The Xperia 10 III is equipped with a triple camera setup - one with three proper focal lengths, including a tele, as opposed to the vast majority of midrangers which have macros and depth sensors just to inflate the camera count.
It's a familiar setup too - in principle, at least, though a lot of the hardware is the same as what the Mk 2 has. The primary camera still uses Sony's IMX 486 sensor, a conventional 'regular Bayer' (not Quad) 1/2.8 unit. Now it's paired with a slightly longer 27mm lens with a slightly faster f/1.8 aperture (26mm, f/2.0 on the old one).
The ultrawide relies on the Samsung S5K4H7 sensor, carried over from the 10 II. It's an 8MP 1/4" imager with 1.12µm pixels and it has a 16mm f/2.2 lens in front. What was another S5K4H7 last year on the tele has now been replaced with an OmniVision OV8856 - that, too, an 8MP 1/4" sensor with 1.12µm pixels. The focal length on this one is now 54mm, up from the 52mm of the Mk2.
There are no changes on the front - it's an 8MP S5K4H7 with a 24mm f/2.0 lens.
The camera app is the same as on the Mk 2 and that's, oddly, a little different from the one we saw on the Xperia 5 II and in ways that don't have to be. Namely, the focal length selector isn't the tree-based one with direct access to each focal length, but the other, less useful one that cycles between the three cameras. So if you want to get to the ultrawide from the main cam, you need to go through the tele first - it's just dumb, and Sony already has the superior solution on the high-end Xperias.
Other things are as expected - side swipes switch between stills and video while swiping down (but not up) toggles between the front and rear cams. The far end of the viewfinder has controls for flash, bokeh mode, aspect ratio, implicit white balance and exposure compensation adjustment, an extra toggle for switching between front and rear cams, and a cog wheel to take you to settings.
A Mode button in the vicinity of the shutter release gives access to extra modes like Panorama and Creative effect (a.k.a. filters), and the last mode you pick from here gets promoted to a sticky position for quick access from the viewfinder.
There's a manual mode where you get to tweak exposure parameters yourself. It's not the most full-featured - white balance, for example, can only be set to one of four presets, but not by light temperature. ISO range is 50-3200, so that's pretty good, while shutter speed can be set between 1/4000s and 1s. You can dial in exposure compensation in the -2EV to +2EV range in 1/3EV increments, and you can also focus manually, but there's no focus peaking. A live histogram is also missing.
There's also the matter that you can only access the main rear camera, but not the ultrawide or the tele. Oddly, you do get sort of a Manual mode for the selfie cam - with just white balance and exposure compensation.
Daylight image quality of the Xperia's main cam is adequate for the class. It tends to underexpose but maintains a relatively wide dynamic range, though, on occasion, it wouldn't deem a scene HDR-worthy, and those would turn out with harsh tonal extremes (like the snail shot). Colors are very likable - lively, just right. There's a good level of detail in these 12MP shots, and the noise is well controlled.
The ultrawide, too, compares well to the rivaling offers in the segment. At 8MP, it's not as high-res as the 12MP one on the Galaxy A52, but the Poco F3 and OnePlus Nord both have 8MP units.
The photos out of the Xperia have very good sharpness almost all the way to the corners, and capture excellent detail for their megapixels. Some purple fringes around contrasting edges are par for the course for an ultrawide, particularly in the midrange. Dynamic range is wide, again, in the context of the price bracket and competition, and we're liking the metering and exposure better here than on the main camera.
The tele camera has a distinctly different color rendition, most evident in the purple-shifted skies - it's okay in isolation, but it's far from a perfect match for the other cameras. Sharpness and detail are respectable, especially when you factor in the Xperia's price point where teles barely exist. A boost in exposure wouldn't hurt these images, the dynamic range is wide enough not to be an issue.
The Xperia doesn't really thrive in the dark, it's modest 1/2.8" type sensor being unable to gather as much light as the bulk of competitors. Images are underexposed, and dynamic range is limited, though colors do maintain a good level of saturation where there is a decent amount of light on the subject. These photos are overall quite soft too.
