What else is new? OnePlus has changed the camera array so it looks more advanced. There are now six little round dots on the back, making the OnePlus 8T look like a camera Swiss Army knife. But the hardware changes are not huge.
The OnePlus 8T keeps the 48MP IMX586 sensor of its predecessor, and the 16MP IMX471/481 sensors for the ultra-wide and selfie camera. Its macro camera brings the biggest change. The last OnePlus had a terrible 2MP macro, this one a respectable enough 5MP one. Its ultra-close-up shots are far better, and do a fair job of showing off the surprising intricacy of plants and, if you can get close enough, animals. You need to get just a few centimetres from your subject, though, so watch out when shooting wasps.
Image quality in other areas is mostly the same as before. The OnePlus 8T’s main camera shoots lovely image during the day, and has excellent dynamics range optimisation, handy when you want to shoot images rolling orange clouds at sunset.
OnePlus has made big improvements to its Nightscape mode. You use this at night. It takes a little longer than a normal image, but brightens everything up brilliantly. We compared the OnePlus 8T’s night shots with ones taken with the OnePlus 8. There was no contest: the 8T’s are much better. Shadowy areas of scrub that look like a splodge of vague pixels through the OnePlus 8’s eyes are much more likely to be rendered as legit, well-realised detail by the OnePlus 8T.
By some feat of techy black magic, Nightscape now even works with video. This is a head-scratcher because it physically can’t use the same techniques the stills mode employs. How do you spent seconds optimising each frame when you need to paint at least 30 a second? We wonder if it uses both the wide and standard cameras at the same time, merging the information they see at two different exposure levels to make the up the final result, which — hats off to OnePlus — looks far brighter than the standard video mode.
Still, we’re not quite at Pixel 5 night image quality standard yet. There’s still a slightly scraggly appearance to some very low light images down at pixel level, but the OnePlus 8T is one of the better low-light shooters at the price.
It still doesn’t have a good zoom, though. There’s no actual zoom camera here, so 2x images are based on a digital crop of the standard view. Bummer. The OnePlus 8T’s fourth camera is a monochrome B&W sensor. It’s only used in one of the filter modes. We imagine 90 per cent of buyers may never use this mode, as it’s hidden away like a middle aged person’s teenage love poetry. And it’s a bit pointless anyway.
The Mono filter uses the B&W sensor to inform the tone mapping of monochrome shots, while the standard 48MP sensor still does most of the imaging legwork. OnePlus’s B&W camera has a 2MP sensor, so it’s a bit like saying a 3-year-old’s stickman drawing was used to improve the oil painting of a professional artist. Still, if the B&W sensor is used somehow in Nightscape mode, all is forgiven. We take back all those nasty things we said about this little Poundland camera.
A few hundred shots in, the biggest OnePlus 8T camera change is the improvement made to NightScape. And the OnePlus 8 may get similar boosts in a software updates.