How vivid is your Sony sensor? As vivid as you want
We’re at Part 2 of the official review of the OnePlus Nord 3 5G! We discussed so much about the display that it could not fit on one page but alas, we must move on. We’re pretty excited to tell you about how the cameras of this phone perform. After all, it’s part of the package that makes this a flagship killer.
This section will tackle everything camera. There is a lot to say here. If we can talk about the display non-stop, we can talk about the cameras non-stop too.
The primary camera, located at the top, is the 50MP Sony IMX890 sensor. Below that are the 8MP Sony IMX355 Ultrawide camera (located at the bottom right of the hump) and the 2MP GalaxyCore GC02M1 Macro camera. This is the same sensor found on the Nord 2T but here, it has been repurposed as a macro camera. There also appear to be two LED flashes but only the top one is a flashlight. The bottom is a temperature sensor intended so colour reproduction on photos looks more natural.
The camera interface is borrowed from ColorOS, in turn, taking inspiration from iOS’ camera UI. You can choose between modes by going left to right. The Macro mode is hidden in the “More” section at the right, beside “Portrait”. The phone also supports RAW images. You can get there by selecting “MORE” then “Pro Mode”.
By default, AI enhancement is turned off. The aspect ratio is set to 4:3. Tapping on the three dots in the far right corner will show you more options, including HDR and Hi-Res mode which allows you to take 50MP shots in a 4:3 aspect ratio. It uses a quad-bayer binning process that takes four 12.5MP shots and combine them to make a single 50MP shot which increases the sharpness of the photo. This 50MP sensor also has omnidirectional Phase Detection Autofocus (PDAF) which allows it to remain steady when detecting a face. It is similar to laser autofocus. This flagship sensor also has access to OIS and EIS to achieve super steady video. We’ll discuss these two later.
There is a “filter” button on the bottom right which, as the name tells, allows you to select various filters. You could also retouch faces here if you want a more “make-up” and a softer feel.
Overall, the camera UI is newbie friendly and organized. If you have used a Realme/Oppo phone before, the camera UI on the Nord 3 should be familiar territory.
As expected, the OnePlus Nord 3 takes amazing shots during the day. Photos come out punchy and vivid and there is a high level of detail. Dynamic Range is handled nicely, too. There is a drop in quality when you use other aspect ratios. It’s usually not noticeable to the average person but well-trained photographers can tell.
Also, when using the primary camera up close, the camera tries to apply a blur filter. It usually does a good job of separating the foreground and the background but there are times that it overshoots it. Nevertheless, the filter applied feels natural and realistic.
Because the app only offers auto-HDR, it’s pretty hard to tell whether dynamic range changes are applied. Normally, when HDR is enabled, Google Photos will tell you but this time, there’s no indication.
The built-in gallery is organized and you can arrange the grid by pinching the display in and out. Long-tapping enables the multi-selector and additional menus such as “Delete All” and “Select All”. You can also find your photo’s metadata here, including dimensions, aperture, and geolocation.
When taking pictures with AI is taken into account, there is a huge boost in saturation and sharpness to the point images become oversharpened and oversaturated. This AI enhancement was previously known as Chroma Boost. We usually take our shots in a 16:9 aspect ratio so there is cropping involved. To compensate for the small drop in quality, the camera app boosts the saturation but it goes overboard with it. The phone captures photos well enough without the enhancement so we suggest turning this feature off.
This isn’t also the first time we saw this level of saturation. The Oppo A57 also has the same problem. We can only guess that BBK phones use the same camera app and algorithms but are slightly tweaked for other brands.
The slow sensor means that the phone is awkward to use on panoramic shots, especially if said panoramic shots have vehicles moving around. However, it does have the same punchy colours and level of detail as with a normal shot so this is best used when capturing city skylines or mountains.
Our night shots are upscaled to a 16:9 aspect ratio, maxing out to 9.4MP. While not fully 12.6MP, it still takes its quality did not deteriorate. It brightens up the image so well one might think you shot it in the evening (we took our pictures around 8 PM and it was dark outside). The photos have a high contrast, a low level of noise, and plenty of detail. These photos have excellent colour reproduction and are vivid but they are less accurate to real-life colours.
We noticed that the sensor takes about 1 second to take a night shot and a few more to apply the necessary post-processing effects. The phone also has a dedicated night mode which, of course, we put to good use.
When OnePlus showcased the Nord 3, they were constantly bragging about how its cameras are great for capturing night shots. They even went so far as to create an algorithm called Turbo RAW to further enhance night images. And sad to say, they are right. The Nord 3 takes excellent night photos.
As with the normal camera mode, it takes a second for the app to take a shot and a few more to apply effects. When it does, the resulting photos are even brighter and also warmer in temperature. Again, noise is well maintained, there is a lot of detail resolved (though it can be oversharpened as seen on grasses and trees) and the dynamic range is pretty good.
