The Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus features two 13 megapixel cameras on the back, which work similarly to those on the Huawei P9. One camera captures color images and the other captures only black and white images. The monochrome sensor lacks a Bayer filter, which means it gathers much more light producing more detailed images with less noise. You can either capture pure black and white images or color images. There is also a stereo mode where the camera combines the output of both sensors to enhance the final color photo, but it can't be used for bokeh effects.
Xiaomi used Sony's IMX258 sensors on both cameras - relatively small sensors at 1/3.06" and with 1.12µm pixel size. Huawei uses IMX268 sensors for the P9 and P9 Plus dual setup, which offer bigger 1.25µm pixels due to the 1/2.9" bigger sensor size and slightly lower resolution at 12MP.
Both 13MP sensors on the Mi 5s Plus have not-so-wide aperture of f/2.2, but they support phase-detection autofocus. However, there is no optical stabilization on any of them. Finally, the camera can make use of a two-tone dual-LED flash.
The MIUI 8 camera interface is fairly simple and features toggles for the HDR mode, the flash, and the video camera. The available advanced modes are Mono, Panorama, Beautify, Scenes, Timer, and Manual (with shutter speed up to 32s) as well as the camera settings. Seventeen live filters are at your disposal, too.
If you want to shoot true monochrome stills, you must turn on the Mono mode. Unlike Huawei P9 series, though, the Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus can't use the B&W camera in manual mode, but you can still tweak the exposure compensation, which, as you will see later on, is a commonly needed action.
Finally, there is a small aperture key on the viewfinder right next to the virtual shutter. It activates the so-called Stereo capture. As we mentioned earlier, the mode snaps two shots with each camera and combines those into an enhanced color image. It works rather slow - once you hit the shutter key, there is a 2s gap until the photo is saved, while, in the meantime, the camera is unresponsive. You should also try to keep still. Otherwise, the photos may end blurry, especially in low light. And before you dismiss this as a gimmick, you should see the actual camera samples.
So, why not kick things off with that, shall we? The Stereo mode indeed shoots fast, but saving the image takes time because of the heavy post-processing. And yet, the stills are worth the wait, especially in low light. The Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus captures much more light, detail, and less noise, in low-light when used in Stereo mode. The resulting images are twice as bright as how our own eyes saw this particular scene.
Later, you can also check the Stereo camera in our Picture Compare Tool and see how it does in low-light against the competition.
There is little point in using the Stereo mode in broad daylight as it will often soften the images without enhancing the quality. Best case scenario - you will get an HDR-like photo, but less sharp, as you can see from the crop below.
And here are some samples.
In night scenes the Stereo mode is of little help, but we suggest you keep it set to on as the images still offer more detail and less noise compared to the otherwise uninspiring quality in normal mode. Because of the f/2.2 aperture and the small sensor pixels, the night shots are of poor quality, no matter the mode you use.
For better night shots, you should resort to the manual mode and its long shutter options.
The photos from the color 13MP camera come with rich detail, excellent contrast, and accurate colors. The dynamic range is overall good, we rarely had to resort to HDR, and the noise levels are kept reasonably low.
The foliage rendering is a mixed-bag, sometimes due to lack of detail or focus, while at other times due to the harsh noise reduction. But other than that, we are quite happy with the photos.
The monochrome mode is not just desaturated color photos like all other smartphones shoot, it's the real deal. The captured detail is amazing, the noise is almost non-existent, the contrast us great, and the foliage rendering is a lot better. The dynamic range is very wide, too.
We had just one issue with the monochrome camera - it often underexposed the scene, and we had to manually brighten up the exposure via the exposure compensation dial. Other than that, there is nothing really to complain, at least not in the daylight shots.
When it comes to low-light shots, the noise finally rears its ugly head. Once again, the smaller sensor and pixels took their toll, and you can see the effect in the low-light shots. Sure, those are better than the regular ones, but they aren't a match for the Huawei P9 Plus mono camera.
While the Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus regular camera has a wide dynamic range, there are times where you'd still need to use the HDR. And the phone does great with lightening up the shadows without touching the highlights. Nice job!
Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus features the same 4MP UltraPixel front-facing camera for high-res selfies we met on the Mi 5. The images came out with more than enough detail, high contrast, and pleasant colors. The dynamic range is above average, too. We appreciate how well this sensor works for selfies.
You can capture both landscape and portrait panoramic photos with an 180-degree field of view. Shooting is easy and the resolution high at (up to 14MP, 1,800px tall). The image quality is great - there is plenty of fine detail, accurate colors, and no signs of bad stitching. The dynamic range is great as is the contrast. The resolution could have been higher, though.
Picture Compare Tool
Finally, you should check how the Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus does against the competition in our Photo Compare Tool.
Video mode gives you a choice of 2160p @ 30fps and 1080p @ 30fps for common shooting with a 720p @ 120fps option if you want some slow-motion effects. There's no 1080p @ 60fps mode, though, which would make a big difference in fast-paced scenes. No monochrome or stereo shooting, either. Also, changing resolution involves going to Modes and then in the advanced settings, which isn't all that convenient.
Anyway, the 2160p videos are captured at 42Mbps bitrate and have rock solid 30fps. The audio is stereo captured at 96KBps bitrate.
The video quality is average - the resolved detail is enough, but far from the best. The dynamic range is low, the foliage gets destroyed by the noise reduction, and there is still quite some noise left after that. The framerate is smooth and steady, while the colors are accurate.
The audio quality is OK, there are no traces of compression, but you'll notice it goes towards poor on more demanding scenes (concerts, loud crowds, cars honking, etc.).
Check these two videos shot in different weather conditions, they easily demonstrate both the dynamic range and overall video quality.
The 1080p videos are shot at 20Mbps bitrate and the same audio. The video quality turned out better for 1080p, with more resolved detail and more sharpness, but they suffer from the same issues - low dynamic range, poor foliage, and sometimes - visible noise even in broad daylight.
Check these two samples:
You can also download the 4K@30fps cloudy (11s, 58MB), 4K@30fps sunny (11s, 54MB), 1080p@30fps cloudy (12s, 30MB) and the 1080p sunny video (11s, 28MB) samples taken straight off the Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus.
Finally, you can use our Video Compare Tool to see how the Mi 5s Plus stacks against the competition when it comes to video capturing in both 2160p and 1080p modes. You can clearly notice how sharp the 1080p videos are.