Camera test

Oppo Reno 10x Zoom camera review and comparison: how far can you go?

The Oppo Reno 10x zoom goes on sale today for the first time. It’s a pretty exciting device, and Oppo seems to have gone out of its way to make the smartphone as close to a high-end flagship as possible, without hitting such exorbitant prices. At Rs 49,990, the Reno 10x Zoom rivals neck and neck with the new OnePlus 7 Pro. It has the latest Snapdragon 855 with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of on-board memory. It also offers a glossy and high-end design. But what Oppo relies on the most is the rear camera setup. The Oppo Reno 10x Zoom is the culmination of periscope zoom technology that the company presented at MWC a few years ago. At the time, the system only used two cameras and the maximum zoom achieved was 5X. On the Reno 10x Zoom, as the name suggests, the same mechanism is used to achieve 10x zoom. How good is the 10x zoom on this flagship phone? That’s what we’re here to find out.

How does the Oppo Reno 10x zoom work?

The Oppo Reno 10x Zoom relies on a prism to bend the light entering through the telephoto lens downward to achieve higher magnification without compromising too much detail. The Reno 10x Zoom comes with a 48 MP main camera with a sensor size of 1/2 “, another 8 MP ultra-wide sensor and a third 13 MP periscope telephoto lens. Indeed, the focal length of the camera configuration ranges from 16mm to 160mm, which is basically the 10x zoom.

Incidentally, most cameras like the iPhone XS, Huawei P30 Pro, and others calculate the zoom factor from the primary lens, not the wide-angle lens. The Oppo Reno’s 10x zoom joins the OnePlus 7 Pro to calculate zoom directly from the ultra-wide lens. As a result, while the Huawei P30 Pro also offers 10x hybrid zoom, there is a big difference in the telephoto zoom distance in the two phones.

The technology was developed by Oppo in conjunction with Corephotonics which was acquired by Samsung earlier this year. The system relies on the periscope mirror which is placed first. The periscope mirror has three separate mirrors pointed towards each other and it reflects the light from the viewfinder towards the telephoto lens. The telephoto lens is in the middle and receives the light from the periscope mirror and magnifies it to bring the object closer. This is then transmitted to the telephoto image sensor which is placed at the end to perform image processing. The system is stabilized using a dual OIS where the mirrors themselves are magnetically stabilized instead of the lens.

The zoom technology is surely pretty amazing. Achieving a zoom equivalent to 160mm in a 7-8mm body would have been impossible a few years earlier. However, there is a major downside. To provide a wide telephoto lens, ideally, you should offer a full-frame equivalent of a lens of around 28mm. Since this is not possible in a smartphone, Oppo decided to reduce the size of the sensor to achieve greater magnification for the same focal length. But the smaller sensors aren’t able to hold as much light as needed, especially in low-light situations, resulting in a lot of noise in the final JPEG output.

Oppo Reno 10x Zoom tested

To test how the 10x zoom works on the Oppo Reno, we used two methods. In one, we took the same photo in 10x zoom and the camera’s 48MP mode. The idea was to see if the 10x zoom offered better quality compared to cropping 100% of the same area in the 48MP image.

The second test is pretty self-explanatory. We used the Huawei P30 Pro to compare image quality with 10x zoom. The Huawei P30 Pro also relies on a similar periscope mechanism to offer up to 50x digital zoom.

48MP test

The Oppo Reno 10x Zoom’s 48MP camera sensor promises a large crop factor allowing the user to print high quality photos. While that’s definitely a plus, we used 48MP mode to get a 100% crop of the same area which we later zoomed to 10x to compare.

Shot on Oppo Reno 10x zoom(₹ 38,990 at flipkart) (48MP)

100 percent cropped

10X zoom

The first sample shows that the 100% crop of the 48MP photo does not have the quality offered by the 10x zoom. The 48MP crop has distorted lines, the result of too much zooming, while the 10x zoom mode produces a much sharper image. However, zooming in on the zoomed-in photo shows that there is little detail to be retrieved, indicating that Oppo is applying strong noise reduction to get a sharper image.

Shot on Oppo Reno 10x zoom (48MP)

100 percent cropped

10X zoom

Also in the second sample, the results are similar. The 48 MP cropped photo is muddy and the background details appear pixelated. The text is also illegible. The 10x zoom mode, however, retrieves enough detail from the text to make it readable while the buildings in the background are sharpened using software.

In this test, the 10x zoom of the Oppo Reno 10x zoom is useful compared to the 48MP mode. Let’s see how it compares to its closest counterpart –

Oppo Reno 10x Zoom vs Huawei P30 Pro 10X Zoom

We divided the samples into sets of 3. Each set contains photos taken with the wide angle lens, then at 1x, 2x, 5x and 10x respectively.

