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Sony simply packed a 1” stacked CMOS sensor into the Xperia Professional-I, however there’s a catch: Digital Pictures Overview

Sony has unveiled the Xperia Professional-I, its newest flagship smartphone with a triple digicam array and a very headline-grabbing characteristic: for its predominant digicam, it makes use of a barely modified1 model of the 20MP 1″-type stacked CMOS sensor with built-in reminiscence and phase-detection autofocus because the one inside Sony’s RX100 VII compact digicam. With that it brings many high-end efficiency options, from 20 fps bursts to 60 fps object-tracking autofocus to minimal rolling shutter and excessive body charge 4K. However there is a catch: solely a central part of that 20MP sensor is used to output a 12MP nonetheless (or 4K video), and that has some broad implications we’ll delve into under.

It is not the primary time we have seen a 1″-type sensor in a smartphone: Panasonic did it with the oversized CM1, earlier than computational images actually skyrocketed (so its outcomes are lackluster, in the present day). Extra just lately, Sharp managed to cram a 1″-type sensor and a 19mm equal, F1.9 lens into a comparatively small type think about its Aquos R6. Samples indicate quite good image quality, as you may anticipate from this measurement sensor, however the lack of superior computational imaging—at the very least comparatively—meant it did not all the time stack up so nicely subsequent to opponents with much less spectacular {hardware}.

Sony’s Xperia Professional-I managed to maintain its type issue much like Sony’s earlier Xperia gadgets. So what did it sacrifice, and what enhancements does it deliver to the road? Let’s have a look.

Key specs:

  • 20MP 1″-type stacked-CMOS Exmor RS sensor with built-in DRAM (2.4µm pixels)
    *solely 12MP, or ~60%, central portion used for 4:3 stills
  • 315 PDAF factors with 90% protection on predominant, broad 24mm equiv. digicam
  • 16mm equiv. F2.2 ultra-wide digicam with 1/2.5″ Twin-PD Exmor RS for cell sensor (1.4µm pixels)
  • 50mm equiv. F2.4 telephoto digicam with 1/2.9″ Twin-PD Exmor RS for cell sensor (1.2 µm pixels)
  • 4K/120p native recording with Actual-time monitoring and Eye AF
  • 3D iToF sensor aids autofocus for all rear cameras (ultra-wide, broad, telephoto)
  • Actual-time monitoring out there for all rear cameras (ultra-wide, broad, telephoto)
  • Devoted Bionz X processor with front-end LSI for devoted picture processing
  • Anti-distortion shutter, 12-bit Uncooked output

The large story is after all the 1″-type stacked CMOS sensor from the RX100 VII. Nevertheless, to be able to maintain the cellphone small, Sony has designed a lens that may’t undertaking a picture circle massive sufficient to cowl the whole space of the 1″ sensor. That is why, as an alternative of 20MP photos, as you’d get from the RX100 VII digicam, you get 12MP photos. However this has a broader implication: the mix of a slower F2 lens (than a lot of its smartphone friends) and a sensor that is not fairly as huge as a 1″-type sensor means the picture high quality won’t meet the preliminary expectations you may need while you suppose ‘smartphone with RX100 sensor’. In reality, in case you think about simply the realm used for 12MP stills, it has roughly a 12mm diagonal and 70mm2 sensor floor space: nearer to the specs of a 1/1.31″ sensor (such because the one within the Google Pixel 6).

The Professional-I provides barely much less light-gathering & shallow DOF potential than the iPhone 13 Professional

With an F2 lens, we calculate that the principle digicam is then roughly F7.1 full-frame equivalent. For perspective, the iPhone 13 Pro’s 1/1.65″ sensor with F1.5 lens makes it F6.8 full-frame equal, which suggests the principle imager on the Xperia Professional-I truly provides barely much less light-gathering and shallow depth-of-field potential than the iPhone 13 Professional, in single exposures earlier than you think about computational imaging approaches, that’s. That is one thing we have confirmed by way of sign:noise ratio analyses.

We have damaged down among the predominant sensor and lens traits of smartphones and cameras we’re discussing, together with full-frame equal calculations, within the desk under.

