OnePlus 5T photo review and test from a professional photographer point of view

This is the OnePlus 5T photo review after about two and half months of usage. Like in June with the OnePlus 5, I was one of the selected photographers to work with OnePlus for the shooting sample program. The goal is to capture some nice (or even great!:) ) photos to use as a reference for the teasing campaign, and on the company website.

I’ve to say it’s always a nice challenge for me. I have a strict deadline to send the photos, then I’m working with a pre-release device, so the software is still not optimized as final the device you get in hand at the moment when you buy. The prototype unit is hidden inside a kind of big bulky cover, I can’t see the final design and I not get any information about the technology inside the new device. So it’s just like a box “get, shoot and do your best”. 🙂

For this sample campaign, I’ve decided to organize three portrait shooting session with three different models and a shooting trip to Marocco where I was sure to be able to capture some great colors and details (you can see the first post from Fes here and the second one from the Blue city of Chefchaouen here).

OnePlus 5T, the hardware

There’s no doubt that the biggest thing that jumps in front of your eyes with this OnePlus 5T is the screen. The company has decided to embrace the edge-to-edge screen trend using a new 18:9 panel for this unit. They were able also to keep the same size of the OnePlus 5 with only some millimeters of differences.

The screen is amazing. When you start using it, it’s difficult to go back to a “normal” ratio panel as the one on the OnePlus 5. I love the fact I can use the total screen space of the device hiding the Android navigation thanks to an option in the system. In this way, I can look through the images on Instagram or on the photo gallery using all the available space!

There’s to say that the OnePlus 5T shows a little bigger bump (maybe around 1mm) on the back cameras side due to the new camera module, but they have achieved a better-looking round shape compared to the OnePlus 5.

Because of the use of the bigger screen in the front, the company had to move the fingerprints scanner on the back, using a ceramic scratch proof material.

There’s, as usual, the earphone jack, the notification toggle, and the USB Type-C connection port. The device uses the proprietary “Dash Charge” to achieve very fast recharge.

Other photos shot with OnePlus 5T

There are two things that have impressed me the most from the final unit I got last week: the first one is the face unlock mechanism. It works and it’s SUPER fast! We know it uses a more simple technology than the one used on the iPhone X, but man, it’s much faster and seems kind of accurate! So basically it uses the front camera to detect your face as a bidimensional image, so my guess was, can I fool the system showing in front of it just a photo of myself? The answer is no, the face unlock system of the OnePlus 5T doesn’t work with a photo-reproduction of my face!

The second thing that has amazed me, is the battery life of the OnePlus 5t! And now I can say it, ’cause I’m using the final unit with a sim card insert and all my applications loaded in. In these days, with normal usage, opening the phone at 7.00am I get around 60% of battery at 11 pm! Sunday I got a heavy day outdoor, when I was able to get complete usage of the phone battery from 7 am to 12 pm using the device to record photos, video, tethering to another device, using Gps to move around the city, looking websites, doing Instagram, twitter and so on.

OnePlus 5T, what’s new inside the camera?

Let’s start to talk about the camera of the OnePlus 5T. The company decided to replace the camera unit of the OnePlus 5 with a new solution.

Let’s try to recap what we’ve inside the OnePlus 5t camera:

Main Camera Second Camera
Sony IMX 398 Sensor Unknown Sensor
16MP 20MP
Aperture f/1.7 Aperture f/1.7
Intelligent Pixel Technology

Let’s start saying that the main camera is the same as the one found in the OnePlus 5, the differences come with the second camera. It gets rid of the telephoto lens with a slow aperture of f/2.6 for a new maximum aperture of f/1.7.

OnePlus also states to use an “Intelligent Pixel Technology” to combine four pixels into one, to reduce image noise in the low light scene. The tech isn’t something new, is something it can be referred to the “Pixel Binning” and was already used from Fujifilm and Sony camera in the past.

It’s great that OnePlus decided to go with this technique that they quote “was first implemented in the OnePlus 3T’s front camera”.

Another small, but useful feature of the OnePlus 5T: now you can shot using the back fingerprints scanner! Just let your finger on the sensor for more than one second and then the picture is taken!

OnePlus 5T, how did I shot these samples photos?

I shot all these samples photos of the OnePlus 5T using only the Auto Mode and the Portrait mode. Yes, I haven’t used the pro mode since my idea was to get as close possible to the final user’s shooting style. And a lot of the time I love the concept of the fast shooting with the Auto mode. Usually, in fact, I just trigger the camera with the double tap on the power button and I’m ready to take the picture!

There’s also an extra advantage to use the Auto mode: the HDR recording abilities that aren’t available when using the Pro mode.

At the same time, the Pro mode gives the huge possibility to control the shutter speed of the photo, in this way you can get some cool light painting effects!

So Auto and Pro modes can be used in a different situation, but at the moment I’m a bigger fan of the Auto mode on the OnePlus 5T! 🙂

Compared to the already good OnePlus 5 photos, I’ve noticed a slight better manage of the HDR algorithm in the way it shows up better the shadows in the high contrast situations.

Now let’s talk about the 2x mode in the OnePlus 5T. Is it still there since we don’t have anymore the telephoto lens?
Yes the 2x is still here with the OnePlus 5T. Although the difference now is in the way it works. The 2x mode is basically a crop of the portion you want to shot and the final image is upscaled with a new software algorithm that enhances the clarity of photos.

