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[Xperia X] Camera autofocus or picture sharpness seems non-optimal

Tracked by Jolla (In release)

asked 2017-10-15 02:07:43 +0200

ajalkane gravatar image

updated 2017-10-19 23:41:29 +0200

pawel gravatar image

First the good parts, the pictures taken with Sony Xperia X are much better than previous Jolla 1/C at least in regards to color reproduction.

However, while on first glance the pictures look quite a bit better, but when you inspect them a bit closer (like zooming slightly) they're quite blurry.

To me it seems like camera's autofocus doesn't choose optimal setting, because when I manually tap the screen to refocus there seems to be a sharper version before it settles to what is chosen for taking the picture with. I should note that the pictures I've compared with so far have been in-doors, so that may play part.

But I don't know about the details of camera magic. All I know is that I've compared pictures taken in same conditions with Sony Xperia X, Jolla C and some Huawei Android phone. The Huawei produced crisp detailed picture. Jolla C provided what it could, but it was crispier in details though more grainy than Xperia X. Xperia X gave good color reproduction but the picture was blurry, like it was slightly out of focus.

Since the camera in this device should be top-notch, I'll categorize this as a bug. But it'd be good to hear other's experiences as there's possibility it's just a problem with my device.

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I'm probably wrong, but I remember reading back in the days something like the top-notch image quality of the phone comes from limiting the resolution to lower than the maximum to kick in Sony's proprietary image enhancing technology that is available only on Android and requires the phone to have DRM-keys to work and if you lose the DRM-keys, the image quality goes down little bit due to missing the Sony's image enhancing.

avhakola ( 2017-10-15 02:37:07 +0200 )edit

That is true. The missing DRM-keys knock the resolution down from 23Mpix to 16Mpix, but that doesn't explain the lack of sharpness in the pictures I'm witnessing. Jolla C had 12Mpix, the Android phone had also 16Mpix.

I don't think the missing megapixels are the culprit.

ajalkane ( 2017-10-15 02:40:36 +0200 )edit

Simply the focus doesn't work well, if you try to focus manually sometimes (not every time) you can get the focus work properly... And this is just 1 issue of the lots with the camera. I noticed also if you change the light options maybe you can get better results, but this seems like a gambling. The thing is, most of the times in android I could get the best result with the automatic option, now I need to change the light settings + tap for the focus even more times until I get better result, but still nothing similar then before... + Video recording no comment...

liqquid ( 2017-10-15 03:07:30 +0200 )edit

Same here. Somehow the autofocus simply doesn't work as it should. Focus is slightly off in all test images I took so far. Especially at shorter distance where focus errors are more visible than at near infinity. In fact, the images of the front camera look sharper.

ziellos ( 2017-10-15 10:57:11 +0200 )edit

Jolla should pay somebody afap to get all the camproblems fixed. IMO its the biggest show stopper for sailfish. Ever wondered if its just the hardware which is crap or also the software. in the case of Xperia X its the software for sure...

h.berd ( 2017-10-15 15:23:14 +0200 )edit

14 Answers

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answered 2018-03-11 22:11:56 +0200

leszek gravatar image

updated 2018-03-23 16:13:58 +0200

As this issue was bothering me it got me experimenting with different default settings to improve the camera focussing with the default Jolla camera app. I can now confirm that disabling continuous focussing helps to imrprove the aquired focus with tap to focus dramatically. With this mode also half pressing the shutter button will refocus image. So you basically are getting the same as normal digital cameras call single autofocus mode. Only on half-press or tap to focus it will focus. Notice: This is just a workaround. Despite the fact I am in favor of adding a "single focus" mode so that continuous autofocus is not active all the time. Fixing the switching between autofocus and tap to focus would be also a nice addition for most users.

