Sony Xperia 5 II – Price: £799
As the importance of an online presence becomes ever more pressing for photographers, the need for a smartphone that can offer still and video performance that’s up to professional standards for sharing becomes ever more important. We’re not especially talking about delivery to clients here, but more looking at the growing need for building a profile for your business, where perhaps an on-the-fly vlog or some behind-the-scenes images from a big job that’s just been completed could help to build and sustain interest.
There’s a good deal of choice these days in terms of smartphones that are geared up for great image delivery, but the brand-new Sony Xperia 5 II is right up there for those looking to go down the Android route. A scaled back version of the flagship Xperia 1 II, there are a few corners cut on the 5 II – the 4K screen of the more expensive model is lacking here, for example, and it’s a 6.1in version rather than a 6.5in – but by way of compensation there is a 120Hz refresh rate plus plenty of other excellent features on board that should keep most creatives happy.
On the all-important camera front, there’s plenty to admire, including technology that’s been borrowed from the Alpha series, such as Real-time Eye AF capability. All three rear cameras are 12MP, ensuring plenty of quality for online use, and there are three choices of focal length, all employing high quality Zeiss optics. The standard camera features a 24mm optic coupled with an impressively bright f/1.7 aperture, the wide-angle version is 16mm and f/2.2 and the telephoto option delivers 70mm coverage with an f/2.4 maximum aperture. That’s a reasonable spread and enough for most notebook-style requirements.
Sony also incorporates more advanced modes than you might expect to find on a standard smartphone, such as white balance, ISO controls and AF/AE calculations at 60 times a second and, overall, quality straight out of camera was impressive. Colours might not be as punchy as those offered by some rivals but there’s plenty of scope in postproduction should you wish to play with the look you’re achieving.
On the video front there’s a choice of 4K or HDR recording at frame rates of 24, 25, 30, 60 and 120 slow motion, the latter billed as the ‘world’s first 4K HDR 120fps slow motion recording in a smartphone,’ and indeed this facility is mightily impressive. There are also options for ‘Optical SteadyShot’ hybrid OIS/EIS video stabilisation and SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode, which is said to deliver 5-Axis Stabilisation.
Once again results were highly usable if it’s online sharing you’re looking at, and the control you’re given is exactly what professionals are going to enjoy the most. In fact, even on a decent-sized TV screen there was little to betray the fact that this footage had originated on a smartphone, and innovative photographers are definitely going to find a use for this facility. Audio also has been thought about by Sony, with High-Resolution Audio on board and front facing stereo speakers, but, as with any smartphone, you would ideally want to be working with a supplementary microphone to achieve audio you might want to share with a professional client.
Overall, the Sony Xperia 5 II is a very well specified smartphone and one that’s a definite contender if you’re looking for a good quality notebook-type imaging device, and perhaps a partner to your existing Alpha camera. It’s intriguing to see the direction that Sony and others are moving in, and it’s definitely an area that professionals should be keeping a close eye on.
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