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Before I begin on my yaps, I would once again like to say a huge thank you to Miss J from Sony Mobile Singapore for choosing me to be the Xperia XZs influencer/product tester.  One and a half months has passed since I first started on my Sony Xperia journey and the phone exceeded expectations. I am truly loving the Xperia XZs experience and I am so glad I decided to put on my fake chicken suit and test the phone out.

I am a primitive boy and age dictates my resistance change. Changing from iOS to Android interface was very scary and daunting. I was worried about "what if I hate the phone????"

But the transition has been surprisingly easy and this is a big thing for an iPhone user to say... I have been won over by the Xperia XZs camera. I am enjoying the XPERIAnce a lot more than an ardent iPhone fan should.

I admit to missing my iPhone when I see someone else using it. I miss the hand feel of the phone most probably from my many years of being an iPhone user. I miss the stability and simplicity of an iOS interface especially the social media apps. I miss not needing to restart my phone once too often. I have been told by veteran Android users that it is common for Android phones to require restart once every so often which made me feel a little more sane that it is not 'user problem'.

But when I see the fabulous photos and wonderful super slow motion videos captured, the feelings go away. After all, for me, the camera is of utmost importance in a mobile phone.

And because the Sony Xperia XZs has so impressed me - especially the camera - that I decided to write about my Top 10 XPERIAnce even though I am not required nor paid to do a review whatsoever. I am writing this just out of pure love for the phone. In addition, with the Sony Xperia Premium freshly launched, I hope my article and little 'tips' here will be of help especially the Predictive Capture and Super Slow Motion function.

This Top 10 list is not in order of importance or preference of any of its function or feature. It is more 'off the head', let it flow type list.  


No. 1 - It Is Water Resistant

I have to confess. I have used but not fully-abused the boast-worthy water resistant feature of the phone. I have not done the ridiculous by sinking the phone in the swimming pool but I have been splashing it with water to remove the fog on the lens and mummy claims it cools down the phone as well. And erm, I do pretty much chuck it at the pool side with water splashing all over it as I ditch it to indulge in my favourite past time called swimming.

Uncle Nic could not resist taking a photo of my phone lying by the pool side as evidence of the awesome Water Resistant feature. Yep! The phone is still alive!

And because the phone is water resistant, both Uncle Nic and mummy bring their phones into the swimming pool to capture Frodo and my glorious moments of jumping into the pool.

Mister Universe jumping into the water with his derp face. Captured with the Sony Xperia XZs while mummy is in the pool. Super fun!

For The Love Of 'Art' and Absolute XPERIAnce




WARNING:
Sense and sensibility... DO NOT use the phone at the beach or with salt water! It will rust, erode and die. Here's a good article to read - Waterproofing Explained - How Apple, Samsung and Sony Keep The Liquid Out.



No. 2 - The Touch-Screen Is Responsive With Wet Fingers, Wet Screen.

Did I mention Uncle Nic got his very own Sony Xperia XZs phone too?

This was a surprise discovery Uncle Nic and mummy made while testing out their Sony Xperia XZs. With the humans joining us in the swimming pool, they have to handle the phone with wet hands, if not wet screen. My phone is set to go to sleep after 5 minutes of inactivity so the fact that the touch screen is responsive with wet fingers is especially useful for our swimming activities.

There's Uncle Nic with his black Xperia XZs in the pool with us. Water resistant, check! Touch-Screen responsiveness to wet fingers/wet screen, double-check!
Because it is too troublesome to constantly unlock the phone, I tend to favour using the camera quick launch instead. HOWEVER, the camera does exit back to the lock screen after 30 seconds which can be a bit teeth-gritting.

And because the touch-screen is that sensitive, [me thinks] it responds to the water droplets on the screen so it keeps auto-switching to 'selfie' mode. This seems to occur more frequently when using the camera from quick launch. It can prove to be annoying especially when Frodo and I are raring to plunge into the water and then we hear mummy shouting, "Wait! I am not ready! The camera went to selfie mode... AGAIN!"

The 'auto-selfie' issue is no life-and-death matter so we can let it slip. The fact that the Xperia XZs is water resistant and touch-screen responsive with wet crinkly fingers, that itself is impressive. It increases the possibilities of the activities we can carry out with the phone which includes playing in the rain!

Because of its water-resistant and touch-screen sensitive feature, the humans can get close-up shots of Frodo and me jumping in with huge splashes of water! Woohoo!
Can I complain?
No, not really.

Can I rejoice and be merry?
Certainly can!


No. 3 - Cracking The Predictive Capture Puzzle....


Screenshot taken from Sony Mobile Global  website. I was so excited when I saw this photo and the fun I was going to have with Predictive Capture. Unfortunately, it was a let-down and failed to predict on most occasions.
As mentioned in my first post on the Xperia XZs, I did not have much success with Predictive Capture. After over a month of many unsuccessful attempts to crack the predictive puzzle, I gave up and failed the un-Predictive Capture downright in this very post. It did not help either that most of these so-called tech reviews were pretty useless.

HOWEVER.