Set 1

Shot on Oppo Reno 10x zoom (Ultrawide)

Shot on Huawei P30 Pro (ultra-wide)

Shot on Oppo Reno 10x zoom (1X)

Shot on Huawei P30 Pro (1X)

Shot on Oppo Reno 10x zoom (2X)

Shot on Huawei P30 Pro (2X)

Shot on Oppo Reno 10x zoom (5X)

Shot on Huawei P30 Pro (5X)

Shot on Oppo Reno 10x zoom (10X)

Shot on Huawei P30 Pro (10X)

The first set has a building nearby and a far palisade above the building that we used to zoom test. Let’s start with the ultra-wide shot. Here, the P30 Pro is able to produce richer colors. The photo is also much brighter than the one taken by the Reno. The higher brightness is maintained at each zoom level by the P30 Pro, however, the Oppo Reno 10x zoom offers good competition in terms of quality. At 5X and 10X, which engages the telephoto lens, the Reno’s photos are almost identical to those taken by the P30 Pro. However, while the 10x zoom of the P30 Pro looks quite rich in detail, the Reno’s result shows that pixels are starting to appear at this level. Still, the two photos are more usable than any other photo taken at 10x zoom by another smartphone today.

Winner: Huawei P30 Pro

Set 2

Shot on Oppo Reno 10x zoom (Ultrawide)

Shot on Huawei P30 Pro (ultra-wide)

Shot on Oppo Reno 10x zoom (1X)

Shot on Huawei P30 Pro (1X)

Shot on Oppo Reno 10x zoom (2X)

Shot on Huawei P30 Pro (2X)

Shot on Oppo Reno 10x zoom (5X)

Shot on Huawei P30 Pro (5X)

Shot on Oppo Reno 10x zoom (10X)

Shot on Huawei P30 Pro (10X)

The second set is even more difficult. There’s a wide area to capture as each zoom level gets closer to the palisade at the top of the building far, far away. Here, too, the two phones compete with each other, but the Huawei P30 Pro outperforms the Oppo Reno 10x zoom in terms of dynamic range and color reproduction. Reno photos are brighter but are also washed out where the highlights are more. There is also a significant change in white balance in zoom mode, and the Huawei P30 Pro manages to be more accurate than the yellow-tinted result of the Oppo Reno. As for the text of the hoarding, both manage to reproduce it with sufficient precision to be easily readable.

Winner: Huawei P30 Pro

Set 3

Shot on Oppo Reno 10x zoom (Ultrawide)

Shot on Huawei P30 Pro (Ultrawide)

Shot on Oppo Reno 10x zoom (1X)

Shot on Huawei P30 Pro (1X)

Shot on Oppo Reno 10x zoom (2X)

Shot on Huawei P30 Pro (2X)

Shot on Oppo Reno 10x zoom (5X)

Shot on Huawei P30 Pro (5X)

Shot on Oppo Reno 10x zoom (10X)

Shot on Huawei P30 Pro (10X)

The third set of samples tests phones in low light conditions. This is where the Oppo Reno surpasses the Huawei P30 Pro by a hair. Both phones appear to be quite capable of shooting in low light conditions, although they aren’t exactly the best in the game in these particular samples. We’ve seen the P30 Pro produce a well-lit image where there’s hardly any light, but it uses night mode. Without it, the P30 Pro doesn’t apply the multi-frame noise reduction algorithms, but relies on the larger sensor on the body to get a sharp shot. Photos of the Huawei P30 Pro are brighter but the Reno is able to get the right details. At the 5x and 10x zoom level however, both phones give up. While the text on hoarding is readable, it’s not as clear as what the daylight samples suggest, for both phones. In between, the Reno is able to clean up the image a bit better. It has less noise in darker areas compared to the P30 Pro, which is expected since the P30 captures more light to make the image brighter. The Reno darkens the area around the palisade, so much so that the building in the background is barely visible. It’s a delicate choice, that one. But we’ll go with the P30 Pro.

Winner: Huawei P30 Pro

In conclusion

The Oppo Reno 10x zoom camera is proof that smartphone photography has come a long way. The iPhone was the first to pave the way for optical zoom using a dedicated telephoto lens, but Oppo and Huawei must be credited with pushing zoom technology to a level that was considered impossible a few years ago. The 5x and 10x zooms would ideally require the camera to be very thick, since the lens system requires a lot of space for it. However, by using a periscope mirror, Oppo and Huawei have managed to reduce the configuration to fit the size of a smartphone. It is a remarkable achievement. All that remains is to offer photos of fairly good quality. The enlarged shots from the Oppo Reno and P30 Pro are pretty much usable and nowhere near the quality offered by the main cameras on both devices. This gap must be closed. But to do that will require another leap in engineering. Perhaps by enlarging the size of the sensor without losing the magnification factor. Right now, the two phones with the high zoom factor are at the forefront of smartphone imaging, but there is still a long, long way to go to replace DSLRs with bulky telephoto lenses.


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