OnePlus 8 Pro: A Great Alternative To Consider For Smartphone Photography
The new OnePlus 9 just arrived with all its promises as a result of a new partnership with Hasselblad. This will become one of the most interesting devices of 2021 due to the capabilities of the device and the quality of the new camera system.
However, the OnePlus 8 Pro remained the flagship of the company for several reasons and it was only launched last year. It is an excellent smartphone with impressive photography capabilities and a great alternative to consider. Especially, as it is logical to expect that its tag price might drop due to the addition of the new member to the OnePlus family.
If you are interested in having a powerful smartphone focused on photography, keep reading this review.
Key Camera Specifications
- Primary: 48MP 1/1.43-inch Quad-Bayer sensor (12MP output), 25mm-equivalent f/1.8-aperture lens with omnidirectional PDAF/Laser AF and OIS
- Telephoto: 8MP sensor with 1.0µm pixels, f/2.4 3x optical zoom lens with PDAF and OIS
- Ultra-wide: 48MP 1/2.0-inch sensor with 0.8µm pixels, 14mm-equivalent f/2.2-aperture lens with PDAF
- Color filter camera: 5MP sensor with f/2.4-aperture lens
- Dual-LED flash
- Video: 4K 2160p/60fps (2160p/30fps tested)
- Price – $469 (Sale Price) Adorama | B&H | Amazon
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OnePlus has integrated into the 8 Pro the now customary quad-camera system on the back. You get the main camera, an ultra-wide, a 3x telephoto, and a “color filter” lens.
The main camera is the Sony IMX689, which is an upgraded version over the last model´s IMX586. The IMX689 is a physically larger sensor and since it has the same resolution it means larger pixel size. As with the IMX586, this is still a Quad Bayer sensor, meaning you will still get 12MP images by default. The sensor is paired with a 7-element lens with an f1.78 aperture.
The new ultrawide camera is the IMX586, which was a real power move by OnePlus. Most companies are still sticking this sensor in their main cameras, but OnePlus decided to use it for its ultrawide lens. This 48MP sensor has a 120-degree field of view and an f2.2 aperture.
At the bottom of the stack, there’s the new 5MP ‘color filter’ lens, with an f/2.4 aperture and with the sole purpose of bringing Instagram-like filters directly into the camera app.
Sitting to the left of the main camera bump, we can find a telephoto camera similar to the OnePlus 7 Pro. Once again, we are getting a 13MP sensor of some kind with f2.44 aperture, OIS, and 3x magnification over the main sensor.
The 13MP camera, without cropping, has about 2.2x magnification over the main camera. You can access the full width of the sensor in portrait mode, where all 13 megapixels are used.
The Sony IMX689 sensor found in the main camera unit is significantly larger than the 1/2″ sensor found in the OnePlus 7 Pro. The new sensor is 1/1.4″ and looks quite massive compared to the previous model’s main camera – which was the same Sony IMX that the OnePlus 8 Pro uses as its ultra-wide camera.
With the increased size over the IMX586, but with the same resolution, the IMX689 sensor should allow for an overall reduced level of noise. It’s also dual native ISO, which should help with those low-light shots. But even the wide-angle camera is no slouch. The IMX586 is one of Sony’s flagship smartphone sensors and as I already mentioned, it was the primary camera in the OnePlus 7 Pro. Now, though, it means you get those benefits with ultra-wide angles.
The default shooting mode when you open up the app uses the main 48MP camera, but images are set to capture at 12MP. There’s a toggle at the top of the screen which allows you to switch between 12MP and 48MP modes.
You’ll want to keep it at 12MP most of the time though, as this alternative offers better dynamic range, for more colorful shots. You only really want to move to the 48MP mode when you’re shooting in a well-lit environment outdoors.
48MP images do carry a lot more detail, but colors aren’t as vibrant and the file size for each image shoots up from 4-6MB to 14-20MB. With at least 128GB under the hood, it’s not like you’re going to run out of space anytime soon, but it’s worth bearing in mind, especially if you’re planning on saving them to the cloud or uploading them to social media.
There are plenty of features built-in, including 3x, 10x, and 30x zoom, nightscape for low-light situations, and the color filter lens provides four different, easily accessible effects to alter your images.
They’re not all that different from filters you’d find on Instagram, so their inclusion in the camera app of the OnePlus 8 Pro feels a little surplus to requirements – but they don’t get in the way if you don’t want to use them.
Zoom is an opportunity for improvement on the OnePlus 8 Pro, as although results are fairly good at all the magnifications, it’s not very impressive. At close range (2x magnification) the 8 Pro camera doesn’t appear to use the tele-lens, but the digital zoom on the primary cam does a decent job, with high detail and resolution in indoor and outdoor shots, albeit slightly soft results in low light. Higher magnifications reveal higher noise and blurriness.
