The main camera on the OnePlus 8T fares a bit better in low light. This is mostly thanks to Nightscape, which is what OnePlus calls its night mode.
When the lighting isn't too poor, the OnePlus 8T camera produces usable results even without having to resort to using Nightscape. However, beyond a certain point, Nightscape is unavoidable, as the small smartphone sensor can no longer keep up.
When handheld, Nightscape works fairly quickly, stitching up multiple shots and exposures to create the final image. If you are more stable, it could choose to use a longer exposure. There's also an option in the settings that you can enable if you are using a tripod, which enables really long exposure times over 30 seconds.
As is usually the case with these, the quality of the Nightscape shot will depend on how long the exposure was. A quick and dirty shot will provide a brighter and more usable image than not using Nightscape but will have more color noise if you look closer. The more steady you are with the device, the longer and thus cleaner the final image.
Compared to the Pixel 5 Night Sight, Google is once again ahead with an overall cleaner and more detailed image. This will surprise no one since Google pretty much invented the feature for the Pixel 3 and has been improving it ever since. Still, the OnePlus 8T does reasonably well here especially considering we are talking about some extremely low light situations here where no camera has any business producing usable images.
Unfortunately, things aren't as good with the ultra-wide camera. Without Nightscape, the camera's image quality can be quite poor and at times simply unusable. Nightscape helps a bit here but the improvement isn't as dramatic as it is on the main camera. The software doesn't have much to work with here and so the final image is also often just about passable.
The Pixel 5 does better here with its Night Sight feature but it too is considerably poor with the feature switched off. The bottom line is, if you intend to shoot ultra-wide at night, you pretty much always have to use the night mode.
The OnePlus 8T can record video in 1080p and 4K on both, the main and the ultra-wide cameras. The main camera can do 30fps and 60fps while the ultra-wide can only do 30fps. You can also choose a more cinematic 21:9 crop for either frame rates and lenses when shooting in 4K. There is no option to record in 24fps, which would have been appropriate for the 21:9 mode.
The camera saves all video files in the Rec. 601 color space, which has some repercussions that we will get to in a moment. You can choose to save the videos in H.264 or H.265, the latter being more compressed and thus offering smaller file sizes but with similar image quality. Do note that not all devices can playback H.265 files, especially at higher resolutions and frame rates so you may want to stick to H.264 if you want to move the files around.
Starting with 4K 30fps on the main camera, we see good detail in the highlights and midtones but some crushed shadow detail. The colors don't look particularly realistic and the grass looked neon green in our samples. In some ways, this is a repeat of what we saw with the still images.
The 4K 60fps mode trades resolution for frame rate. Even though the output resolution is 4K, the internal capture resolution looks more like 1080p. We are not sure if this is due to some limitations with the chipset or the sensor or just OnePlus being conservative.
The detail in the 1080p video is uninspiring. Both frame rate options look similar in image quality and resolution.
The ultra-wide camera has a worse dynamic range than the main camera with, particularly dark shadows. However, the 4K video had a good amount of detail, making them usable. The 1080p video from this camera looks decidedly low resolution and we wouldn't recommend using it.
Getting back to the issue with the Rec. 601 color space, it doesn't translate well on most media players or operating systems. When that happens, you may see a slight shift in colors and a significant darkening of shadows.
We noticed this while playing these videos on our Windows 10 PC. VLC Player and Media Player Classic couldn't correctly play the Rec. 601 samples on our Rec. 709 calibrated displays and the videos looked noticeably dark. Only the built-in Films & TV app could reproduce the colors correctly inside the Rec. 601 container.
On the phone itself, this isn't an issue as the actual video plays correctly, even if the thumbnail looks dark. Also, for those who watched these videos on YouTube, don't worry. We checked and YouTube also shows the videos correctly, so you are seeing the videos as intended. Or at least as well as the YouTube compression will allow.
The OnePlus 8T also adds a new Video Portrait feature. This uses the digital background blur behind your subject while recording. The feature only works on human subjects and worked reasonably well in our testing, provided the lighting conditions were right. Unfortunately, it only works on the main rear camera, not the ultra-wide or the front camera, and only in 1080p.