I am not sure if the Tech-God decided to smile on Sony or something, but on 14th June 2017, the Predictive Capture started working like a dream and started predicting Frodo and I in action pretty consistently! *gasp*

My favourite moment capture from our #LAB-test on 14th June 2017. Predictive Capture finally started working and we managed to predictively capture many moments.
On previous [rare] occasions when Predictive Capture worked, it seemed to predict (rarely) when both Frodo and I were in the shot. Lo and behold! It managed to Predictive Capture solo-me jumping into the swimming pool! Woohoo! FINALLY! IT WORKS!
Tips: How Oh How Did I Do It?
  1. Cleared the camera cache - Settings > Apps > Camera > Storage > Clear Cache
  2. Changed the camera resolution from default 17MP (16:9) to 19MP (4:3)
I was honestly not sure which of the above two actually triggered Predictive Capture to work but I am placing my bet more on No. 2 - Shooting at 19MP. However, I won't be surprised either if the camera has cached some weird recognition or something by default. So yeah, I would say that it is worth clearing the cache after each session or intermittently if required.

Anywoof, just to test and verify my findings as well as to see if Predictive Capture still works well in a different setting, I decided to do another #LAB-test the very next day - on land. I diligently cleared the cache and started testing with 19MP resolution. I wanted to ensure that Predictive Capture was working consistently and reliably.

#LAB-Testing Predictive Capture again in 19MP resolution and on land this time. It is super fun to see what the camera predicts when it works!
And here's derp-Frodo's predicted shots of him failing to catch the ball.

Predictive Capture at 19MP (4:3) resolution. PASS!

After a few successful run with Predictive Capture at 19MP, I cleared the cache and switched to 17MP (16:9) just to prove my theory about 19MP.  True enough, I could not get a single action shot predicted and happily switched back to 19MP.

Do not mistaken. It is not that Predictive Capture does not work at all on 17MP. It does (occasionally) BUT so far the tests indicate that it is more successful predicting small to moderate movements (i.e. dogs walking, baby kissing human) AND it seems to favour cats over dogs!

Our surprise success with Predictive Capture at 17MP. It somehow favoured the cats. It has never worked on us, the dogs, when we sit and pose.
The ONLY predicted shot in 17MP from our previous swim session. As you can see, there were minimal movements from Frodo and me which possibly helped the prediction in 17MP.

The Thing About Predictive Capture Is....

The shots are orchestrated. 

Sony Xperia XZs does not have 'burst mode' function and because of how prissy Predictive Capture can be, our shots are pre-planned rather than simple "point-and-shoot". And bearing in mind that we, the dogs, do move and jump rapidly, the auto-tracking can fail to keep up with our speed. In addition, Predictive Capture works such that it is "able to select up to four shots taken a second before the shutter release is clicked".

After many many tests with us, mummy concurred A SECOND is like eternity when it comes to us - the dogs. In under a second, Frodo and I can - jump and catch a ball, jump into the swimming pool, run out of frame (both), swoop up a tennis ball up (me) etc etc. So theoretically, the odds of getting 4 predicted shots is not in our favour as, more often than not, the action is over before 1 second. Comparatively, we achieved more success with 4 predictive capture at the swimming pool than we did on land. Speculatively speaking, I suspect it is because we have more little movements and the jump into the swimming pool requires more exaggerated movements which allows the camera more time to track and "remember" that one second before the shutter release is clicked.

In other words, we get more success, on land, with 2-3 shots predictive capture than 4 shots. Of 2 and 3, we get more success with 2 shots than 3. I say 4 shots is a bonus but since I discovered that little trick of shooting with 19MP (4:3) instead of 17MP (16:9), I am so happy that I can bark out loud and say that I have finally figured out HOW TO work predictive capture! Hoorah!

Two is the magic number. But I am not complaining. I do think for what it's worth, the lonesome predicted shot is pretty awesome too.
Mummy tends to favour capturing at the point I catch the ball as she HOPES to catch the motion of me jumping up to catch the ball. So in this shot, she tested clicking as I was descending - which she also hoped will achieve full 4 shots but she is happy with what the capture managed to predict here.
4 predicted shots in its full glory and my faithful onlookers watching me catch the ball.
The adrenaline rush of getting 4 shots predicted is akin to jumping into the pool!
Conclusively, Predictive Capture is a cool, fun and smart function to have conceptually. The idea of the camera intelligently predicting up to 4 shots and allowing the user to select whether to keep all four shots or selecting the best shot(s) to keep is enticing and pretty darn smart. But the thing it can miss to capture in comparison to traditional burst-shots - those millisecond expression changes and desired movement sequences.

And because of how quickly us (the dogs) move, there is no guarantee Predictive Capture is going to work every single time. So at this point, as much as I got Predictive Capture going, I am not 100% convinced it will work effectively with impromptu action shots.

But for what it's worth, I do enjoy the adrenaline rush Predictive Capture brings when it works to see how many shots it actually predicted.

AND! I am just reeling with a sense of satisfaction right now just because I finally managed to figure it out after one and a half months.



