Camera Operation

The default camera interface looks exactly the same as on the Xperia Z2: shutter, video and mode buttons on the right, limited settings on the left.

While the design of the device is similar but not identical to the predecessor camera operation has not changed at all. Like on previous Xperia Z-series models there is a camera shortcut on the lock screen but the best way of opening the camera app is a long-press of the dedicated shutter button on the right edge of the device. Just keep in mind that, when opened via the button, the camera app defaults to Superior Auto mode. If you want your previous camera settings preserved you have to open the camera via the icon on the home screen. 

The shutter button works just like the same control on a traditional dedicated camera and offers two-stage action that allows for locking focus and exposure with a half-press. The buttons also allows for more stable shooting than tapping on a virtual button on the screen. The Z3 is a little larger than some competitors with similar screen size but on the plus side in combination with the angular shapes that makes it easy and comfortable to hold when using it as a camera. 

In manual M mode the interface changes and offers a lot more settings to play with.
M mode gives you access to the 2.3-inch imaging sensor's full 20.7MP resolution.

As on previous models Superior Auto is the default camera mode. It is pretty much a full-auto mode and offers very little control over shooting parameters. You can control the flash though. The mode analyzes the scene and then automatically picks the most suitable shooting mode. All the user needs to do is hit the shutter or video button. Image size is locked to 8MP but you can choose between a 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratio. In Superior Auto you can set the focus point by tapping on the screen but you have no control over exposure. 

For that you have to hit the mode button on the bottom right of the screen and switch to manual M mode. Here you have more parameters at your disposal including exposure compensation, ISO and manual selection of scene modes. In M mode you can also activate digital image stabilization and increase image resolution to 20MP. However, there is still no control over shutter speeds.

M mode also offers exposure compensation and manual control over the white balance setting.
Scene modes are available, too, but only of the resolution is set to 8MP or less.

There are also several focus modes to choose from, including Single, Multi, Face Detection, Object Tracking and Touch focus, but like in Superior Auto exposure cannot be linked to the focus point. Apart from M mode there is a range of other modes, including Background Defocus, Timeshift Video and 4K video capture which we'll have a closer look at in the features and video sections of this review. You also have the option to download further shooting modes from the Sony App Store.

The camera app has not changed from the Xperia Z2 and unfortunately still feels as cluttered and unstructured as before. There are a lot of modes and parameters but it's not always quite obvious where to look for them. It doesn't offer the simplicity of the iPhone or Motorola Moto X camera apps but can't offer the thought-out interfaces of photographer-centric third-party apps, such as Camera-FV5 or Manual Camera, either. Of course you'll find plenty of alternatives in the Google Play Store.