OnePlus 9 Pro detailed Camera review | After the Update

today we are going to take a very detailed look at all the cameras on the OnePlus 9 Pro. Unless you were living under a rock for the past month or so, you must know that OnePlus has collaborated with Hasselblad, in hopes of improving the cameras on their phone. If you don’t know who Hasselblad is, then it is the company whose cameras NASA used to capture the images of the first steps on the moon. Here are some of the images from that Iconic Moon Mission, captured by Hasselblad cameras. As much as OnePlus wanted us to believe otherwise, truth is cameras on their phones have been average at best. Ones on the OnePlus 8 Pro were a big improvement but they still couldn’t stand head to head with the competition. So this collaboration with Hasselblad is them admitting that they need help improving the cameras on their phones.

Which is a great thing, and I am hoping to see greatly improved cameras on OnePlus smartphones going ahead. But what does this mean for the OnePlus 9 Pro? Although we see a lot of Hasselblad branding on 9 Pro’s box, and OnePlus couldn’t stop hyping this collaboration, Hasselblad actually had no input in designing of cameras on this phone. Yes, that’s right. They seem to have only helped on the software side, specifically they had a lot of input in helping these cameras achieve Natural Colour Calibration. Let us see if that really improves the images in any way. I have had this phone for a bit over a week, but I didn’t want to rush this blog, because I knew OnePlus would send a few software updates to improve the camera performance. And they did. I also knew you guys would want to know how the cameras perform after the said software update. Now we are going to take look at the specs of these cameras, and the changes that are brought to the camera app interface. If you want to skip this information, you can skip ahead and head straight to the image and video samples, from the chapters in the timeline of this blog. There are 5 cameras on this phone, 4 at the back and 1 at the front.

This camera module is now on the top left of the phone, unlike in the middle like on the OnePlus 8 Pro. It still sticks out a little, and the lenses stick out even more. The primary camera gets a 48 megapixel Sony IMX789 sensor with F/1.8 aperture and 23mm focal length. This camera gets a 7 element lens and Optical Image Stabilisation. Next up there’s a 50 megapixel Sony IMX766 sensor with F/2.2 aperture and 14mm lens. Yes, the wide lens on this phone gets a higher resolution sensor than the primary camera, which is really interesting. This wide camera gets focusing capabilities, so it also acts as a macro camera. Then there’s an 8 megapixel telephoto camera with F/2.4 aperture and 3.3x optical magnification. This telephoto camera also gets optical image stabilisation. And finally for some weird reason, there’s a 2 megapixel monochrome camera. Now the primary and wide cameras at the back, both are capable of shooting 8K 30fps and 4K 60fps videos. But the 4K 120fps video option is only available on the main camera. These videos are not captured in the slow motion mode so they are not slowed down in the camera, if you want to slow them down, you will have to do it in your video editing software. You can shoot 1080p slow motion videos at 240fps and 720p slow motion videos at 480fps. At the front, you get the same age old 16 megapixel Sony IMX471 with F/2.45 aperture. Interface of the camera app gets a few visual changes, the most prominent one being the normal white shutter button being replaced with this new Hasselblad orange colour. And you get a new shutter sound when you click a picture.

This is reminiscent of the shutter sound of the iconic Hasselblad camera. And the Pro mode also gets a Hasselblad logo, so maybe they now want us to call it Hasselblad Pro mode. The Pro mode is only for images, and there is no option to adjust settings while shooting videos, you can’t even switch to the wide lens in this mode, which is a bummer, because the wide camera is really good this time around. Other than the focus peaking option, there is nothing new in this Pro mode. Range for ISO is from 100 to 6400 and range for shutter speed is from 1/8000th of a second, all the way to 30 seconds. One thing that I would like to point out is the shutter lag, on this and all OnePlus smartphones. I have been talking about this for a long time now. And at this point, It is getting really annoying. It is even worse when you are taking higher resolution shots. After you take these shots with the main or the wide camera, you can’t take another shot for a good 3 to 5 seconds. For a phone having the latest processor, it sure seems to be lagging quite a bit, as you can see. With that, let us move on to the image and video samples. But before we do that, if you are new to this channel, please hit the subscribe button and the bell icon next to it. Because YouTube tells me, 90% of the people watching these videos still haven’t subscribed to the channel. It is free and takes less than a couple of seconds. But it goes a long way in helping my channel grow. Normally we begin with the image samples, but this time, let us start with the videos. You can shoot 8K 30fps videos with the main and even with the wide camera, which is amazing. And you get optical image stabilisation even while shooting at this resolution. In ample light, these 8K videos turn out very good.

