If we haven't managed to convince you that Nubia hasn't really changed much for this ultra-wide Nubia Z17 release, there is also the camera to consider. The Archos Diamond Omega uses the exact same dual setup: 12 MP, f/1.8 + 23 MP, f/2.0.
And you definitely won't hear us complaining about it. Just like with the Z17, the duo of shooters is actually one of the highlights of the phone.
A 1/2.55" sensor size and 1.4um pixels are a strong foundation to build on. The Archos adds phase detection autofocus, a dual-LED (dual tone) flash on top and the dual camera setup even allows for 2x lossless zoom. OIS is a notable omission, though.
Before we get into samples and quality, it is well worth praising Nubia for its excellent work on the camera app. A lot of the appeal the Archos Diamond Omega/Z17z holds as a camera phone actually stems from software more than anything else.
Okay, to be perfectly frank, the interface could benefit from some more consistency. Perhaps, its high time Nubia finally used one single font for all the items in the right mode selector. Just a thought.
Other than that, it all looks deceptively simple. Besides a regular and Pro mode for still, you also get a dedicated video recorder UI with its own proper viewfinder, as well as a shortcut to Portrait mode. It allows for some nifty bokeh effects thanks to the two cameras. We kind of get why Nubia wanted it front and center, instead of buried another level down with the other advanced modes. By the way, that's what the Camera Family button opens.
On the far left of the viewfinder, you get a few toggles, including HDR and flash, both of which can be left on Auto. The options do change, depending on the mode you select, but they are all very self-explanatory. The settings wheel opens up a few quick toggles. Both face and smile detection work really well.
We don't exactly appreciate the absence of a clear and plain resolution selector for stills. All you get instead is an aspect ratio switch. Tapping on the More settings opens the detailed settings menu, where at least the video resolution is nicely laid out for you to manipulate as you see fit (up to 4K on the main camera and 1080p on the selfie).
The titles of many of the options are really confusing. We're not exactly sure what "Beauty Face in video calls" means, exactly and why the toggle resides within the camera app. Still, at least most of the issues with bad translations we had on the Z17 seem to be eradicated. Flipping through the modes in the main camera UI reveals some other confusing titles, but their meaning can be extrapolated fairly easily.
But the so-called "Camera Family" is where the really interesting tricks reside. Multi Exposure, Light painting, and Slow Shutter are pretty self-explanatory, but not necessarily basic. The first, for instance, has exposure modes. The same mostly goes for Trajectory, Star Track and Clone Camera. They are more-or-less variations of the multiple exposure concept.
The phone is also capable of shooting in RAW using the DNG format.
Electronic Aperture, however, is something different. It uses Nubia's Hand-held Image Stabilization technology to achieve quite impressive long exposure shots in hand-held mode. Of course, you can toggle hand mode off, grab yourself a tripod and get even more impressive shots. This simulated long exposure works surprisingly well on moving water. Shooting moving lights in the dark also produce some interesting smooth colors. Different shutter speed settings yield distinctly different results.
While at it, here are a few other special mode samples. Slow Shutter gathers a lot of light and is even better for nighttime photography. However, unlike Electronic Aperture it does not guard against overexposure. Light Draw is another classic Nubia mode you can have a lot of fun with. It is mostly intended to capture light traces in the sky or car lights at night, but we found it also produces pretty nice results with flickering light sources, like an open fire. Star Trails and Trajectory are, more or less, variations on the same concept.
Time Shuttle has two distinct filters on offer. One is called overlying; it doubles and offsets the image and applies a few other effects. Diffusion applies some blur to the edges of the frame. Both work well for certain scenes, and are really trippy.
We also had a lot of fun with Clone mode. What it does is allow you to take a few shows and layer them one over the other. The end result is quite impressive, considering the amount of work it would take to achieve the same in Photoshop or a similar editor.
The mode actually has its own little editor interface that lets you select the different areas from each frame that should end up in the final version. It is quite fiddly, but automatic detection can only get you so far (we purposefully left the defects on the shot with the pair of chairs). Also, certain slight exposure differences are to be expected, and you have to be careful with shadows in both their absence and direction. Results don't hold up to pixel-peeping but are still visually impressive at first glance.
The dedicated Macro mode is really nifty. It allows the phone to really go in close to its subject and even features focus peaking and a zoom overlay, so you can get the perfect, sharp shot.
OK, we admit it, the abundant Nubia special modes got us really sidetracked, yet again. Let's take a step back and talk about the camera image quality in general.
Just like the Nubia Z17, the Archos Diamond Omega holds up quite well. However, the processing of the photos is entirely different. There is still plenty of resolved detail but this time we see a more laid-back processing. There is not a lot of sharpening going on and most importantly, the noise reduction is quite light. We can see a lot of the noise - even in good light. Of course, the latter is only visible if you are into pixel-peeping and we're the last one to complain from the grainy, film-like look of the photos.
