On paper, the Oppo RX17 Pro has a beastly camera setup - three on the back, one on the front. Although, the third one on the back isn't a regular camera but it's called a 3D stereo time-of-flight camera or ToF for short. For now, it's downright useless as Oppo hasn't provided any software or features to go with it. The only remotely useful application would be the 3D animated stickers in the camera menu. They do appear to be quite accurate and cute but you will get bored with them pretty fast.
Makes us wonder why would they place it on the back instead of the front where it can shine. Allegedly, the ToF technology is superior for augmented reality applications being faster, more accurate and more reliable than Apple's implementation. Nevertheless, only time will tell if Oppo will find a use of the new tech on board. The potential aside, we are amazed that Oppo is shipping a smartphone with hardware which isn't of any use to anyone.
Anyway, the other two sensors are the main camera and the depth sensor. The main one is a 12MP sensor with big 1.4µm pixels and a variable aperture lens (f/1.5-2.4) snatched directly off the Samsung's Galaxy S+9 and Note9 playbook. It comes with dual pixel PDAF and more importantly, it's aided by OIS.
Despite being fancy, the secondary camera is more of a depth sensor than anything else. It's a 20MP unit with f/2.6 and autofocus support but it's still just a regular depth sensor used only for the portrait shots. They could have easily achieved the same results with a 5MP cam or just with software. Or maybe, just maybe, put that 3D TOF tech in use.
This leaves us with the front camera - it uses a 25MP sensor with f/2.0 opening, 0.9µm pixel size.
The camera app is generally pretty simple with limited options. In the normal photo mode, you have the HDR toggle, the PI Color toggle (more on that later), and the AI beauty mode. As we found out, the purpose of this AI mode is only to make human faces prettier and it won't do anything for any other scenes. For those shots, you have built-in AI scene recognition but it's toggle is burried in the additional camera settings.
There's also an "Expert" mode that lets you tamper with the settings like white balance, exposure, manual focus, ISO and shutter speed. Unfortunately, the aperture remains locked out in this mode and the phone will take full control of the opening unlike on what you would find on a Samsung.
Now let's get busy with the camera samples.
In good light, the camera produces shots with punchy colors, plenty of detail and the performance can be considered consistent. The autofocus is good and the OIS does its job pretty well, especially indoors and in poorly-lit scenarios. However, we've noticed that some of the photos have a bit too much noise for our taste even in during the day.
Sharpness is also one of the strong suits of the phone. But speaking of sharpness, it's too bad that the phone was way too heavy-handed with the sharpening when the HDR mode kicked in. The HDR mode recovered some of the detail from the shadows but it overexposed the highlights quite a bit which seems like a lazy implementation and overall, we'd refrain from using it.
We also didn't find any use of the AI mode - it rarely produced any prominent effect although it prompted us with messages when a scene was recognized.
Here are a couple of indoor and outdoor shots as well. Indoors, the phone was able to preserve the detail, noise was once again introduced in some poorly-lit areas of the image but colors remained punchy.
When it comes to night photography, the handset exceeded our expectations. We made sure we tried both the normal Auto mode and the special Night mode that Oppo so insistently advertised.
The normal mode produced photos with less noise than expected and the OIS gave a helping hand with keeping the images sharp with some quite slow shutter speeds. You can expect consistent performance and generally good low-light performance.
And since Oppo and OnePlus introduced their night modes almost at the same time, we couldn't help but wonder if both companies are using the same algorithm for the night stills. That's why we snapped a few night shots with the OnePlus 6T as well using its dedicated Nightscape mode.
You can definitely see some similarities in the way both phones handle night scenery yet somehow, the RX17 Pro does it better. Kudos for that.
OnePlus 6T did worse with the lights on the streets, especially the neon ones, and produced quite a bit of flare. We also noticed that it tends to oversharpen the Nightscape images quite a bit. The RX17 Pro, on the other hand, preserves more detail and offers more natural-looking lights. It tends to oversharpen things as well but in the end, it still looked more natural than the OnePlus' Nightscape.
We've also included some comparison shots from our studio in a more controlled environment. Here's how it stacks against some of the competitors.
This mode is pretty limited, aside from the available pre-applied filters in the camera menu, and it produces some questionable results. The edge detection is pretty nice even when a more complex background or hairstyle is introduced and colors were spot on. But detail is where it failed to impress. It almost feels like the beautification mode is constantly turned on although, we didn't find the off switch.
The front-facing shooter sounds pretty solid on paper but the lack of autofocus keeps us from giving it a good score. It's quite picky about the distance you are using it at and we found it to perform its best at about half a full arm's length. Colors are good and the detail is okay but since we're talking about a 25MP sensor, we'd say it leaves more to be desired. The AI appears to be softening the skin and gives it a less natural-looking color to it.
In challenging lighting scenarios, the HDR kicks in to restore the shadows while destroying everything in the background. It appears that the HDR issue is prominent across the board. Portrait shots are about average with a little more to be desired from the edge detection algorithm.
Here's how it stacks against the competition.
The device supports video recording in 4K@30fps or 1080p@30fps. Slow-motion modes are 1080p@120fps and 720p@240fps. The downside is that video settings are also pretty limited with barely any options to choose from. For example, you can't toggle on or off the EIS nor can you choose the frame rate at which you record the 1080p video. You are stuck with either 4K@30fps or 1080p@30fps. That's bit of a letdown since some users prefer 1080p videos at 60fps.
Oppo did include the option to choose between H.264 and H.265 encoding so we do give them credit for that.
The quality of the video in 1080p@30fps is generally serviceable - no hiccups, good amount of detail, vivid colors but we see the overexposing issue from the stills creeping up once again.
Naturally, the 4K mode introduces much more detail but our complaint about overblown highlights remains.
When it comes to stabilization, we are pretty certain that it doesn't work in 2160p mode, even though there's no switch for that. On the 1080p video, however, the EIS is constantly turned on and works great.
Here are some screenshots from our lab video samples compared to other models.