Battle of mobile photography flagship phones: Oppo Find X5 Pro versus Vivo X80 Pro

July 7th, 2022 | by Wilson Wong
Battle of mobile photography flagship phones: Oppo Find X5 Pro versus Vivo X80 Pro
Cellphones
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Mobile photography has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years and the introduction of the Oppo Find X5 Pro and Vivo X80 Pro recently will interest users who want the best shots from their phones.

Some may know the two popular phone brands are both owned by the BBK Electronics manufacturing giant from China.

In the market, however, they are competitors. What’s unique here is their partnership with renowned camera equipment brands Zeiss and Hasselblad.

They have taken a leaf from the book of Huawei, which enjoyed much success in its earlier partnership with Leica, the respected German lens maker that is now linked with another Chinese brand, Xiaomi. 

More than just slapping on a brand, these phone makers are looking to boost imaging capabilities using their respective partners’ imaging expertise. 

In the case of the Oppo Find X5 Pro and Vivo X80 Pro, it’s no coincidence they are each retailing at S$1,699. To choose between the two phone excellent for their mobile photography, here’s what to look out for:

The aesthetics 

Oppo has put a lot more effort into the way the camera bump is integrated into the Find X5 Pro’s body. The mirror finish of the smartphone’s back cover gives it a classy, luxurious look that fashionistas would welcome.

The Vivo X80 Pro looks more dated in design, but there’s a good reason – the camera tech is squeezed into the svelte body. I am also a fan of the matte finishing at the back that not only resists fingerprints but makes it easier to hold than its Oppo rival.

Matte and glossy? Practical or stunning? PHOTO: Wilson Wong

The ergonomics

The smartphones are similar in size, with the 218g Vivo X80 Pro just slightly heavier by a gram.

The Vivo X80 Pro’s huge camera hump makes it harder to hold for longer periods as it is top heavy. The Oppo Find X5 Pro feels more balanced in my hands. I find it easier to use for my daily commute and for shooting.

I prefer all the buttons on one side, like the X80 Pro over the Find X5 Pro. I have to use my index finger to hunt for the volume button every time the music gets too loud whenever the Find X5 Pro is streaming video or audio.

What’s inside

The Oppo Find X5 Pro and Vivo X80 Pro both come with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Processor, 12 GB of RAM and 256GB of storage space. Top-end specs, in other words.

The smartphones also have similarly sized QHD+ AMOLED screens with the same 120Hz refresh rate, though the X80 Pro’s 6.78-inch screen pips the Find X5 Pro by a mere 0.08 inches.

Both smartphones have ample battery power that lasts even after a day of intensive photography and videography, with the Oppo phone having a bit more juice at 5,000mAh. The Find X5 Pro has two internal batteries that charge simultaneously, taking less time to juice up the phone using the 80W charger.

The Swedish Hasselblad versus German Zeiss. PHOTO: Wilson Wong

The camera system

The Oppo’s Marisilicon and Vivo’s V1+ chips are touted to improve the image quality of the camera system. Just as important is the type of sub-camera systems the smartphones are using.

Here, Oppo’s zoom lens maxes out at 2x, paling in comparison with Vivo’s 5x maximum telephoto range. Then again, the zoom comes with only an 8-megapixel sensor, so quality is not at its best when zooming in, but at least it affords more options for users. 

What is more important is the inclusion of better-equipped ultrawide-angle lenses. Both the Oppo’s 50-megapixel sensor and Vivo’s 48-megapixel sensor for their ultrawide-angle cameras will get more use than the zoom.

When shooting videos, landscapes and interiors, the higher pixel count for ultrawide-angle cameras are more beneficial for consumers. It also helps that 50-megapixel sensors are also used on their main cameras to maintain high resolution for all the images captured on the smartphones.

One major advantage that Vivo X80 Pro has over the Oppo is the use of glass lenses that give the impression that images captured should be sharper and colour more vibrant than the competition. Having said that, how the final photos turn out will also depend on the image processor’s performance. 

Image comparisons

Food is a Singaporean obsession, so it’s good news that both smartphones are really up to the task here. In both artificially and naturally lit scenes, the food images are vibrant with great details but Oppo’s images have a bit more punch while being accurate.

