Sunday, July 19, 2015

OnePlus One Smartphone Camera Tests


I have the Nokia 808 Smartphone, which has one of the best, if not the best, camera in any phone past or present. Unfortunately, its use as a multi-purpose device has become limited due to non-availability of newer apps on its Symbian Operating System. Also, the relatively small sized screen and resolution, coupled with an older CPU and limited RAM, makes reading documents on it a slow and painful experience.

After checking out the different models on offer, i decided to get the OnePlus One
as it has the specifications of the flagship models of the major brands, at half the price. Also, it was rumoured to have a decent enough camera.

I did some tests to check out the image quality of this camera and also compared it against the Nokia 808. For good measure, i also added the Nikon D750 full-frame DSLR to the mix :)

The Cameras

Camera Sensor Sensor Resolution (MP) Sensor Size Photosite size (Microns) Lens Flash Image Format
OnePlus One Sony IMX214 13 5.87mm diagonal 1.12 x 1.12 f/2.0. No Image Stabilization. FOV = 28mm in 35mm terms. LED Raw (DNG) & Jpeg
Nokia 808 41 10.67 x 8 mm 1.4 Zeiss f/2.4. No Image Stabilization. FOV = 28mm in 35mm terms at 4:3 aspect ratio. Xenon Jpeg
Nikon D750 24 36 x 24 mm 5.95 Nikon f/3.5-5.6 28-300mm VR On-board Raw (NEF)

The Tests

  1. The tests were performed outdoors during the daytime under sunlight, and indoors at night, illuminated by a 40 watts fluorescent tube light.
  2. Each shot was taken twice and the best of the two chosen.
  3. OnePlus One was shot with camera app FV-5 and was set to capture Jpeg as well as Raw DNG images.
  4. Nokia 808 was shot is full resolution 38 MP (in 4:3 aspect ratio) as well as in 8 MP pixel-binned mode (which gives better SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio)). There is no way to capture in Raw image format.
  5. Nikon D750 was shot in Raw. The lens focal length was set to 28 mm (to equal the field of view (FOV) of the phone cameras and aperture was set to f/5 i.e. one stop closed from fully open.
  6. All Raw images were processed in Adobe Lightroom 5 then converted to jpegs. All jpeg images were left as is.
  7. Processing of Raw images in Lightroom consisted of -
    1. Recovering highlights.
    2. Removal of Chromatic Aberration.
    3. Noise Reduction (Colour and Luminance).
  8. For the outdoors shots, each phone camera was set to Auto and all the images are in the ISO 100 - 200 range.
  9. Indoors shots were taken with and without flash. Due to the weak LED flash in the OnePlus One, ISO 400 was used for the flash shots. The Nokia 808 has a powerful Xenon flash, and it doesn't allow ISO to be set when flash is used, so its ISO was in the range 80 - 100.
  10. For the indoors shots without flash, as the camera phones did not have image stabilization, and their lens equivalent focal length was approximately 28mm, a shutter speed of 1/30s was used. This caused the OnePlus One to use ISOs slightly above ISO 1,000. The Nokia 808 doesn't allow its shutter speed to be set directly, so its ISO was set to 800, which gave shutter speeds slightly slower than 1/30s.


When viewed at Full HD (1920x1080) resolution on my 15.5 inch laptop screen, there is negligible difference in image quality between the outputs of all the cameras.

OnePlus One  -  1/30s f/2 ISO 1069  13 MP DNG


But, for the indoors shots, viewing at 100% is a different story altogether.

The OnePlus One's jpeg images are badly smeared due to jpeg artifacts, as shown in the 100% crop below.

In these situatations, the Raw DNG output of the OnePlus One is a lifesaver. The details are quite sharp, though the image is noisy (due to the tiny photosites), as shown in the image below.

The 100% crop from the 8 MP output of the Nokia 808 is shown below,

Followed by the 38 MP crop from the Nokia 808 below,

Please click on above image to view the 100% crop.

And finally, the 100% crop from the D750 is shown below.

The outdoors shots from the OnePlus One are good, as shown below. Please click on the image to view/download its full size version in Flickr.

OnePlus One  -  1/100s f/2 ISO 151 13 MP DNG

In good light, the only advantage of the Raw DNG output (over the Jpeg one) is that there is leeway in recovering highlights, as can be seen if you compare the highlight dominant parts in the upper halves of the outdoors images.

Full-size versions of the test images are available in this Flickr Album.


In good light outdoors, the OnePlus One produces good results.  

Indoors, it is essential to shoot Raw and postprocess the image, in order to get  an image that isn't too jarring to the senses :)

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