I have been using the Oppo Reno5 for 3 months now.
It’s been the device I take with me everywhere everytime, even when I have other smartphones I am reviewing with me.
Well, it’s been a while since I had such an all-round device. I mean, there have been several in the past, including Oppo’s very excellent budget device, the A93 but that is inferior to the Reno5 which towers above it and can only be compared to the Reno5 F, also a fantastic device for everyone who can’t pony up the Kshs 10,000 difference needed for the Reno5.
There’s a lot to like about the Reno5 that we have talked about previously, including on our podcast. There’s the good battery life that is backed by a fantastic fast-charging mechanism (from nothing to 100% in about 50 minutes, who doesn’t want that?), great performance, a good display panel, good looks and, the focus of this article, the cameras.
In an era where as consumers we are being pushed to accept the misguided notion that the more cameras a device has, the better, the Oppo Reno5 makes do with just four of them. Three at the back and one on the front.
There’s a 44-megapixel snapper on the front and a 64-megapixel shooter at the back, of course backed the usuals: an 8-megapixel ultrawide and a pair of 2-megapixel depth and macro sensors.
With them, Oppo has baked in a number of features. Most notably, the AI mixed portrait, AI highlight video and dual-view video. Uuum, what are those?
As the name suggests, this is basically two-way video. In this mode, the device uses both the front-facing camera and the back camera to shoot what’s happening on both sides and present them.
The option to use the feature is hidden away under “More” after you’ve scrolled through all the available shooting modes on the Oppo Reno5.
While in the Dual-view mode, one can switch between the two views and decide which one should be dominant. For instance, if the front-facing camera is dominant i.e. taking up the entire screen, then you can simply tap the camera icon on the view finder to make the back camera dominant and relegate your front view to the upper left corner in a tiny window. Just like how, in a video call, when a speaker is presenting the presentation is the point of focus.
This can be particularly useful for, say, stay-at-home teachers taping instructions for students, for example. Or anyone making a demonstration for sharing online later. Given how awful the Android camera interface can be when used from other apps, this is probably the best way to go about it.
Tapping on either camera’s window in Dual-view results in it being highlighted and becoming dominant something I find to be a much better user experience than having to find the icon on the viewfinder’s bottom right corner.
AI Mixed Portrait
This is the one feature of the Oppo Reno5’s cameras that I struggled with – so that you don’t have to.
On a trip to the Mount Kenya area, I tried it out for the first time and I had mixed feelings about it (no surprised that it is called “Mixed Portrait” then) given how it works which is simple yet funny and confusing at the same time. Especially if you don’t know what to expect, as was the case for me.
How it works is that it blends one’s background, for example, and the person. Double video exposure, the experts call it. In a way, that’s an interesting way of doing things but is it what you want really? Anyway, the feature is there, you can choose to do with it. Heck, you can opt to stay away from the blending and just do some nice silhouettes (see short demo below).
AI Highlight Video
This is the one feature of the Oppo Reno5’s camera system highlighted here where you don’t have to do anything. No need to choose any mode.
When shooting in challenging light conditions, whether during the day, for example where there’s just too much light, or at night when the light conditions aren’t the best, Oppo’s system gets to use some adaptive algorithms to enhance the brightness and the dynamic range of the picture being shot so that the video, at the end, looks just fine.
The system uses adaptive algorithms to enhance the brightness and dynamic range of the image while reducing noise. This is used both for nighttime shots and challenging daytime conditions as well. The best examples are probably the photo samples shared in the section below.
Obviously, as we have discovered during our time using the Oppo Reno5, there’s more to the device than the above highlighted three features.
The front-facing camera’s portrait mode, for instance, is one of the best we have seen from Oppo and a good one for a device in its class. It does have its quirks, like the object/subject edge detection can go a little off sometimes, but, for the most part, it rises to the occasion. Also, I like how (human) subjects are coloured while everything else that would traditionally only just get a blur, gets a monochrome filter as well. It’s an interesting way of making sure the right subject pops, almost quite literally. What I am not sure of is what else I need to do if the monochrome filter isn’t my cup of coffee.
At night, the camera is great save for the obvious smoothing that I have come to accept is unavoidable on this device.
During the day, the vibrancy is visible even though the colours, especially where the blue skies are involved, do come off as saturated. The details, though, are unmissable and the dynamic range appreciable (thanks Live HDR, I guess).