture (buffering images one second before you press the camera button, giving you four images to choose from), and the embedded memory in the sensor allows for faster image scanning (great for keeping fast moving objects in focus). This stacked memory is what also enables the camera to shoot 960 frames per second slow motion video.
However, back in April 2017, once the Xperia XZs had launched, we had started to receive reports from owners that their pictures were suffering from distortion issues. Images of objects that were meant to have straight lines, ended up producing a picture that exhibited a slight curvature or warped effect. At the time, we only received limited examples of this, but that changed with the Xperia XZ Premium launch, with a number of people getting in touch about the same issue.
If anything, Sony’s news lens was meant to eradicate these issues. Sony Mobile has previously spoken about the changes in the new lens, which it says “captures detail and texture accurately, for higher optical clarity from corner to corner”. We previously provided some further detail on this, highlighting that the new lens improves the resolution in the corner of images. Sony also claims that the resigned lens has 25% better resolution compared to the Xperia XZ.
In addition, one of the spec features of the camera is an “anti-distortion shutter” that is meant to capture the “true appearance of objects and people”.
There is currently a large thread on the official Sony Mobile Talk Forums, as well as XDA, with people sharing their own experiences and photos. We have included some photos at the bottom of this post, which highlights the problem. Xperia XZ Premium and XZs owners have been trying to get to the bottom of whether this is a hardware or software issue, and how Sony plans to respond.
We reached out to Sony for comment, who says that the small number of comments it has received is consistent of using a “wide-angle field of view lens and is accepted within the industry”. You can see the full statement below. What Sony is saying here, is that these distortion issues that people are experiencing, are consistent with any device that uses a wide angle camera lens.
This is echoed by Sony Mobile developer ‘JensG’, commenting in the official Sony forums:
“We take this kind of feedback very seriously and this post actually resulted in an extensive camera test performed by our camera engineers. In summary a wide field of view (FOV) lens tends to have stronger distortion compared to a narrow FOV lens and in many cases (including example photos posted in this thread) distortion is to be expected. Phone cameras uses wide FOV lens to allow both landscape views and close-up shots in the same compact lens package.
“Our tests concludes that the amount of lens distortion in the Xperia XZs and the Xperia XZ Premium is approximately the same as recent Sony Mobile products (including the Xperia XZ) as well as competitor products. Photo quality is an area that Sony continuously improves and we will take all feedback in this thread to heart and continue to look for ways to help make your images better.”
So, it appears that this issue is a limitation of the hardware i.e. the camera lens used, but what we don’t know at this stage is if there is any kind of software fix that Sony can apply to counter the distortion. If we hear anything on this, we will keep you posted, as always.
In the meantime, if you are an owner of the Xperia XZ Premium or XZs, have you experienced this camera distortion? We’d love to hear from you either way in the comments below.
Sony Mobile statement on Xperia XZ Premium and XZs camera distortion
“Sony Mobile Communications has received a small number of comments from consumers that they have experienced distortion in some images taken with their Xperia XZs and Xperia XZ Premium devices. We would like to assure our customers that with our new Motion Eye Camera we are delivering the best possible balance of image quality and advanced features. The comments experienced are familiar for a wide-angle field of view lens and accepted within the industry and we believe we are still providing the highest possible image quality whilst capturing more of the scene in the photo with its wide field of view.”
Pictures highlighting camera distortion issue of Xperia XZ Premium and XZs
– Click to enlarge images
Image of grid: iPhone (left) versus Xperia XZ Premium (right)
Image of grid: Samsung phone (left) versus Xperia XZ Premium (right)