The Sony Xperia T2 Ultra's camera uses one of Sony's standard-issue 13MP Exmor RS sensor. It's perhaps even the same as on the Xperia Z. It shoots with a maximum resolution of 4128 x 3096 pixels (13MP) in manual mode, or 3920 x 2204 (8.6MP) in Superior Auto. Unlike the Xperia Z Ultra, the T2 Ultra does feature a LED flash to help you with the low-light scenes.
The Xperia T2 Ultra also has a hardware shutter key. It's quite tiny and many people would probably find it uncomfortable. The good thing about it is that you can set it up to unlock the phone and start the camera. It can also snap a photo or start capturing video immediately. This might come in handy for those occasions when you want to capture something quickly.
The camera interface consists of two panes and is unified with the camcorder one - you can snap a photo or shoot a video without changing modes most of the times. Depending on the shooting mode you're in, the video shutter key may be replaced by a still/video mode toggle.
In the full resolution Manual mode you also get access to "manual controls" on the viewfinder, which sounds more impressive than it really is. There's an exposure compensation slider and a white balance selector. You can also control the ISO, metering and focus modes, turn on/off image stabilization, but those are buried in the settings menu.
The Superior Auto shooting mode is what we've already seen in other Xperia phones - it limits photos to 8.6MP resolution and 16:9 aspect ratio. There are no settings you can change, everything is done automatically. Unlike the 20MP Sony Xperia phones, the images taken with Superior Auto have the same quality as the one shot in Normal (Manual) mode.
Manual and Superior Auto aside, the Xperia T2 Ultra offers several other interesting shooting modes.
There's Sweep panorama but, unfortunately, panoramas come out with 5MP resolution, lousy stitching and uninspiring quality.
Then, there are the Augmented Reality effects, which stamp one of several virtual worlds over your scene and you can even move around in this world thanks to some intriguing motion tracking effect (note that it needs visual cues to track your motion). Children will love this mode, but us bitter adults are unimpressed.
Other modes include the regular Picture effect mode, which creates a 3 x 3 grid that shows all the available effects in real time. Sony has also included a mode called Social streaming, which can live-stream the video feed from your camera directly on your Facebook profile. That's certainly not something you see every day.
Timeshift replaces the regular burst mode, it captures 30 shots in just 2 seconds. The intriguing thing is it starts shooting even before you've pressed the shutter button.
Finally, there is the Background defocus - it take a photo and blurs the background. This mode shoots a few shots with different focus and then blurs everything in the background but the object in focus. Sounds like a nice thing on paper, but it fails quite often and you need to try again and again, and keep as steady as possible while shooting.
Both 13MP full resolution samples and the 8.6MP ones taken in Superior Auto have plenty of detail - the resolved amount is slightly below the latest tier of flagships, but more than enough to capture even the tiniest of details. Contrast is excellent, the colors are nice and punchy but not oversaturated, while the white balance is on spot. Finally, the noise levels are kept low and there are no image defects whatsoever.
The Xperia T2 Ultra seems to be using the same camera module as the Sony Xperia Z. Even though, the Xperia Z has a slight upper hand in absolute detail resolving, the image processing on the Xperia T2 Ultra is much more mature. That's especially noticeable in low light shots where the noise reduction is more sparing to the fine detail and textures.
Here are the 13MP shots we've snapped:
And here are a few samples taken in Superior Auto mode. They have the same quality as the 13MP ones, but are shot in 16:9 aspect ratio.
The HDR more is a bit hard to find, but it is present on the Sony Xperia T2 Ultra. You need to go to Manual mode first, then in the Scenes Menu and then you should select Backlight Correction (HDR). The HDR mode is conservative and rescues both the highlights and shadows without making the contrast too low. Despite that we find the effect somewhat unnatural.
Here are a couple of HDR samples:
And here is another HDR scene:
We uploaded the full resolution 13MP photos to our photo quality comparison database to compare against other high-resolution smartphones. The image quality - resolved detail, noise, colors and contrast - are on par with the best in class.
The Sony Xperia T2 Ultra is capable of capturing 1080p video at 30fps. The camcorder shares the same UI as the still camera. You can set a timer and fiddle with settings like exposure, metering, focus mode, etc.
For videos the T2 Ultra features a proprietary SteadyShot digital image stabilization, but there's a price to pay - the field of view (FoV) is reduced (it's how all digital stabilization systems work). The phone is smart enough to detect whether you are shooting hand-held or you have rested it on something stable but you get the reduced FoV either way.
If you go into video mode from the Manual shooting mode, you get an HDR option, as well as various preset scenes to pick from.
You can also snap stills during video recording but that's not of much use as you only get 1080p images, you might as well grab a frame from the video later.
The Sony Xperia T2 Ultra is a reasonably powerful camcorder. It captures 1080p videos at just under 30 frames per second with a good bitrate of 16-17Mbps with stereo sound recording with a bitrate of 128 Kbps and 48 kHz audio sampling rate.
The end results are good, but not perfect. The resolved detail isn't as much as we hoped for, but colors and contrast are great as on the still images. The videos are smooth with a framerate of 29-30 fps with minor variations. The continuous autofocus is much too eager and triggers too often though.
Here's a 1080p sample, which we've uploaded on YouTube.
And here is an untouched 1080p@30fps video sample for you to download.
The Xperia T2 Ultra is also capable of capturing 1080p@24fps HDR videos. The quality is the same as the standard video samples, though the videos seem choppy and the HDR effect is barely visible.
You can also check out the HDR samples we've uploaded on YouTube as well.
Here is a 1080p@24fps HDR video for you to check out.
The Sony Xperia T2 Ultra captures good 1080p videos. It also manages to resolve lots of detail in the background in good light conditions, but fails to do so in the foreground. There is lots of noise in the low-light scene, though the lack of a harsh noise reduction algorithm allows for keeping more detail. You can check out how it does against the competition in good and low lighting conditions and look at the ISO chart for a synthetic estimation of the resolved detail.