To help you compare, use this comparison tool. The right image is taken using the normal camera mode while the image on the right is taken using night mode.
ULTRAWIDE (DAY and NIGHT)
As expected, the quality gets a sudden drop if you switch to ultrawide. To be fair, 8MP is a huge gap from 50MP and this one uses a much older Sony IMX355 sensor. Despite that, the ultrawide performed surprisingly well with minimal distortion, okayish colour reproduction, and decent dynamic range. Using AI would make these shots oversharpened and oversaturated so use it only when truly necessary.
The ultrawide produces softened images which is very noticeable when using it at night. Night mode does help in making each photo brighter but it does little to resolve details. It will still turn out soft and washed out. However, surprisingly, there is still little to no noise which is unbelievable for an 8MP sensor at this caliber.
Should we even talk about the 2MP macro? It’s not worth mentioning and the thing feels like a gimmick. OnePlus should have just removed it entirely. You can take much more superior macro shots if you just use the main 50MP camera. There’s not a lot of detail here, colours look weak and dull, and the overall image feels soft. Not even AI can save this one.
If there is anything great about BBK phones (including OnePlus), it’s their AI and post-processing system which also includes applying blur effects. The camera app has a built-in depth-of-field selector ranging from f/1.4 to f/16. By default, it is set to f/2.8 so that’s what we used.
The portrait mode is really well-made and detects the foreground and background exceptionally. The applied blur effect is realistic and convincing although it does suffer from poor dynamic range. The edge detection is not perfect because there would be times when a strand of hair may get caught in the blur, but overall it does a great job separating the subject and the background. It is even better with its face detection algorithms.
The Nord 3 is equipped with a 16MP selfie camera. It’s nothing special. Skin tones come out pale and the overall quality is average. Even with decent lighting, images either come out soft or overtuned. There is no in-between. This also applies to night shots. When it tries to apply a blur effect, it feels unnatural and “paint-like”. Though, its edge detection is good.
The OnePlus Nord 3 5G has support for videos up to 4K@60fps. However, if you want OIS, you’re stuck to just 1080p@60fps. EIS is automatic and cannot be disabled for all video resolutions (except 4K, strangely). The 16MP front camera has EIS as well but it is optional. It supports video resolutions of up to 1080p@30fps.
Both the ultrawide and primary cameras can capture videos but this is absent on the Macro camera for obvious reasons.
In all video resolutions we have tested, the sound quality is decent. It doesn’t feel watery or dead. For the 1080p(30fps) video, we shot this inside one of the world’s largest IKEA stores to date, located in the Philippines. The overall video quality is overprocessed. The video is oversharpened and the colour accuracy is lacking. It’s dull because the real IKEA is much more lively than what the 1080p video represents.
Finally, there are your 4K twins. One at 30fps and the other at 60fps. Both videos have an accurate depiction of what’s inside this IKEA store with plenty of detail resolved. There are also no grains to be seen here and so shooting at 4K at either refresh rate is a good idea.
As for the stable 1080p@60fps video, It did a great job of stabilizing the video without reducing quality. In other cameras we’ve tested, there is a noticeable gap in quality between a non-OIS video and a video with OIS. Here, either activated or not, the quality remained the same. There are plenty of details with even better colour reproduction and dynamic range. I was walking normally here, by the way.
Taking OIS videos uses a lot of resources and the phone tends to heat up rather quickly, causing a very quick battery drain.
16MP SELFIE VIDEO:
It’s easier to upload to TikTok when it comes to vertical videos so we did. The sample above is at 1080p@30fps. Here, EIS is turned off. Face detection is active and cannot be disabled. This is the highest quality the selfie camera can offer even though the sensor itself can capture 1080@60fps videos.
The selfie video feels a little too sharp for my tastes, just like with the main camera but sound segregation and quality are high-tier. Despite all the noise around, my voice is well isolated and therefore remains loud and clear. Thanks to face detection, the video remained less shakey than what I would have expected.
Despite having no depth sensor, the front camera can also do both portrait videos and photos. For portrait video, it does a great job isolating the background and foreground as if you’re on a green screen. This mode adds a certain flair to your vlog and we suggest using it. Though, there may be again situations when strands of hair may be caught in the blurring. Overall, its edge detection is great.
The OnePlus Nord 3 also has a feature called “Dual View Video” which lets you use both the rear and front cameras ala FaceTime so now, it’s very convenient to vlog. Just go to “More” in the camera carousel and select “Dual View Video” and you’re ready to go. You can select from a split type, rectangular, or circular secondary screen.
Wish we could fit all camera features on one page but we must move forward. After all, as a buyer you still want to discover more about the phone.
Stay tuned, fellow techies! Part 3 will discuss the Nord 3’s gaming performance!