NewsWorldSony Xperia X1 III review: the price of originality?...

Sony Xperia X1 III review: the price of originality? – Digital


Sony intends to stand out in the field of photography. To do this, the firm has opted for a quadruple photo module developed jointly with Zeiss optics. We thus find a wide-angle of 12 Mpx whose lens opens to f / 1.7, an ultra-wide-angle of 12 Mpx (f / 2.2), a 3D depth sensor (ToF), but also and especially a 12 Mpx telephoto lens allowing to go from a focal length of 70 mm to 105 mm (opening from f / 2.3 to f / 2.8). We took an interest in this particular module in a dedicated news lab.

We will compare it here to Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. A serious competitor, which offers an ultra wide angle, but also a 3x optical zoom.

Main module: 12 Mpx, f / 1.7, eq. 24 mm

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (12 Mpx, 24 mm eq, f / 1.8, ISO 64, 1/100 s)
Sony Xperia 1 III (12 Mpx, f / 1.7, 24 mm eq, ISO 80, 1/125 s)

We used Basic mode for all of our tests. The main module delivers good quality shots, but the level of detail is still much lower than its Korean competitor. The S21 Ultra tends to accentuate micro-contrasts, but this choice turns out to be rather a winner during the day. Thanks to pixel-binning, its enormous 108 Mpx sensor allows it to offer more precision. The Sony sensor, necessarily smaller, opts for a pronounced smoothing, and it lacks a bit of sharpness. We can see it on the cover of the book or the portraits. The colors are on the other hand a little more vivid and give relief to certain elements (the card, the tarot deck…). Outside the test scene, the result will therefore remain quite flattering.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (12 Mpx, 24 mm eq, f / 1.8, ISO 1600, 1 / 20s)
Sony Xperia 1 mk III (12 Mpx, f / 1.7, 24 mm eq, ISO 800, 1 / 8s)

Sony, on the other hand, is resisting at night. Samsung’s bet is more complicated to take and in the dark the level of detail collapses. Sony remains a little more faithful to its result of the day and, at the cost of a longer exposure time, delivers a much more usable shot. We will prefer it under these conditions.

Ultra wide-angle module: 12 Mpx, f / 2.2, eq. 16 mm

This Xperia X1 III offers an ultra wide angle like the vast majority of high-end smartphones. But these modules are far from always convincing. Sony nevertheless surprised us on this point.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (12 Mpx, 13 mm eq, f / 2.2, ISO 80, 1/100 s)
Sony Xperia 1 III (12 MP, f / 2.2, 124˚, 16 mm eq., ISO 50, 1/60 s)

By day, this ultra-wide-angle sensor is one of the best in its class. It maintains a good level of detail and offers better color management. That of the S21 Ultra tends to overexpose the scene and always smooths the image a little too much. Sony is even approaching a rendering such as that of the very good Oppo Find X3 Pro. A good point, then.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (12 Mpx, 13 mm eq, f / 2.2, ISO 2500, 1/20 s)
Sony Xperia 1 III (12 Mpx, f / 2.2, 124˚, 16mm eq, ISO 1000, 1 / 8s)

In the dark, there is still no miracle. The digital noise invades the scene and does not deliver a rendering clear enough to convince. However, we see that the Xperia X1 III is doing better. Once again, the dwell time helps capture more light and retain detail. A glance at the map reveals this glaring difference.

Variable telephoto lens – 2.9x: 12 MP, f / 2.3, eq. 70 mm

Sony offers here a telephoto lens with variable focal length. It is possible to switch from one lens to another (from an equivalent of 70 to 105 mm in 24×36) with a simple click or to zoom digitally between these two focal lengths. We looked at this module in our lab article, in particular to see the differences between optical and digital zooms.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (10 Mpx, 70 mm eq, f / 2.4, ISO 100, 1/100 s)
Sony Xperia 1 mk III (12 Mpx, f / 2.3, 70 mm eq, ISO 50, 1/60 s)

In 70mm equivalent, Sony delivers a decent result. The sights at the bottom left are rather well restored, even if the scene lacks precision in general. This slight blur is not found on the S21 Ultra, which persists and signs in its forced smoothing, but delivers a more readable and colorful shot. For example, it is possible to clearly see the watermark of the banknote, while this is not the case with Sony.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (10 Mpx, 70 mm eq, f / 2.4, ISO 1250, 1/11 s)
Sony Xperia 1 III (12 Mpx, f / 2.3, 70mm eq, ISO 1000, 1 / 8s)

No need to elaborate on this night module. It’s a little better exposed on the S21 Ultra, but still difficult to read. The Xperia 1 III does not do much better.

Variable telephoto lens – 4.4x: 12 Mpx, f / 2.3, eq. 105 mm

Sony Xperia 1 III (12 Mpx, f / 2.3, 105 mm eq, ISO 1000, 1 / 8s)
Sony Xperia 1 III (12 Mpx, f / 2.3, 105 mm eq, ISO 64, 1/40 s)

In 105mm equivalent, the daytime photo certainly lacks detail, but captures the scene correctly. This is unfortunately not the case in night conditions.

Front and video module

The 8 Mpx module on the front is not as versatile. We were disappointed with the rendering of the selfies, which made the white balance look like a mess. The sensor has trouble managing light sources, which sometimes causes a halo effect. In addition, the whole lacks sharpness. At this price, we expected much better.

Video, however, is not to be outdone. This model allows you to shoot in 4K up to 120 fps and Full HD at 240 fps. Optical stabilization does its job perfectly. The software suite offered by Sony is comprehensive, although it can be confusing for newbies.


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