OnePlus 5T: The Low Light Magician

 

How significant of an upgrade is the OnePlus 5T? Conchita Fernandes finds out.

OnePlus 5T

OnePlus 5T

When I reviewed the OnePlus 5 last year, it checked off almost all the parameters that one looks for in a cameraphone. Not too long after this, the company launched the OnePlus 5T, with some changes in phone design and camera features. Let’s find out what they are.

A Large Canvas for Viewing
The first, and most noticeable difference is the 6.01-inch screen with 1080p resolution and AMOLED display, in comparison to the 5.5-inch display on the OnePlus 5. The center home button with the fingerprint scanner has been removed, and instead, has been placed at the back of the phone, thus giving users a larger screen (in the front) for picture viewing and shooting.

The OnePlus 5 always looked good, but it wasn’t stunning or as eye-catching as some of the other flagship phones in the market. Even with the 5T, OnePlus has retained the same anodised aluminium body as its predecessor. The finish is nice and smooth. On the inside too, the 5T features the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and is supported by the Adreno 540 CPU.

I barely had to manually adjust the exposure. This picture was made in the auto mode, and the camera did an excellent job in selecting the right exposure for the scene.

I barely had to manually adjust the exposure. This picture was made in the auto mode, and the camera did an excellent job in selecting the right exposure for the scene. Photograph / Conchita Fernandes

New 20MP Camera for Low Light Capture
On the camera front, the 5T features the same dual lens rear camera setup as the OnePlus 5, but with a significant difference in function. While the OnePlus 5 had a 16MP f/1.7 primary camera and a 20MP f/2.6 telephoto camera, the 5T has a 16MP f/1.7 (Sony IMX 398 sensor) primary camera and a 20MP f/1.7 (Sony 376 sensor) secondary camera, for better low light capture (hence the wider aperture). As per the company’s website, the 20MP camera kicks in ‘when the ambient light is lower than approximately 10 lux’, which said to reduce noise and increase clarity in the photograph. Another change in the 5T is that it no longer features the 2x optical zoom that was present in the OnePlus 5. The camera offers up to 8x digital zoom. It didn’t matter as much to me, as I almost never use the zoom in feature while shooting.

The OnePlus 5T produces crisp photographs, and captures a significant amount of detail.

The OnePlus 5T produces crisp photographs, and captures a significant amount of detail. Photograph / Conchita Fernandes

Even though the secondary camera has been designed for low light capture, this does not imply that the camera is not equipped to make portraits with a shallow depth of field. There’s a Portrait mode within the 5T’s camera interface, as well as a Pro Mode that allows you to adjust the ISO (100-3200), WB (2300K-7500K), shutterspeed (30secs-1/8000sec), focus (macro to infinity) and exposure. You will also find a live histogram and a leveler that automatically appears on the screen, when you switch to the Pro Mode. Also, after tapping the screen to focus, the focusing ring can be detached from the main exposure ring, to anywhere on the image. You can also shoot in RAW, with DNG files as outputs. Both of these features are available only in the Pro Mode.

The OnePlus 5T records 4K videos at 30fps, 1080p videos at 60fps and 720p videos at 120fps. There’s also a 16MP camera with a Sony IMX 371 sensor on the front. However, there aren’t a lot of features at its disposal. For instance, you can only shoot stills in the auto mode and record 720p and 1080p videos, using the front camera.

What Makes the OnePlus 5T Incredible…
The OnePlus 5T is an extremely quick shooter. Since I love making pictures of strays, I used the burst mode to photograph them, and received good results. However, the 5T has a 20 picture burst rate, which in comparison to the Xiaomi Mi Mix or the iPhones (which have a 100 picture burst rate), is considerably less.

This photograph was shot just around the time that the sun was setting. I was able to recover details from the dark, shadow areas of the photograph. Moreover, the phone is an incredibly fast shooter. I rarely missed a shot that I wanted to create, such as this one, with the bird suddenly taking off.

This photograph was shot just around the time that the sun was setting. I was able to recover details from the dark, shadow areas of the photograph. Moreover, the phone is an incredibly fast shooter. I rarely missed a shot that I wanted to create, such as this one, with the bird suddenly taking off. Photograph / Conchita Fernandes

Where the OnePlus 5T really shines is in its low light capability. When using the Pro Mode, the camera produces great results up to ISO 400. After this point, while it still continues to do a good job, if you look closer though, there is a considerable increase in noise (which is to be expected), but also with a little sharpening. You won’t really notice this unless you zoom in closer or create large prints of your pictures. Regardless, the dual lenses manage to retain a very good amount of detail in low light situations. One other thing that I noticed in the 5T is that in low light, the auto WB tends to render an otherwise warm, yellow-looking scene into looking a lot cooler. Moreover, the lenses on rear camera are not the sharpest. In some of my pictures I noticed that the edges of the frame were a little blurry. In ambient light, the phone does a good job in capturing details and colours that are true to the scene.

As for the Portrait mode, the depth effect that was created was just about alright. It is best used when the subject is standing against a plain, non-cluttered background. But even here, I found that the camera manages to do a slightly messy job in blurring out sections of the subject that is supposed to be in focus.

I enjoyed how the OnePlus 5T rendered colours that were true to the scene. It did not oversaturate or undersaturate.

I enjoyed how the OnePlus 5T rendered colours that were true to the scene. It did not oversaturate or undersaturate. Photograph / Conchita Fernandes

Should you Upgrade/Switch?
If you already own the OnePlus 5, the 5T is not that much of a game changer. The OnePlus 5 already does a good job in low, as well as ambient light, while the 5T simply takes it up a notch higher. So unless you’re super concerned with the quality of your images, or are in need of a bigger screen, the OnePlus 5 is still worth keeping. However, if you’re looking to upgrade from the OnePlus 3T, or looking to buy a phone as good as the Pixel or iPhone, and one that’s not too expensive, the 5T is definitely worth buying. The phone is priced at Rs. 37,999, for 8GB RAM and 128GB storage.

AT A GLANCE
SPECIFICATIONS 6.01-inch display, 16MP f/1.7 & 20MP f/1.7 dual lens rear camera, 16MP front camera, Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, 8GB RAM, 128GB storage, Rs. 37,999
WHAT WE LIKE Low light performance, RAW shooting
WHAT WE DISLIKE Average Portrait mode, no 2x optical zoom, not the sharpest lens
WHY BUY IT The OnePlus 5T is an affordably priced phone that offers great image and video quality, along with a big screen for incredible viewing.
FINAL RATINGS 81%
CAMERA FEATURES 16MP and 20MP dual lens rear camera, 16MP front camera 23/25 
IMAGE QUALITY  Great low light performance, and good detail retention  27/30
VIDEO QUALITY 4K (30fps), 1080p (60fps), 720p (120fps) 13/15
HANDLING  Light, easy to shoot with  13/15
SPEED & RESPONSIVENESS Speedy phone with no lag 14/15
Tags: Better Cellphone, better photography, Conchita Fernandes, January 2018, OnePlus 5T