"If camera engineers made a smartphone, what smartphone would they make? The answer is Xperia L, the Android mobile designed with Sony's leading camera expertise." Admittedly just a mix of marketing and sales pitch, Sony are clearly very proud of the camera tech that is on offer on the Sony Xperia L.

Indeed, the Xperia L splash page on the Sony site mentions the word camera a lot, and spends its time talking about both capturing the image and what you can do with it after. The 8MP Exmor RS sensor on the back is the one they're talking about, because the VGA front sensor is really nothing to whisper, let alone shout about.

Loading the camera can be done in one of three ways, from the lock screen, the dedicated shutter button, or via the Camera app itself.

Sony Xperia L review

Sonly claim that the camera goes from sleep to snap in under a second, but that is only true when you've gotten to grips with the shutter button. Like many compact cameras, there are two stages to the button, one for autofocus and a second to actually capture the image. It is the second stage you have to reach before you can load the app.

This is a minor gripe, as we did eventually find ourselves getting used to the button, but we still found ourselves getting annoyed when it wouldn't load up.

We also would have liked to have seen Sony change things up a little, and put the camera more central, making it more akin to the compact camera market that has suffered since the advent of the camera phone.

Sony Xperia L review

The dual-core processor seemed to slow the camera a little, with there being a little delay between taking shots. This was really noticeable in lower light conditions. Generally though, we found that the Xperia L moved through taking photos well enough.

We were really glad to see that there were some pretty awesome effects within the camera's settings. A total of nine are on offer; Nostalgic, Miniature, Vivid, Filter, Fisheye, Sketch, Partial Colour, Harris Shutter and Kaleidoscope.

Sony Xperia L review

Loading up these effects did make the camera use a little choppier, making it take longer for your own eyes to focus in on what you were photographing.

Of the effects on offer, our favourite has to be the Sketch and Partial Colour. The premier gives the photos something of a "drawn" effect, with the latter allowing you to choose which colour you want to take a photo of, whilst the rest of the image stays black and white.

Sony Xperia L review

In all they don't offer any features over and above any post photography image editing software, but they are fun to have and make uploading funky images to social sites that bit easier and quicker.

Digging deeper into the settings, the camera software on the Xperia L does bring varying scene modes, as well as the ability to change the image resolution, self timer, smile shutter to take photos when people smile, the ability to change the quick launch, exposure, white balance etc.

Sony Xperia L review

The ability to change the quick launch is possibly the most important, and most interesting, as it allows you to launch, launch and capture, launch and record video, or launch only into video mode, or switch it off all together. This is great for capturing images quickly, but we found that we ended up taking a lot of pointless photos that we didn't mean to.

We also found that the camera defaulted to 5MP images, at a 16:9 aspect ratio. Knowing that 4:3 images are more the preserve of more serious photographers, the 8MP images are saved for that and can be turned on via settings.

All the talk about how good the software is becomes ultimately pointless without the hardware to match, so check out our photos below to see what you make of them.

Sony Xperia L
The front facing VGA camera is not up to the task, images are grainy, with very little detail captured.

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Sony Xperia L
The Exmor RS engine enhances the contrast between bright and dark colours. This doesn't work well all the time, giving the image a little distorted feeling and losing a lot of detail in the sky.

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Sony Xperia L
The 4x digital zoom doesn't always work amazingly, but text still appears clear with minor blurring around the edges and a slight grain.

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Sony Xperia L
The Camera captures a lot of detail, with first rate colour reproduction. Detail is only lost in really bright areas.

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Sony Xperia L
Kaleidoscope mode makes things a little fun, but adds nothing of any real value.

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Sony Xperia L
Miniature mode is a funny mode, that we can't quite work out. It appears to produce a horizontal focus, with the rest of the image being blurred.

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Sony Xperia L
Sketch mode makes things fun, in an attempt to make images look hand drawn like the arcade photo booths.

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Sony Xperia L
Panorama mode is a standard affair, panning the camera sideways to produce a panoramic image.

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Sony Xperia L
Bright light can throw a distortion over the image, making darker areas noisier, and leaves a lot of lost detail.

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Sony Xperia L
The Flash is generally bright enough to take photos in low light levels, however the slower shutter speeds means that the image can come out a little blurry.

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