“The OPPO F1 Plus is among some of the best camera phones you can buy in the mid-range segment”
Smartphones have already replaced our point and shoots. It’s only a matter of time they start manufacturing phones which start challenging even pro-grade cameras. But given that it’s a gradual process, what we have right now is an occasional cameo of a camera-specific phone in the myriad of other smartphone launches, which is exactly what we’ve been shooting with for a past few days. It’s the new OPPO F1 Plus (first impressions), which features a 13-meg primary camera and utilises a whopping 16 megapixel sensor on its front-facing shooter. Ironically though, despite being selfie-centric, the phone doesn’t boast a front-facing flash. However, there is an LED flash module on the back.
The default camera UI is a tad different than what you might find on most phones. Instead of layering menus, OPPO has tried to lay out all the necessary settings and toggles within easy reach which you can access with a maximum of two taps. However, it’s a portrait layout, instead of landscape, which bugs us a little.
The viewfinder gets a virtual shutter key, on either side of which lie a preview toggle and a software button to access the shooting modes. There’s Ultra HD which stitches multiple images to create a new image with larger resolution, letting you improve the amount of detail you capture in a picture. The GIF mode is pretty self-explanatory. However, you get options to record the GIF in reverse as well. An option called Various Filters lets you apply as many as nine effects to your picture in real time. The Double Exposure mode allows you to get artistic and merge two completely different images and create something new.
Another mode called Expert Mode lets you tweak the white balance, exposure, ISO, shutter speed and focus to bring out the professional in you. Right above the virtual shutter key you get five options viz. Photo, Video, Time lapse, Beauty and Panorama. On the top of the viewfinder you get a toggle to operate the flash, another for the HDR mode, one to switch to the front camera and a toggle to control various things like the aspect ratio, timer, capturing using gestures, touch or voice. This is all there is to the OPPO F1’s default camera app. Now, let’s check out what it can create.
The OPPO F1 Plus captures impressive amount of detail, and good colours when it comes to landscape photography. The colour reproduction is close to natural and the overall picture quality of the images is decent. A fair amount of detail remains intact even after zooming in, and that’s what works in favour of the OPPO F1 Plus’ shooters, since we’ve come across a number of smartphone cameras which do capture decent looking landscape shots, which unfortunately turn into murky looking pictures when zoomed in. If you still don’t feel satisfied with the result, you can use the Ultra HD mode to one up the details captured. One qualm we do have with the camera is that the autofocus doesn’t work as fast as we’d have liked it to. The shutter speed is not the fastest we’ve seen, but it’s still decent.
This tiny orange flower was making up for the lack of colour amongst the dried branches and twigs…and that’s what we picked as our subject for the macro shot. You can find impressive depth in the picture. The flower in focus is simply popping in the picture…the tiny white flowers and the veins on the orange petals visible in all their glory. The overall image looks like something you can put up on Instragram… and show yourself off as a photography enthusiast. But for the sake of it…let’s zoom into the image and see how much of the detail remains intact.
Close up (zoomed in)
Virtually nothing changes even after zooming into the image. The veins on the orange petals are still just as sharp… their edges perfectly crisp, and not blurring into the background. The OPPO F1 Plus’ primary snapper aces at macro photography.
The shot above is beautiful as it is. The smartphone’s camera has managed to capture good colours, and details again. The colour variation is visible. Reflection of the trees in the glass windows is pretty eminent in the picture as well. We switched the HDR mode on after clicking this picture, and what follows are the results.
The HDR mode on the OPPO F1 Plus’ default camera app is one of the best we’ve seen lately. Instead of burning out the colours and making the entire picture look simply over-exposed, the HDR mode in this phone actually does what high dynamic range photography is. While the reflections in the windows look lighter and clearer, the window still enjoys its game of lights and shadows. We see something similar happening with the trees…their green popping. Interestingly, the sky which looks bland and white in the previous image, shows colours of evening in the HDR shot… which is exactly when this picture was clicked. We were more than pleased with the HDR mode on the OPPO F1 Plus’ camera.
Low light shot
In stark contradiction to what you can see, the above image was not shot in an absolute dark surrounding. However, the OPPO F1 Plus’s camera struggles when there is lesser ambient light. While you can see that there’s an object in the image, and the metallic elements have reflected some of the light, which has been captured, the overall result is quite disappointing. Let’s see if the LED flash can make up for it.
Low light (with flash)
The LED flash assisting the primary camera of the phone more than makes up for the lack of light. It hasn’t burned out the objects and the image looks evenly lit. We do not see bizarre reflection from the metal and the stones, and the colours look exactly how they did to naked eyes.
The OPPO F1 Plus does a good job when it comes to night photography. You can see colours, and a fair amount of detail. The branches, leaves, lights, and the vehicles…everything is easily distinguishable. While some grain has crept in, it’s almost inevitable in a night shot, especially when you’re using a smartphone’s camera. In a nutshell, the OPPO F1 Plus’ primary shooter won’t disappoint you if you’re out during night, taking pictures.
Front camera shot clicked outdoors (left), Front camera shot clicked indoors (right)
While we do not exactly stress about the front camera performance of devices, as most of them deliver similar results, the OPPO F1 Plus’ 16MP front camera did get our attention. The two shots above were shot in different lighting conditions. The selfie we clicked in natural light is flooded with detail. The image looks sharp and zooming in will allow you to see even the creases and fine lines in the skin. The picture shows slight hints of cyan, but overall, it’s a great selfie. While we’re at colours, the selfie we clicked indoors had a yellow tinge to it. The phone doesn’t capture as much detail in artificial light, and when you zoom into the picture taken indoors, it looks slightly blurry. That said, the overall picture quality is still impressive.
Front camera shot in low light (left), Front camera shot in low light with flash (right)
For some reason, OPPO found it appropriate to not provide an LED Flash for the F1 Plus’ 16MP front camera. However, you do get the screen flash feature. We found the feature a little weak, however, the image was evenly lit, which is a plus. Major amount of noise could be seen in the picture, but as they say, something’s better than nothing and the screen flash feature can save you from losing a moment which deserves a selfie, but the ambient lighting is not enough to take one.
Front camera with beauty mode
Selfie with Beauty mode off (left), Selfie with Beauty mode set to 7, Fair (middle), Selfie with Beauty mode set to 7, Rosy (right)
The Beauty mode in the OPPO F1 Plus’ default camera app is supposed to get you looking “Bright and Beautiful”. Brighten… it does. But our definition of beautiful doesn’t comprise absence of facial contours, and presence of skin we’ve only seen on mannequins. You can vary the smoothening and brightening on a scale of zero to seven, while setting preferred undertones for your skin. Fair, as it suggests, makes you look paler, while Rosy brings hints of pink to your picture. While the overall results seem a bit too extreme to us, we must say, the app does a great job fixing blemishes and discolouration on the face, which a lot of beautification modes in today’s smartphones fail at, by simply blurring the picture in such a way, that any discolouration looks like blotch. Since you can set the beautification to a lesser number like two or three, the Beauty mode on the OPPO F1 Plus’ front camera still gets a thumbs up from us.
The OPPO F1 Plus’ shooters deliver excellent results in almost all shooting conditions. The phone struggles in low light, but you get the LED flash, and the screen flash, to make up for it to some extent. At Rs 26,990, the smartphone directly competes with the Xiaomi Mi 5 (review). The Mi 5’s camera is a mixed bag, and the F1 Plus’ shooters beat its performance in the photography department hands down. How the device fares as a daily driver, we’ll let you know in our review, which will be out in no time.