OPPO vice-president Brian S.Y questions DxOMark’s existence

“OPPO, interestingly, is one of the only companies that have steered clear of DxOMark’s smartphone camera benchmarking platform, and continues to do so.”

The smartphone camera is a ubiquitous electronic tool that is being used today by literally every single person around. In fact, smartphone photography has strongly emerged as a more dominant and extensively practiced photography form across the world, buoyed by easy availability, affordability and accessibility to a good camera. This, of course, has led to millions of queries on which smartphone comes with the best camera that money can buy, which further necessitated the presence of a universal benchmarking body that assesses all smartphone cameras on even ground. Enter, DxOMark.

Naturally, with such great relevance of work, you would imagine that pretty much everyone would find DxOMark pretty important in recent times. Only, not quite. Yesterday, OPPO’s vice president, S.Y Brian took to Weibo to raise a question regarding the relevance of DxOMark, and wonder why so many brands and individuals take stock of the camera benchmarking body’s rankings. Roughly translated, his post states, “I think I understand that a rating organisation may need to exist for smartphone cameras, but what about the subjective aspect of taking photographs? Can that be quantified and accounted for by a technical scoring standard? Should portraits of different people be beautified into one specific style? Do you really need DxOMark? Do all cameras need to be adjusted according to a specific standard?

DxOMark landing page - featured

While many would agree that he might have a point, there is a significant counter-argument to what Brian posted regarding the presence of a tallying body when it comes to any art form. While photography is indeed a fine art at the end of the day, what DxOMark does is quantify and analyse the hardware, or the tools, that facilitate the practice of this art. As an organisation that quantifies cameras of every shape and size, DxOMark employs a specific testing process that exposes cameras to a roughly uniform testing field.

This technical process, in a uniform field, brings out parities in terms of optical properties such as dynamic range, colour, colour range, native saturation, sensitivity, sensor properties such as banding, lens aberrations and other aspects of photography, all of which fall within the laws of physics, and are hence not subjective. This very factor raises the relevance of a body such as DxOMark. Put simply, what a DxOMark rating states is that if one person takes up two smartphones such as the Huawei P20 Pro and the Apple iPhone XR, and proceed to shoot the same scenario, under the same conditions with both the smartphones, the P20 Pro will take a better photograph than the iPhone (since the P20 Pro is rated higher). This keeps the subjective factors of photographic talent and ability, and environmental conditions similar for both devices.

Of course, there is no doubt that a largely inexperienced layman using an iPhone XS Max will take a shambolic photograph in comparison to what a professional expert might achieve with a Samsung Galaxy S7, a device that is multiple generations old. It is the same reason why people use benchmarks, and the relevance of DxOMark lies in the fact that in no way does the rating make a comment on the subjective aspects of photography.

A lover of anything that has a circuit and involves physics, Shouvik is passionate about technology, science and journalism in equal parts. When not at work, he prefers reading up on ancient history, sports and engineering, going on random photography expeditions, and occasionally a long solo drive. He's also neck-deep into science fiction, and is working on a debut novel that he hopes will one day be read by Steven Erikson.
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