Landscape is the next test. For this, I took shots in harsh lighting conditions to see how the smartphones handle details in both bright and shadow areas. With shots in Wat Ta Prohm, the X80 Pro shines with a bit more detail than Find X5 Pro, though somehow there is a green haze in parts of the image.

Shooting Angkor Wat in the scorching midday sun is challenging for any camera. In this regard, the auto mode on the Find X5 Pro gave the best looking and more accurate renditions of the scene. The X80 Pro’s image can be improved further surely but that will require additional effort in post-editing.

Besides food and landscapes, wefies and portraiture are the other significant areas I compared. Generally, the Vivo X80 Pro produces a more natural look for skin tones but some beautification effect is still applied despite me switching it off. Oppo’s tendency to add that bit more vibrancy to the images works against it for such shots.

Portraiture with the smartphone has to be applied using computational imaging. This is done by blurring the background to simulate wide aperture lenses. Here, the X80 Pro does a better job by not overdoing the effect, thus producing a more natural looking shot. Skin tones from both phones miss the mark, giving off that reddish sunburnt tone rather than the sun-kissed bronze effect I am after.

Shooting a night scene of Siem Reap is pretty easy for both phones. I can just put them in auto mode and snap away. The result: Pleasantly exposed shots. You can, of course, activate the night modes for both phones for better results.

Oppo Find X5 Pro XPan mode

Some may feel the XPan Mode is a gimmicky feature that mirrors the first Hasselblad-Fujifilm collaboration that gave birth to the iconic XPan film camera. First introduced on the OnePlus 9, the XPan Mode produces 65:24 aspect ratio panorama shots in colour or monochrome, reminding one of Fujifilm’s much desired aesthetics.

To further enhance the experience, the XPan mode goes through some animation that makes you wait for the image to be “processed”. The anticipation makes the experience more enjoyable as the images are slowly revealed, mimicking the feeling you see your printed photos for the first time.

The XPan Mode does make street photography all the more immersive. The photos from the monochrome mode are pretty impressive, if used right.

Vivo X80 Pro Zeiss Cinematic mode

Users who love to shoot videos will enjoy the X80 Pro’s movie mode. With it, the camera changes to a 4K30p resolution that shoots in a 2.35:1 cinematic ratio crop. Throw in in-camera stabilisation, and shooting videos with the X80 Pro is very easy without the need for a gimbal. 

The camera also enhances the colour that gives the feel of film footage by using the Zeiss Cinematic Style. The camera senses the face in the scene and applies bokeh to the background, giving it a cinematic effect.

Unfortunately, using the Zeiss Cinematic Style in movie mode will limit the resolution to 1080p at 24fps, which is a huge pity.

Vivo has thrown in another useful feature – a teleprompter. You can read off the script while doing a selfie video. Useful when you need some information about the subject matter while filming yourself.

The Vivo X80 Pro Zeiss Cinematic mode. VIDEO: Wilson Wong

So who wins? It depends…

Your perception of colours in images and videos is the key factor when choosing between the two phones.

The Oppo Find X5 Pro gives me an overall better tool to capture stills and the occasional video but the colour rendition and shadow details are not as strong as its Vivo rival.

The XPan Mode is enjoyable for a film camera user like me but can be gimmicky to some. Colours from the Find X5 Pro are a bit more vibrant yet accurate in most cases.

In contrast, the Vivo X80 Pro has a better zoom range, and its Zeiss Cinematic video mode is an absolute joy when taking videos. It feels like I am shooting a major feature film.

Its colour presentation for still images is not as vibrant and under-exposed a little. Plus, the images can be over-sharpened, resulting in a less than realistic portrayal of the scene being captured.

So, choosing the winner really boils down to how you perceive the images. Some would prefer to have muted colours compared to the saturated look of the Oppo phone. If you are into food and landscape photography, the Find X5 Pro’s vibrancy should tickle your fancy.

Good news is, you don’t even have to rush to a decision. Besides the Oppo and Vivo flagships here, there are other optiosn.

The Google Pixel 6a and recently unveiled Xiaomi 12S Ultra that is co-engineered with Leica are two upcoming models that also promise great photography features.

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