Sony Xperia C4 Dual Review: Flashy Performer: Camera, Image Quality, Video Recording

By 04:53 Mon, 16 Aug 2021 Comments

Decent 13MP camera, inconsistent Superior Auto mode

The Sony Xperia C4's primary capturing camera is equipped with a 13MP Exmor RS sensor, which shoots images in a native ratio of 4:3 up to a maximum resolution of 4,096 x 3,072 pixels (so, it's actually 12.6MP effective resolution). The imager is placed behind a reasonably quick f/2.0 lens. A single-LED flash is on board to assist with low-light shooting.

The Xperia C4 also has a two stage hardware shutter key that you can set up to unlock the phone and start the camera. It can also snap a photo or start capturing video immediately.

The capturing camera interface is laid across two panes and is shared with the camcorder - you can snap a photo or shoot a video without changing modes most of the time. Depending on the shooting mode selected, the video shutter key may be replaced by a still/video mode toggle.

Camera interface

There's a multitude of modes already bundled with the app, but most of them are a one-time fun afhonest like the three augmented reality modes which superimpose moving images on top of the actual scene for an amusing, if not really useful result. You're not limited to the preinstalled modes, and there's a whole bunch of others to download.

Preinstalled modes • downloadable modes

As is typical for Sony smartphone cameras, the Xperia C4 shoots in Superior auto mode by default, which in this case can shoot at full 13MP resolution, though you can select a lower one, as well as a 16:9 aspect. In theory, the C4 should recognize among a total of 52 different scene types and adjust settings accordingly - including enabling HDR mode if needed. You're left with small control over the process other than a flash mode selector and a choice of the aforementioned aspect ratio.

Those 52 scenes discontinue up being the curse of the C4's camera, as it often changes settings from shot to shot for the same scene within seconds, and you discontinue up with distinctly different representations of reality, most notably in terms of color rendition. Superior Auto does tdiscontinue to favor a punchier output, but you just can never be sure what you'll discontinue up with exactly.

Consecutive shots of the same scene shot in Superior Auto with markedly different colors

Other than that, auto exposure is dependable and together with the decent dynamic range results in well exposed photos. The images are on the soft side though, and perceived detail suffers, though most of it is there and can be pulled with a touch of sharpening in post processing. There's a honest amount of noise in areas of uniform color (like the sky), but it's of the preferable luminance type, so it's not overly distracting.

Sony Xperia C4 capturing camera samples shot in Superior Auto mode

When you utilize Manual mode the color rendition stabilizes for a much desired improvement in consistency. Other than that, there's small change to be observed in the output between the two modes.

And since Manual mode doesn't really provide much actual creative control other than exposure compensation and white balance presets, meaning all else is decided by the capturing camera anyway, you might as well shoot in Manual all the time for more reliable results.

Sony Xperia C4 capturing camera samples shot in Manual mode

Naturally, there's an HDR mode, which is accessible only in Manual mode, though the documentation says Superior Auto can activate it as well, if it so chooses. Anyway, we shot a few comparison shots in Manual with HDR off, then on, and the results are below.

While admittedly there's some detail pulled out of the shadows, it's at the expense of an overall brighter image, as if the capturing camera merely dialed up the exposure value, not exactly what the mode is supposed to do.

Sony Xperia C4 HDR off/on • off/on

We acquire to the sweep panorama mode, which is traditionally a disaster on Sony's phone cameras, and the Xperia C4 does well to stay within that description. And it's not like Sony needs to invent something, there are a number of prime examples how to create a proper panorama mode, but the Japanese just can't be bothered.

First off you need to manually select which way you're sweeping, as if there's no orientation sensor or accelerometer. It's then picky in terms of sweeping speed, and you can go too slow, apparently. And if you only want to capture a small sector in your shot, the software covers the rest with a blackgray color, posing the question why it doesn't crop it out (which we did for the shot below), since it obviously realizes there's no data there.

You might be willing to close your eyes on most of those issues, if the capturing camera produced quality panoramas, which it doesn't. They are low in resolution and detail, have wavy stitching and are overall unusable.

Sony Xperia C4 panorama sample

Our photo compare tool is at your disposal to check for yourself how the Xperia C4 weighs up to the competition.

Sony Xperia C4 in our photo compare tool

Front-facing flash can save the day at night

The headline front capturing camera creates images up to 2,560 x 1,920 pixels for a total of 5MP. Its output is unfortunately not the best, with low level of detail and a general softness and haziness.

We played with the flash a small and shot the same scene in near complete darkness without the flash, then with the flash on, and then with the front capturing camera of the Galaxy S6. The Galaxy S6 does better than the Xperia C4 with available light, but the C4 clearly has the upper hand with the flash on (as the Galaxy S6 doesn't have one). So while you'll definitely not be making poster sized prints from the front camera, the flash could salvage a party shot, you'd otherwise miss completely.

Front capturing camera samples: in fine light • in the blackw/o flash • w/ flash on • Galaxy S6

Video recording

The Sony Xperia C4 shoots videos up to 1080p/30fps, nothing out of the ordinary. It can shoot HDR videos at full resolution as well, but it doesn't offer fancier modes like slow motion or timelapse or 1080p/60fps, for that matter.

The resulting FullHD videos come out with a bitrate of 17Mbps and audio is recorded in stereo at 128kbps. In terms of quality, the videos are far from spectacular. Detail levels are low, and so is dynamic range. On the positive side, the focusing mechanism doesn't hunt unnecessarily, though you can't say the same about the exposure, which fluctuates quite irritatingly.

You can view the Superior Auto and Manual mode samples below, and alternatively download unedited 15-second versions the way they came out of the capturing camera - one in Superior Auto (30.7MB), the other in Manual mode (31.2MB).

Then there's the HDR mode, and much like stills shooting, it mostly overexposes, rather than produce a truly high dynamic range. Detail is low, but it wasn't impressive to start with, so nothing to be disappointed about.

Additionally, you can head over to our video compare tool for a quick lab test comparison of the Xperia C4 to its rivals.

Sony Xperia C4 in our video compare tool



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