Night mode helps a bunch. It salvages blown highlights and opens up the shadows, making for a much better overall look. When you examine the photos from up close, you'd see these are slightly softer still, but at least they do look good at fit to screen level. We observed a weird haloing around highlights in the sixth sample that didn't present itself in other scenes, we're not sure what to make of it.
All the points we mentioned about the main camera hold true of the ultrawide, only even more so. Underexposure is prevalent, the narrow dynamic range leaves extremes underdeveloped, detail is soft.
Similarly, Night mode improves things dramatically and gets you superior tonal development. There's no detrimental effect on sharpness, it may even be improved a little. We'd gladly take the hike in noise in the shadows to along with all the benefits.
At the 2x zoom setting, the Xperia switches between the tele cam and the main cam depending on available light. Out of the four samples below, only the last one comes from the zoom camera, and it's not great. When it's the main camera shooting, it struggles to focus in the dark, though when it does manage to acquire focus, it takes passable images, like the first one below. Dynamic range is very narrow regardless of the camera being used.
Again, we'd prefer the Night mode output for 2x zoomed-in shots because of its better dynamic range, even if it does tend to smooth out textures and detail a little. It's no miracle worker, of course, and you'd be better off in scenes with some actual light in them.
Portrait mode is accessed from the toggle at the far end of the viewfinder, as opposed to being in the modes pane. It makes for nice people shots with likeable skin tones and competent subject separation.
Backlit scenes might end up with blown highlights as the phone prioritizes exposure on the subject, which is the better side to err on. It's a fairly common shortcoming of midrangers, with HDR in portrait mode apparently requiring flagship-grade processors.
Selfies out of the Xperia 10 III are unremarkable. Skin tones are accurate, but a little lifeless to go along with the general muted color reproduction. Dynamic range is okay and you'd be getting good exposure on your face even in relatively challenging light. Fine detail isn't a strong suit of the Xperia's selfie cam, however, and even in decent light facial textures end up smoothed out (with all beautification features turned off), with further softening as the light drops. Overall, basically, any competitor has a stronger selfie game.
Portrait selfie mode, which is accessed from the Modes panel shoots in 2.8MP, which is a perplexing development, given that the previous model operated in the full 8MP for portrait selfies. Subject detection is iffy, there's no HDR, images are overprocessed and not very detailed.
Once you're done with the real-world samples, head over to our Photo compare tool to see how the Sony Xperia 10 III stacks up against the competition.
The Sony Xperia 10 III records video up to 4K30 with its main camera. The ultrawide and the telephoto are technically capped at 1080p 30fps, but the 2x toggle remains operational in 4K and 1080p 60fps, only the footage is then sourced from the main camera. You get to pick between the h.264 and h.265 codecs for the 4K recording, the 1080p is h.264 only. Audio is recorded in stereo at 156kbps.
4K footage out of the Xperia (bit rate of 42Mbps) is okay, about on par with other midrangers. It has good detail levels but is a little on the soft side when you stare at clips at 1:1 magnification. Dynamic range is, again, average - the midday sun with an overcast sky wasn't doing the Xperia any favors, but it did a reasonably good job. A brighter exposure wouldn't have hurt, however. Colors, meanwhile, are excellent - natural and vibrant at the same time.
The ultrawide dials up the saturation a fair bit but remains within reason. It produces brighter clips, closer than the main camera to what we'd like, and it too has decent, if not spectacular dynamic range. Detail is very good for 1080p footage from a midrange ultrawide, albeit with a strong processed look to it.
The tele camera does have the same off colors that it exhibits in stills, but it's not that big of a deal unless you're doing direct comparisons. Sharpness and detail aplenty here, no complaints.
Video stabilization is available in all modes. 4K footage from the main camera is very competently stabilized in general, though moving the phone does cause it to hunt for focus, and that ruins the impression of smoothness.
The ultrawide irons out walking very well too, but exhibits issues at the ends of pans as the phone seems to hesitate whether you'd be stopping the pan or there is gone to be more motion. Pointing in one direction results in super stable footage though.
The telecamera doesn't have panning issues and produces very steady results too.
Here's a glimpse of how the Sony Xperia 10 III compares to rivals in our Video compare tool. Head over there for the complete picture.