No. 4 - Bring On Predictive Hybrid Autofocus!
Sony’s highly sensitive Exmor RS™ image sensor comes equipped with Phase Detection Autofocus for fast and accurate performance. Add to that Predictive Hybrid Autofocus technology, which automatically tracks your object as it moves. Your shots of those subjects that never stay still (think kids and pets) are delivered with that all-important detail and sharpness.
Now this is when the Sony Xperia XZs camera technology and capability really shines. As mentioned in my 'Xperia Journey Begins' post, the deal breaker for me is the Xperia XZs camera capability - whether it is as good, if not better than the iPhone, when it comes to taking photos of us (dogs).

I cannot lie.

I do love the Xperia XZs camera. A LOT.

The Xperia XZs camera has impressed me. A LOT.

From its Exmor RS™ mobile image sensor to triple image sensing technology to Laser AF (Autofocus Assistance) to an impressively quick shutter speed to a dedicated camera shutter button, the Xperia XZs camera has it all when it comes to taking photos of us - the dogs - in action. And to top it off, it has this Predictive Hybrid Autofocus technology that works like a dream.

The only thing about the Xperia XZs camera though, it does tend to overexpose the shot. Uncle Nic taught me how to underexpose to compensate but the annoying part is that it goes back to default colour and brightness setting after each shot. I gave up after a few tries. I would rather swim than fiddle with the exposure.

Apart from that overexposure problem, I don't think I need to say more. The photos below should tell its own story on why Xperia XZs with its Predictive Hybrid Autofocus has won my heart.

Note:
I am not a professional photographer. I am just a regular end-user who is too lazy to use filters or edit photos. I swear by 'Auto' so even though the camera does have 'Manual' function, I do not use it. Most importantly, I believe that the photos I present must be honest and true to what the phone camera captures. So yep, what you see is what you get. 

#nofilter
#honestphotos

This is my personal pick in my archive of #LAB-test photos that I believe truly shows all the blahs of what the Xperia XZs camera is all about. From the rich intensity of colours to the intricate details of water spashes including the tail trail water pattern to Frodo's expression, I think this photo says it all.
The one click wonder of capturing me in action.
Predictive Hybrid Autofocus wins!
Predicted versus....
Not Predicted
Frontal action... no sweat!
My Ah Lian sister joining me in action
That problem with overexposure..... 

Love love love how Predictive Hybrid Autofocus is able to track and capture Frodo and me in action. Can you see my paw in the water? Full marks for the details captured despite all the crazy action going on

Posing for our Sunset Shot
Chasing Sunset with Laser AF (Autofocus Assistance)... so reviews say the Xperia XZs is impressive in capturing images in low light conditions. We will definitely be testing more of it but I am mighty pleased with what we got on first try!
Uncle Nic also testing out his Xperia XZs.... this shot got feel!


No. 5 - That Hidden Gem Called 'Xperia Movie Creator'

Yet another confession time.

I saw this 'Movie Creator' sitting somewhere in the 'Apps'. I did not think much of it. I pretty much ignored it whenever I received notifications about some new movie or slideshow was created. In fact, I was a little annoyed as I felt some of these apps were just wasting the phone battery and mobile data.

Then came that fateful day called Uncle Nic's birthday. We played dress-up to conduct a food tasting session before a simple Happy Birthday with him. I cannot remember when but the phone notification popped up again and showed it had created a movie.

For the first time, I opened it up to have a look.



And that was the first time I truly appreciated the point and purpose of the Movie Creator app. I call it the hidden gem as it is tucked away quietly amongst the apps that it is so easy to ignore.  I have turned off the notifications and auto-create function after I went to explore the app a little more....

Yes. It is one of those smarty apps limited by presets. If you are looking to do snazzy customisations with the app, you will be disappointed. It does have its limitations and only a couple of presets to play with but if, like me, you just want to do a quick movie/slideshow snippet of the day gone by, this app is sufficient to work with.

Couple of things to note:

  • The theme colour is determined by the filter selected. It cannot be customised.
  • There are 10 filters to choose from, excluding the 'original'.
  • The length of movie/slideshow is determined by the music selected. There are 13 tunes for selection, custom music can added too. The painful part is... it does not indicate the length of each tune so you will need to 'Apply' the tune to the footage to find out the actual duration.
  • You can select as many photos and videos as you want but the Movie Creator will auto-select from your selection to create. You can custom add after the initial creation.
  • You can edit which portion of the video(s) you want to use - about one second of the footage.
  • I think (almost sure) Movie Creator does not recognise Super Slow Motion (One Shot) footages.


So yeah, I decided to do another video as I was testing out the app again for facts-check. This hidden gem of an app is useful and fun to create a quick and short memory-type video/slideshow but not for 'serious' editing or video making purpose.

In a nutshell, if like me, you had an awesome day and have taken a gazillion photos and videos. And just for the fun of it, you want to create a quick video of the day gone by to get that 'feel', this is really what Movie Creator is all about.




Next up in Part 2 of Top 10 XZs XPERIAnce, I will be featuring my 'How-To' Super Slow Motion so look out for it!

In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments about the phone, please do feel free to leave a comment here. I will try to answer to the best of my blonde furry ability.

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