We have just over two weeks to go until the OnePlus 7 is unveiled, and details about the device are coming in thick and fast. We already know that it will have a triple camera array at the back, and one of the lenses will offer 3x optical zoom. The folks at Wired got their hands on a "near final" pre-production model of the device, giving us an early look at what the camera is capable of.
In addition to the zoom lens, the phone will feature a 48MP primary camera that uses pixel binning to produce 12MP photos. The third lens wasn't revealed, but it was confirmed to not be a time-of-flight module, meaning we'll likely see a wide-angle shooter. Speaking to the publication, OnePlus imaging director Simon Liu said that the decision to add an optical zoom lens was motivated by user feedback:
From a pro photographer's point of view, one of the main differences with a smartphone is the optical zoom.
On our previous phones, we wanted to maintain a nice phone body that wasn't too thick, and to make sure the lens didn't stick out too much. In this case, the users' input on forums helped me to get these features onto the phone. But we tried to find the balance over the entire phone experience.
The photos taken with the 3x optical zoom lens come out with plenty of detail, and the image quality in general is a definite step up over earlier OnePlus phones.
The OnePlus 7 Pro will retain a similar camera interface as the 6T, with Liu noting, "Our main goal is to give users a simple user interface." Wired also mentioned that the zoom lens isn't quite as good as the one on the P30 Pro, with "marginally less detail, more noise and less mid-tone contrast." To his credit, Liu admitted as much in the interview:
I think we have a shot at competing with the first tier phones. I don't think we can beat them, but the imaging world is always subjective.
But where the brand seems to be making a lot of headway is low-light photography — there will be a dedicated night mode that's similar to what Huawei and Google offer, and the shot below highlights just how far the brand has come in this area:
Although the OnePlus may not challenge the likes of Google or Huawei just yet, Liu said the goal was to improve on what the brand has offered in the past:
We're bringing a lot more clarity and density to our pictures. Our pictures are a lot more detailed compared to our previous phones.
Our competitors use AI scene detection and we do similar stuff, but the point is not to show it to the user. Most of it is behind the scenes. We slightly change the tuning but OnePlus users shouldn't expect too much difference on the surface. If you're trying to shoot a plant and the camera tells you it's a dog, that's not useful.
OnePlus also made several changes to HDR to make it more natural, and it looks like portrait mode is also getting a tune-up:
The portrait mode is more natural. The bokeh effect is closer to what you'd get from a professional lens. Previously it was more artificial, to prove that there is an effect, but when you're using a digital camera, it's not actually that strong.