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Thursday, September 23, 2021

OnePlus Nord 2 5G Camera review: Segment leader

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The OnePlus Nord 2 5G follows in the footsteps of its predecessors by bringing some high-end features to the Advanced segment ($200-399). The device features a 6.43-inch AMOLED display with a 90 Hz refresh rate and FHD+ resolution, along with a 32 MP front camera and dual speakers. The Nord 2 is powered by the new MediaTek Dimensity 1200-AI chipset that was developed specifically for this phone in collaboration between OnePlus and MediaTek.

The phone comes with a rear triple-camera. A primary shooter with a 50 MP Sony IMX 766 sensor (just like on the flagship OnePlus 9 Pro) is combined with an 8 MP ultra-wide and a 2 MP monochrome camera. In terms of video, the Nord 2 is capable of recording 4K footage at 30 frames per second. Let’s see how it performed in our DXOMARK Camera tests.

Key camera specifications:

  • Primary: 50 MP Sony IMX766 sensor with 1.0µm pixels, f/1.88-aperture lens, OIS
  • Ultra-wide: 8 MP sensor, 119.7° field of view, f/2.25-aperture lens
  • Mono: 2 MP sensor, f/2.4-aperture lens
  • Dual-LED flash
  • Video: 2160p at 30 fps (tested), 1080p at 30/60 fps

About DXOMARK Camera tests: For scoring and analysis in our smartphone camera reviews, DXOMARK engineers capture and evaluate over 3000 test images and more than 2.5 hours of video both in controlled lab environments and in natural indoor and outdoor scenes, using the camera’s default settings. This article is designed to highlight the most important results of our testing. For more information about the DXOMARK Camera test protocol, click here. More details on how we score smartphone cameras are available here.

Test summary

OnePlus Nord 2 5G

116

camera

Pros

  • Wide dynamic range indoors and outdoors
  • Vivid and pleasant color, especially indoors
  • Very stable and repeatable autofocus
  • Nice white balance and color rendering in all videos
  • Accurate target exposure in most videos
  • Fairly good detail in outdoor and indoor videos

Cons

  • Lack of detail in most conditions
  • Range of artifacts often visible
  • Underexposure and noise in flash-off night shots
  • Lack of detail at most tele zoom settings
  • Exposure stepping in videos
  • Noise in indoor and low-light videos
  • Lack of detail and texture artifacts in low-light videos
  • Video autofocus convergence steps when tracking

The OnePlus Nord 2 5G is a noticeable step ahead of its predecessor OnePlus Nord (108) in almost all areas and is the new number one in the Advanced segment ($200-399) with a DXOMARK overall score of 116.

In the Photo category, the device delivers excellent exposure results that we don’t usually see at this price level, and the autofocus system is one of the most stable we have tested to date. The Nord 2 earns itself a Photo score of 125, which is the highest score for the segment.

The OnePlus Nord 2 5G captures images with nice color, excellent exposure, and wide dynamic range.

The Zoom score of 43 isn’t among the best for the Advanced category, which is mainly due to the tele performance. The camera struggles to capture images with good detail when zooming in. The Nord 2 is the segment leader for ultra-wide, though.

With a Video score of 105, the Nord 2 is again an improvement over its predecessor for moving images as well and matches the Apple iPhone SE (2020) at the top of the segment ranking. Color and texture rendering are especially good. Despite the underwhelming tele, the OnePlus Nord 2 is an excellent choice overall for anyone looking for excellent image and video quality that does not break the bank.

Photo

The OnePlus Nord 2 5G achieves a Photo score of 125. In this section, we take a closer look at each sub-attribute and compare image quality against competitors.

Exposure and Contrast

Huawei P50 Pro

Best: Huawei P50 Pro (111)

In these tests we analyze target exposure, contrast, and dynamic range, including repeatability across a series of images. Tests are undertaken in a wide range of light conditions, including backlit scenes and low light down to 1 lux. The score is derived from a number of objective measurements in the lab and perceptual analysis of real-life images.

These samples show the OnePlus Nord 2 5G’s exposure performance in a high-contrast scene.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G, slight shadow clipping but good highlight retention

OnePlus 9, highlight clipping

Sony Xperia 1 II, some highlight clipping

Color

Huawei P50 Pro

Best: Huawei P50 Pro (106)

In these tests we analyze color rendering, skin tones, white balance, and color shading, including repeatability across a series of images. The score is derived from a number of objective measurements in the lab and perceptual analysis of real-life images.

