OnePlus 8T camera: 2 things I liked and 2 that disappointed

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

the OnePlus 8T comes with a host of great features including 5G, super-fast charging, and a beautiful display. But it’s the cameras on the back that interest me the most, so I was delighted to take the phone in my hand and walk it through the orange leaves of Edinburgh in the fall.

The 8T has four cameras: a 48-megapixel main camera, a 16-megapixel super wide-angle, a 5-megapixel macro camera for close-ups, and an additional monochrome sensor for black-and-white photos. TL; DR: It can take great photos with the main and wide camera modes, but the black and white sensor is useless and the macro images are not good. Read on for more information and to see my test images.

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OnePlus 8T outdoor camera review

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

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OnePlus 8T outdoor camera review

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

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OnePlus 8T outdoor camera review

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

Using the standard camera lens in its default mode, I’m impressed with the phone’s ability to balance highlights and shadows (auto-HDR mode is apparently useful). The colors are rich and vibrant and the images are full of detail.

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OnePlus 8T outdoor camera test, wide angle lens.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

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OnePlus 8T outdoor camera test, wide angle lens.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

Switching to the wide-angle lens, I’m delighted once again to see good exposure control. Although I think the colors seem more muted than with the normal lens, the white balance has changed. It’s a wide view that makes it easy to capture much of the scene in front of you.

OnePlus 8T monochrome mode

One of the new additions to the 8T’s camera setup is a monochrome sensor. Interestingly, the image is still taken with the camera’s main sensor, but the mono sensor apparently captures more light and shadow detail, allowing for more beautiful black and white images.

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OnePlus 8T monochrome camera review.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

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OnePlus 8T monochrome camera review.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

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OnePlus 8T monochrome camera review.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

The mono images produced by the phone are correct. The highlights and shadows are balanced and there is a nice amount of detail throughout. The problem I have is that the mode seems redundant: the shots aren’t any better than what you might get by editing your photos in a free app like Snapseed or using the black and white modes based on the software that the phone already provides. We’ve seen dedicated monochrome sensors on phones like Huawei’s 2016 P9 before. They don’t tend to stick around for long – Huawei ditched it after the P20 Pro. Personally, I don’t think it adds any additional photographic value here.

Disappointing macro mode

The phone’s 5-megapixel macro lens lets you focus much closer on objects than you typically could. In theory, it’s a great way to capture small details on things like flowers and bugs, but in practice, the 8T’s macro shots don’t impress.

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OnePlus 8T macro mode.

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OnePlus 8T macro mode.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

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OnePlus 8T macro mode.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

The details are so blurry that I wouldn’t even want to download these images to a Facebook album, let alone print them for display. If you are interested in macro photography, this lens will not cut it. Instead, you should consider using external macro lenses such as those offered by Moment (an 8T compatible lens case is expected) and OlloClip. You can read our guide on how to take macro photos with your phone to see how these images can see.

The OnePlus 8T can take great photos with its primary lens or ultra-wide sound. For the majority of your shots, this will work just fine. But I find the monochrome sensor a weird, redundant addition, and I’m not impressed with the macro mode. Since these are two key features of the camera setup, I can’t help but feel disappointed with the camera overall.

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