Sony has released its latest flagship smartphone, and it’s got a Leica-style rear camera

Sony Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III Smartphones

New Sony Xperia 1 IV aims to change that with a true continuous optical zoom lens. It’s a technical achievement, but at this stage, it’s more proof of concept than game-changer.

At $ 1599, it’s a steeply priced 4K OLED with a 120Hz refresh rate. There’s also a Snapdragon 8 gen 1 processor, IP68 waterproofing, 512GB of storage, 12GB of RAM, a 5000mAh battery, and even a headphone jack.

The Xperia 1 IV has a continuous optical zoom lens. It actually uses moving lenses to magnify your subject. Digital zoom is usually just cropping in on a wider image.

The Xperia 1 IV’s telephoto lens is different because it does allow you to set the focal length at 85mm, 125mm, and anywhere in between.

Smartphone makers stick with fixed lenses because they’re smaller and less expensive. Oppo showed off a continuous optical zoom concept last year but has n’t yet brought it to market.

The Sony Xperia 1 IV is a Sony Xperia IV IV IV camera. The 3 rear cameras are available for pre-order.

Sony’s rear camera sensors support 120fps high-speed readout. There’s also a 12-megapixel front-facing sensor that now supports 4K HDR video.

The Xperia 1 is sometimes capable of fantastic images. But the device is also inconsistent and sometimes makes poor judgments on white balance. Sony’s senior product information manager el-deane naude says he does n’t expect a lot will change between now and then.

The small zoom range does n’t make much of a difference for distant subjects. Up close for portrait subjects it provides some added flexibility.

The Xperia 1 IV is smart about choosing a balanced exposure with vibrant colors that do n’t look overly saturated. Bright colors do n’t appear overly saturated.

Sony’s naude acknowledges a problem specific to the prototype unit with the autofocus at 5.1x zoom. But these exposure and quality issues are seen at other focal length.

The Xperia 1 IV is working with small sensors and small optics. It does n’t expect to get much subject separation even at the long end of the telezoom.

The Xperia 1 IV offers a ton of manual control for video recording. This is all housed in Sony’s cinema Pro app. Videography pro doubles as a livestreaming app.

The Galaxy s22 Ultra offers an excellent portrait mode, a standard wide, ultrawide, a 3x telephoto, and a 10x telephoto. For my money, I’d rather have the long reach of the 10x lens and the portrait-friendly 3x lens with digital zoom in between, rather than two portrait lenses connected by optical zoom.

The Xperia 1 IV is IP68 rated, meaning robust protection against dust and water. It’s not clear how tolerant the lenses inside of the zoom will be to everyday bumps and wear and tear.

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