These samples show the OnePlus Nord 2 5G’s color performance in an outdoor setting.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G, accurate white balance and color rendering

OnePlus 9, slight purple white balance cast

Sony Xperia 1 II, slightly dull color

Autofocus

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

Best: Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max (109)

In these tests we analyze autofocus accuracy, shooting time, and repeatability in the lab. We test focus failures, depth of field, and tracking of moving subjects using perceptual analysis of real-life images.

This graph shows the OnePlus Nord 2 5G’s autofocus performance in the lab, handheld at a light level of 20 lux (low light) and a brightness range of 4 EV.

Autofocus is very stable in most conditions, even in challenging low-light HDR scenes. Here the OnePlus Nord 2 delivers consistently fast and sharp results, while the comparison devices’ results show more variance.

 

Texture

Xiaomi Mi 11

Best: Xiaomi Mi 11 (111)

In these tests we analyze texture on faces and objects, including objects in motion, in a range of light conditions, using several lab test setups and perceptual analysis of real-life images.

These samples show the OnePlus Nord 2 5G’s texture performance in daylight.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G, outdoor detail

OnePlus Nord 2 5G, crop: lack of fine detail

OnePlus 9, outdoor detail

OnePlus 9, crop: good detail

Sony Xperia 1 II, outdoor detail

Sony Xperia 1 II, crop: good detail

Noise

Huawei P50 Pro

Best: Huawei P50 Pro (99)

In these tests we analyze noise on faces and objects, including objects in motion, in a range of light conditions, using several lab test setups and perceptual analysis of real-life images.

These samples show the OnePlus Nord 2 5G’s noise performance in low light.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G, low-light noise

OnePlus Nord 2 5G, crop: some noise but good detail

OnePlus 9, low-light noise

OnePlus 9, crop: strong noise, lack of detail

Sony Xperia 1 II, low-light noise

Sony Xperia 1 II, crop: well-controlled noise but lack of detail

Bokeh

Huawei P50 Pro

Best: Huawei P50 Pro (80)

For these tests we switch to the camera’s bokeh or portrait mode and analyze depth estimation, bokeh shape, blur gradient, and repeatability, as well as all other general image quality attributes mentioned above. The score is derived from perceptual analysis of real-life images.

These samples show the OnePlus Nord 2 5G’s bokeh simulation in daylight conditions.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G, bokeh mode

OnePlus Nord 2 5G, crop: good depth estimation

OnePlus 9, crop: some depth artifacts

Sony Xperia 1 II, bokeh mode

Sony Xperia 1 II, crop: some depth artifacts

Night

Huawei Mate 40 Pro+

Best: Huawei Mate 40 Pro+ (82)

In these tests we shoot a selection of images in pitch-black darkness as well as with city lights in the background providing some illumination. We shoot sample images with the camera at default settings in both flash-auto and flash-off modes. We analyze all image quality attributes but we pay particular attention to exposure, autofocus, and color. We do not test night modes that have to be activated manually.

These samples show the OnePlus Nord 2 5G’s night performance in flash-off mode.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G, flash-off: underexposure on face, strong chroma noise, strong loss of detail

OnePlus 9, flash-off: underexposure on face, noise, loss of detail

Sony Xperia 1 II, flash-off: strong underexposure on face, some noise, loss of detail

Artifacts

Google Pixel 4

Best: Google Pixel 4 (75)

In these tests we check images for optical artifacts such as vignetting, flare, lens softness in the corners, distortion, and chromatic aberrations, as well as for processing artifacts such as ghosting and fusion errors, hue shift, and ringing.

This sample shows ringing artifacts in an indoor image.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G, artifacts

OnePlus Nord 2 5G, crop: ringing

Preview

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

Best: Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max (77)

In these tests we analyze the image quality of the preview image and the differences between preview images and captured images, particularly in terms of exposure, dynamic range, and bokeh effect. We also check the smoothness of the field-of-view changes in the preview image when zooming with both buttons or when using the pinch-zoom gesture.

These samples show the differences in the OnePlus Nord 2 5G’s exposure between the preview and the final image.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G, preview: highlight clipping in background

OnePlus Nord 2 5G, capture: much better highlight retention than preview

Zoom

The OnePlus Nord 2 5G achieves a Zoom score of 43. The Zoom score includes the tele and wide sub-scores. In this section, we take a closer look at how these sub-scores were achieved and compare zoom image quality against the competitors.

