Nobuyuki Matsushita is a Sony Mobile Camera engineer and the man behind Xperia Z3’s recent camera update. We caught up with him to talk about low-light photography and shaky videos.
Our approach to camera tech focuses on the idea that there are really three types of photos / videos. At a basic level, there are candid shots that are just meant to remind you that something happened. At a level above these there are the shots that bring back the memory of what it felt like to be somewhere, or do something and above all that there are the pro-shots that are more about feeling than they are the image itself. We’ve always wanted our smartphones to be able to cover the first two levels and with Xperia Z1 and Xperia Z2 we achieved that for both photos and then videos respectively.
With Xperia Z3 we recognised that important memories won’t always happen during great photography conditions so we wanted to create a smartphone camera that could perform just as well as its predecessors but could do so in tougher conditions – particularly, whilst you’re on the move or in low light. With this in mind we’ve focussed on three major areas.
Firstly, the low-light performance has been revolutionised with the inclusion of an ISO 12800 setting. ISO was originally a measure of film-speed but in digital cameras it’s a way of describing how much light your sensor needs to “see” in order to get a good shot. If you use a very low number like 50 or 100, then the camera will need a lot of light to take a good photo. If you use a high number you can take photos in not much light. 12800 is the biggest ISO setting currently available in a smartphone and it provides some really stunning low-light results.
Secondly, and partly related to the first challenge, we’ve also included a wider-angle lens. The new Sony G Lens in Xperia Z3 has a focal length of 25mm. This means 2 things; firstly, you can fit more in your photos. For a long time, mobile photography has been restricted by narrow fields of view. We started to change this with Xperia Z1 and Xperia Z2 and now with Xperia Z3 we’ve gone even further to produce our widest field of vision yet. The wider field of view and bright lens also means that there’s more light available for the sensor and that in turn means clearer, crisper photos even in really dark situations.
We’re always trying to bring in new technologies that make stable videos, because if you want sharp videos, you need to hold a camera still for a long time. Sometimes however you just cant avoid camera shake, like when you’re running for example, and for those times we’ve created the new version of SteadyShotTM with “Intelligent Active Mode” technology for video shooting.
Cameras are really important pieces of technology. In a world where life moves faster and faster every day, they allow us to capture and preserve moments in life that would be too easy to forget. That’s why they say the best camera is the one you have on you. It’s our goal to make sure that the camera you have on you all the time has the capability to preserve moments exactly as you remember them, and in Xperia Z3 we’ve taken some great steps towards delivering on that goal.