Over the past year or so, mobile photography has taken a rather predictable path, with most brands going for higher megapixel counts and adding a number of editing effects and shooting options. OnePlus, of course, decided to follow a totally different path.
OnePlus 9 Pro does not get into the 108 megapixel wars and instead focuses on hardware that is designed to deliver a good experience.
Over the past year or so, mobile photography has taken a rather predictable path, with most brands going for higher megapixel counts and adding a number of editing effects and shooting options. OnePlus, of course, decided to follow a totally different path. The brand made headlines earlier this year when it tied up with one of the most famous names in photography, Hasselblad (the first camera on the moon!), and the OnePlus 9 Pro reflects the impact this tie up has had on not just OnePlus' own photography, but mobile photography in general.
To begin with, the OnePlus 9 Pro does not get into the 108 megapixel wars and instead focuses on hardware that is designed to deliver a good experience. Some people might not get too impressed by the numbers of the 48 megapixel main sensor of the phone, but go behind them and the potential of the camera becomes obvious. The main sensor is a large 1/1.43 inch custom-built IMX789 sensor co-engineered with Sony, with 2×2 on-chip lens (OCL).
There is also support for 12-bit RAW, dual native ISO and also DOL-HDR. The lens captures much more colour information than other lenses. What does this mean? Well, simply this: the OnePlus 9 Pro comes with one of the fastest focusing speeds you can get on a phone camera. A tap on the screen immediately shifts focus. On the video front, this sensor features 16x the pixel count of standard 1080p, ensuring greater detail and clarity. It can not only shoot 8K video at 30 fps, but also 4K videos at a stunning 120fps, expanding the whole idea of editing and shooting. DOL-HDR makes sure the subject stands out clearly even in backlit conditions, delivering clear footage. Nightscape 2.0 is perfect for brightening up videos shot even in low light conditions. And thanks to optical image stabilization (OIS), you can even capture a moving object (a pet, a car, a bike) without getting any motion blur. Speaking of pets, the OnePlus 9 Pro comes with a Cat and Dog Face Focus mode, ensuring that your pet's snaps are crystal clear and not fuzzy!
Then there is the 50 megapixel ultrawide camera, a Sony IMX766 sensor that is 1/1.56 inches big – that's 3.2 times bigger than the one on the iPhone 12 Pro Max. But again, it is not about the numbers. The larger sensor of course means more detail can be captured but it also comes with a Freeform Lens, which has been designed in such a manner that distortions at the edges of photos are minimised. When you take a photograph of a picturesque landscape or of a bustling city street using that utlrawide, the edges will come out almost totally straight – just as they would on a real camera. That ultrawide camera has another trick up its sleeve – it also doubles up as a close up (macro) snapper, so you can actually take pictures of objects from as close as 4 cm. This is not a 2 or 5 megapixel low resolution sensor for macros but a full-fledged one – you get detailed 12 megapixel close up shots, so you can even zoom into images taken from a few inches away. It has got some serious video muscle too – it can shoot a time-lapse video, portrait video, and also comes with focus tracking, ensuring the focus stays on the subject, no matter how much they move.
There is more – an 8.0-megapixel telephoto lens adds 3.3x optical zoom, letting you zoom in without losing any detail, and even goes up to 30x digital zoom, giving you usable images even at that level. What's more, this sensor comes with optical image stabilisation, so even if your hands shake a little, you will still get clear footage, and almost no blur.
And then there is the magical touch of Hasselblad. Instead of cluttering the camera app with options that are confusing and might never be used, the OnePlus 9 Pro comes with a user interface based on Hasselblad's image processing software, called the Hasselblad Pro Mode. For the casual user, it is incredibly easy to use, and for those wanting to do a lot more, well, there's professional level controls available, letting them play around with ISO, exposure time, white balance and more. If you are the type that likes to fiddle with controls, there are more than enough here for you.
We left the best for last – video and images shot on the OnePlus 9 Pro look remarkably different from those shot on other devices. That is because at a time when most brands are focusing on trying to deliver pictures that look "pleasant," with often brightened colours and skin tones (using software), OnePlus has taken a different path and decided to go with the standard that is more natural, and what is seen by the human eye. And making this possible is the Natural Colour Calibration system, thanks to the brand's tie up with Hasselblad. You get realistic images and hyper-realistic videos. You capture the world you see, the way it is. And the 12-bit RAW format on the phone captures 64 times as much colour as found in the 10-bit RAW format on most other smartphones. In fact, even black and white images taken by the OnePlus 9 Pro look different, thanks to the fourth camera on the back, a monochrome sensor that works with the main camera to add detail and layering to black and white photographs. All of which adds up to a very different photography experience. You get a very powerful set of cameras, allied with software and features that let you do more, and most importantly, stress on delivering realistic colours and detail, and not a touched-up version of the real world. That sounds almost something that you would expect from a real camera, and not from one on a phone. Mobile photography…just got real.