Oppo Find X3 Pro Review: Beautifully Consistent Cameras Leave a comment


Oppo isn’t following the herd with the new Find X3 Pro’s camera system. While most companies use different sensors for the main and ultrawide camera, Oppo has used the same sensor, resulting in it having two “primary” cameras. The result is consistency across your photographs, with both the main and ultrawide cameras delivering the same visual tone.

That’s not all either, there’s an unusual super-macro camera too, which along with a 10-bit color mode makes the Find X3 Pro a very tempting device for the keen photographer. Does it live up to the spec sheet hype?

Design and Camera Hardware

Proof Oppo is going its own way with the Find X3 Pro is right there from the start due to the unibody design. Instead of the cameras being placed in a separate module on the back of the phone, the rear is all one single piece of Gorilla Glass 5, with the cameras set inside a curved, flowing section in the top left. It’s a very unusual design, and unlike any other smartphone available today, although the placement of the cameras recalls the pattern seen on the iPhone 12 Pro.

The standard camera has 50-megapixels and an f/1.8 aperture with optical image stabilization (OIS), and the ultrawide 50MP camera has an f/2.2 aperture. Both have Phase Detection Autofocus (PDAF). It’s joined by a 13MP telephoto camera with a 2x optical zoom and PDAF, and a 3MP macro camera with up to 60x magnification. In a hole-punch cutout in the screen is a 32MP selfie camera.

The camera can shoot 10-bit color photographs, if your activate the feature in the settings, and the resulting stills are saved as .HEIF files. The 6.7-inch AMOLED screen can display 10-bit colors when the Vivid setting is active, so you can view your photos in all their one-billion-color glory, plus it has a 3216 x 1440 pixel resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate.

The Find X3 Pro has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, the choice of 8GB or 12GB of RAM, and 256GB of internal storage space. The 4,500mAh battery can be charged in around 30 minutes, plus there are both wireless charging and IP68 water resistance. It’s all wrapped up inside a sleek 8.3mm thick phone body weighing just 193 grams. The Oppo Find X3 Pro is every bit a modern flagship phone, while still being quite compact compared to phones like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Camera App

Using the Find X3 Pro’s camera app will be familiar to most. It stays with the tried-and-tested swipe menu below the viewfinder, containing Night mode, Video, Portrait, and a More option containing the Pro mode, features like Dual-View Video which uses the front and rear care as at the same time, and the 60x Microscope mode.

It’s highly customizable. The AI Scene enhancement can be quickly deactivated if you prefer, there’s a quick access Beauty mode slider to remove unwanted effects when taking photos of people, along with different filters and the HDR mode in the menu at the top of the screen.

Buttons for the wide-angle, 1x, 2x optical, and 5x digital zoom modes are easily found, and everything works quickly. I have had a few issues with the camera app which when accessed directly from the Lock Screen sometimes doesn’t work properly. Exiting to the Home Screen and going back into the app usually cures the problem, and it doesn’t happen every time.

Main Camera

We’re going to talk about the main and the wide-angle camera together, rather than separately. Are we really dealing with two primary, inseparable cameras that produce the same look? For the most part, yes we are. Oppo’s use of the same camera sensor has resulted in consistent colors, tone, warmth, and detail whether you’re taking a standard or wide-angle shot.

Standard
Wide-Angle

The sky remains almost the same shade of blue across both example photos, the wide-angle shot exposes shadows in a uniform fashion, the same as the standard camera, and the green grass and red sign are very close in tone. It’s highly unusual for this to happen on a smartphone, as most devices use different sensors for the main and wide-angle, which have different performance.

These two examples do show how the Find X3 Pro can slightly oversaturate, and how white balance is better on the standard camera than the wide-angle (take a look at the building in the center of the shot, for example), but there’s plenty of detail in both, and I’d be happy to share them without feeling it necessary to edit first. The f/2.2 aperture can mean the wide-angle suffers in poor lighting conditions compared to the standard camera when consistency suffers.

However, these minor downsides don’t outweigh the wonderful feeling of not ignoring the wide-angle camera because the results may not capture the scene effectively or naturally. I’ve found myself taking a photo with both cameras, regardless of the scene, and being able to choose the best, instead of just being disappointed by the wide-angle shot.

I think the Oppo Find X3 Pro’s primary cameras are excellent. They take great photos when you want, with the minimum of fuss, and this gave me the confidence to rely on it. Oppo’s success here could prompt other phone makers to adopt a similar setup in the future.

2x and 5x Zoom

The Find X3 Pro takes 2x optical zoom shots and has the option of a 5x digital zoom available on the zoom selector. The 2x optical zoom photos are very good, with plenty of detail and a pleasing dynamic range. However, there are times when 2x zoom isn’t that different from the standard shot you would take. It does feel less useful than the 3x optical zoom on the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Switch to 5x and the results aren’t unusable at all, although photos can look quite soft, and there’s a definite lack of detail compared to the 2x. This is immediately evident in the (10-bit color) photos of the goose here. At 2x the feathers are clear and defined, and the water has movement, texture, and realism. At 5x, the water loses a lot of detail, and the goose’s feathers are considerably less defined.

