WATCH: Ultra slow-mo shots taken by Sony’s Xperia XZs


MANILA, Philippines – The Sony Xperia XZs, released in mid-2017, has a neat, little party trick: it can shoot ultra slow motion shots, specifically at a rate of 960 frames per second (fps).

Quick review: it’s a fun trick to have around. For sure, it’s not a feature that everyone needs or wants, but for today’s video-obsessed generation, it’s a cool addition to the repertoire, a useful way to tweak the way we see certain everyday things – especially fast-moving ones.

Slow-mo isn’t a new feature in smartphones. In fact, it’s becoming more and more common in the midrange, and much-desired and somewhat expected in flagships. But unlike most slow-mo-capable phones, the XZs (along with the much more expensive XZ Premium) takes it up a notch with the 960 fps frame rate as opposed to the more common 120 fps implementation. Other phones top out at 240 fps.

The higher the fps, the slower it moves while retaining actual image detail. (Theoretically, you can slow down a 120 fps slow-mo shot to match the speed of a 960 fps clip, but it’ll most likely look like a slideshow because there are fewer frames to work with.)

But enough talk, on the top is a collection of a few of our shots using the XZs and its 960 fps feature.

Again, it’s a cool way to change things up, and there are certainly situations that could use the advanced feature. Compare it to the act of writing: at 960 fps, it feels like you’re describing an action in great detail, showing how amazingly complex ordinary motions could be. It’s a new way to look at things – especially if there’s nothing on YouTube satisfying your curiosity as to how one thing would look in super slow-mo.

One thing you have to know: the Xperia XZs shoots ultra slow mo in quick bursts. You press record, and the phone starts recording a regular video. As the phone records, at any time you can press the record button again to capture your desired moment in 960 fps. The phone records what in real-time is a fraction of a second (said to be around 0.18 of a second). When played back, it runs up to about 5 seconds.

The best tip when shooting at this frame rate: Great, natural lighting helps a ton. At this frame rate, the phone has to ramp up the ISO to retain brightness, but can lead to lots of noise. Natural light is best because slow-mo captures the flicker from most ordinary, artificial lights – at 960 fps even more so.  

There aren’t a lot of phones with 960 fps shooting ability. In fact, the XZs and the XZ Premium, and maybe a few other upcoming Sony phones, appear to be the only ones with the feature. For comparison's sake, just check out the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X. For years, the iPhones have been using 120fps slow-mo, and have only implemented 240 fps (1080p) this year. The XZs (and the other Sony phones) achieves much higher slow-mo rates.

You can also go for dedicated cameras but what if it’s a phone that you can bring anywhere that you need? The 960 fps feature is certainly a strong, novel feature that – while not a necessity for many – could prove irresistible for content-makers who want to stretch their visual palette a bit. It's something of a fun toy to have that will have you thinking on the streets or wherever your daily life takes you, "Hmm, I wonder how this scene looks like in 960fps?" –

Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.