The newest flagship smartphone from Sony, the Xperia 1, has three different lenses – a wide-angle, a 2x telephoto lens and a super wide-angle lens.
With an equivalent focal length of 16mm and an f/2.4 aperture, the super wide-angle optic is backed by a 12 megapixel sensor. This makes it ideal for a range of different subjects, with super-wide angle lenses becoming quite popular on several different smartphones at the moment (it seemed to become popular with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, but you will also find them in the Huawei P30 Pro, Samsung S10, and several Honor phones).
In this post, we’re going to look at some tips and tricks for using the super-wide angle lens to best effect, including discovering how you can remove some of the distortion that is commonly associated with shooting at such a wide angle.
How to access the Sony Xperia 1’s super wide angle lens
When loading the Xperia 1’s native camera app, you’ll notice that it launches in standard picture mode, with the 1x camera selected. In order to switch to the wider angle lens, you have two options – you can either tap the circle with “1x” in it, to move first to “2x” and then tap it again to reach “W”, or you can pinch outwards on the screen – when you do this, you’ll see a “W” appear in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen – tap on this to straight to the 16mm lens.
How to avoid distortion with the Sony Xperia 1’s super wide angle lens
Shooting with a super wide angle lens, such as 16mm, is great fun but it can produce results which show a lot of distortion and don’t look overly realistic. You can incorporate this into your composition for deliberate effect, but with the Xperia 1, you’ve also got a way to overcome the effect altogether for a more natural look.
From the native camera app’s main screen, tap the cog icon in the top right-hand corner of the screen to enter the settings menu. Look for the setting “Lens correction (photo)” and tap on it – you’ll now see that you have the choice between “Prioritise image quality” and “Prioritise correction for distortion”.
If you choose the first option then you’ll keep the full view of the 16mm lens, while the second will offer a narrower field of view but with the distortion corrected. It’s a very effective correction, which I’d recommend you switch on when shooting subjects such as architecture or where straight lines make distortion obvious. If you’re shooting a landscape, sticking with the best image quality is recommended.
How to adjust brightness when using the Sony Xperia 1’s super wide angle lens
For some reason, when shooting with the super wide-angle lens, some functions are not available. For example, you can’t tap around the screen to adjust focus point, or alter metering. You also can’t use the dedicated manual mode, either. Perhaps these problems will be fixed with an update, but for now, there is a way to adjust brightness, by tapping the icon which looks like a sun at the top of the screen. Once you tap this, you’ll see a slider appears which you can drag to the left or right to increase or decrease brightness.
When to use the Sony Xperia 1’s super wide angle lens
It can be difficult to know the best situations to use a super wide angle lens with a 16mm (equivalent) focal length. There are no hard and fast rules for using super wide angle lenses, but subjects which tend to work best are landscapes and architecture – anything where you want to get as much of the scene in as possible.
Using a super-wide angle lens is not usually recommended for portrait shooting, but with some careful usage, you can use it to great effect to create “environmental” type shots, showing the context your subject is placed in – switching on distortion correction probably makes a lot of sense when photographing people.
Are you tempted by the Sony Xperia 1? Find out what we made of the onboard camera(s) in our full Sony Xperia 1 review.