The Xperia ray boasts an 8 megapixel camera, that comes with a single LED flash. Much like the Arc, the ray uses an Exmor R backlit sensor which, in theory, improves the low-light performance. In reality the advantage of the backlit technology is marginal at best.
The camera interface of the Xperia ray consists of two taskbars with options on either side of the screen. The left one holds five shortcuts to various settings, while the right one shows thumbnails of the five most recent photos.
You can slide those with your finger - either to hide them or expand them. It’s a clever solution that lets you pick how much of the camera controls are seen in the viewfinder. The shortcuts in the left column can be rearranged and you can replace some of them with others from the extended menu.
Settings include capturing mode (Normal, Scene recognition or Smile detection), Scenes, the resolution setting, front/back camera toggle, photo light, geo-tagging, image stabilization and focus mode. Also at your disposal are self timer, shutter sound, exposure, white balance and metering settings.
The Xperia ray handles the lack of a physical shutter key by making the entire viewfinder a virtual shutter key. You can press and hold to engage the autofocus.
The image quality is good - comparable to that of the Neo but not quite like the Arc. Noise levels are kept relatively low and photos have good contrast and colors. The amount of captured detail isn't among the best 8MP snappers however. Purple fringing and oversharpening are evident in high-contrast areas.
Bear in mind though that unit we're testing is a pre-production one, so it doesn’t represent the final image quality.
We’ve also added the Sony Ericsson Xperia ray to our Photo Compare database. The tool’s page has a quick how to guide.
The ray performs very well on the black on white lines of the first chart though the oversharpening is still easy to spot. The mostly flat grey of the second chart however brings out the noise - the grass and gravel squares fared quite well though, with okay amounts of detail left in them. The final chart shows good color rendering.
The Sony Ericsson Xperia ray captures 720p video at 30 frames per second and does a good job at it. Frame rate hovers at just under the 30fps mark and there are no duplicated frames. The amount of captured detail is on the low side however and there are jaggies on diagonal lines.
Videos are stored in MP4 format with an overall bitrate of about 6.2Mbps. The audio accounts for about 130Kbps of that and it's recorded in stereo 48KHz format, which is quite good.
The video camera has similar settings to the still camera - focus mode, metering, exposure value and image stabilization are available for adjusting.
The ray’s camcorder joins the select few with continuous autofocus. It may take a few seconds to refocus after you re-frame but that's better than fast but constant focus hunting that may ruin a video.
Check out the 720p samples that we captured with the Xperia ray:
Alternatively you can download this untouched sample 720p@30fps (13s, 10.2MB), taken straight off the device.
We entered the Sony Ericsson Xperia ray in our Video Compare Tool database too and put it head to head with other 720p mobile camcorders.
The relatively low bitrate doesn’t allow the Xperia ray to keep much detail in the videos - but the difference is less than we expected.
Exposure adjustment is gradual too so it's not sudden or pulsating (and annoying) as in some other phones.