Features cont.

Sweep Panorama

Like all its competitors the Xperia Z1 offers a panorama feature, but compared to what we've seen on the Samsung Galaxy S4 or more recently on the Apple iPhone 5s the Sony's results are disappointing. At an image size of 4912x1080 pixels the panoramas are small and the stitching is average at best. The  image output is very soft, even in good light, and straight lines can be wavy. You can select the panning direction and choose between landscape or portrait orientation capture but all in all we would expect a better panorama mode from a 2013 top-end device.

Even in a panorama that has been captured in good light you'll find stitching artifacts and wavy lines.
Without any control over shutter speeds in indoor situations or low light, softness caused by camera shake is inevitable. 
At a 100% view the panoramas look soft, even on an overcast day like in the sample above.

AR Effect

A few of the Z1's camera modes have a slightly gimmicky character and AR (Augmented Reality) Effects is arguably one of them. You can pick from a number of themes such as Dinosaur, Dive or Celebration and if you then point the camera at a scene the frame starts filling up with AR objects such as plants and dinosaurs in the case of the Dinosaur theme. Some of those objects, for example the dinosaurs, move around the frame and you have to press the shutter button to capture a scene and save the image.

You can pick from various Augmented Reality themes ...
... and then convert your living room into a prehistoric landscape, including a T-Rex.

AR Effect provides some entertainment value but once the novelty value has worn off you're unlikely to use this feature on a regular basis.


Info-Eye is a camera mode on the Xperia Z1 but in reality it's arguably more of a travel information tool that uses the camera rather than a camera feature. It allows you to point the camera at landmark and snap a picture, and then uses the image information (and presumably your GPS location) to tell you what you are looking at.

Once a landmark has been
identified ...
...y ou get the option to see additional information on Tripadvisor.com.

Tapping on the result gives you further information on the landmark and you can click through further to Tripadvisor.com. Using this app is very easy. If you're too far away from a landmark you can mark it on the screen before snapping the image, so the app knows which portion of the frame to concentrate on.

The results are a mixed a bag though. I tested the app on a few walks through Berlin and while blockbuster landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate or the Berliner Dom are easily identified, the app appears to struggle with lesser known buildings and landmarks. Of course it's for the latter Info-eye would be most useful. That said, the feature is fun to play with and hopefully future upgrades will increase the hit rate.