ColorOS Camera on OPO: Great Port, Great Option
Some lenses are better than others, and when it comes to hardware the difference can be quantified in a lab. As far as applications go, however, the story is a little different – you’ve got hundreds of options out there, be it on the Playstore, on our forums or whatever third-party resource you can find. In some cases, cameras are finely tuned to specific sets of hardware, or have proprietary drivers and algorithms that significantly improve the experience. Owners of Samsung devices that attempt to flash stock ROMs know this very well, as while doing so obviously doesn’t alter the physical configuration of the hardware, the new software often yields very underwhelming results. In this sense, good software can be just as important as good hardware to get a good camera experience.
The OnePlus One has an amazing camera already. When the device came out, it was one of the few at the time to support 4K video recording – a feature that (excluding other phones of the time like the Note 3 and S5) would otherwise be found on expensive cameras. All in all, the camera module did great and there’s some very impressive picture-taking capabilities, as well as video recording. However, while the application found in the stock ROM (CM11S) was a good alternative, it was not quite as extensively tuned as what we find on other enterprise solutions and thus many felt it was more disposable than other built-in solutions from other OEMs. Something that had also grabbed people’s attention was the ColorOS camera.
ColorOS is a ROM found in OPPO devices, and in case you didn’t know, OPPO was one of the main benefactors that brought the OnePlus start-up to life. Their 2014 flagship offerings shared plenty of hardware and design cues with the OnePlus One, something that caused one of the many controversies OnePlus faced throughout 2014. Their ColorOS offerings do have its virtues, but the camera was said to be exceptional. I still remember back in early 2014 when we got news of a 50MP camera on the Oppo Find 7… and it turned out to be a software feature rather than a module – one that is present in this popular camera. With this relationship in mind, many were a little upset at the fact that this could have been implemented into the stock ROM of the OnePlus One, but the company had settled for the CyanogenMod offering.
If you Google around, you’ll see people on plenty of forums asking for ports of this ColorOS camera, but as it stood this wasn’t possible due to code tightened up to ColorOS – which is a reason as to why ColorOS-based ROMs like the Find 5’s MIUI build featured it. Here on XDA, there also were fervent requests for such a port… and our developers always find a way, so now those lucky enough with a OnePlus One can enjoy one of the best and most feature-rich camera experiences on their device. XDA Recognized Contributor BOOTMGR came to the rescue, and posted the initial release on Valentine’s day, perhaps a much sweeter gift than the ones many of us received on that day. That same day he introduced a Beta 1 release that brought fixes to much needed features (after all, what is a camera with broken video recording?), and now on February 16 we see further additions in the form of plug-ins that add great features to the camera. So what is the fuss all about?
Well, from a superficial point of view, the actual process of taking pictures will be the same. You won’t find fancy DIS here, and since the OPO doesn’t support OIS either, you will still need some precision when taking pictures. The interface is rather pleasant, though, and will most likely not come in your way. The real strength in this camera comes from the actual post-processing and some of the default values and configurable settings it boasts.
This camera features RAW file picture taking. What this means is that the camera takes a heavily uncompressed image that comes packaged in a pure format (DNG). These are much heavier than your usual picture – upwards of 10 times heavier, usually sitting at the 25 MB for this camera as opposed to other alternatives being around 16MB. That alone means higher quality files with less imperfections getting in your way. The OnePlus One was already known for its great camera, so when you put such a purist format on top of it with a high-quality application, photographers will most likely get all over it. The thing about RAW pictures is that they aren’t as easy to decode and convert as one would want them to be, but there’s applications like Raw Decoder Free that will do the job straight from your phone.
Apart from that, the heavier pictures in both formats mean less RGB artifacts than what’s found on the stock CM camera (even with disabled denoised). This should, off the bat, give you some noticeable improvements. There are some picture samples posted by XDA users that might give you an idea of what to expect:
Both cameras look rather good, but there’s some key differences to be found. The first one being that the ISO is different – this is a camera property that determines how sensitive it is to light. The ISO in the stock camera is 1200 while the ColorOS features a reported default of 800 which means the exposure is significantly different (in the ASA scale system for ISO, this value scales linearly, so you can imagine it’s quite substantial). The result is lighter (or whiter) pictures on the stock camera. For some situations, this could potentially be better, but for the most part it looks a tad more washed out. Both cameras have comparable levels of noise, but the different exposure makes them stand out a little more on the stock solution. Other things like aperture and shutter speed also impact exposure, and in this regard the ColorOS does very good considering the slower shutter options out there.
But another great thing about this camera is that, while the initial offerings were rather basic, XDA Junior Member infinityplus contributed and helped put out a set of plugins adding missing functionality, including the desired 50MP picture taking module that made the Oppo Find 7 the source of so much buzz back in 2014. Other than that, you’ve got professional mode which will give you more control and potentially better quality results, among others you can find in the thread.
The application does come with some problems, though, as it is still an early release. One reported complaint is that the focusing takes place away from where you tap, as illustrated in this picture provided by a user. Some interface buttons might not work on certain software, and the manual focus slide in professional mode is also reportedly faulty. While there’s a good amount of plugin options, there’s a limit of 5 that can be active on the application at once, which could potentially be circumvented but at the time makes the process annoying. It was also posted that certain ROMs see variations in media resolution. Finally, those used to CM Gallery might find that the media scanner does not immediately pick up the pictures taken with this camera, presumably because of file name formatting, but this should be fixed soon.
This new software is rather easy to install, and it doesn’t require root, only sideloading the provided apk. The app can also be used on ROMs other than CM11S, and it has been reported to work on CM12 ROMs with varying degrees of functionality and success. If you are running something other than stock, it’d be wise to check the thread and see what you might run into. Other than that, this seems to be a good offering for those that like a good camera app on their phone. Whether you are a photographer, an amateur enthusiast or simply like taking pictures of your pets, this app will do the job and with on-going development and bug squashing this could become the end-all-be-all camera for OPO users. Many of the things discussed here are based on early reports, and things might change by the time you read this, so once again we suggest you read through and find out what’s new, what works, what doesn’t and see first-hand testimony of the fellow XDA users who provided the reports needed to write this (thanks!).
If there’s something to gather from this story, regardless of the application or who can use it, is the amazing skill of our developer community. Such a port was one of the most sought after mods that I can remember hearing about – not just on our site – and finally seeing it come to fruition on the hand of our talented devs is something admirable that should make every contributor of this site proud of being a part of this. So if you own an OPO, get downloading what could potentially be your new go-to camera app.
Tried out ColorOS camera? What do you think of it? Tell us in the comments!