But it takes up huge amount of storage space and I don’t have an 8K display to watch these videos on, so I stick to shooting 4K videos. You can shot 4K videos at 120fps and play them as they are, or you can slow the footage down in your editing software and look at how beautiful it looks. I always shoot at the highest frame that my smartphone camera supports, because when I need it, I can slow the footage down. All the frame rate options support OIS, and the stabilisation on this phone is very good. It might feel a bit jerky at times, but for the most part, it does a very good job. Sometimes the main camera won’t set the focus properly, and the elements in the video end up having softer edges. I had this happen on more than one occasion, and you don’t notice it when the video is being shot, or while looking at it on the phones display. But it is very clearly seen when look at the video on a bigger screen. Hopefully this is something that can be fixed with an update. Now the low light videos look decent, but they are no less grainy than the ones form other phones. You can turn on the NightScape mode in these situations, but it just bumps up the ISO and makes the whole video look even more grainy. NightScape videos are also capped at 1080p 30fps, so there aren’t enough details in them. So if you ask me, I wouldn’t take any videos where the is less than ideal light. Taking videos indoors in artificial light might give better results, but in these lighting conditions, I feel the NightScape is making the videos look worse. Other than that, I feel like the daytime videos from this phone are greatly improved over previous OnePlus smartphones. Something that I want to see fixed right away is this overheating warning. At first this phone got very hot even after using the camera just for 5-10 minuets, and I got this warning, which is very annoying. OnePlus says they are aware of the issue and are working on fixing it. I saw this overheating warning a little too often when I was taking these image and video samples, and it got a bit frustrating to wait for the phone to cool down before I can take more images. With that, let us now move on to the images, and we will begin with the ones that I took in bright daytime.

It was nice and sunny when I took these images, so there are a lot of details in these shots. This camera tends to over export the shots a bit, so every now and then, you will have to tap on the brightest part of the image or bring the brightness slider down a couple of notches. I have herd some people complain that the main camera on this phone over sharpens everything. I admit that we have seen OnePlus do this in the past, but I don’t really see that happening with the OnePlus 9 Pro. I haven’t compared these images with any of the other smartphone cameras yet, but on their own, I feel these images look good and detailed, and I won’t call then over sharp, at least not by looking at these images alone. I do feel that some of these images have a bit of blue or cool tint in them. This not a major issue, but the conditioned that I took these images in were very warm, and if you were there, you could easily see the warmth with your eyes, but that is not being reflected in these images. I feel that this is a white balance issue, and can be easily fixed with an update. Now I am not familiar with Hasselblad colour science, so I don’t know if this is because of that or not, but I don’t really think this phone is capturing natural looking colours. Don’t get me wrong, these colours aren’t, looking bad or anything like that, but this phone is making them look a bit dull. The colours in this shot looked much brighter in real life, and the leaves in this one had more vibrant warmth to them, and the OnePlus 9 pro failed to capture it. Again, I don’t feel these images are not good, but with all the Hasselblad hype, and with all the talk of Natural colour calibration, I just feel a bit disappointed. Every now and then it does capture good looking image with pleasing colours, I wish it was more consistent.

This phone does good with the dynamic range in these challenging lighting situations. You can see there is bright sun in the background in this shot, but you can still see lot of details and colour in the leaves. In this one, there is bright sky in the background and there was a fair bit of shadow on the headphones, but the camera did well to bring up those shadows, so we see lot of details, and the bight background is not over exposed. I like these shots very much. The sun was in the shot and I was afraid the beautiful colours of the mural on this building will be dark, but the HDR mode made sure that it looks good. This one in particular one turned out to be really great. This one has a bit of noise in the shadows, which you can see as I zoom in a bit, but I think the overall shot still looks good. After some great HDR shots, I got one of these. I don’t even feel like the HDR mode did anything here. There are no details in the tree, and the whole image looks really muddy. So again, I wish this camera performed well more consistently. I mean it has the capability to perform good, it just need to do it consistently. This is what the main camera captures, and here is how much more the wide lens lets you get in the shot. When OnePlus announced the OnePlus 9 Pro, I was more interested to check out its wide camera. It’s a 50 megapixel sensor which can take amazing images. These wide shots are incredibly detailed, this right here might very well be the best wide cameras on ant phones that I have tested. That being said, it does have some of the same issues as the wide lenses on other cameras.

