Sony Ericssons Xperia arc (March ’11) and arc S (September ’11) were awarded the prestigious EISA (The European Imaging and Sound Association) award, for Best Camera Phone this year. I’ve used one for a few weeks and am fairly impressed with the possibilities and quality of the pictures. At first sight the phone looks a bit vulnerable, slim, with a plastic back and a very big screen it’s fits in your pocket easily and has a very intuitive menu setup. Even for an Iphone user like me it didn’t take me long to scroll through all the options and use it in a natural way. If you are used to shoot with Sony cameras the camera functions on the arc S are quite simple to master as well because it uses the same iconology and visual language.
Obviously take the phone out of your pocket first, simply swipe the screen lock off and press the small camera button on the side to start shooting. The display gives you a very good view of what you will capture, on the left are four basic options (picture size, flash, capture mode and scenes). There’s also an option in the middle of the screen so that you can easily switch between picture and film.
I’ve experienced that the best pictures are taken with good lighting, natural or artificial. There is an option to adjust the light balance, but too much - or too little- light is just too much. It does work but only when a rather small adjustment is needed. Of course you can switch between different picture settings, such as 8 or 2 megapixel 4:3, or 6 or 2 megapixel 16:9.
By switching the camera into Panorama mode you can take a photo of a much broader scene by moving the phone in the right direction while ‘scanning’ the area. It’s a nice option for certain scenery’s but you really have to get the hang of it; the ‘swing’ needs to be at the right speed and the light should also not vary too much. When this does happen your shot is being cut before it ends, which can be frustrating in the beginning. The Panorama option can also be shot in 3D, great if you have a device on which you can display these kinds of images/ movies.
Phone to computer and the Microvault Style 8 gb usb
Use the free download of Sony Ericsson's Bridge to connect the phone with your Mac or pc. Use it to upload and download data in an efficient way. A program like Google’s Picasa can also be used if you want to import, share and polish your photographs. And speaking of sharing: it is very easy to share pictures directly from the phone, through email, Twitter, Facebook etcetera.
All these high-resolution pictures tend to take up a lot of our memory, be it in the cloud or on our computers. Always carrying a usb stick with you is a very handy way to share and copy pictures/ files as well and also these sticks are getting more powerful every quarter. Sony launched the Microvault Style 8 gb usb this year that I’ve been using ever since it landed in my mailbox. It’s very small, very quick and very light. Perfect for a traveller or an urban lightweight photographer. The little white monster is actually so tiny that you have to keep it in a save place, your wallet for example, as it is difficult to spot between sheets of papers or a in a big bag. Yes, I lost mine twice, so I’m speaking out of experience....
All in all the photo’s taken with the Xperia arc S come out beautiful, with solid, distinct colors. The different camera options, almost as many as with a standard Sony Cybershot, make it good fun shooting pictures and the LED-backlit LCD touch screen is more than good enough to view them on. The Panorama mode for me was just a cool tool to play with, mastering the right tempo of my swing and looking for scenes that would be fit to be captured. You would almost forget that we’re talking about a phone here, which you can actually use to make phone calls, check your email, listen to music, share experiences play games and find your way around town. But as a stand in camera it does a pretty damn good job as well....
Review written by Philip Vincent Fokker