Horiz. pixels Vert. pixels Pixel pitch Sensor Width Sensor Peak Sensor Diag Crop issue F-stop Equiv F-number
Xperia Professional-I 4032 3024 2.4 µm 9.7 mm 7.3 mm 12.1 mm 3.55 F2/F4 F7.1/14.2
RX100 V 5472 3648 2.4 µm 13.1 mm 8.8 mm 15.8 mm 2.72 F1.8 F4.9
Xperia 1 III 4032 3024 1.8 µm 7.3 mm 5.4 mm 9.1 mm 4.8 F1.7 F8.1
iPhone Professional 13 4032 3024 1.9 µm 7.7 mm 5.7 mm 9.6 mm 4.5 F1.5 F6.8

All that mentioned, the portion of the sensor used for stills and video within the Xperia Professional-I remains to be bigger than that utilized in many telephones (although much like that used within the Google Pixel 6 and among the newer telephones from Chinese language producers). Its floor space for stills imaging is 59% higher than that of the iPhone 13 Professional’s predominant imager, and whereas the iPhone compensates for this with its brighter lens in low mild, the dynamic vary per single publicity is prone to be higher on the Xperia Professional-I. Precise captured dynamic vary is difficult after all by AE and HDR algorithms, however bigger sensors nearly all the time improve dynamic vary and sign:noise ratio of tones captured, all else equal.

Moreover, the larger 2.4 µm pixels on the Professional-I permit it to attain larger whole system decision than a smartphone just like the Xperia 1 Mark III with the identical whole pixel depend, however smaller 1.7µm pixels, when lenses of the identical resolving energy are used on each. That does not essentially imply photos will likely be sharper, however they can be, and there is some extra freedom in lens design with bigger pixels (simply have a chat with the oldsters in our Medium Format discussion board). Our preliminary impressions are that the optics and element ranges are fairly good on the Professional-I.

Digital camera options

In entrance of that predominant 1″ imager is a newly designed 24mm (full-frame equal) Zeiss Tessar lens with T* anti-reflective coatings and an aspherical lens component to ship much less peripheral distortion, higher distinction and sharpness. This design, together with the choice to undertaking a picture circle that covers – we would guess – roughly 78% the diagonal of the complete 1″-type sensor allowed the lens to stay comparatively slim, that means the Professional-I is barely thicker than its siblings. There’s additionally a intelligent dual-aperture (F2 and F4) mechanism on this predominant lens that mechanically drops one among two aperture plates to vary the depth-of-field, and light-gathering potential. In the event you’re curious, at F2, you are at 24mm F7.1 equal, and at F4, you are at F14.2 equal. In all probability moving into diffraction territory, however good to have while you need expansive depth-of-field for landscapes. If solely Sony had discovered a approach to make that second aperture non-circular for good sunstars.

The ultrawide digicam contained in the Xperia Professional-I is a 12MP 16mm (equiv.) F2.2 digicam module with Twin-PD (or twin pixel) autofocus – the identical seen in Sony’s Xperia 1/5 Mark III smartphones. Sony has additionally reused the 12MP 1/2.9” sensor in its prior telephoto digicam modules, however notes the brand new 50mm equiv. F2.4 lens contained in the Xperia Professional-I has been redesigned and options optical picture stabilization (OIS).

All three of the rear digicam modules use Exmor RS-branded sensors, however Sony says the 24mm (equiv) module, is known as ‘Exmor RS,’ whereas the 16mm and 50mm (equiv) modules are being known as ‘Exmor RS for cell.’ All three sensors are reminiscence stacked, although, which permits for sooner sensor readout as info might be briefly saved in DRAM earlier than the downstream processors are freed up. This in flip frees up the sensor to proceed working, take its subsequent publicity, and so forth. All three sensors use the onboard 3D iToF sensor to hurry up autofocus efficiency by calculating the gap between the digicam and topic.

All three cameras have AI Tremendous Decision zoom modes. Sony has additionally included Actual-time Eye AF for people and animals, in addition to real-time monitoring (AF/AE) at as much as 20 fps bursts.

All three of the rear digicam modules seize 12-bit Uncooked photos, and provide anti-distortion (digital) shutters because of the quick sensor readouts. We estimate the principle digicam sensor to have a readout charge under 8.3ms, which suggests it is quick sufficient for something however probably the most excessive movement. The ultra-wide and telephoto modules will even have quick readout charges, however doubtless a bit slower than that of the superior 1″-type sensor in the principle digicam. All three cameras have AI Tremendous Decision zoom modes. Sony has additionally included Actual-time Eye AF for people and animals, in addition to real-time monitoring (AF/AE) at as much as 20 frames per second (fps) bursts. AF/AE calculations are carried out at 60 instances per second.