Oneplus has worked on lens correction and the lines in these images do appear straight, but there is still some distortion towards the edges, it is prone to showing lot of noise in the darker parts of the images, and in many cases, it doesn’t show as good of a dynamic range as the main camera. This time OnePlus seems to have worked a bit on matching the white balance and colour temperature of these 2 lenses, but given the inconsistency of the main camera, sometimes we see slightly different colours in these images. All that being said, I really like the wide camera on this phone. And this lens has another trick up its sleeve, and we will get to it in a few moments. But before that, let us check look at what the telephoto camera offers. It lets you get 3.3x closer to the subject compared to the primary camera. While these zoomed in images look good, since it’s just an 8 megapixel sensor, there aren’t too many details in it. This lens does get OIS, which is important because as the focal length increases, it becomes difficult to keep the focus on your subject. Actually you can keep on digitally zooming in till you reach 30x. Now these images are not always usable and there is too much software processing going around, but you do have the option. I think 10x digitally zoomed images while having a lot of noise are still usable, but the 30x ones are not that great. All the images that we saw from the main camera till now, were 12 megapixel pixel binned ones. And as we saw before, they capture plenty of details. But you can switch to the higher resolution mode and capture 48 megapixel images, which should theoretically have more details. The main advantage of 48 megapixel images is that it captures more details, and you can zoom in lot more on them compared to the normal 12 megapixel ones, before they start falling apart. But to see the more that these images capture, you will have to zoom in 6-7 times, which is not something that we normally do on a smartphone. Normally the 48 megapixel images are not that great with the dynamic range, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with the OnePlus 9 Pro.

These images do take up lot more space, and you need to zoom ways in to see the difference, so for most of your images, I would suggest you to stick with the default 12 megapixel mode. You can take higher resolution wide shots as well. And while these are again more detailed than the normal wide shots, you will again have to zoom in 6-7 times to see the difference. So unless you are trying to capture images of some architecture or of some landscape, I would again suggest you to stick with the default resolution on this wide camera as well. Before we move on to the close up and macro shots, here is a quick focusing speed test. As you can see, it is quick at switching the focus from a far to near object in evenly lit lighting conditions. But in some conditions, particularly when there is more contrast in the shot, it sometimes looses the focus from the main subject. So again we see a bit of inconsistency here. Now despite of this, I found no focus hunting while trying to take these close up shots. I just pointed the camera at these subjects and the focus was set, so I would say the close up shots from this phone look very good. The main subject is in sharp focus, and the background gets a very nice optical blur. But since the main sensor is so big, the plain of focus is very narrow, and anything out of that plain starts showing a bit of fringing or distortion. This not the only phone with such problem. Most other android phones come with a huge camera sensor now, and most people have sort of got used to this. Remember I said the wide lens had something more to offer, well it has focusing capabilities so it also doubles as a macro camera. Just look at how good these macro shots look. These are pixel binned macro shots from the 50 megapixel sensor, so even at 12.8 megapixel, they have much more details than the macro cameras found on most other phones.