I created a demovideo also giving instructions on how to disable the autofocusing. You need developer mode enabled for it to work and I don't recommend it for novice users who don't know how to use vi :)

You can find the video here: https://youtu.be/KviNGJgUFFE

edit: Unfortunately this workaround has the down side that autofocus in video mode or focusing in general is disabled for video recording. So be aware of that if you also want to make videos to undo this workaround.

edit2: Here the instructions as requested (for those who don't like to watch the whole youtube video). Open a terminal on the device or connect via ssh to it. Open the configuration file with devel-su vi /etc/gst-droid/gstdroidcamsrc-0.conf and comment out

#6 = continuous
#7 = continuous

under the section [focus-mode]. Save the file (:wq!) and to make absolutely sure it works restart the mm-qcamera-daemon (ps aux | grep camera -> copy the pid from mm-qcamera-daemon and devel-su kill -9 PID)

UPDATE: There is a way better fix thanks for Andrew for mentioning it which set the camera to disable AF for Image taking but does not affect AF for video mode.
What you need to do is revert any changes from above. Edit the file /etc/dconf/db/vendor.d/jolla-camera-hw.txt with devel-su.
Within the file set focusDistanceValues to only 8 for the two image sections in the file. So it looks like this:


Save the file and run devel-su add-oneshot dconf-update. Finally you need to restart the phone for the changes to apply.

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Nice!! Thanks for the trick ;)

carmenfdezb ( 2018-03-12 10:01:17 +0200 )edit

I can confirm that the hack works as expected. Finally the Xperia X's camera behaves like a camera: half-pressing the shutter button triggers focusing, and focusing is locked once aquired.

Thanks for sharing.

What makes me thoughtful is why Jolla wasn't able to apply this simple fix since releasing Sailfish X?

It would be very nice to document the fix (commenting out two lines in a configuration file) here. I know about gathering clicks on youtube, but not everyone needs to watch 11 minutes of video for this.

ziellos ( 2018-03-12 11:07:57 +0200 )edit

Thanks for sharing! It is more usable for now.

poddl ( 2018-03-12 22:51:26 +0200 )edit

@leszek: In your video there is an 8 = manual. Maybe you should add it in your description when it is necessary, because it was not in the file on my Xperia?

SaimenSays ( 2018-03-12 22:57:44 +0200 )edit

@SaimenSays It is not necessary and is just a leftover from testing.

leszek ( 2018-03-12 23:13:48 +0200 )edit

answered 2017-10-19 13:35:36 +0200

Robomike gravatar image

There are some Android cam apps available, where you can set the focus manually to "infinite" to prevent from focusing on closer objects. If activated, my Xperia turns focus to "maximum closest" instead.

As a robot programmer I guess there's a simple sign flaw somewhere in optics control or drive.

(Made this an answer to get attention of someone who can possibly patch it.)

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Could you mention the apps?

I just tried the OpenCamera app on F-Droid, but manual focus requires Camera2 API support, which isn't available. The Xperia X does support Camera2 in stock android, so perhaps Jolla could look at that. Would certainly reduce the issue with the native camera if we had full access to the Android camera app ecosystem as alternatives, but those cameras require full API access to be fully functional.

jb ( 2017-11-02 14:10:36 +0200 )edit

Well, this sign error would be an explanation. I tested it today with OpenCamera together with my photo-geekish brother. It was possible to take crisp photos by selecting the focus manually and changing the distance afterwards. The Jolla camera app appears to refocus automatically before taking the photo so this manual work-around does not work.

ABeam ( 2017-11-02 20:23:46 +0200 )edit

@jb I just tried open camera, too. I'd say that it makes no perfect photos and videos but better photos and videos than the stock Jolla app. Manual focussing and focus lock (open camera) seem to work on my Xperia: You tap on the three dots in the upper right section, then on the lock and leave the settings. When now you tap on the screen, the cam will focus on what you are aiming at and keep the objekt in focus. I only took photos inside my house. Tomorrow I'll try open camera also outside at daytime.

Loenneberga ( 2017-12-16 19:36:59 +0200 )edit

I can confirm what @Loenneberga found. Open camera (e.g. from f-droid) is a lot more precise and reliable in auto focussing. I will use that app until Jolla has fixed it's own camera app.

Spark ( 2018-04-28 17:29:19 +0200 )edit

answered 2018-01-23 17:04:34 +0200

ghling gravatar image

Sony updated their AOSP blob which hopefully also fixes the camera issues:

2018-01-19: Update of AOSP Nougat binaries (Android 7.1 – Kernel 4.4) for Xperia X and Xperia X Compact, Xperia XZ Premium, Xperia XZ1 and Xperia XZ1 Compact, Xperia XZ, Xperia XZs and Xperia X Performance. The following updates has been done for all devices: Adreno update, Vulkan update and various improvments; camera AF, AEC, AWB, and AGPS enhancements; configuration is loaded from vendor/etc.

