Video Mode

In Superior Auto Mode you can't set any video options. Just hit the video button below the camera shutter on the right and you're good to go.

The Sony Xperia Z1 captures 1080p HD video and you can take still photos while filming without interrupting the video. However, if you use the physical shutter button to take a picture you're likely to hear a click sound in the sound track and captured stills images only have video size at 1920 x 1080 pixels. 

In Superior Auto Mode you just press the video button underneath the virtual shutter button and video recording is fully automatic, without any option for manual interference. If you change into M-mode the camera app layout changes and you get a toggle to choose between stills and video mode. If you're in the latter you have a range of settings, including exposure compensation and white balance, at your disposal. You can also use the flash LED as a video light. In the settings menu you get the option to switch off the digital image stabilization, deactivate the microphone and shoot HDR video which we had a closer look at on the features page in this review. 

In M-mode the layout of the app changes and a still/video toggle appears below the shutter. 
Once you're in video mode the liveview image is cropped as the digital stabilization is activated.

Despite the number of settings, in practice there is hardly ever a need to interfere manually as the Auto systems do a very decent job and all you usually do to record a video is simply press the video button to start and stop.

In M-mode you get a range of video options to choose from ...
... and you can also shoot in scene modes.

Video sample 1: 1080p video in bright light

This video was taken handheld in bright sunlight. The MP4 file shows good detail and color and the digital image stabilization, while cropping a sizable portion of the frame, works efficiently. 

Video sample 2: 1080p video in bright light

This video was recorded handheld in bright but overcast light conditions. Again, the digital image stabilization does a decent job, the motion is smooth and exposure and color are good.

Video sample 3: 1080p video in low light

This 1080p was shot handheld in low light. Noise and noise reduction are well-controlled in this clip although there is some noise visible in the shadow areas of the frame. In these dimmer conditions there is also some slight focus-pumping noticeable toward the end of the clip. This is something we've observed frequently when capturing video with the Z1 in low light. The quality of the recorded sound is better than most smartphones we've tested so far.

Video sample 4: 1080p video in low light

This is another 1080p low-light video. The lighting conditions for this clip were noticeably darker than the video above. As a result there is a more noise and loss of detail through noise reduction visible in this clip. On the plus side the digital image stabilization still does a decent job, sound quality very good and the  motion is still smooth at these low light levels.