Recently we reviewed the OnePlus 8 Pro and thought that finally OnePlus had brought a premium level smartphone camera experience to their premium device. To our naked eye the images produced by it were really good and were comparable to those produced by the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra.
Well-known camera review site, DxOMark has now published their own camera review and agree, scoring the camera at 119. That placed it above a lot of decent camera phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S20+, the iPhone 11 Pro Max and the Pixel 4 and was enough to make it into the top 10 of smartphone cameras — according to DxOMark.
Comparing the images on the site in the review showed that the OnePlus 8 Pro camera produces some really good imaging and although lacked a bit in the zooming and ultra-wide areas it led them to the conclusion:
By and large the OnePlus 8 Pro is a solid performer, too, with no serious weaknesses identified in our tests, and the primary camera is particularly good, thanks to excellent exposure and color, high detail, and well-controlled noise.
As you can see in the images below the photos from the OnePlus 8 Pro were fantastic and although they weren’t up to the quality of the Huawei P40 Pro (no camera is, it’s just unfortunate it is not allowed to run Google apps) they were still pretty damn good. What does this mean? Are smartphone cameras at the premium end these days just all good and you will not be unhappy with any of them?
Leaving the Huawei P40 Pro aside (it’s just in a league of its own) we have 16 smartphones within 9 points of second place on DxOMark’s ranking. And when you consider that often images produced are very subjective on what you like/want etc it makes it even closer.
So when we talk about smartphone cameras, especially at the high end, why are we even bothering to try to out shoot one from another? All smartphones at the premium end seem to be producing very similar quality imagery. Is it just a flex? Bragging rights?
When you put images from one phone next to those from another you can often tell there is a difference — but does that mean that one is bad? Not always. they are just different. One camera software may enhance the edges more, one may highlight colours more or one may produce a more true-to-life image than the other.
Think about this, the Pixel 4 is well known for producing amazing images and yet sits way down the leaderboard over at DxOMark — who have to somehow split hairs but why are we bothering? Sure it may not have the bells and whistles of some cameras but it produces amazing imagery for 99 percent of cases — low light, good light and bokeh/portrait. This is what most people use most of the time (100% of those surveyed said so).
In the end it doesn’t matter if one phone is apparently better than another or scored higher than another. It needs to produce what you like. Most people share photos on social media which compresses images etc and thus any discernible difference is often lost.
From now on maybe we should just say whether a camera is up to scratch or not and give some sample images of different scenes without trying to see where it sits compared to others. After all, especially for premium smartphones, the images all seem to be well past the acceptable mark. Mid-level phones though may be different — is that the new camera battlefront?
What do you think?