Let's hope Jolla will publish an update with the new blob soon.

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I do hope it will help. I'm willing to sacrifies a lot to get sailfish x as my daily driver, but not the camera quality.

gmelchett ( 2018-01-23 21:10:34 +0200 )edit

That update has kernel 4.4 and current SailfishX has 3.10. That is a bigger step

binutzu ( 2018-01-24 17:44:25 +0200 )edit

answered 2017-12-10 17:07:46 +0200

Loenneberga gravatar image

updated 2017-12-10 17:09:17 +0200

Well, I'am having the same problem with the stock camera app. At least for photos I found a solution. The app MiracuCam from the Jolla store makes much better photos on my Xperia X. It's supposed to be a filter app, but it also saves the original photo. So frankly I'm wondering why the dev of this app is able to build a well working software, but Jolla seems to be unable to do so. Somehow the MiracuCam dev seems to have found a solution for the focussing issue. Why not implement it in the stock app? For the videocamera there is still no solution. I would like to have manual focussing and focus lock, but I don't know if this will ever come true on Xperia X.

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As a technical explanation. The issue is actually in the driver not the software. You just experience a difference in miracucam as it has autofocus deactivated and locks focus on whatever you tap. The default camera app does not have this feature. it will autofocus all the time even if you tap to focus on something it adjusts accordingly if necessary. So yes I can reproduce misfocussing with miracucam aswell.

The underlying driver optimizations (is the aosp driver for the cam even opensource?) or fixes are necessary. Also Jolla however could ease the pain by providing a feature that allows locking focus. So if we find a good focus we can lock it for taking the picture. In general the camera app does need an expert mode.

leszek ( 2017-12-10 23:39:18 +0200 )edit

Thx for your expalantion, which could be considered an answer on it's own: "Also Jolla however could ease the pain ... "

Loenneberga ( 2017-12-11 18:30:38 +0200 )edit

answered 2017-10-22 10:06:17 +0200

yomark gravatar image

The main problem (for me )is the maximum ISO possible in automatic (and manual) mode. This results in much slower shutter speeds then wanted , and thus blurry images when light is non optimal.

Why is it maxed out at ISO400? Never tested it on Android, but the hardware should be able to go higher.

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ISO800 was added. I recommend everyone using this instead of the automatic ISO choosing.

leszek ( 2018-02-27 14:56:05 +0200 )edit

answered 2018-01-23 10:48:34 +0200

tomtom gravatar image

I use the Android app "Camera" from simplemobiletools.com, installed though F-Droid.

The previous version hat to much JPEG compression and the quality suffered. The developer is a great guy. I asked if he could make a setting for the JPEG quality and he did :)

The new version has bugs and gliches, but the quality is acceptable for me when setting quality 95%.

The format is 5984x3392 versus 5312x2988 of the Sailfish camera app. And it takes 4K videos.

I made a small donation, seemed to be fair.

Comparison: image description

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The differences are huge !! I´ll give it a try.

campeon ( 2018-01-23 10:59:46 +0200 )edit

Tested it. Works nearly as bad as the original Camera. Focussing is a big problem and did work 1 time out of 10. Sharpness and picture quality is FAR away from that what the camera from Sony con deliver. Up to now camera in SFOSX is a big shame and neraly unusable

zash1958 ( 2018-01-23 14:04:18 +0200 )edit


Ah! That's interesting. I get the focus every time right, although the auto focus is very nervous between the moment I press the shutter and the picture is taken. And I never get it 100% right on 4K videos. Are they differences in the hardware, or something else? I have the F5122 dual sim.

And, yes, I agree, the picture quality of the original Sony Android camera app is far better.

Could somebody please take pictures with the app "Camera" from simplemobiletools.com on the original Xperia X before installing Sailfish?

tomtom ( 2018-01-23 16:24:07 +0200 )edit

I'm running Android Nougat right now, and tried the app... It looks the same even if i took the photo with the stock camera app


carmeloferso ( 2018-01-23 23:10:29 +0200 )edit

answered 2017-10-21 22:40:55 +0200

Lars Maria gravatar image

updated 2017-10-21 23:03:49 +0200

image description

I agree the camera - more specifically perhaps, the focus function - doesn't seem to work at its best indoors and/or in poor light, but in daylight and outdoors it seems to work pretty good. I'm not a photographer, I just tapped the screen to activate the auto-focus, waited until the rose looked sharp - and took a photo. It's cropped.

