Smartphones are more than the cameras they come built with, but these cameras play a crucial role for many users when choosing what phone to pick up next. And I wanted to explore this idea when OPPO Philippines invited me to its first Summer Photo Walk event in Cebu City over the weekend. They brought us to a scenic retreat center and some trendy cafes and restaurants to see how the OPPO Reno8 T series (the 4G and 5G models) stacks up in these real-world scenarios.
Now, I have the pictures and thoughts on what the cameras can do. I have to say that when these smartphones’ cameras get things right, they turn out amazing. But I’ll let the photos tell the story.
In honor of the OPPO Reno8 T series, I have eight camera features/modes I highlighted in this story. These were the features I relied heavily on to document the trip. Plus, I got to see the strengths and weaknesses of these cameras.
OPPO Reno8 T cameras
The cameras aren’t vastly different between the 4G and 5G models. The only difference is that the main camera on the OPPO Reno8 T 4G is a 100-megapixel sensor, while the OPPO Reno8 T 5G gets a 108-megapixel camera. The rest of the specs are similar, including 32-megapixel selfie cameras, 2-megapixel depth cameras, and the much-hyped 2-megapixel microlens sensor. That last camera lets you take those unusual 20x or 40x magnified photos, which you can see demoed here.
Now, let’s see how they performed during the event.
Portraits are king
If there’s one thing the Reno series is known for, it’s the portrait photography capabilities of this OPPO line. And it might be strange to say, but I have been a bit more partial to the quality of portraits on the OPPO Reno8 T 4G than the ones taken on the 5G variant. The colors and the image quality seem a bit more DSLR camera-esque.
That first photo you see below was shot on the 4G model. And we’re blown away by the image quality. Of course, light plays a crucial role, but it’s still impressive how it can play up the colors of my eyes and keep the details in the shadows.
But I’m not discounting the portrait qualities of the 5G model either. Even without using the Bokeh Flare Portrait feature, these phones can simulate that bokeh effect in the background.
And we see that from some of the indoor portraits we’ve taken. Artificial intelligence plays heavily in these phones to help in challenging lighting conditions. OPPO calls it the AI Portrait Super Resolution, which tries to bring out the extra detail and clarity in low-light shots. And we see that at play in that portrait photo against the light and that green-ish one where we relied on the ambient green light at La Vie in the Sky (which now goes by La Parisienne SKY) before we tried to remedy it with a small portable light (the photo that comes right after).
Portraits might be Reno’s bread and butter, but they aren’t slouches when it comes to selfies, either. And with the 32-megapixel selfie shooters, you can get flattering, shareable selfies, including that bokeh effect when shooting with light sources behind you. I’d recommend shooting outdoors with trees behind you for this effect to look great.
When it comes to selfie portraits, though, expect some weirdness around accessories like glasses or sometimes big earrings. It’s not a perfect cutout around the edges, but it does what it can.
And another way the OPPO Reno8 T excels is in handling weird lighting conditions. Its Selfie HDR feature can automatically detect if the background light sources are too bright, so it’ll suppress that bright backlight so you remain visible in the shot.
You should expect the quality to dip in challenging lighting conditions, but these phones will also try to deliver anyway. And if you are a fan of beauty modes, these also lean more on aggressive editing out of the box. So I’d recommend tweaking its AI retouching algorithm to help you get a flattering photo that doesn’t look too unnatural.
The ease of Auto
I don’t fuss around with camera settings too much on my phone. I reserve that for my camera. But it’s good that the OPPO Reno8 T series can keep up in this regard. The Photo/Auto mode captured the bright, vibrant morning we spent at Soul Sierra and our late afternoon snacks and cocktails at Sip Cafe. It could look a bit oversaturated at times, but that’s unsurprising. Try to play around with exposure when shooting on a bright day. (Tap on the screen and pull that sun icon down when it appears.)
OPPO’s Image Clear Engine comes built into the Reno8 T series, which is supposed to help with sharp, blur-free images of movement or in other challenging scenarios. But you’d still need to keep a steady hand when shooting, especially indoors. I noticed that sometimes the edges are blurry if I move too quickly. Wait for a beat before moving when taking photos. (The other café you see in this set is Café Selva.)
Zoom in, zoom out
If you like to zoom in using your smartphone camera, this might not be the best tool. You can get decent photos up to 2x, but beyond this magnification, expect the pictures to lose their sharpness and brightness. You can see that easily in the pictures below. I shot it at 1x (left), then zoomed in to 3x (right).
But if you still need to zoom in, the Reno8 T 4G supports up to 10x magnification, while the Reno8 T 5G goes up to 6x.
The 108MP /100MP element
You’ll hear this countless times, but megapixels aren’t everything. But they can be useful for getting more details. I’m missing an ultrawide sensor on the OPPO Reno8 T series, so this is kind of a substitute. Capturing photos in their full resolution gives you the space to crop into shots while maintaining the image quality.
Sadly, I wasn’t able to test that portrait option, but this mode came in handy for taking photos of the wide-open spaces at Soul Sierra.
Into the Night (mode)
We’re happy to see a Night mode feature included with these phones. And while AI can help improve the photos taken in the Photo/Auto mode, it’s still useful to have a Night mode. Using the Photo mode sometimes leaves this pinkish hue in the images, which we’ve seen from the shots we took at The Pig and Palm. So, the dedicated Night mode helps.
When shooting in Night mode handheld, though, you will need to keep a steady hand. Or if you can prop it up somewhere that will be better. Otherwise, you’ll get shaky, unusable photos.
Getting real close
A neat trick on the OPPO Reno8 T series is the presence of the microlens camera. I didn’t use it during the trip, but here are samples I’ve taken before of random plants and surfaces. You can shoot at 20x or 40x magnification with both models.
That said, I would gladly trade this sensor for an ultrawide any day.
For quick video captures
This is the kind of phone that needs you to record videos in good lighting conditions. I’m bummed there’s no 4K video recording here because that can help you get more details in your videos. There is Dual-View Video here, though. So, if you want to make creative content using the rear and front cameras simultaneously, you can do that.
We already have a sample from the 4G model here. But we’ll make sure to upload highlights from our trip here!
OPPO Reno8 T series: Final thoughts
When it comes to getting impressive portraits, the OPPO Reno8 T series lives up to its Portrait Expert moniker. Its cameras are by no means perfect. I hope they work on improving the low-light capabilities. But for the features they advertise, they do certainly deliver. And if that’s your priority, it might be what you’re looking for.
The OPPO Reno8 T 5G in Sunrise Gold and Midnight Black for PHP 23,999. Meanwhile, the OPPO Reno8 T 4G in Sunset Orange and Midnight Black for PHP 18,999.
What else do you want to learn about the OPPO Reno8 T series? Let us know on social media!