Oppo has a pretty good reputation when it comes to camera tech. The Chinese OEM has mostly managed to make a name for itself among the mobile photography crowd. This is exactly the reputation the "Selfie expert" family is trying to capitalize on.
The Oppo F3 Plus we reviewed a while back managed to deliver a pretty compelling, all-round camera experience. On the one hand, this includes the 16MP, plus 8MP selfie setup, which is carried over and should perform just as well on the regular F3. However, backing that up with a good main camera is really important.
Oppo has arguably dropped the ball in this department. Instead of the excellent 16MP unit, with a Sony IMX398, the Oppo F3 uses a Samsung-made 13MP one. We appreciated the Sony IMX398 for its more accurate Dual Pixel autofocus, so the sensor swap is a downgrade not only in resolution. The camera now has a considerably darker lens - f/2.2 as opposed to f/1.7 in the F3 Plus. We will also note that there is no OIS this time around and there is only a single LED flash.
Last, but definitely not least on the list of disappointments is a 1080p video recording resolution cap on the main camera, while the F3 Plus is capable of 4K recording.
But, while these disappointing traits only affect the F3, the slightly disorganized camera app interface is a shared problem within the Oppo lineup. Most settings are on the left, while different modes can be selected on the right next to the shutter key. Strangely, the left-hand side also has a few additional modes that didn't find a spot in the right carousel.
There are a few settings, including location tagging and guidelines, separated out in their own menu in the phone's settings. There is a total lack of any clear resolution control for stills. All you get is a choice of aspects, between the standard 4:3 one, 1:1 and 16:9. It's not clear which aspect ratio is native to the sensor and how choosing any of the other affects the resolution of the images.
Expert mode is available for those seeking more manual controls. It comes with a handy horizon level and can change most settings on the primary camera (this mode doesn't work on the selfie cam). The shutter speed control lacks fine adjustment, good mostly for very low-light shooting - it starts at 1s and increments at full stops to a maximum of 16s. Manual focus adjustment is present as well.
Easier to use are the GIF and Double Exposure modes. The former creates a low-res, low-FPS animated file that has the advantage of being easy to share. The latter is an age-old photography trick that combines two photos into one. A Time lapse mode is available too. It captures a frame every 3 seconds and outputs them in a 1080p video.
Thankfully, there is a dedicated video mode. Unlike some other phones, the Oppo video viewfinder shows you the frame exactly as it will be recorded.
The Oppo camera software definitely needs some work to make it more organized and provide user-friendly resolution settings.
In terms of image quality, the Oppo F3 produces good results. The colors come out a bit washed out at times and the dynamic range is not as wide as we've seen elsewhere but overall, we're quite happy with the results and they are adequate for the phone's price range.
The HDR mode has an Auto setting, but it doesn't kick in as often as we would like. The HDR processing is laid-back and mature, and the end results are pleasing. So, you can't go wrong even if you force it.
The Oppo F3 did a good job with capturing and stitching panoramas. Resolution is high (about 2,500px tall) and you get a level of detail pretty comparable to that of the regular photos. There are only a few really obvious stitching issues in the samples as well. Aside from moving cars, that is.
We also tried the UltraHD mode, which stacks several photos to create oversampled and upsized 36MP shots. These are not terribly sharp if you look at pixel level, but they do add some detail over the regular samples. There are two resolutions to choose between - 5,696 x 4,272 (2400w or 24MP) and 8,320 x 6,240 (5200w or 52MP) pixels. Here's what those look like.
You can get into some more pixel-peeping in our photo compare tool as well.
Oppo's dual-selfie implementation is pretty straight-forward. The F3 Plus doesn't offer anything fancy, like selective focus effect, since both shooters on the F3 Plus are fixed-focus. There is still simulated bokeh, but it doesn't really benefit from the dual camera setup.
You get a simple choice between a higher-res 16MP shot with a standard field of view, or an ultra-wide 120-degree, 8MP one. The per-pixel detail is similar between the two and quite decent.
Focus distance seems to differ a little bit between the 8MP and 16MP units, but it's nothing drastic. Lower light conditions do take their toll on details, as expected. Still, results are acceptable by selfie criteria. The "Selfie expert" title does, arguably, demand a bit more. A front-facing flash would have been a great addition to the mix.
There is a dedicated Beauty mode as well, but we didn't find it overly impressive. There are two intensity levels to adjust. One is for smoothing over blemishes, which works in a pretty awkward, face-paint fashion. Then there is a slider to add some extra "rosyness". The only problem is your cheeks aren't the only thing getting some color. In fact, the whole shot gets the red filter treatment.
As mentioned earlier, the F3 can also do a simulated variable focus effect. It is only available on the 16MP selfie camera and the results are nothing to write home about.
If we didn't make it clear enough in the performance section, we strongly dislike Oppo's choice of chipset for the F3 and the decision to cripple it on more than one level. In case you need some extra convincing to get on the same page, consider that the handset can't record in 4K. It is only limited to 1080p, which it doesn't really nail either.
Clips get saved MP4 format, with a pretty standard combination of AVC video and 48KHz, stereo AAC audio. Overall bitrate is pretty low at around 17 Mbps.
Looking at the samples, we noticed a lot of noise, low level of resolved detail and some oversharpening, which has created a lot of jaggies.
You can download a 1080p (10s~20MB) sample for closer inspection too.
Last but not least, here is the Oppo F3 in our video compare tool. 1080p mode, of course.