If you manually adjust the zoom it can go up to 20x, but you really won’t want to do this. There is a distinct switch between cameras above 10x, where the photos become pixelated, the color temperature changes for the worse, and the results are poor. While I’d prefer the camera to have a 3x optical zoom, the 2x photos are very good and equal the results I got from the iPhone 12 Pro which has the same optical zoom capability.

60x Microscope

This is a feature that really shouldn’t be as much fun as it is. The Find X3 Pro’s “microscope” camera takes shots that would be impossible with any other smartphone. The photo here is of the material used to make my mouse pad, just at a micro-level. There are two settings, close and really close, and this is taken at “close,” which provides the best mix of detail and quality. Go to “really close,” and pixelation is introduced.

Taking these shots is surprisingly easy. The camera almost touches the subject, and you shift the phone around to let in light so if focuses, then hit the shutter button. It’s simple, rather fun, and produces unusual results. I’ve really enjoyed using the microscope camera on almost everything in my home, and lots of things outside it too.

Yes, it’s a gimmick, but it’s a gimmick that works, makes you smile, and will undoubtedly impress your friends at some point. It is a great fun feature.

Portrait Mode

Portrait mode produces a strong artificial bokeh effect when used on simple objects, but the edge recognition isn’t perfect even when the subject isn’t complicated. The post in the example photo shows where the software gets confused down the left hand side, adding blur where there shouldn’t be any. However, overall it’s a crisp effect, but obviously artificially generated.

Used on more complex subjects including people, it has trouble separating the foreground from the background. In a photo of flowers, the camera correctly isolated the flower, but blurred only part of the stem. There’s also no facility to adjust the level of blur or refocus in the Oppo editing suite, making the Portrait Mode one of the least impressive aspects of the Find X3 Pro’s camera. Additionally, Portrait shots cannot be taken with 10-bit color.

Night Mode

Night mode needs to be manually selected, as the camera doesn’t automatically switch in conditions where the low-light setting would help. In low ambient light indoors, Night Mode is very good, although it does take a few seconds for the image to process after tapping the shutter button and the shot being saved.

The photo of the watches was taken in very low light, yet the colors have been captured accurately — the watch on the left is very close to the actual color — and there is texture on the metal of the watch on the right, and on the copper tubing. It hasn’t managed to expose the screws on the case of the left watch, and instead just made them black circles.

When shooting at dusk, it’s best to rely on the main camera’s f/1.8 aperture for realism, as although Night mode increases detail, it is mostly unnecessary, and there’s a considerable amount of edge enhancement too. Once it gets much darker, Night mode performs as well outside as it does indoors, with accurate tones and impressive dynamic range.

10-bit Color and Video

The 10-bit color mode is activated in the Settings menu, and warns that images will be saved in a different format. It’s a permanent setting too, so once it’s active, it stays on even after the phone has been restarted. This may frustrate some people if format compatibility is a problem, and the camera does not save a more standard .JPEG file to go along with the .HEIF file. The usefulness, or attraction, of the 10-bit color feature will depend on the equipment you own to view photos off your phone, and the software you use to edit images.

The 10-bit color mode is a niche appeal feature. I struggled to see any difference between a 10-bit color photo and a normal 8-bit version on the phone’s screen, and as my own monitor doesn’t display 10-bit images, it had no impact on my camera use at all. If you’re set up to view and edit 10-bit image files, you will likely have a different view.

Video can be shot at up to 4K resolution and 60fps, plus there’s a Super Steady stabilization mode, much like the Samsung feature found on the Galaxy S21 Ultra and older Galaxy phones. There’s a Night mode for video, and a variety of live filters too. Video performance is good, but it’s not the Find X3 Pro’s strong point. It does everything you’d want, and matches what we see on phones including the Galaxy S21 and the iPhone 12, but doesn’t stand out.

A Great, Unusually Consistent Experience

I absolutely love the consistency of the Find X3 Pro’s camera. It makes the standard and the main camera usable in all situations, and you’re mostly guaranteed of a good result regardless of which you choose at the time. It’s frustrating on some other cameras to see a wide-angle shot look much worse than a standard shot, due to poor dynamic range and exposure. This doesn’t happen with the Find X3 Pro, and it makes it more enjoyable to use.

The microscope camera is also a surprise. It’s different, it creates colorful and detailed images, and while it won’t be used everyday, it will do something no other smartphone does. Even if you only ever use it to generate new wallpaper for your phone, it’s still a fun inclusion. Sadly, for me, the 10-bit color mode doesn’t add any value and it’ll be the same for anyone else who isn’t invested in displaying 10-bit color images already.

The cost and availability of the phone is a barrier though, as at £1,100 it’s right up there with the superb Samsung Galaxy S12 Ultra, and more expensive than the excellent Apple iPhone 12 Pro, too. Oppo doesn’t sell its smartphones officially in the U.S. so you’d have to import one, and the exchange rate at the time of writing makes it around $1,525. It’s available in the U.K. and Europe now.

Are There Alternatives?

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is the best alternative for those wishing to stick with Android, but the iPhone 12 Pro Max is also a good choice. However, these and other competitors don’t offer the same sensor in two cameras, however, which makes the Oppo Find X3 Pro stand alone somewhat.

Should You Buy It?

Yes. The Find X3 Pro is a very desirable, compact, and powerful smartphone with a highly competent camera, which includes features and technology not seen on other phones.





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