What’s New in the Xperia 1 Mark V?
Sony’s latest flagship Xperia device pushes the boundaries of what’s possible with mobile phone imaging. The Sony Xperia 1 Mark V features a brand new Exmor T imaging sensor, capable of amazing performance in low-light, and includes a host of new features and updates from Sony’s award-winning Alpha series of mirrorless cameras.
The new mobile imaging sensor of the Xperia 1 Mark V is designed with a 2-Layer Transistor Pixel architecture, featuring one layer for the photodiodes and another one for the phototransistors. The images coming from this new sensor are truly amazing for a smartphone, delivering stunning images that are starting to rival professional mirrorless cameras.
According to Sony: “The new sensor is supported by the latest computational processing to reduce noise and enhance dynamic range in low-light situations, with impressive results never seen before on a smartphone.” Sony is building upon its innovative new imaging sensor by incorporating new and improved computational photography algorithms to further enhance dynamic range and reduce noise.
The Xperia 1 Mark V is also packed with a host of additional useful features from Sony’s Alpha lineup of mirrorless cameras, making it a convenient and powerful companion device for Sony Alpha shooters. Creator’s can now take advantage of the S-Cinetone color profile from cameras like the Sony Alpha a7R V on the Xperia 1 Mark V, making it easier to match any video clips taken from your mobile device with clips from your professional Alpha camera.
In addition to the upgraded imaging sensor technology and S-Cinetone color profile, the Xperia 1 Mark V can also be used as an external monitor, a live streaming device, and even an external recorder. Sony has included the “product showcase mode” from its popular ZV line of vlog cameras, making it a powerful option as a content creation device for YouTube creators and vloggers.
Xperia 1 Mark V Interview With Tobi Shinobi
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Tobi Shinobi, Sony Alpha Imaging Collective member and Creative Strategist at TikTok, to find out more about what it’s like to use the Xperia 1 Mark V in the real world.
We discussed his experience with using the Xperia 1 Mark V to shoot the launch campaign, and how he incorporated it into his workflow as a professional creator.
Q: Tobi, tell us a little about yourself, your background, and what you do as a professional creator.
A: So yeah, a little bit about me. In a past life, I was a lawyer back in the UK. I grew up in East London, moved to South London and went to law school, and it just wasn’t working out the way I wanted to. I picked up photography as a hobby. It became very much a form of therapy and a form of escapism. I did that for a while and decided that I was gonna pursue it because I started seeing some real opportunities popping up. I gave up law completely, dedicated my time full-time to photography, and subsequently moved to Chicago, where I still am now.
Midway through the pandemic, I got hired at TikTok, where I’m a currently a creative strategist. I work with brands like Nike, Adidas, Coach, Louis Vuitton, and others, to come up with creative ideas. When they want to bring out a product or service and put it on TikTok, I help them strategize with their go-to-market strategy. Even though I’m a consultant at TikTok, I’m still doing my own freelance work, like working with Sony and Xperia to shoot with their latest cameras, giving my opinions on things, and teaching people photography and creativity.
Q: What are your thoughts about the technology that’s in the Xperia 1 Mark V?
A: I think the Xperia 1 Mark V presents a very interesting premise in two ways. There are some positives and there are some challenges. The thing which I like about Sony is that they keep on pushing the boundaries. We talked about creative blur. I find it interesting that that term came up, because I think Sony is doing a good job at blurring the lines between what’s possible on mirrorless cameras, and what’s possible on smartphones.
When I’m in the field, I often have both my phone and my camera on me, and because of the nature of what I shoot, there’s always a run-and-gun element to my work. Sometimes, when I’m exploring, I may have a very quick moment to get inside a particular building or venue and may need to quickly get a shot. The need to be quick and discreet means that I may not necessarily want to put down my bag, pull out my big camera, and all that kind of stuff. The Xperia 1 Mark V gives me a quick and convenient way to get these types of shots, while also giving me several focal length options that I can quickly utilize.
The challenge or the creative blur, on the other hand, is the image quality on this smartphone. It’s so good that you’re like, well, do I even need to pull out my big camera? The computational photography in the Xperia 1 Mark V is definitely improving, especially in the Night Mode. I don’t think we’ve had Night Mode before, so having it in the Xperia 1 Mark V was really good. If you look at the Xperia campaign video, you’ll see a shot where I’m looking up at the Wrigley Building, and it looks surprisingly good. I was pleasantly surprised at how crisp it came out because, sometimes, with night shots, they render very oversharpened highlights. Either the highlights are completely gone, or it’s really noisy and it’s just doing too much. The combination of the new dual layered sensor and computational photography in the Xperia 1 Mark V looks just right to me. Clean images without over-processing.
The other thing that Sony’s doing, which is very interesting, is that they’re taking their learnings from how far and how fast they’ve been able to move with the Alpha range, and using those learnings to blur the lines between Alpha and Xperia. They’re taking technology in their Alpha range and then putting it into their Xperia phones. In doing so, again, this creative blurring is happening, which is allowing us to use the Xperia 1 Mark V as an external monitor, recorder, cinema camera, etc, and giving us the familiar interface between the two systems. That familiarity between the two interfaces allows for someone who is in the field, and needs to be very run-and-gun to be very quick. That familiarity allows you to go back and forth between Alpha & Xperia quickly, and makes the Xperia 1 Mark V the perfect device for the on-the-go, in the field content creator.
