The OnePlus 7 Pro Review: Outstanding Performance & Screen, Adequate Everything Elseby Andrei Frumusanu on June 19, 2019 12:00 PM EST
Camera - Low Light Evaluation
One of the purported advantages of the IMX586 is that it’s able to achieve 4:1 pixel binning in its 12MP capture mode. This means that in effect the pixel pitch in terms of light capture ability ends up at 1.6µm – which is an increase and advantage over last year’s 6T’s 1.22µm module and even 1.4µm modules from the traditional sensor size crowd such as Samsung, LG, Apple and Google.
Again, what will be interesting in this comparison from a competitive stand-point is how the Honor 20 Pro and Oppo Reno stand up against the OnePlus 7 Pro as we can directly analyse whose software processing algorithms are superior.
As aforementioned, the OP7Pro night shots were done on the new 9.7.7 firmware which includes a new update and improved Nightscape low-light capture mode, which did improve things a lot compared to the release firmware.
In the auto mode, I have a very hard time to understand what’s happening to the OP7Pro here. The results are quite outright terrible and the phone is posting significantly washed out textures compared to what the Oppo Reno and the H20Pro are able to get. OnePlus here prioritised too much on having a longer exposure rather than higher ISO levels, so even though both the OP7Pro and the Reno both have similar resulting brightness levels, the Reno is massively sharper. The H20Pro is also far ahead, but granted the phone has a big advantage with its f/1.4 aperture lens. In Auto mode this is actually a downgrade from what the 6T was able to achieve.
Turning on Night mode notably improves things, however it’s not sufficient to compete with the top low-light performers. The Reno’s Night mode, while a bit flat, does significantly better in terms of detail and is a lot sharper. Google, Huawei and now Samsung remain as the top perfomers.
The OP7Pro’s wide-angle here was just a disaster and it didn’t focus correctly. Unfortunately OnePlus doesn’t yet offer Nightscape mode for the wide-angle module, and thus it’s far behind Huawei and Samsung in such shots.
Here while OnePlus was able to improve on the sometimes comical results of the 6T’s Nightscape processing as seen here, it’s still only good enough for a thumbnail as under closer inspection we see that the phone continues to lag behind other vendors. As seen in the 7 shots, whilst the night mode does brighten things up, it actually severely blurs out elements that were well lit.
The wide-angle continues to be uncompetitive.
When going dark and darker in scenes, we actually see that sometimes the Nightscape mode does improve some aspects, but again there’s a big compromise, as seen in this shot the text on the traffic sign is completely blurred out, while it was reasonably good in the auto mode.
The wide-angle is bad.
We continue with bad results; here yet again while the Nightscape mode is able to brighten things up a lot, we again see large degradations in the better exposed parts of the scene such as the pavement.
The wide-angle is having a hard time to capture much.
It’s only in effectively uniformly dark scenes where one can say the Nightscape mode is actually a no-compromise improvement over the auto mode. Here the OnePlus 7 Pro showcases much better results than the previous generation 6T.
Unfortunately that’s not enough for the latest generation phones as well as the new software updates from the competition. While the 7Pro is competitive against the Snapdragon S10 with the original low-light mode, Samsung’s new Night mode as seen in the Exynos shot above is leaps ahead of OnePlus.
The wide-angle is effectively blind here.
This last scene largely mimics the last shots, again while the OP7Pro would have been competitive against the S10’s original low-light mode, it can’t compete against the new improved variant.
Overall Low-Light Capture Conclusion – A Big Disappointment
It’s very much unfortunate that OnePlus wasn’t able to invest more efforts into its computational photography. Even with the very latest firmware update we’ve used here the phone simply has massive issues under low light. There are some shots we’ve seen today which do point out what some of the issues are with OnePlus Nightscape mode: Unlike Huawei’s, Google’s and now Samsung’s Night modes, it doesn’t just selectively stack areas for photo exposures, and instead does the whole frame, and it’s not able to correctly stack sections to as to avoid blurring. In effect the Nightscape mode should be good on a tri-pod, but it’s not competitive in hand-held mode.
This is solely something that OnePlus has to fix, as Honor and Oppo showcase it’s possible to achieve good results with the very same hardware sensor.