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Sony Xperia L1 Camera Review: Sony’s budget phone offers simple snaps

Our Sony Xperia L1 camera review reveals our thoughts on Sony’s sensor, packed inside the new Xperia L1 budget mobile.

The Sony Xperia L1 is one of the most affordable Xperia smartphones to hit the UK in 2017. This £150 handset sports a 13-megapixel rear camera with a sensor of Sony’s own design, to capture detailed photos on a tight budget. You also get a secondary 5-megapixel shooter around the front and both are capable of up to Full HD video recording.

We’ve been testing the Xperia L1’s camera by shooting lots of photos and video samples around London. Here’s our full Xperia L1 camera review, so you know whether this affordable Sony phone is good for capturing your everyday life.

Check out our full Sony Xperia L1 review for our in-depth thoughts on this budget blower.

Read next: Our pick of the best budget phones in 2017

Sony Xperia L1 camera review: App and user experience

Sony’s standard camera app comes installed on the Xperia L1, for taking photos and capturing video. However, it’s a stripped-down version of the camera interface found on other Sony phones, such as the £229 Xperia XA1, as the L1 features a more basic snapper.

For one, Sony’s usual Superior Auto mode has been replaced with a standard Auto mode. This still auto-focuses on your subject and selects the best settings for capturing a given shot, although it isn’t as smart as the Superior version found on more expensive Xperias.

The Xperia L1 does still offer a full manual mode, if you wish to tinker with the likes of white balance and shutter speed. However, that’s as far as the ‘special features’ of this camera goes. You don’t have any of the AR functionality or other bonus modes that the more premium Xperia phones offer.

Switching between the auto, manual and video modes is simply a case of flicking your finger up or down the screen. You can also swipe right to skip between the front and rear cameras.

Read next: Best Sony phones in 2017

Sony Xperia L1 camera review: Photo quality

Snaps take with very little delay; just tap the Xperia L1’s on-screen shutter button and your pic will be captured almost instantly. You do get a short processing time after taking a photo, however, which can slow things down when trying to take lots of shots in quick succession. Sony hasn’t included any kind of burst mode, either. Not ideal if you’re trying to take an action snap.

When it comes to photo quality, the Xperia L1 is clearly a budget handset. For one, contrast proves a particular headache. Shoot a brightly lit area at night time, or a black monument against a bright sky, and you’ll end up with a mix of oversaturated areas and murkiness. Moving subjects appear blurry in anything but perfect lighting conditions, while darker scenes are often marred with grain. Not too surprising, given the f/2.2 aperture lens.

Still, colours are quite accurately reproduced when light is on your side. You get a decent amount of detail packed into each shot too, for viewing back on a larger screen.

If you want a camera for capturing precious memories and lifelong mementos, we’d recommend stepping up your budget and grabbing the Xperia XA1 instead. However, if you’re content with a basic point-and-snap device for shooting shareable pics, the L1 is just about up to the job.

Check out our Xperia L1 photo gallery below.

Sony Xperia L1 camera review: Video quality

As for video, the Xperia L1 exhibits the same strengths and weaknesses as it does when shooting photos.

Sony’s budget phone offers up to Full HD resolution recording, at 30-frames-per-second. Unsurprising for this price point, you don’t get a choice of 4K Ultra HD resolution. Colours are again captured and reproduced with an accurate hue, although tricky contrast leads to oversaturation and a loss in colour.

You’ll want to stand reasonably still when shooting video. The Xperia L1 doesn’t feature Sony’s SteadyShot image stabilisation, so walking and recording at the same time gives you jerky results. However, the mic does a solid job of picking up audio from the phone’s surroundings. Even in quite noisy environment, you’ll be well heard.

Take a look at our Full HD test video below, shot on Sony’s Xperia L1.

Sony Xperia L1 camera review: Selfie camera

Around the front of the Xperia L1 you’ll find a 5-megapixel secondary camera. This can be depended on to shoot quite crisp selfies on demand, although you’ll want to seek out decent light again. It’s reasonably wide-angled too, so you can fit a few faces into one shot when needed.

The f/2.2 aperture lens struggles in the dark, with grainy photos as a result. You can also shoot Full HD video if you fancy yourself a bit of a star.

Read next: Best camera phones at a budget price


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