Just like Realme, Redmi skipped the triple camera and jumped straight to quad-camera setups. The arrangement is quite familiar - first (top to bottom) is the ultrawide snapper, then the primary one, the depth camera is next, and last is the macro shooter.
The main camera uses the 48 MP ISOCELL Bright GM2 sensor by Samsung. It's a large 1/2.25" sensor with 0.8µm pixels, and the lens has f/1.8 aperture. Native pixel-binning is at play here, so the image output is 12MP.
The 119-degree ultrawide-angle camera has an 8MP sensor with an f/2.2 aperture. There is automatic distortion correction applied when necessary, but you can opt-out of it.
Then there's the 2MP macro camera (the pixels on the sensor are quite large, 1.75µm). Its lens can focus from as close as 4cm away so that you can get really close to your subjects.
The last snapper is the 2MP depth sensor.
Switching between modes is like in every other camera app - swiping left and right will take you through all modes, while tapping in the upper right corner of the screen where the "hamburger menu" resides will expand the options. The real settings menu is in there as well, and it doesn't offer anything out of the ordinary.
There's also a dedicated 48MP mode as opposed to before when you had to go to Pro mode and tap on the 48MP icon to shoot 48MP resolution stills. Speaking of Pro, this one offers pretty much all the settings you'd need - white balance, focus, ISO, and shutter speed. The Pro mode works with the normal camera, the ultra-wide, and the macro. Manual 48MP pictures are also an option.
Now, let's talk about image quality. The 48MP camera naturally saves by default 12MP images, and the ones we shot turned out very good. The resolved detail is plenty, the noise levels are quite low, and the colors stayed mostly true to life. The dynamic range is wide, and even though it's not the best we've encountered - we never used the HDR option.
The foliage presentation looks like an oil-painting as the algorithm smears fine detail, but it is nothing we'd hold against the Note 8 given the class and its price tag. Moire fringes can be noticed too in some busy scenes, but once again these are just minor defects, which can't put a dent in the positive impressions we had.
There is a dedicated 48MP mode if you want to shoot in 48MP, but what you'd get is not a real 48MP image. Instead of the usual 48MP photo created with the debayering process, the Redmi Note 8 saves a simple upscaled image, and you can tell. There are no benefits whatsoever when shooting in 48MP, and we don't recommend it.
There is one benefit of having such a big sensor - even though there isn't a telephoto camera, you can still shoot good 2x zoomed photos. They are digitally zoomed, alright, but they still look better than any zoom done on a standard 12MP camera.
The 8MP ultrawide cam snaps okay photos with good enough level of detail for the segment. The contrast is good but the dynamic range is rather limited. The per-pixel quality is no match to the main snapper, and the images are noisier, and they are definitely at the bottom end of what is offered by competing smartphones.
You can opt-out of the automatic lens correction, and you will get more distorted edges of the frame but with sharper output.
We took a couple of macro samples from the dedicated 2MP macro camera. Unfortunately, those are far from impressive. The detail isn't that great, the corners are soft, and the center isn't that sharp either.
The Redmi Note 8 can be a great shooter at nighttime. The 12MP photos from the main camera are excellent for this class - the noise reduction is not that aggressive, and while it leaves some noise visible on the photos, it also keeps the fine detail intact.
The Night Mode on the Redmi Note 8 is just as conservative as on previous Xiaomi cameras. It acts more like HDR rather than full-on Night mode,, and shooting takes about 2 seconds. It cancels some of the noise and restores most clipped highlights, but you will rarely get a brighter image.
The low-light images from the ultrawide-angle camera are far from impressive as expected, but oddly - we've seen way worse even from flagships. The photos came out surprisingly detailed, probably due to the gentle noise reduction. The exposure turned out not as dark as on other ultrawide snappers, and while still uninspiring, those are some entirely usable photos.
There is no Night Mode for the ultrawide camera.
Here's how the primary camera on the Redmi Note 8 stacks against the rest of the competition in a more controlled environment.
The quality of the portraits taken with the rear camera of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 is highly dependent on the light conditions as the resolved detail would drastically drop when the light is not good. So, when the right conditions are met - you will be rewarded with some very nice portrait shots - detailed, with good subject separation and convincing faux blur.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 has a 13MP f/2.0 selfie camera, and the focus is fixed as usual. On the software side, there three beatification enhancement options - skin smoothing, eye enlargement, and face slimming.
The 13MP selfies we shot are excellent - there is abundant detail, the colors and contrast are excellent, and the dynamic range is good even without HDR mode. Overall, we are quite happy with the samples we shot.
You can use portrait mode for selfies, too, and those turned out quite good. The phone does a nice job with subject separation, and we didn't get (many) clipped ears or the like.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 captures videos up to 4K @ 30fps and 1080@30fps is available. The 1080p@60fps option is coming via a firmware update, and at the time of publishing it was still unavailable.
It seems at first that you can capture in these resolutions with all cameras, but you can't. The ultrawide-angle snapper records only 1080p clips at 30fps, while the macro cam is limited to 720p@30fps no matter what resolution you've picked up from the selector.
Slow-mo video is available in 1080p @120fps.
Let's talk about the main camera. The video bitrate is 40-42Mbps in 4K and about 20Mbps in 1080p at 30fps. Audio is recorded in stereo with a 96Kbps bitrate.
Despite the high bitrate, the 4K videos are poor in detail and with mediocre dynamic range. The noise is almost non-existent, and maybe an overly aggressive noise reduction is to blame for the loss in detail. The contrast and colors are pretty good, though.
The 1080p clips aren't detailed either and we've seen many phones do better.
The videos from the ultrawide snapper have a bit cooler color rendition, and the detail quite poor, too.
The 2X toggle is also available in video recording, but digital zoom is what you'd be getting if you use it.
EIS is available only when shooting in 1080p at 30fps. The digital stabilization does a great job smoothing the camera shake at the expense of minor loss of FoV.
Once you are done with the real-life scenarios, take a look at our video compare tool to see how it competes against other phones.