While Huawei and OnePlus had to look for outside help with their cameras (Leica and Hasselblad, respectively), Sony already has an excellent camera division in house – the engineers that build its Alpha cameras. They worked on the Mark II flagships last year and as well as the new Xperia 1 III and 5 III.
Sony pulled in optical, software and image quality engineers from the Alpha team and tasked them with developing a similar experience aimed at professionals. The video below shows three of them explaining how the Xperia camera was designed and the reasoning behind some of the choices.
They developed everything in-house – the lenses, the sensor and the image processing – which allowed every component to be tuned to work with the others. The team focused on what it calls “cameraness”, which includes not only image quality, but the precision and size of a lens.
The Xperia 1 III features Real-Time Tracking, borrowed from the Alpha line. It uses AI to track objects, however, it can get confused – e.g. it can have trouble distinguishing between two soccer players wearing the same uniform. This is where the 3D ToF sensor comes in, the depth data helps the AI tell the players apart.
The phone’s camera was tuned to the needs of sports photographers, which is why the ability to track fast-moving objects was critical. In fact, it’s sports photography that drove the need for a dual focal length telephoto lens – there is a limit on how close photographers can get to the action, so they need zoom.