OPPO’s cutting-edge smartphone photography: A deeper look

Published July 21, 2020, 5:39 PM

by Jonathan Castillo

Written by Lionell Go Macahilig

In May, OPPO officially launched the Reno3 Series in the Philippines in two variants: the Reno3 at P18,990 and the Reno3 Pro at P28,990. Improving on the previous iterations of the Reno series, OPPO’s latest offerings are crafted to inspire everyone to be more creative and make the most out of today’s digital landscape.

And what other key features can make you instantly creative with a smartphone aside from its camera, especially in the case of the OPPO Reno3 Series? With the new flagship line sporting cutting-edge camera technologies, OPPO continues to claim its position as the selfie expert, particularly among the tech-savvy Gen Z and millennial consumers. 

The Reno3 Pro highlights a rear quad camera system, comprising of a 64MP ultra-clear main camera, 13MP telephoto lens, 8MP ultra wide-angle lens, and 2M mono lens, and a 44MP dual punch-hole front camera with 2MP depth of field lens. Meanwhile, the Reno3 having a rear quad camera system, consisting of a 48MP ultra-clear main camera, 13MP telephoto lens, 8MP wide-angle lens, and 2MP mono lens, and a 44MP front camera.

But beyond these impressive numbers, we tried to discover how OPPO has maintained not only the position of being the selfie expert but also as a key innovator in terms of mobile photography. Recently, we sat down with Will Lin, OPPO’s Senior Photography Algorithm Engineer, to delver deeper into the brand’s cutting-edge smartphone photography.

Will Lin, OPPO’s Senior Photography Algorithm Engineer

As OPPO’s Senior Photography Algorithm Engineer, what are some of the challenges in smartphone photography today that you think need to be addressed?

There is a constant challenge to keep improving the quality of our photos and videos because this contributes to how socializing is done today. We at OPPO, are committed to keeping innovating our products to serve this need.

We have always put immense effort into studying what consumers look for in their smartphones. One challenge users encounter is lighting conditions for excellent photography. OPPO smartphone cameras are designed to automatically adjust depending on the lighting conditions. Our smartphones also utilize AI algorithm acceleration and AI Noise Reduction to catch the beauty in the dark that may be invisible to the human eye. Night mode is one of the four major indicators for imaging performance.

We believe that when a smartphone can take clear photos in dim light, it’s a good camera phone. Therefore, since R17 Pro, we’ve been doing different optimizations on this feature to make sure the night shots get brighter and clearer. This commitment to photography excellence remains as we develop all OPPO phones, all the more for the Reno series which caters to the younger crowd who are social media natives.

How did OPPO address these challenges? What smartphone camera features and technologies did OPPO introduce to address these challenges?

OPPO believes technology is and will be more convergent. Because competition in hardware is more homogeneous, we focused on software optimization in the Reno series. This became our competitive advantage.

For example, in a low-light environment, although the amount of incoming light is relatively less, we have optimized it through algorithms with the Reno3’s Ultra Night Mode in the selfie camera so that it can improve the picture quality to make up for the deficiencies caused by the use of large-size sensors. The Reno3’s Ultra Night Mode in the selfie camera will also solve the pain point of taking selfies at night, bringing stunning night shots with beautiful selfies.

We devoted many R&D resources for the unique algorithms behind multi-frame composition resolution – this made the Ultra Clear 108MP Image a possibility. Through the main camera, the Reno3 Series can generate sub-pixel information with super-high image resolution and the multi-frame photos collected by the camera. ·

We also saw that video recording demand is growing rapidly, just like the photography function that has been growing exponentially over the past few years. There is an increasing demand for visual expression from young users and the demand for video creation. The Reno series is made for customers’ growing need for photography, video, and entertainment. The video recording features of the Reno3 series have been significantly improved with Ultra Steady Video 2.0, Video Bokeh, Video Zoom, and Smart Video Editor: Soloop, making video capture and editing easier than ever.

How does the OPPO team assess these challenges and arrive at features and technologies that resolve these challenges? Can you give us a glimpse of the process that you have at OPPO?

We always go back to the user’s wants, needs, and behavior. We build our designs and algorithms around serving those – that is the thrust of OPPO: being user-centric.

During the development of every algorithm project, we are all hands on deck. Collaborations are heavy between different departments in the company. In fact, building off from an existing algorithm or building from scratch, could take months or up to a year.

Take Ultra Night Mode as an example, apart from my core team members of the imaging team, product managers, colleagues from software and hardware, marketing, testing, and others all have contributed along the way and provided valuable feedback.

Your profile mentions that you have six years of solid experience in imaging algorithm engineering. During the past six years, can you mention some of the trends in mobile phone photography that you consider milestones and which of these are exclusive to OPPO?

OPPO’s slogan was once simply “camera phone”. This indicates OPPO’s emphasis, technological strength, and profound understanding of the camera function, and the importance the company places on it.

We are very proud of the Reno series because it is made for the customers’ ever-growing need for excellent photography, video, and entertainment. It’s become more exciting for us as we are challenged all the more to amp up the camera technologies of Reno series with the growing trend on content creation social media where people have become more daring and creative with their content in this new normal. This also means consumers are becoming more particular with their smartphone purchases focusing more on what the smartphone camera can offer.

Talking about the future, what are upcoming features, technologies, or trends that you foresee or want to see in OPPO smartphones or the entire smartphone industry?

We’re going to continue enhancing the foundation of photography — shorter image development time, reducing noise in the photo, and improving the stability of video shooting. OPPO has also greatly improved the accuracy of scene recognition through a large amount of image materials training. In the future, we will further optimize the accuracy of the scene understanding through AI enabling users to take more authentic photos anytime anywhere.

Last September, OPPO has announced that it will be among the latest batch of device companies to support Google’s CameraX, the new Android Jetpack support library for camera app development. By opening its camera capabilities through CameraX, OPPO aims to enable more third-party developers to leverage its leading camera technology to create more diverse applications and fulfill users’ needs for a professional, robust and convenient photography experience.

The direction of our efforts is not only to improve the image quality but also to pay attention to the user experience. In the future, we will work with various partners to enhance and upgrade the algorithms, hardware, and software.