To course of all the knowledge coming off the sensors, Sony has included a Bionz X processor with front-end LSI, marking the primary time Sony has used a devoted picture processing chip inside an Xperia gadget. The Bionz X is used for each object recognition, in addition to monitoring and picture sign processing. Sony says it may possibly course of the Uncooked knowledge at as much as 24fps. And just like the Xperia 1 Mark III, when taking pictures 10 or 20 fps bursts in low situations, the digicam can align and merge as much as 4 frames to lower noise for every body within the burst, one thing no digicam so far we all know of can do in excessive velocity burst mode. The autofocus system, which can also be powered by the Bionz X processor, makes use of 315 AF factors to cowl 90% of the body, up from 70% on the Xperia 1 III. It is sensible that the sides of the body are lined, because the edges of the frames of stills and flicks are pretty removed from the sides of the sensor itself.

To present you a way of how highly effective and intuitive it’s to make use of ‘Actual-time monitoring’ AF in stills and video, take a look on the slider under. By default, the digicam routinely detects the closest face (or eye) and tracks it, whereas displaying an indicator (right here, a white field across the face) so you realize what the digicam’s specializing in. If you would like to pick a special topic, merely faucet on it to start monitoring it (drag the slider to the left to see how we have chosen the background topic). Monitoring is indicated by a field with two traces on both facet. This fashion, simply as on Alpha cameras, even when the topic you tapped on strikes inside the body, or towards or away from the digicam, the Xperia Professional-I’ll preserve deal with it. A characteristic that to this present day is absent on many high-end smartphones.

The monitoring system is clever sufficient to acknowledge not simply eyes and faces, however heads, our bodies, torsos, and so forth. so it may possibly proceed to trace your subject even when it looks away, so it is in focus the second it turns to the digicam and also you wish to seize that decisive second.


The Xperia Professional-I is the primary smartphone to supply native 4K/120p seize, which might be watched again natively at 4K, 120Hz because of the capabilities of the show, for a hyper-realistic video expertise (earlier Xperia fashions may seize in 4K/120p, however solely document the video at a decrease body charge, as slow-motion video). Since there’s further, under-utilized floor are on that 1″-type sensor that’s nonetheless lined by the imaging circle projected by the principle lens, 4K 16:9 video cleverly makes use of a barely wider field-of-view than is on the market for 4:3 stills, since these further pixels can be found. Meaning there’s much less of a closing crop after digital picture stabilization – intelligent!

That is the primary time Eye AF has been included in video taking pictures on a smartphone.

That is the primary Xperia gadget to supply Eye AF and ‘Actual-time’ object monitoring in video, each of which work simply as they do in Sony’s current Alpha cameras. The 24mm and 50mm (equiv.) digicam modules provide Optical SteadyShot picture stabilization and all three digicam modules can use Sony’s FlawlessEye digital picture stabilization, which makes use of the quick sensor scan charges of the stacked sensors to enhance digital picture stabilization. The sooner an digital publicity might be learn, the longer the time earlier than the subsequent publicity; this extra processing time results in improved picture stabilization.

There are two stereo microphones onboard the Xperia Professional-I in addition to a monaural microphone subsequent to the principle digicam. Sony says this microphone is designed ‘to deal with recording speech clearly whereas different sounds stay within the background.’

Consumer interface

The consumer interface (UI) of the first-party digicam app is designed particularly to duplicate the interface utilized in Sony’s mirrorless digicam lineup for a extra seamless transition between the 2 codecs. Sony has even added the identical shutter swap module from the RX100 collection cameras on the facet of the Xperia Professional-I to maintain the ergonomics comparable as nicely.

For each stills and video seize, Sony has cut up the digicam interface into two ‘Inventive Management’ interfaces that provide completely different settings and menus relying on what you are taking pictures (for a complete of 4). When taking pictures stills, you get ‘Fundamental’ mode and ‘Pictures Professional’ mode. In Fundamental mode, the interface is much like most different cell digicam apps, with a contact shutter button on the display screen and all your primary settings to shortly seize photos on the go. ‘Pictures Professional’ mode, which might be summoned by long-pressing on the RX-style shutter button on the facet of the gadget, provides a extra complete interface with handbook settings and the 12-bit Uncooked seize mode.

When taking pictures video, Sony has ‘Video Professional,’ and ‘Cinema Professional.’ The ‘Video Professional’ interface is designed ‘for quick sharing’ with an emphasis on vlogging, cell journalism and different use-cases that require fast turn-around. Your whole primary settings are in easy-to-access locations for fast compositions and captures. ‘Cinema Professional,’ alternatively, is designed for cinematographers and pulls inspiration from Sony’s skilled video digicam expertise by including ‘eight completely different colour settings impressed by Sony’s VENICE digital cinema digicam, a 21:9 recording ratio and extra.’ There’s additionally a devoted pull focus choice for easily transitioning focus from one topic to a different by tapping the topic on the display screen.