One other less subjective issue we have with the Archos camera has been carried over from the Nubia Z17. The spot exposure metering algorithm is still way too "trigger-happy". Tapping on an object of the camera viewfinder creates way too harsh shifts in exposure to the point where it ruins other parts of the scene due to the severe under- or over-exposure. Overall, shooting in full auto is the way to go.
Still, we can't fail to mention that you can, theoretically, use the secondary 12MP shooter to achieve 2x zoom. The latter, however, is far from loseless in practical terms, since the secondary snapper performs notably worse than its primary neighbour.
The photos from the secondary camera have even more noise and sharpness, or rather the lack of it, is starting to become an issue, especially near the edges of the frame. Still, in good lighting conditions, it is definitely better than relying on pure digital zoom from the main camera, so there's that.
Just because using the secondary camera directly is not necessarily a good idea, this doesn't mean this takes away from its usefulness. The Portrait mode, so prominently featured on the main camera interface, uses data from the pair of shooters to create impressive bokeh effects. Of course, the effect is still created digitally in its essence and some errors with edge detection are to be expected - especially when your subject is in front of a busy background.
That being said, we are quite impressed with the results. The Archos Diamond Omega is also smart enough to be able to detect multiple faces in a shot and apply the bokeh accordingly. It works without seeing a face as well, but results can vary.
HDR mode still goes overboard in terms of exposure, just like it did on the original Nubia Z17. The phone is typically smart enough to know when a shot would benefit from the mode, so the Auto setting does work as intended in this respect. However, you might want to keep it off regardless.
There is HDR on the secondary camera as well. As you can imagine, it doesn't really work any better.
There is surprisingly little noise in low-light conditions as well. The noise suppression algorithm scales up its effect gracefully, and does a lot more work when the lights go down. Still, detail is plenty. Zooming in quickly drives quality down and noise up, though.
The Archos Diamond Omega captures great panoramas. There is plenty of detail in the shots and enough resolution to go around. Plus, virtually no stitching artifacts and great edge-to-edge sharpness.
Last, but not least, here is the Archos Diamond Omega in our photo compare tool. You can pit it up against any of the other devices in our database for some pixel-peeping evaluation. We are including telephoto shots as well. However, framing those was more of a challenge, so results are less than ideal.
Plus, like most other dual-camera devices, the Diamond Omega is smart enough to judge its lighting conditions and switch over to its main camera as needed. This, essentially means the second low-light shot in the database is also from the main camera. The same goes for the video samples a bit further down the page.
One other thing Nubia changed for the new, ultra-wide display model is the selfie camera setup. Instead of a single 16MP shooter, the Archos Diamond Omega has a pair of 5MP ones. These are slightly dimmer, at f/2.2 and also fixed-focus, just like before.
We have to hand it to Nubia and Archos, alike, for not really making a big deal out of the dual-selfie thing and trying to over-hype or oversell it. In good lighting conditions, selfies come out fine, but they are nothing really spectacular.
Dimming the lights takes its toll on quality, Noise suppression on the front camera doesn't work nearly as well as on the rear ones.
Still, one thing the two selfie cameras does enable is decent portrait mode. Just like with the main cameras, the algorithm has a lot more data to work with. While not the best we have seen, portrait mode seflies on the Archos Diamond Omega are good enough to merit the second camera in our book.
The Archos Diamond Omega can capture videos at up to 4K on the main camera and 1080p for the selfie one. Besides the standard 4K@30fps and 1080p@30fps, the phone also supports 1080p@60fps recording for smoother results.
Clips get saved in MP4 format, with an AVC video stream and 48 kHz, stereo AAC audio to go along. Bitrate is pretty respectable and keeps relatively stable at about 42 Mbps at 4K, 40 Mbps at 1080p@60fps and 20Mbps in 1080p@30fps, respectively.
Despite some noise here and there, the 4K quality is definitely flagship-grade. Detail is great and even the colors look a bit more vibrant than on stills. Here are a couple of samples.
We decided to re-shoot the 4K sample, since the snow briefly went away.
We also used the opportunity to shoot some 4K video with the secondary camera, at 2x zoom. We can't really say we're too impressed with the quality. Dynamic range is really poor and colors are dull. We can't really complain about the level of detail, though.
Frankly, the only thing we really missed during our time with the Archos Diamond Omega was video stabilization at 4K, since we know the Snapdragon 835 is perfectly capable of handling it.
On a more positive note, unlike its Nubia Z17 predecessor, this time around there is EIS on the main camera, at 1080p. You can even toggle it on or off from the camera settings. It crops the frame quite a bit, but does a perfectly decent job.
FullHD capture on the Archos is a lot less impressive than its UHD alternative. Still, it is a lot better than what the original Nubia Z17 had to offer at launch. The really obvious compression artifacts are gone and detail level is improved, overall. Still, we are sure Nubia can do even better if they put more work into this.
And to top things off, here is the Archos Diamond Omega in our video compare tool, both in 4K and 1080p. We are also throwing in the telephoto samples in 4K and 1080p. Just keep in mind that the telephoto won't be too inclined to shoot in low-light conditions. That is part of the reason why some of our framing is off. The other part being, some notable barrel distortion near the edges of the frame.