It does brighten up darker pictures, plus it only takes 2-3 seconds to snap a picture, whereas some night modes can take up to 10. The results aren’t always good though, with shots taken with very little light source struggling to pick out details and appearing muddy.
Bokeh simulation in the OnePlus 8 Pros preview isn’t as accurate when shooting in portrait mode. However, in the preview, significant depth estimation artifacts are usually visible around the subject and blur intensity looks strong, while in the final rendering, subject masking is improved, and background blur is less intense.
Exposure and Contrast
The OnePlus 8 Pro achieves accurate exposure, high contrast, and good dynamic range. Target exposures are very bright in all lighting conditions down to low light, and although shots in extremely low light are slightly underexposed, shots remain usable.
The cameras perform correctly in outdoor conditions. It’s not quite the best for dynamic range in very challenging high-contrast or backlit scenes, with some minor highlight clipping visible, but it recovers shadows well.
Color is a nice strength for the OnePlus 8 Pro, with generally nice rendering, accurate white balance, and consistent results putting it in the same league as other top devices. Colors are vivid and pleasant in all lighting conditions, although sometimes a little oversaturated.
Autofocus on the OnePlus 8 Pro is very fast, but some small inconsistencies in sharpness mean it’s not quite as good as other alternatives when capturing images under hard lighting conditions. When shooting with bright light, the level of detail is high. Noise reduction also performs accurately, and results will be more pleasant if the cellphone is not shaking.
Noise is uniform across blurred and sharp areas in the OnePlus 8 Pro’s bokeh shots, and the effect is repeatable, with the camera delivering fairly consistent results each time. It also applies a natural gradient effect, with areas both in front and behind the subject blurred appropriately depending on their distance from the subject.
For video, the OnePlus 8 Pro shoots 4K footage at either 60 or 30 frames per second, with an additional 240 fps mode for slow-motion capture when you drop the resolution to 1080p. Video features also include Auto HDR for improved dynamic range in high-contrast lighting and gyroscope-enabled electronic image stabilization (gyro-EIS) for correcting unwanted motion effects in your video files.
Its 6.78-inch size, 1440 x 3168 QHD+ resolution, tall 19.8:9 aspect ratio, and 513ppi pixel density are par for the course when it comes to flagship smartphones these days, but the OnePlus 8 Pro panel goes further. The benefits of a higher refresh rate include smooth scrolling in apps, and better graphical fluidity in games, which overall provide a more premium experience.
Where the OnePlus 8 Pro differs is that 120Hz is switched on by default, although at “only” Full HD+. However, dive into the settings and you can switch to 120Hz at the higher QHD+ resolution. Surprisingly, battery drain is not affected drastically as one should suppose.
“Vibrant color effect pro” optimizes the colors and contrast in videos to provide a more vibrant picture, which is noticeable in especially colorful shows and films, and will please those who like a little more “pop” from their picture.
As usual, OnePlus has applied its Oxygen OS interface over the top of Google’s operating system, although for the most part it keeps things relatively stock Android.
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The OnePlus 8 Pro comes with a sizable 4,510mAh battery, which is the biggest OnePlus has ever put in a handset, and larger than the power pack you’ll find in the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus, Huawei P40 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the OnePlus 8 Pro could comfortably last a full day on a single charge with typical usage including gaming, video playback, social media, messaging, video calls, and photography.
Another trick the OnePlus 8 Pro has gained is reverse wireless charging. It allows you to use your OnePlus 8 Pro as a wireless charging mat to charge other devices compatible with the Qi wireless standard, such as a set of wireless headphones, or even a friend’s handset if they’re hitting single battery life digits.
The 8 Pro will automatically switch off-reserve charging once its battery hits 15%, to prevent the phone from being completely drained.
OnePlus has had a good streak over the years, but few of its phones have felt as complete as the OnePlus 8 Pro. We are now dealing with a proper smartphone that remained as the flagship for over a year, the kind that can go toe-to-toe with the best out there.
Cameras have always been a hot-button subject for OnePlus devices, and this time, it’s no different. Running with an impressive screen resolution and power capabilities – a 120Hz 6.78-inch QHD+ Fluid Display panel, plus a Snapdragon 865 – the 8 Pro is a true top contender.
It also sports the same main camera sensor, Sony’s new IMX 689 sensor. So, while it doesn’t get you as close to the action as some superzooms out there, it still boasts a cracking camera array, with a primary 48MP sensor with an f/1.78 aperture lens, a 3x telephoto with 8MP resolution, a 48MP ultra-wide, and a new Color Filter Camera, which can grab interesting looking shots.
We are expecting that the new OnePlus 9 with a Hasselblad collaboration will surprise us in every aspect. However, and as mentioned at the beginning, the OnePlus 8 Pro is still a great alternative to consider, with what could be a more affordable price tag, and still capable of delivering outstanding results in terms of photography.