Just like the Xperia 1 Mark III, the Xperia Professional-I makes use of a 6.5″ 4K HDR 10-bit (8-bit with 2-bit temporal dithering, or FRC) OLED show with a 21:9 side ratio and a 120Hz refresh charge. Just like the shows on all current high-end Xperias, the colour gamut extends a bit past DCI-P3, and the panel can obtain a peak brightness of 1000 and 400 nits for 1% and 100% APL (common image degree), respectively, for HDR content material. It tends to be dimmer in commonplace use and for SDR content material, which has been problematic prior to now, notably when utilizing the digicam outdoor – an issue Sony claims it has tried to deal with. It is pushed by the identical X1 processor present in Sony’s Bravia televisions, which Sony claims makes ‘for extra distinction, colour, and readability,’ and is roofed by Corning Gorilla Glass Victus.

As was potential with earlier Xperia gadgets, the Xperia Professional-I can be utilized as an exterior OLED video monitor. In the event you’re utilizing a appropriate Sony ZV-series digicam, you’ll be able to join immediately over USB-C, whereas different digicam methods can be utilized by changing the HDMI output to USB-C by way of a appropriate dongle (Sony would not specify what explicit dongles have been confirmed to work with out concern). A ‘Creator Mode‘ ensures colour accuracy, switching the show between Rec. 709 and Rec. 2020 gamuts as wanted primarily based on content material, and every panel is individually calibrated on the manufacturing facility for correct white level. Whereas these options are helpful notably for content material creators, they’re going to be appreciated by discerning content material customers as nicely.


On the coronary heart of the Xperia Professional I is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G chipset with 12GB of RAM and 512GB of solid-state storage onboard. Different options embrace an IP65/68 ranking, a 4,500mAh battery that may cost as much as 50% in half-hour with a 30W charger and a devoted gaming mode.

On the connectivity entrance, the Xperia Professional-I provides 5G (Sub 6) and Wi-Fi 6. Bodily I/O features a single USB-C port, a 3.5mm audio jack and—prepare—a micro SD card slot with help for as much as 1TB micro SD playing cards.

For customers who intend to make use of the Xperia Professional-I as a vlogging rig, and wish to benefit from the larger picture sensor and bigger exit pupil of the brand new 24mm equiv. lens on the principle rear digicam, Sony has developed a 3.5″ Vlog Monitor that magnetically attaches to the rear of the smartphone mount. It connects to the Xperia Professional-I by way of USB-C so you’ll be able to compose and document with the again of the digicam going through you. There’s additionally a 3.5mm headphone jack so you’ll be able to document audio by way of an exterior microphone proper to the Vlog Monitor. The rig turns into much more compelling when pairing it with Sonys GP-VPT2BT Bluetooth taking pictures grip, as you can begin and cease recording with no need to show the rig round to faucet on the display screen. Sony notes third-party Bluetooth grips ought to work as nicely.


As a part of its ‘Highway to Zero’ environmental plan, which goals to get the corporate to a net-zero environmental impression by 2050, the Xperia Professional-I makes use of no plastic within the particular person packaging, as an alternative utilizing solely paper because the packaging materials.

The Sony Xperia Professional-I will likely be out there unlocked for $1,800. Pre-orders begin at 10am EDT on October 28, 2021 by way of licensed Sony retailers and the primary models are anticipated to ship out December 10, 2021. The Vlog Monitor is anticipated to ship on the identical time for $200. In the event you pre-order the 2 collectively, it can save you $50 on the entire value and in case you toss in Sony’s GP-VPT2BT grip as nicely, you will get $100 off your whole order value.

You will discover out extra particulars on the Sony Xperia Pro-I and Vlog Monitor on Sony’s web site.

Pattern Gallery


1The sensor from the RX100 VII has been barely modified to make it acceptable for the smartphone type issue with the shortened depth of its optical axis. As a result of the lens and its exit pupil are held so near the sensor, the utmost chief ray angle (CRA) the sensor pixels should settle for should essentially be higher. That’s, extra indirect mild rays should fall inside the acceptance cone of the microlenses of every pixel. Therefore the microlenses and full array have been custom-made for this explicit software.

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