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OnePlus 3 camera review: an accomplished shooter

|June 14 2016 |Android Phones, Mobiles, Reviews, OnePlus, Camera Review

"The OnePlus 3 pulls all the stops with its cameras. Here are some image samples"

OnePlus 3_10

The OnePlus 3 has just been launched in India, and at Rs 27,999, offers a whole lot of bang for your buck. While specifications like an all-metal unibody design, 5.5-inch full HD AMOLED display, Snapdragon 820 processor, 6GB of RAM and a 3,000mAh battery with Dash Charge tech are enough to woo many potential customers, there's one area which deserves special mention. Of course, we're talking about the cameras. The OnePlus One and OnePlus 2 offered some of the better cameras in their price range, but the OnePlus 3 ups the ante here. The primary camera is a 16-megapixel unit that uses a Sony IMX 298 sensor with f/2.0 aperture, PDAF, OIS, EIS and 4K video recording. The front 8MP camera features f/2.0 aperture and can record video in 1080p. 

OnePlus 3_camera on OnePlus 3_camera modes

The camera app is almost identical to what we saw on the OnePlus 2, with a simple layout that offers access to just a few modes like Photo, Manual, Video, Slow-Motion, Panorama and Time-lapse. You also get quick toggles for HDR, the flash and an HD mode, which OnePlus says improves the clarity and detail in images. There's also an auto HDR option which is handy. You won't find any filters or special effects in the camera app, because these are tucked away in the gallery. The Manual shooting mode lets you easily adjust focus, white balance, ISO and shutter speed with an arc slider, and you can further adjust exposure by tracing your finger around the focus wheel. 

For the purpose of this camera review though, we've captured all images in full auto mode (unless otherwise specified) in a 4:3 aspect ratio. If you want to view the images in full resolution, you can open the samples in a new tab.

Long Shot

OnePlus 3_camera review_long shot

Captured on a cloudy afternoon in Bangalore, this long shot has turned out pretty well considering the lighting conditions weren't ideal. The clarity is really good for a smartphone camera, with even the buildings in the background in sharp focus. The image also looks evenly exposed, with colours captured accurately.

Close Up

OnePlus 3_camera sample_close up

Macros are our favourite type of photo to test, and in this case, the OnePlus 3 has done a stellar job. Not only has it captured the fly and the flower in sharp focus, but it's also blurred out the background beautifully for a nice depth of field effect. The colours in this image are spot on too, from the mauve of the flowers to the pale green of the leaves.

Close Up (Zoomed In)

OnePlus 3_camera performance_close up zoomed in

If you needed any further indication of the OnePlus 3's macro capabilities, this close crop of the image above should convince you. We were quite stunned at the level of detail visible in this image, from the furry edges of the flower to the fine hairs on the fly's body. But that doesn't compare to the way the camera has captured the fly's eyes – you can actually make out individual facets of the compound eye, and that's not an easy task for a smartphone camera.


OnePlus 3_image sample_HDR off

Captured on a bright sunny day, we don't have much to complain about this image, but there are some areas of shadow. Let's see if the HDR mode can spruce things up. 


OnePlus 3_image sample_HDR on

Turning on the HDR mode is like giving the image a fresh lick of paint. The overall sharpness has improved, and you can see more detail in the lush tree cover.

Front Camera

OnePlus 3_camera sample_front camera

Taken with the front camera, this sample shows the subject in clear focus. Skin tones appear natural, and the various colours in the subject are easily distinguishable too. There is a fair bit of noise though, even though the image was captured in ample daylight.

Night Shot

OnePlus 3_camera review_night shot

Night shots are usually problematic for smartphone cameras, but the OnePlus 3 has done a commendable job in this case. There's not much light in this image (because, powercuts), but there's still a lot of detail visible. You can make out the various fruit in the fruit shop, and see the wall art in the yoga centre at the top. There is visible noise, but we're happy with the overall sharpness of the image.

Low Light

OnePlus 3_camera performance_low light

Like night shots, low light images are also tricky for smartphones. In this case, there's a lot of grain, but you can still see the subject and the colours clearly.

Low Light (With flash)

OnePlus 3_camera test_low light with flash

Turning on the flash has improved the sharpness and visibility, but the flash isn't evenly distributed, or as powerful as we'd have liked. 

As you can see from the images above, the OnePlus 3 has cameras that should satisfy most shutterbugs. The camera outputs consistently good results across a variety of shooting conditions, including difficult ones like low light. The simple camera app and fast autofocus are ideal for when you want to capture the moment, and while the presence of more manual controls would have been welcome, this should suffice for most users who prefer to shoot in auto mode. We have lots more on the OnePlus 3 up on the blog, including our full review, comparisons, FAQs, and lots more, so be sure to check them out.

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