Tips on how to get the best shots on your Sony Z3 smartphone

Reader Rockstar2005 posted yesterday some great tips and how he gets the most from his Sony Z3 phone’s camera.

So instead of being lost in the comments, I thought it would be useful to create a separate post.

“I only use Manual Mode b/c Superior Auto Mode (on my Z3) just can’t compete with it. You just have to know which adjustments to make (i.e. White Balance, EV, flash or no flash, etc), and the picture will always come out sharper.

These are the Z3 camera settings I use. You can change the resolution from 15.5 MPs to whatever is the SECOND highest place resolution (21?) on the Z5.

Sony Xperia Z3 (Manual Mode) Camera Settings

Resolution: 15.5 MP (or 20.7 for 4:3)

Focus mode: Face detection

ISO: Auto

Metering: Face

Nighttime Flash: Red Eye (Tell people before you take the shot that it will flash twice. DON’T say anything else besides “TWO flashes” while showing your 2 front fingers as you say it. Or “It’ll flash twice.” Anything else will lose their attention. lol) Or, if Red Eye still produces pics with “red eye”, switch to Auto immediately. (IF flash just isn’t working, day or night, just turn it off.)

Daytime Flash: Whether people are involved or not, enable “Fill Flash”. It’s a lighter version of Flash. (Why Fill Flash? Compare these 2 pics….. 1) Without Fill: 2) With Fill:

EV (Exposure Value): -1 (you can adjust b/t 0 and -2 if you’d like) Higher makes the surrounding lighting brighter, lower makes the surrounding light darker.

WB (White Balance): Auto (except under natural ((day)) light, then use sunny or cloudy option/icon depending on current conditions)

Important Note: You can make Manual Mode (MM) your default setting by simply ALWAYS using the stock camera app to start the camera up, NOT the dedicated camera button on the side of phone. The dedicated camera button will always bring up Auto Mode, which you don’t want. Just make sure you use the camera app to first go into Manual Mode, apply my settings above (which will save them for next time), then exit out. The next time you tap on the camera app, it will take you to where you left off………… in Manual Mode.

More non-people pics: For nighttime outdoor pics with little to no light: Switch to 8 MPs in MM, and select “High (ISO) Sensitivity” under Scenes, no flash. (Night Scene mode for light trails: Be warned it uses a very slow shutter so you’ll need to hold steady by resting your shoulders against your body or supporting the camera against something. It uses low ISO and slow shutter to produce very high quality photos with an artistic flair. Try it out on a busy street at night.)”

Thanks again to Rockstar2005 for such great tips.


10 thoughts on “Tips on how to get the best shots on your Sony Z3 smartphone

  1. Gavin,

    No problem! And thank YOU for reposting my suggestions in a separate article like this! I trust that the people who read this will benefit from it.

    And perhaps you can do a similar one for the Z5 once you figure out what the best Manual Mode settings are for it as well?! I’m sure many people would like to know, especially given that the Z5 has the #1 spot for best smartphone camera right now.


    1. They were excellent tips! With the Z5 I think its simpler really. Superior Auto is available at full sensor size, so just use that in good light. Move to manual in good light full sensor size and play with focus modes etc if needed or any of the other tweaks (there arent many). Use 8mp manual so you can select a night scene. You cant use scenes at 23mp/20mp (16:9). You can still apply stuff like fill flash from your tips on the Z3. The Z5 is more auto, which is a good thing.


      1. Gavin,

        I see. But I wonder though, the Z3 in Superior Auto Mode took pics using at 8 MPs but they say it still used the full 20.7 MP sensor, so the pics came out almost as sharp but took less room. That didn’t sit well with me, as when I compared them to like even 15.5 MPs in Manual Mode, I could SEE a difference…….. the 15.5 MP ones were better. So you’re saying you’re 100% sure the Z5 lets you take the pics using the full 23 MPs?

        Also, are they 16:9 or 4:3? The main reason why I used the 15.5 MP setting was b/c I didn’t see a difference b/t 15.5 and 20.7 sensors, but also, I prefer 16:9 (widescreen) over 4:3 pics. Let me know please.

        Again, thank you!


      2. The options are in superior auto – 23mp 4:3, 20mp 16:9, 8mp 4:3 or 8mp 16:9. In Superior Auto at 23mp file size is 7.86mb 5520 x 4140, at 8mp 16:9 file size is 2.26mb 3840 x 2160 and at 20mp 16:9 file size is 4.36mb 5984 x 3366.

        Also if you change the file size option in superior auto, the camera hardware key button launches in the same mode. Hope this helps.


  2. Gavin,

    Ok so since the file size of the 23mp pic was much bigger than the 8mp pic in Superior Auto Mode, then it looks like it is ACTUALLY taking the pics at the highest resolution vs forcing it to take 8mp pics using the higher-res sensor. Maybe Auto IS better now? I’d rather use Auto but only if the pics can match what Manual Mode brings. Sounds like it does??

    So it remembers your last file size option in SAM too? Nice!

    I don’t really do much with “scenes”, but good to know for other readers.

    Have you tried comparing the quality of Manual Mode vs SAM on the Z5? I’d be curious to know about that too. Are they comparable??


      1. Gavin,

        Ok, I’ll take your word for it then! Thanks for sharing! Awesome to hear that they made SAM better than it was last year.


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