At Mobile World Congress 2018, OPPO has announced its 10X optical zoom mobile camera, something that we picked on back in January as an internal OPPO development.  

OPPO isn’t a stranger to extreme zoom camera, and in 2017 it already worked on 5X zoom technology. The main issue with zoom lenses is the distance that is required between the lens and the sensor. It is already difficult to have a (35mm-equivalent) focal length of 80mm fit in the thickness of a smartphone, so you can imagine how 160mm (with OIS) would be.

Today, there’s only one solution to do it, and it’s a Periscope lens design that will push the extra lens length inside the phone’s body and not out from the back cover. That is precisely the design that OPPO pursued previously and refined until today’s 10X optical zoom announcement.

Here are some official photo samples from Oppo:

Photo from the wide camera

And with a 10X zoom

The company says that with a traditional design, the total lens length would have been 15mm (!!), but thanks to the Periscope design, it can fit into 6.76mm (of thickness) inside the phone’s chassis.

Even with such a powerful zoom lens, there’s enough space for OPPO to add a 48-Megapixel (24/26mm) alongside another 16mm Ultrawide camera, making an upcoming phone (Q2 launch) capable of an incredible 16-240mm range. To fully understand it, continue reading after this official video below.

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What is that 10X terminology?

Perhaps we need to explain the 10X zoom terminology before you start comparing OPPO’s 10X with Samsung’s 2X or Huawei’s 3X.

In the context of OPPO, 10X is the multiplier between the smallest focal length (16mm) of the ultrawide camera, and the largest focal length of the zoom lens (160mm). 160/16 = 10. That’s how compact cameras makers have marketed their zoom for decades, so it’s normal to use it, but that’s not always how other phone makers communicate about their zoom lens.

Huawei’s 3X optical zoom comes from the multiple between its wide lens (26mm) and the zoom lens (80mm). 80/26 =~3.07.

"RELY ON THE FOCAL-LENGTH IN MILLIMETERS TO COMPARE ZOOM CAPABILITIES, NOT X MULTIPLIER FACTORS"

If Huawei was using the same terminology as OPPO, the Mate 20 Pro would have a 5X zoom, because it is the multiple between the 16mm ultrawide lens and the 80mm zoom lens. The same thing is true for the Galaxy S10 or the LG V40. Rely on the focal-length in millimeters to compare zoom capabilities, not X multiplier factors.

If you want to compare the zoom power, it’s best to look at the zoom focal lengths: 52mm (Galaxy S10), 80mm (P20 Pro / Mate 20 Pro) and 160mm for OPPO’s new camera.

In short, Oppo’s new 160mm lens camera can zoom

  • twice as far as Huawei P20 Pro / Mate20 Pro 80mm lens
  • three times farther than Samsung’s Galaxy S phones (52m), iPhone (52mm) and everyone else who has a 2X zoom today

Conclusion

This announcement is significant because high-powered zoom capabilities genuinely enhance the user experience as they can significantly alter the way you frame pictures or the quality of details you are getting.

For example, we have not been shy to say that 2X zoom is very mildly useful since it’s the equivalent of moving forward by ~1 yard. 3X zoom lenses are much more useful because the visual improvement is noticeable as you re-frame photos while shooting.

"HIGH-POWERED ZOOM CAPABILITIES GENUINELY ENHANCE THE USER EXPERIENCE"

10X zoom would allow you to capture vivid moments when it is impossible to get closer to the subject, whether it is wildlife, a concert or some other public event.

In the past, zoom lenses have been paired with a small sensor because it’s a way to get the focal length you need in such a small space. As a result, they don’t do very well in low-light, so we’ll have to see how this OPPO zoom performs in the real world, but we expect it to look awe-inspiring in bright light. You cannot beat optics with algorithms (for now).

Zoom performance is an essential pillar of our Uber-G Camera IQ score (Image Quality), which we use to show you which mobile cameras are the world’s best. Stay tuned for more mobile camera reviews!

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