If you like to take macro shots, you are going to love the macro mode on this camera. The best thing is, you don’t even have to switch to the macro lens, if you move your camera closer to any subject, the phone automatically switches to the macro mode and helps you focus on closer objects. Let us now move on to the portrait shots. When you switch to the portrait mode, the camera defaults to a zoomed in portrait shot. Unlike on previous phones, it is not using the telephoto lens for this purpose. These are just zoomed in shots from the main camera, and while they still look good, there just isn’t enough details in them. Edge detection seems to be good and accurate, but since the main subject appears softer in these zoomed in portrait shots, I prefer taking wider portrait shots, and I wish there was an option to make it the default mode when switching to the portrait mode. The edge detection is not exactly perfect while taking wider portrait shots and it misses out on blurring some strands of hair, but it has got better with the software updates, the overall images now look much better. These images clearly look processed, specially when there was shadows on the face and the phone tries to make them look brighter, but I still like how these portrait shots turned out. Given right lighting conditions, OnePlus 9 pro can take really good portrait shots. Normally on most phones, the edge detection gets even better when I try and take portraits of objects. But for some reason, OnePlus 9 Pro really struggles any this. It takes a few attempts, before it can detect the edges of the main subject. It happened with me on more than one occasion, so if you use this phone to take portraits of objects, make sure to take multiple shots of the same subject.

Let us move to the images that I took in indoor, artificial and lower lighting conditions. Having a large sensor, Optical Image Stabilisation and wide aperture, all come together to help it take good images in lower light. Even as we zoom in, we see a lot of details in these shots. There is some noise starting to creep in the darker parts of the image, but you won’t notice it, unless you zoom way in. The smart scene detection option is on by default in the camera settings, and I would suggest you to leave it unchanged, because when the light gets even lower, the phone automatically switches to the NightScape mode, keeps the shutter open for slightly more time and captures brighter and much better looking image. If there is a light source around, and it is hitting the lens at a particular angle, you will see a bit of lens flair in your shot. In some cases it can be overpowering and completely ruin the shot. But you can take care of it just by moving to tilting your phone a bit, to by placing your hand between the light source and your camera lens. And just look at how much better the shot can turn out. The wide camera captures a lot of details in lower light as well, but since its optics and aperture are not as good as the main camera, there is a lot of noise in these wide shots. And unlike on the main camera, the wide lens doesn’t switch to the NightScape mode automatically. If you want to capture better images with the wide camera, you will have to keep in mind to switch to the NightScape mode your self. The Smart Scene Recognition mode is not perfect, and sometimes it might not switch to the NightScape mode even in these lighting conditions. In that case you can switch to it manually, and look how much better your image will turn out.

I like the night sight mode because, you don’t have to hold the phone steady for a very long time, and even if the phone is moved a bit the shot doesn’t turn out blurry. That brings us to the front facing camera. This is the same 16 megapixel sensor that OnePlus has been using for their selfie cameras since ages. That being said, may be it is because of the new ISP on the snapdragon 888 processor, or maybe OnePlus did a bit of fine tuning, but the selfies from this phone look more detailed than the ones from previous OnePlus Phones with the same sensor. Skin tones and overall colours look pleasing in most of the shots, and while OnePlus still need to work on making these images look better, I would say I am not too disappointed with these images. For the portrait selfies, the edge detection seems to be on point. Colours, skin tones and dynamic range, everything looks good in most of the portrait selfies. But every now and then, it still messes up the whole shot. So again, I just wish OnePlus keeps on delivering good looking images more consistently. I am in the common area of my building, so I am doing this with the mask on. Here is a video from the front facing camera of the OnePlus 9 Pro. You can see how it handles the overall colours of the scene, exposure and stabilisation when I am walking around with it. Those were all the image and video samples from the OnePlus 9 Pro that I had for you guys. After looking at over 110 image and video samples, I think we all can agree that OnePlus has done really well with the cameras on this 9 Pro, but something that they desperately need to work on is consistency.

This phone is capable of take really good images, and if it can do that consistently, I wouldn’t mind using it my main phone. If OnePlus had not overplayed the Hasselblad card and did not hype the cameras so much, I feel most people would have really liked these cameras. Now although the cameras on this phone are good, it seems like OnePlus shot for the moon, but only managed to reach the top of Mount Everest. So while Everest is still pretty high, it is nowhere close to how high or far the Moon is, and it feels like OnePlus missed what they were aimed for. Would you guys agree? Alright, these have been my thought after taking and looking at these images. But you guys saw the images too, so what do you think about them? Let me know in the comments. In my next blog, I will be putting the cameras on this OnePlus 9 Pro against the ones on the iPhone 12 Pro Max. So make sure you have the notifications turned on. If you guys are looking to purchase the OnePus 9 Pro, I will really appreciate if you get it from the affiliate links in the description section.

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