Sony Xperia Pro-I as a video camera

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Introduction

Sony made quite the stir a couple of days ago by announcing the ‘first smartphone with a 1″-type camera sensor and phase-detect autofocus’ – the Xperia Pro-I (‘I’ for Imaging). In our hands-on, we tried to clarify that, while in fact there is a 1″-type sensor in the phone, just its center is used, and it effectively behaves more like a 1/1.33″-type unit, essentially the same size you’d find in a Galaxy S21 Ultra, vivo X70 Pro+, or a Mi 11, and it’s even smaller than the one found in the Mi 11 Ultra (1/1.12″-type). We’ll have to keep repeating that, thanks to Sony’s misleading marketing language, but ultimately that’s not what we’re here for now.

Sony Xperia Pro-I review as a video camera

Instead, we’ll direct our attention to the Xperia Pro-I’s video recording capabilities, of which it has plenty, even more than previous high-end Xperias. The Pro-I has three apps that can be used for video capture depending on your level of expertise and use case; it can record 4K at up to 120fps, it has a trio of mics and an extra customizable button in addition to the usual shutter release, it supports new accessories that make it a complete lightweight vlogging rig.

App overview

Sony’s been offering the Cinema Pro (or Cinematography Pro) app since the Xperia 1, and it got a few refinements over the years to get to where we are now, though we still wouldn’t call it perfect. Co-developed with the CineAlta branch of the Japanese company, this one is for more advanced users and requires a certain workflow and post-processing to get to a finished product.

Video Pro (or Videography Pro) is the new addition to the software package. It slots in between Cinema Pro and the ‘default’ app in complexity and capabilities – it still allows you to tweak shooting parameters but is geared more towards shoot-and-send scenarios with no post-production involved.

Sony Xperia Pro-I review as a video camera

Then there’s the Photo Pro (or Photography Pro) app, sort of the default app. Don’t be fooled by the name; it can record video just fine. In its Basic mode, it’s the heir to the original plain Xperia camera app, before all the dedicated apps came to be, and it brings a point a shoot experience with little to no control over the process. We’ll talk more about these other two apps on the next page.

We’ll be starting off with Cinema Pro.

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