The Sony Xperia E1 is equipped with a 3 megapixel camera that can produce still shots with a maximum resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels.
The camera interface consists of two panes and is unified with the camcorder one - you can start snapping away or shoot a video without the need to change modes. The right one holds four virtual buttons - a shortcut to the gallery, video and still shot shutter keys, and a primary/secondary camera toggle.
On the left you get the shooting mode selection key in the top corner, followed by three customizable shortcuts. The final shortcut here opens the drawer with all available settings for the given shooting mode.
Naturally, the Sony Xperia E1 camera offers all kinds of features, including HDR mode, Sweep panorama face detection, geo-tagging and touch capture. Scenes and picture effects are available too. The effects split the screen into nine segments and show a live preview of each of the nine effects, but it's a quite laggy.
There's also the home-baked quick launch mode, which lets you select what the camera shortcut on the lockscreen does. You can go for simply launching the camera in either still or movie mode, or you can set it to immediately snap a photo/start capturing video.
This might come in handy for those occasions when you are worried that you might miss a shot, but it is also useful for when you don't want to waste your battery keeping the camera interface constantly going (it's a real battery hog).
The image quality of the Sony Xperia E1 photos is is nothing spectacular as you might expect. The dynamic range is low and the photos are over sharpened. Colors are washed out and the white balance isn't really accurate - it's mostly tends to be on the gray side. We don't expect anything more from a 3MP camera, but it will do for most of the people anyways.
HDR mode is available too, helping you bring extra dynamic range to both the shadows and highlight areas of your shot. It captures even less find detail though.
The Sony Xperia E1 goes into our photo compare tool in the category of 3MP against the Nokia X and we've also thrown in the Motorola Moto X for good measure. The overall detail of the Xperia E1's samples is actually quite nice. Check out more in our dedicated photo quality comparison tool.
Despite Sony is claiming the Xperia E1 to support 720p video, the phone actually is limited to just SVGA (800 x 600 pixels) recording. On top of that, it manages to do so at just 20 fps.
The video bitrate of 2Mbps with stereo sound recording with a bitrate of 96 Kbps and 48 kHz audio sampling rate.
The end results aren't all that bad, actually. They're definitely better than what we expected, but there's enough fine detail nor a lot of frames, frankly. At just 20fps, the video is noticeably choppy and there is quite a bit of noise too.
Check out the SVGA sample below.
And here's a SVGA@20fps sample for direct download.