As we covered the launch of the Oppo R5 and Oppo N3 in Singapore a few weeks ago, most of the presentation focused on the image quality of the Oppo N3, and on the special optics that were being launched with both devices. Some of us in the room were a tad shocked because the company decided to ask a professional photographer to showcase all the camera improvements that both devices included, and hearing phrases like “this phone allows me to leave my DSLR camera at home” when referring to the N3. The R5 didn’t receive the same tall order of praise, but it was still regarded as a great camera nonetheless. Since the R5 arrived at our Pocketnow Labs a few days ago for review, we decided to take the camera out for a spin
According to the spec sheet, the Oppo R5 sports a primary camera with a 13-megapixel Sony Exmor IMX214 BSI sensor, along with a lens system that’s certified by Schneider, and the company made a big deal about this. Oppo goes far into boasting the image processing power of its new “Pure Image 2.0” processing, and this primary camera is packed with a bevy of shooting modes, even though only basics are available by default. You’re then given the option to download more shooting options for free, and the list includes Normal, Ultra-HD, Colorful Night, Slow Shutter, Expert Mode, Beautify, HDR, Panorama, Audio Photo, GIF, Double Exposure, Raw, Super Macro and After Focus. Features like “Normal, Expert Mode, Slow Shutter, Beautify, GIF, HDR, Panorama and Raw are self explanatory, but that’s not even half of the story. Ultra HD allows you to take 50 megapixel photos, even though these are stitched together, Audio Photo allows you to add music, Double exposure allows you to duplicate an object twice in a photo, and After Focus allows you to take the shot and fix it later, just as a Lytro camera can.
In the case of the front facing camera, this is a 5-megapixel front-facing sensor with an 83 degree wide angle lens. Both cameras have f2.0 aperture, and both cameras can record 1080p video at 60 fps, or 720p slow motion video at 120 fps.
Oppo R5 camera samples: daylight
As is the case with most smartphones today, the Oppo R5 shines when it comes to daylight photography. In a nutshell, outdoor photos look pretty good. Decent sharpness, no noise. The low ISO and high shutter speed really help the image quality, although you can see some artificial sharpening along the edges. Even though the camera includes both an expert mode and HDR mode, the Normal mode does the best job overall. HDR in daylight is definitely overbearing, and you’ll notice how the image completely loses contrast in favor of more light.
Oppo R5 camera samples: low light
I’m honestly surprised at this device’s performance in low light. It’s definitely no Lumia and no iPhone 6, but it does a far better job than many of its competitors at a higher price point. Low light without a flash and filters will definitely render a noisy photo most of the time, but HDR actually helps boost the detail and the sharpening in the photo. When comparing the same shot with different modes, you’ll notice that there is much less noise with HDR than the similar shot at a higher ISO. Shapes are smoother, and a bit sharper, but the dynamic range really isn’t significantly wider than the low-light high-sensitivity shot. A neat trick in low light is to use the flash on the street, where you’ll notice that even though distant subjects won’t be benefited by the light of the LED, color is much more accurate than with HDR.
The only challenge with low light is that it’s really hard to take a good shot and not get blurry results if these are from a distance. The camera does a great job at focusing on subjects close to it, but the software continuously struggles with objects at a distance.
Oppo R5 camera samples: front facing camera
Probably my biggest disappointment is the front facing camera. The wide-angle lens does a great job in capturing more content for a selfie, but the beauty filters are just overbearing. There’s a toggle to reduce the effect of these filters, but it seems the software needs to do a better job at actually turning the feature off. Sometimes users would rather trust Instagram to do these types of things.
Oppo R5 camera samples: extras
We’ll dive deeper into all the extras included in camera in our full written review next week. So far, I can say that features like double exposure are nice gimmicks you’ll most probably never use, but I can’t say the same about the Super Macro mode. This feature can be really useful for dramatic closeups, or when you need more detail from a far.
In the statue photo, notice that the statue’s face looks clean of noise, perhaps due to the texture. Though maybe it could be sharper, but the background is very splotch. Obviously this isn’t perfect as a blurry bokeh is supposed to be smooth, and this has lots of large particles of noise in it. Still, it’s a feature that’s definitely nice to have.
Oppo R5 camera samples: video
Video modes include options for 1080p video, 720p, 480p, HDR and even slow motion. The camera does a very good job when filming, and also quickly adjusts to changes in lighting condition. My only complaint is with its audio capture, which sometimes gives the speaker some trouble to reproduce. If you notice that the camera continuously re-focuses, that’s actually me trying to play with the lighting by tapping on the display. The camera won’t do that on its own, which is a good thing.
We’ll have more camera samples and video samples in our full review of the Oppo R5. So far, this is not what we’d call the perfect smartphone camera, but given the size limitations of this device, I’ll admit that I’m impressed at how well it performs when compared to other devices that have a steeper price tag.
Adam Z. Lein contributed to this report.