It’s a smartphone, but it’s not just that… it’s an amazing “Swiss Army Knife” for filmmakers… is the OnePlus One!
The OnePlus is a Chinese company founded in December 2013 by Pete Lau, previously Vice President at OPPO. The OnePlus launched the “One” (its first device, as the name itself suggests) in April 2014 and started selling it exclusively through an invitation system. Because of this strategy and the decision to promote the phone exclusively throughout the social networks, the company managed to sell a product with the best components for just a third of the price of the major manufacturers flagship devices. This is why the OnePlus One is defined as a “flagship killer”. And, indeed, it is!
The OnePlus One comes with a 2.5GHz Quad-core, 3 GB LP-DDR3, an amazing 5.5 inch JDI display protected by Gorilla Glass 3, a 5 Megapixel (distortion free) front camera and a 13 Megapixel (Sony Exmor IMX 214) rear camera capable of shooting outstanding 4K videos and super slow motion 720p at 120fps! If you think this is still not enough, you better consider that the device is sold with 64GB of internal storage for only £273.99 (delivery included)!
I am usually not particularly crazy for technology, but in this case I must say that more I use this device and more I am pleased of the decision to buy it, following the invitation I’ve received from the company. So, I will not make an in-depth review of this smartphone, as there are already hundreds of very well written reviews out there. Indeed I will briefly describe the advantages that, as a filmmaker, this amazing device is offering me.
First of all, the dimension: 5.5 inch display is just perfect for replying emails, writing notes and keep going “on the way” with my screenplays (using Celtx), and sketching storyboards. This size is great for displaying my videos to clients or collaborators, and indeed it is really nice to see the astonished expression of a client watching one my latest works on a such rare and elegant device.
And here we go to the camera… well I just started playing with it few weeks ago and I already love it. Actually, I still can’t believe I shot the videos below in 4K with a “simple” smartphone! Watch it and judge yourself.
It’s so nice to be able to shoot 4K with a such a portable device. 3840 × 2160 resolution looks simply great! I’ve got so used to it already, that now HD resolution seems just so “blurred”.
With regards to the physical act of filming, you can definitely make nice handheld shots, but I strongly suggest to use a light handheld stabilizer, a Glidetrack or a tripod in order to get a rid of that annoying and persistent “shacking issue”, which is the direct result of the lack of a stabilisation option inside the camera.
The OnePlus One shoots unbelievably nice videos in ideal light conditions, while it performs less better in low lights, with incredibly poor results in night shots. Check the following test.
Concerning the picture quality, I would just repeat all the positive things I have already said about the 4K video, with an additional note: at the moment we can shoot only jpg pictures, but it is rumored that really soon we’ll be able to shoot “raw”, which will make this smartphone even more desirable. Take a look at the following pictures.
While the camera performs incredibly well in daylight, it requires the “slow shutter” profile activated on tripod for great results on night shots. If you want to download some pictures, just follow this link. Here’s some examples.
UPDATE #1: Here we go with a super slow motion test – 120fps 720p – the image quality is really poor, but at least if you really need it, you have this insane option. Enjoy it.
UPDATE #2: Finally a straightforward comparison between the Canon 5D Mark III and the OnePlus One.
The sole aim of this test is to compare how the OnePlus One performs respect the Canon 5D Mark III in a ideal light condition. In this case I am pleased to notice that the OPO performed incredibly well, but no doubts that the Canon 5D Mark III is still the best option for filmmakers, for all the many reasons that make a DSLR what it is. It is though interesting to consider that, in terms of dynamic range, the OPO performed incredibly well compared with the 5D, and I can tell you that with a similar exposure, there is almost no difference between the two.
UPDATE #3: I just took a still with both the “cameras” so you can compare them. Also in this case the OnePlus One seems doing really well (in “Clear Image” mode). Feel free to download this zip folder and take a look at those pictures http://www.giacomomantovani.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Canon-5D-vs-ONePlus-One-Stills.zip
UPDATE #4: This is the original footage shot with the OnePlus One for the previous comparison, available for you to watch in 4K UHD!
This is the 2nd part of the comparison “Canon 5D Mark III vs OnePlus One”. This video is exclusively intended to show the quality of the 4K footage shot with the OnePlus One.
The amount of details is simply unbelievable and each shot looks just amazing, but I think that the compression artifacts are sometimes too strong.
UPDATE #5: Today I had the chance to grab some nice shots in “Clear Image” mode.
UPDATE #6: Here is a video testing HDR mode in 4K UHD. Even while photographing, I am not a fan on HDR but because many people asked me about it, so I decided to make some shots and share them.
The footage looks really deteriorated – in terms of quality – by the HDR effect, which drastically changes exposition between shot and shot. What I really don’t appreciate is the incredible amount of noise that it generates, which you won’t find in a 4K footage shot in “Auto” mode. My suggestion is though to shoot in “Auto” mode, and then improve the footage in post, simulating HDR, that works much better.
UPDATE #7: 4K video HDR vs AUTO mode – final test.
Here is the final test of OnePlus One in 4K UHD video in HDR mode. As you can see in the previous test, when you record videos in HDR mode, the footage looks considerably bad respect the one shot in “Auto” mode. What I really don’t appreciate is the incredible amount of noise that it generates, which you won’t find in a 4K footage shot in “Auto” mode.
My suggestion is though to shoot in “Auto” mode, and then improve the footage in post, simulating HDR, as I did in this test. On this way it works much better, as you will discover in this very final test. Anyway, you have to consider that this workflow works better when you work on steady shots, because you can take shots in different exposures and then mix them together.
UPDATE #11: A very quick audio test with violinist Nikos performing a “Godfather” theme.
The audio recorded seems really good considering that all around there was a lot of noise, and fortunately the camera managed to avoid recording it.
UPDATE #12: A 4K glimpse of London with the OnePlus One.
In this raw video (uncorrected) I mixed few shots I took one day in London, while I was going to a private screening in Brick Lane.
You can see how the picture quality changes from the day to the night, and how much noise it gets in the darker shots. Later on I’ll try to publish the same video, color correcting the shots and reducing the noise.
If you want to watch much more please subscribe and take a look at this playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLj1yCrQmbzyTQoXBjc_aLBX6giwD32QBu
Music: “Snowflake – Stay (for this Moment) (Ray Rama Arpeggio Mix)” by rayrama 2011 – Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution (3.0)
UPDATE #13: Here are a couple of other night shots I just made yesterday night! These pictures are post-processed: there is color correction and bracketing.
Conclusion: at the moment, I am really pleased with this camera (considering it is just a smartphone) but I’d like – if possible – to have few things improved in the next software updates, here is a brief list:
– manual controls
– image stabilization
– improved slow motion quality
– improved touch focus during recording (now it simply doesn’t focus)
– vastly improved HDR (now it’s too noisy)
– slow motion with sound
– raw format (seriously)
– better timelapse option
– improved low light performances
– improved light metering
– improved HDR
– faster burst speeds
– better panorama
I hope you found helpful this brief “filmmaking” review.
Bye for now.
All the best.
Android Authority article: http://www.androidauthority.com/oneplus-one-vs-canon-5d-mark-iii-512758/
Cinema 5D article: http://www.cinema5d.com/oneplus-mobile-phone-5d-mark-iii/