Image details from the camera are always amazing, even with the close-up photos!

OnePlus 5T, low light photos

Here are some examples shot in low light.
The first photo under I think is a good reference about what the new OnePlus 5t can achieve in low light.
In this situation I was shooting really in the dark, the light was almost totally gone. The camera took advantage of the f/1.7 aperture to set the Iso at 800 and a shutter speed of 1/50s. For all these sample photos, I’ve always used the Auto mode, to see how the camera perform without any manual control.

OnePlus 5T Low Light Detail
1:1 Enlargement
OnePlus 5T Low Light Detail
1:1 Enlargement

OnePlus 5T, first photo session with Kitisha

Here’s the first photo session I’ve shot with the model Kitisha. Looking for a colorful situation, to capture some photos with the new OnePlus 5T, we found this amazing architecture located in the suburbs of Milan.
One of the strong points for me of the camera is the excellent white balance: to achieve the correct colors you need a perfect balance and honestly, this was a tricky and difficult situation with mixed lights and colors coming from the outside and inside of the contruction.

OnePlus 5T, second photo session with Paola

In the second session with Paola, I’ve focused more on the portraits, using the OnePlus portrait mode to explore the quality and the limits of the implementation inside the OnePlus 5T.

Let’s start to say an important thing, the portrait mode in the OnePlus 5T uses the wide angle and not anymore the telephoto lens. This is due to the change in the second camera compared to the OnePlus 5. As a result, to achieve the correct blur, you should get a bit closer to your subject.

I know there will be some photographers debating that to shot a proper portrait you should use the longer lens, and this is totally right. Although, there are some amazing photographers, and one of my favorites was Janloup Sieff, that used mainly in all this long careeer the wide lens to shot portrait and fashion images.

OnePlus 5T, third photo session with Alessia

The third session with Alessia was again focused to shot some portrait and this time I’ve used more the city surroundings with the combination of the portrait mode. As you can see you achieve a half body portrait with the background blur.

OnePlus 5T, photos shot with the final unit

The last week I’ve received the final unit of the OnePlus 5T in my studio. So I had the time to shot some new extra photos in this days to see if there was already some improvement compared to the pre-production unit I had in the months before.

I’ve to say that I’ve noticed a better performance in the portrait mode to retain the face details compared to my pre-production unit I had.

One important tip: remember to disable the “beauty mode” in the portrait mode, since it tends to blur the skin tone to get a… more beautiful portrait without any wrinkles! 🙂

With the final unit of the OnePlus 5T, I’ve decided also to test the 18:9 aspect ratio shooting mode. Yes, I know that this mode is just a bare crop of the final image resolution, but it’s nice to capture a picture that you can see back using the full-screen space! 🙂

OnePlus 5t: final considerations and wishes for the next device

I’ve some last considerations to do about the OnePlus 5T review I’ve written here after two months and half of use of the device. The first is that almost all the images published here in this review have been shot with a pre-production unit with unfinished software. What I mean is that the company after the introduction on the market of the device, usually push with software updates some improvements in the camera.

For instance I would like to see better managing of the ISO settings: I’ve notice that the device tend to use higher ISO settings that needed, for instance the lower it can go is 125 Iso vs the 50 Iso of the Google Pixel 2, the 50 Iso of the Note 8 and the 20 (!!!) Iso of the Apple iPhone 8/ iPhone X.

I would like also to see the 18:9 aspect ratio available when shooting in the portrait mode too.

And what about the next year OnePlus 6 device? Well, I would like to see a design as the beautiful OnePlus X with front and back glass and wireless charging.
About the camera, I would like to see less Megapixel, I think the 12 Megapixel as the iPhone 8/X and Note 8 is the sweet spot to be able to achieve more light from the single pixels. Will be nice to see even brighter aperture as the f/1.6 found on the LG V30.

Other photos shot with OnePlus 5T

The photos on the OnePlus website

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  • Sany
    Posted at 18:10h, 25 November Reply

    Hi Alessandro Michelazzi: great work!, A few questions – how many photos were you able to take before you were happy on a shot? Secondly, any post shoot work on software on these photos? In the closing comments you mention that you prefer to see lower megapixel as in iphone and Samsung devices, what made you want this feature that you miss it in oneplus 5T.

    • Alessandro Michelazzi
      Posted at 10:34h, 26 November Reply

      Ciao Sany, thanks for your comment. Usually, I shot different pictures at the model to be sure to capture the right expression. But this happens also with the normal camera, not only with the smartphone. I haven’t done any post-processing on the picture, they are just out of the box in this way! Amazing colors, isn’t true? About the closing comment: in my opinion (but also a lot of other pros think in this way) more megapixel doesn’t mean always better quality. With more megapixel, you get a higher resolution image that is worth only to do bigger prints. Honestly, for the kind of usage we do with the smartphone photography, less megapixel will be more than enough for the daily use, it will save some space on the device and even more, you will get an improvement in the low light scenery.

  • José Luis Asensio Fierro
    Posted at 23:35h, 22 November Reply

    Impressive review and some truly impressive photos. Thank you and congratulations for such a good job.
    A cordial greeting

  • Subhodip Sinha
    Posted at 18:23h, 22 November Reply

    Watching these photos is an absolute bliss.Nice work,Aless.Looking forward to more content like this.

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