Odyssey

Finally, I got Xiaomi Mi A1, smartphone with dual cameras due to my earlier smartphone was broken (bricked). I researched many smartphones to buy and I decided buying Xiaomi Mi A1. My Xiaomi Mi A1 is Android One smartphone that is based with Pure Android OS. Actually, I need Pure Android smartphone for long time and I get this. Now Pure Android is better than earlier version I’ve used.

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Mi A1 has dual cameras for taking photo with depth effect. Now dual cameras with depth effect are main features that Android smartphone should have it (except Pixel 2, XL that have A.I. to calculate depth effect when you activate depth effect on Pixel 2, XL camera application.) And I never test these dual camera, so this time I test these.

Portrait photography with dual camera

Many smartphone manufacturers use dual cameras feature as main selling point. And look like dual cameras are standard features of flagship smartphone since 2017. One of the most talked feature from dual cameras function is portrait photography with depth effect. This effect is similar as taking photos with DSLR or mirrorless camera with fast lens. It can substitute and don’t need too big camera to take portrait photos with depth effect.

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But…

Smartphone camera is always smartphone camera

Smartphone camera uses very small sensor!! It’s too small sensor to do depth effect. And narrow dynamic range. If you take photos without HDR effect, you will see insane contrast on your photo you have taken. This effect is same as you open too narrow aperture.

And smartphone lens uses f2 aperture, but f2 of smartphone camera isn’t same as full frame camera that f2 is wide aperture and have wide dynamic range. When you take photos from smartphone, you will see too much contrast on your picture. That’s usual effect from smartphone camera.

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Bokeh from dual cameras is really weird and unreal. If you ever take portrait photography with real camera and prime lens with wide aperture, you will see differences from pictures you’ve taken. If you use camera with prime lens, dynamic range is really wide and light, shadow render smoothly. But if you take portrait photos with dual cameras, when you take photos at low light environment, shadow is really contrast.

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Look carefully. That’s weird bokeh.

It’s so bad when you use portrait mode of dual cameras from smartphone at low light environment. But if you use portrait mode at the outdoor, you can get beautiful photos from dual cameras.

Not only narrow dynamic range. If you take photos at dark environment, noise will occur too.

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Comparison between Sony a6000 w/ prime lens and Dual cameras from smartphone

 Left from dual cameras, right from Sony a6000 (without post-process)

Differences you can see it immediately is picture from dual cameras has low dynamic range due to small sensor. Meanwhile picture from Sony a6000 + prime lens can get more dynamic range details.

Can it substitute camera with wide aperture lens?

No! If you always bring your camera in your bag to go anywhere and you need high quality pictures for commercial using or you need to take photos at nightclub without opening flash.

But… Yes!! If you go somewhere that doesn’t allow you to bring mirrorless or DSLR camera or someday you think camera is really heavy for you. It can substitute only for taking photos because you need to share on your social network without serious quality.

If you buy new smartphone camera with dual camera, you should test taking photos with portrait mode first. If you open portrait mode and camera angle is really wide and cannot zoom in for 50mm focal length, DON’T BUY IT!

Recommend smartphone for portrait mode

iPhone

  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone X

Samsung

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Huawei

  • Huawei P10
  • Huawei Mate 9
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro

Xiaomi

  • Mi 5X
  • Mi A1
  • Mi 6
  • Mi Note 3
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