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Xiaomi Redmi 2 camera review: no Leica this, but not bad for a budget smartphone

|February 10 2015 |Android Phones, Xiaomi, Reviews

“The Redmi 2 follows its predecessor and offers a pair of decent snappers”

The Xiaomi Redmi 1s (review) is pretty much at the top of our list whenever we’re asked for recommendations for a budget daily driver. Needless to add, we were quite excited when Xiaomi introduced a successor with upgraded specs and LTE support back in its home country, so much so that we had to get our hands on one.

Xiaomi-Redmi-2-019

The Redmi 2 (first impressions | FAQs) may not be a huge upgrade over its predecessor at first glance, the promise of 4G at a pocket-friendly price may well be the feature that could tilt the balance in its favour… when it lands officially in the country that is. Camera-wise, it seems quite similar, since it offers an 8-megapixel rear shooter (the same as the Redmi 1s), and a 2MP sensor at the front which betters the older handset just marginally in terms of resolution.

Xiaomi-redmi-2-camera

The camera app on the Redmi 2 is quite different as compared to the 1s since the new smartphone runs MIUI v6, the latest iteration of Xiaomi’s custom ROM. The camera app carries the same flat look-and-feel as the rest of the UI, and swiping left or right over the viewfinder gives you access to more options.

Xiaomi-redmi-2-camera2 Xiaomi-redmi-2-camera3

Swiping left displays a screen with live previews of the available colour filters, while swiping towards the right gives you access to the various shooting modes on offer, covering the likes of HDR, panorama, manual and handheld twilight.

Let’s get a slightly more detailed look at the Redmi 2’s camera performance and figure out if it can rock our boat when it comes to shooting shenanigans.

Long shot

Xiaomi-Redmi-2-camera-performance-longshot

Our standard daylight shot to evaluate general camera prowess turned out pretty decent. Upon closer observation, we think the colours seem a tad washed out, but overall, the camera performance of the Redmi 2 looks good enough for casual photography.

Close up

Xiaomi-Redmi-2-camera-test-closeup

The close-up fares even better, with the Xiaomi Redmi 2’s primary shooter throwing up accurate colours and and a result that generally looks good and pleasing to the eyes. The focus looks much better too.

Close up (zoomed in)

Xiaomi-Redmi-2-camera-test-closeup-zoomed

Zooming in closer on the same image we shot earlier, we can say that despite a slight loss in sharpness, the shot still looks decent and there is ample detail visible on the leaves. A slight depth-of-field effect is visible too, making the shot look quite natural.

HDR off

Xiaomi-Redmi-2-camera-review_HDR-off

The HDR mode is what we want to try out next, so we shot the scene you can see above in auto mode, just to see how things change when HDR is switched on. This shot looks a tad washed out , but that could be because of the bright sunlight… so let’s see what happens when HDR kicks in .

HDR on

Xiaomi-Redmi-2-camera-review_HDR

Turning the HDR mode on improves things drastically, as the scene looks livelier with much better colours and detail. The green on the trees looks better too, and notice how the treetops in the distance have now magically appeared – they were almost drowned out by the light earlier.

Front camera

Xiaomi-Redmi-2-camera-review-front

The 2-meg front shooter on the Xiaomi Redmi 2 (up from 1.6MP on the Redmi 1s) is good enough for video calls or the occasional selfie. The image looks decent with good clarity and colours.

Night shot

Xiaomi-Redmi-2-camera-sample-night

Night shots are the Achilles' heel of most smartphone cameras, and we can’t say that the Redmi 2 fares much better here. The image above displays a fair amount of graininess and softness, but still looks usable. Bear in mind that you’d need to hold the phone steady in your hands if you want usable shots from the device in low light.

Low light

Xiaomi-Redmi-2-camera-sample-lowlight

Shooting indoors in low light throws up similar results, and you can see the noise and the lack of sharpness. Again, the results aren’t totally unusable since we’ve seen a few others throw up overly dark images with only patches of the subject visible.

Low light (with flash)

Xiaomi-Redmi-2-camera-sample-lowlight-flash

With the flash switched on, the scene is bathed in even lighting and our subject looks happy with its two seconds of fame. The colours look fine, though again, the image could’ve been sharper. Still, the Xiaomi Redmi 2 should suffice if you use it for shooting subjects at close quarters with the flash on.

Overall, the Xiaomi Redmi 2 holds enough to satiate most when it comes to shooting prowess for everyday needs. That said, don’t expect photographic masterpieces. It can churn out reasonable results, especially in daylight and for close-ups… and the HDR mode looks like one of its strong points. We’ll have much more to talk about the device in the full review, so if you want to know how it fares as a daily driver, with details on things like its user interface, performance and battery life, do keep an eye out for that.



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