Q: What are your thoughts about having the S-Cinetone color profile on a mobile device?
A: If you have a quick turnaround time with a client and they just need it delivered quickly for social media, having S-Cinetone in a phone is amazing. Having the ability to use S-Cinetone in a run-and-gun situation is awesome. I love how much control you have over your image with the Xperia 1 Mark V straight out of the gate. If you look at some of Sony’s counterparts in this regard, sometimes you have to download an app in order to get that level of control, and with the Xperia 1 Mark V, this level of manual control is just baked right in, making it convenient, and further contributes to the creative blur and familiarity between Xperia and Alpha.
Another improvement in the Xperia 1 Mark V is that when you turn the camera vertically, it retains the Alpha interface that we’re used to, so that is another nice touch. Super convenient for vertical video shooting.
Q: What are your thoughts on having this much creative power in such a compact form factor with the Xperia 1 Mark V?
A: There’s an old adage, which my good friend, Ron Timehin, likes to bust out from time to time, which is: “The best camera that you have, is the one that you have on you.” Sometimes you’re out for a quick run, or you have to wear a suit jacket at a nice function. The Xperia 1 Mark V is sleek and perfect for those types of situations. You can just pull it out and discretely take some amazing shots. It gives you high-quality imagery in the palm of your hand. You can’t always walk around in every situation with an Alpha series camera, because it’s not always feasible, but the Xperia 1 Mark V fits in a pocket, and packs some of Sony’s best Alpha imaging technologies: 30 fps stills, S-Cinetone, 4K 10-bit video, multiple lenses, and more.
Q: What are your thoughts on the actual image quality of the photos that the Xperia 1 Mark V produces?
A: I edited my shots, and I was able to pull out a lot more than I have done in the past with Sony’s Xperia cameras. I did a little bit of light retouching and then some upscaling, and I was like, I could print this very large, and if I didn’t tell you that it was from a phone camera, you would not know. I’m fairly certain I could put this in front of photographers, not just to lay people, and be like, what’d you think of this picture? And they’d be like, that’s amazing. What did you shoot that on? I’ll say 7 times out of 10, I would bet they wouldn’t know it was shot on the Xperia 1 Mark V.
I was particularly impressed with my panning shots, which I shot late at night. I was out shooting in downtown Chicago at midnight, in front of the Chicago Theater, and was getting amazing panning shot after amazing panning shot. With some minor retouching, I don’t think anyone would’ve been able to tell that these images weren’t shot on a mirrorless Alpha camera.
Q: Do you have any closing thoughts on the future of Xperia?
A: Sony is placing themselves in this really cool content creative space. I’m not a huge fan of the term content creator, but I think for anyone watching, they know what I mean when I say that. The Xperia 1 Mark V is a really interesting tool that Sony is building for the creative community.
I do want to say, you know, that the price point is interesting. You have to remember the competition. People tend to be locked into their phones, so getting someone to step away from what they’re super used to and to buy this phone, which is more expensive, is very niche. It comes down to if you know, you know. Like if you have the tools already and you’re locked in, cool. But if you’re not and you’re trying to convert people, I think that’s something that Sony might want to continue working on. But you know, they’re definitely making some really interesting tools with some really interesting use-cases and functionality.
I’m looking forward to seeing what they do next, but I think that this was a big step in the right direction. The sensor in the Xperia 1 Mark V is the first of its kind, which gives us hope for seeing what’s coming up next on the next flagship Sony camera.
I think there’s some room for improvement as well, but this is a huge, huge step forward. There are some things I would like to see going forward, and Sony knows this about me. We have feedback sessions and I’m always giving them a list of feedback like, this is amazing, but could you try this? This is amazing, can we tweak that?
If Sony’s listening, let’s get on another call, because I’d love to have a chat about how we can make the Xperia 1 Mark V the pie in the sky perfect phone.
Sony has come a long way with its mobile technology, and the Xperia 1 Mark V is doing an excellent job at blurring the lines between mobile and mirrorless cameras. The new sensor technology and improved computational photography algorithms allow the Xperia 1 Mark V to deliver clean images with low noise and high dynamic range that is starting to rival mirrorless cameras.
It’s also a compelling companion device for Sony Alpha hybrid creators, serving as an external monitor, and can even replace an external recorder like the Atomos Ninja V with a single USB-C cable. Vloggers and YouTube creators can enjoy useful features like product showcase mode, and can even livestream directly from their Alpha cameras, using the Xperia 1 Mark V.
I’m personally super excited for the future of Xperia, and the advanced features and integrations that it can enable for Alpha shooters.
What are your thoughts on blurring the lines between mobile and mirrorless cameras? Are you excited to have an option to create high-quality images with a device like the Xperia 1 Mark V that can fit into your pocket? Will you take advantage of its integrations with your Alpha cameras?
Share your thoughts and feedback in the comments below, and to see more of Tobi’s work, check out his latest exhibition called Shadow Dancer.
Images used with permission of Tobi Shinobi.