The Lumia 950 XL snaps class-leading 20MP shots, just like the Lumia 950, and they are among the best we've seen to date. The resolved detail is top-notch, there is no oversharpening and the noise levels are kept amazingly low even in the shadows.
The samples have excellent dynamic range and the rendition of foliage is lovely. Contrast, white balance and colors also deserve only praise.
The amazing dynamic range in the Rich Capture mode (the Lumia's take on HDR) is understandable but the images come out almost equally good with the mode turned off. Here are a few samples to demonstrate our point.
You can almost think of Rich Capture as the Superior Auto mode of Sony Xperia phones. It's on by default, and we found ourselves keeping it like that for the most part of our time with the phone.
Here are a bunch of Lumia 950 XL samples that we shot without the Rich Capture mode on and off.
The Lumia 950 XL offers an excellent 5MP front snapper and the images are among the best we've seen from a selfie camera. There is enough detail, little noise, high dynamic range and accurate colors.
The optical image stabilization lends its helping hand in snapping sharp night time photos. The image quality is great, there is lots of detail and the noise levels are kept amazingly low for such conditions. We do suggest turning Rich Capture off at night, as it often ruined the shots for us.
You can, of course, tweak manually the shooting settings and take even more impressive pictures with the slow shutter mode, which offers shutter speeds as long as 4sec.
And here is a demo of the dynamic flash option. We tweaked the flash at 65% post shooting and the result is the second picture. Thanks to the RGB triple-LED flash, the white balance and colors also change when you begin moving the slider, so you will be able to find the perfect balance for sure.
You can take a look how the Lumia 950 XL stacks up against the competition in our Photo Compare Tool.
The Camera app isn't limited to shooting still images, it can capture videos too. Tapping the video icon at the top gets you to the video part of the app. There you have access to just the relevant settings: flash, white balance, exposure and focus. The focus can be set to either manual, auto or infinity.
Video recording also makes use of OIS. The videos are nice and steady even when handheld.
The digital zoom is enabled even during video capture and it can go up to 3x in 1080p mode and up 4x in 720p mode. The 1080p videos are recorded at 30fps, but you can pick 60fps, 24fps and 25fps too.
The Lumia 950 XL has a total of four mics (two at the front, two on the back) with the company's proprietary Rich Audio Recording for distortion-free sound recording in loud environments. Basically the sound in front of the camera is recorded clearer than the rest, potentially dealing with unwanted noises in your video and enhancing a subject's voice.
The Lumia 950 XL shoots excellent 4K videos with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels and a steady framerate of 30 fps. The bitrate is also quite impressive at 52 Mbps, coupled with a 48 kHz audio sampling rate - captured in stereo, of course. Resolved detail is very good, the colors and white balance are spot on, while the dynamic range is really impressive. Overall, the Lumia 950 XL offers 4K video fit for a flagship.
The same applies for the 1080p videos captured at 30fps (18Mbps bitrate) and 60fps (36Mbps bitrate). The resolved detail is even better here, the noise levels are low, the colors and contrast are superb, as is the dynamic range. Excellent job, indeed.
Finally, you can use our Video Compare Tool to see how the Lumia 950 XL stacks against the competition when it comes to video capturing.