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i was using xperia with android for 6 weeks and the camera was.superb.

yes, you make a sharp.picture now and then, but try to take a picture of your.kid. You will need 5-6 trials. also the temperature indoors reminds me strongly of jolla1

sailfish x is great, but fir camera AND browser i have to use android apps. it is almost impossible.to fill in a form in stockbrowswer. But thaat s a different story

pawel ( 2017-10-22 08:48:26 +0200 )edit

I tried to make pictures of my grandchildren, but indoors they get a yellowish colour. Such a pity.

Kea ( 2017-12-27 22:19:48 +0200 )edit

answered 2017-11-01 18:16:35 +0200

Kea gravatar image

My bootloader is unlocked and DRM is gone. My Jolla 1 never made good pictures, especially not indoors. The browser of my Jolla is terrible. The sound is bad. I hoped with the Xperia to be able to use a much better device, but now I am in doubt because I think it is the software and that did not change. I use my Jolla as an everyday device and I intend to do that with the Xperia. Can anyone tell me why I should flash Sailfish if the camera, the sound and the browser are not ok?

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Well, I already took the step to SFOSX. Firefox Beta is my browser if I need some speed or decent functionality. The cam is far behind its potential. It would be nice to know about some roadmap... By the way, why are the volume buttons taking a pic instead of changing zoom in camera app?

ABeam ( 2017-11-02 02:25:48 +0200 )edit

Plese upvote Make better use of volume-buttons in camera-app on Xperia concerning the volume button function.

Cmdr_Zod ( 2017-11-27 17:00:33 +0200 )edit

answered 2018-01-24 15:19:26 +0200

stef gravatar image

Does anyone have a colour problem on top off the focusing problem as well? Besides being unfocused, my indoor pictures all have a distinctly greenish tint to them. This is especially bad when usingvt

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Didn't notice any colour problem so far. May be this is also related to the fact that I have immediately deleted most pictures due to missed focus.

ziellos ( 2018-01-24 16:46:52 +0200 )edit

When using the flash indoors the white balance is way off for me in Auto Mode (greenish like in your case). Setting it to Neon Light does give a lot better result in most cases.

seiichiro0185 ( 2018-01-24 17:32:04 +0200 )edit

Yes, for me, indoor pictures with flash also have a clearly off white balance in auto mode (yellowish I would say).

birefringence ( 2018-01-24 21:27:59 +0200 )edit

Yes, I have greenish/yellowish pictures, ugly, and focus problems as well. Sometimes the sharpness is better than with my Jolla 1, but the colours with the Xperia are worse. It is not only due to a malfunctioning of the campera: I have the same pictures on my Xperia as on my Jolla (SD cart). A red jacket becomes a pinkish red on the Xperia. Colours are now more candy colours, cheapish, not saturated. Green and yellow dominate.This is a huge disappointment, because I really wished to have a better camera on my phone. Now I take my ipad with me when I am going to make photos.

Kea ( 2018-01-25 02:34:40 +0200 )edit

seiichiro0185 - thank you for the tip! playing with the white balance does help. I don't seem to have a neon setting though, is that an extra you installed?

stef ( 2018-01-25 10:35:40 +0200 )edit

answered 2017-11-27 15:12:59 +0200

TomC gravatar image

Sample pictures with different focus settings:


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The Xperia is much brighter than Jolla 1. That is the first thing I noticed. But all the icons are less saturated in colour than the icons on the Jolla 1. They are bigger of course. But also the colours itself have changed: more pink, more yellow, greenish. Blue is difficult. A red jacket on a picture on Jolla 1 becomes a pink one on the Xperia. A blue ambiance on Jolla 1 becomes greenish on the Xperia. Not good. About taking pictures: the autofocus on Xperia is a bit slow. Pictures that I made indoors are better than the pictures made by Jola 1, but , again, they are yellowish, not natural. I think the software should be improved in order to get really better pictures.

Kea ( 2017-12-27 22:16:11 +0200 )edit
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Asked: 2017-10-15 02:07:43 +0200

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Last updated: Jun 03 '18