Wide

Huawei P50 Pro

Best: Huawei P50 Pro (57)

In these tests we analyze the performance of the ultra-wide camera at several focal lengths from 12 to 20 mm. We look at all image quality attributes, but we pay particular attention to such artifacts as chromatic aberrations, lens softness, and distortion.

These samples show the performance of the OnePlus Nord 2 5G’s ultra-wide camera in bright light.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G, ultra-wide

OnePlus Nord 2 5G, crop: loss of fine detail

OnePlus 9, crop: good detail

Sony Xperia 1 II, ultra-wide

Sony Xperia 1 II, crop: good detail

Tele

Huawei P50 Pro

Best: Huawei P50 Pro (140)

In these tests we analyze all image quality attributes at focal lengths from approximately 40 to 300 mm, paying particular attention to texture and detail. The score is derived from a number of objective measurements in the lab and perceptual analysis of real-life images.

These samples show the OnePlus Nord 2 5G’s tele performance in the lab at 1000 lux using a close-range zoom setting.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G, close-range zoom, 1000 lux

OnePlus Nord 2 5G, crop: loss of detail, well-controlled noise

OnePlus 9, close-range zoom, 1000 lux

OnePlus 9, crop: loss of detail, some noise

Sony Xperia 1 II, close-range zoom, 1000 lux

Sony Xperia 1 II, crop: loss of detail, some noise

Video

In our Video tests we analyze the same image quality attributes as for still images, such as exposure, color, texture, and noise, but we also include such temporal aspects as speed, smoothness and stability of exposure, white balance, and autofocus transitions.

NOTE: The sample video clips in this section are best viewed at the highest resolution available. 

The OnePlus Nord 2 5G achieves a Video score of 105. A device’s overall Video score is derived from its performance and results across a range of attributes in the same way as the Photo score. In this section, we take a closer look at these sub-scores and compare video image quality against competitors.

Exposure and Contrast

Huawei P50 Pro

Best: Huawei P50 Pro (103)

These sample clips show the OnePlus Nord 2 5G’s video exposure performance in outdoor lighting conditions.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G, good target exposure, slight lack of contrast

Sony Xperia 1 II, underexposure, some shadow clipping

Color

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra

Best: Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra (105)

These sample clips show the OnePlus Nord 2 5G’s video color in indoor conditions.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G, accurate white balance, pleasant color rendering

OnePlus 9, slight yellow cast, acceptable color rendering

Sony Xperia 1 II, slight cast, slightly inaccurate color rendering

Autofocus

Huawei P50 Pro

Best: Huawei P50 Pro (108)

These sample clips show the OnePlus Nord 2 5G’s video autofocus tracking performance in low light lab conditions.

Autofocus convergence steps are sometimes visible during tracking.

Texture

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra

Best: Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra (97)

This graph shows the OnePlus Nord 2 5G’s video texture measurements in the lab.

Detail is fairly well preserved in outdoor and indoor conditions; fine detail is lost in low light.

Noise

Huawei Mate 40 Pro

Best: Huawei Mate 40 Pro (105)

These video stills show the OnePlus Nord 2 5G’s video noise performance in a low-light  scene.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G, low-light video still

OnePlus Nord 2 5G, crop: luminance noise with some chromaticity and patterns

OnePlus 9, low-light video still

OnePlus 9, crop: coarse luminance noise

Sony Xperia 1 II, low-light video still

Sony Xperia 1 II, crop: strong chroma noise with patterns

Artifacts

Oppo Find X2 Pro

Best: Oppo Find X2 Pro (94)

For video artifacts, we check for the same kinds of artifacts mentioned in the Photo section, along with such video-specific artifacts as frame rate variation in different light conditions, judder effect, and moving artifacts (artifacts such as aliasing, color quantization, and flare can often be more intrusive when moving than in a still image).

This video still shows a judder effect during panning.

A judder effect is visible during panning.

Stabilization

Huawei P50 Pro

Best: Huawei P50 Pro (102)

In these tests we analyze residual motion when handholding the camera during recording, as well as when walking and running with the camera. We also look for stabilization artifacts such as jello effect, sharpness differences between frames, and frame shift (abrupt changes of framing).

This sample clip shows the OnePlus Nord 2 5G’s video stabilization performance in daylight.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G, effective stabilization with some residual motion, slight sharpness differences between frames





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