Honor launched the Honor 8 Pro in India at an event held in New Delhi. While most markets around the world get a 64GB storage variant, India will be seeing the smartphone 128GB storage making its way to shelves starting 13 July. During the launch, it was clear that the company is taking aim for the OnePlus 5, with plenty of focus on the build quality, battery life, but most importantly, the camera. One of the most emphasised areas of the keynote was how Honor’s unique implementation of the dual camera allowed it to achieve better results than what the “competitors” were offering. We got our hands on the Honor 8 Pro briefly and took some test photo side-by-side to see just how the two cameras fare in comparison to each other. However, before we get into the image comparison, let’s look at what the two smartphones offer
Honor 8 Pro & OnePlus 5 Camera Specifications
It should be made very clear that the two smartphones offer very different implementations of the dual camera setup. The OnePlus 5 offers two different focal lengths projecting images onto two different sensors. The Honor 8 Pro, on the other hand, uses lenses of the same focal lengths, projecting the image onto two sensors with a resolution of 12 megapixels each. The difference is, one sensor has RGB pixels while the other only shoots in monochrome. Honor uses this implementation to improve low light performance and sharpness, or so it claims. In use, the two cameras are very different, seeing how the OnePlus 5 has HDR on by default whereas you have to manually turn it on on the Honor 8 Pro. Now that it’s clear how the two cameras work in general, let us go ahead and see how the images compare side by side.
One of the most important aspects of any camera’s performance is its ability to capture detail in both the bright (highlights) and dark (shadow) areas, for any given exposure. We shot a subject directly lit by sunlight, with strong shadow areas in the back. We took the photo ensuring that the area of focus (and hence metering) was identical on both the images, the red flower as you see in the photo. A closer look reveals that OnePlus 5 has a much better-balanced exposure, controlling the strong highlights while retaining detail in the shadows. It is not by a large margin, but it is visible when you put the images side-by-side, it becomes clear that the OnePlus 5 has an edge over the Honor 8 Pro, even if by just a hair.
Winner: OnePlus 5
Sharpness & Detail
Over the next two images, we look at the amount of detail and sharpness in the images produced by the two cameras. A dog is a great subject for this test as strands of hair provide a good measure of now just how sharp (or over-sharpened) the image is, but also the amount of detail that the JPG file retains. We shot the dog indoors, in low light and our second image sample, a flower outdoors in bright light. This allows us to get a good measure of just how much sharpening is being applied in general, along with the amount of detail being lost. A look at the images of the dog reveals the edge the OnePlus 5 has over the Honor 8 Pro, thanks to the large f/1.7 aperture in comparison to the f/2.2 aperture on the Honor 8 Pro. In the bright light sample, the centre of the flower reveals that the Honor 8 Pro applies a less aggressive JPG algorithm, retaining better detail. Also, the OnePlus 5 image just looks underexposed because the flower is very light pink in colour, more accurate reproduced by the Honor 8 Pro.
Winner: Honor 8 Pro
White Balance & Colour
The samples below were again shot keeping the same focal point. The flower sample reveals that the OnePlus 5 slightly underexposes the whole frame, as shown by the deep pink colour in the flower. The flower is actually light pink in colour, as shown in the Honor 8 Pro image. The sample with the dog reveals a similar situation, where the OnePlus 5 has a slight underexposure (when exposed for the face of the dog), along with showing that between the two cameras, the Honor 8 Pro has a tendency to produce images on the colder side while the OnePlus 5 has a warmer shade to the images. Apparently, the dog prefers to be photographed by the Honor 8 Pro while the OnePlus 5 doesn’t illicit any reaction from our four-legged fur baby.
Winner: Honor 8 Pro
OnePlus has a history of smartphones that do take good photos in low light. Honor says the use of a monochrome sensor to pick up light data enhances the Honor 8 Pro’s low light capabilities. Our two samples below show an interesting story. Right off the bat, the OnePlus 5 just looks like a more wholesome performer. In the photo of the living room, there is next to no light going to that area of the house. We tapped on the arm-rest of the couch for focus and metering and you can see the results for yourself. The second sample with the statue head is strongly backlit, putting the subject in extreme shadow. Both phones seem to perform at par when it comes to detail retention, noise control and even balancing the exposure. However, given that the living room shot is far better exposed on the OnePlus 5, we’d have to give this round to the OnePlus 5.
Winner: OnePlus 5
Depth Effect/Portrait Mode
The two cameras implement the portrait mode very differently, and as such, a comparison would be unfair. For example, the Honor 8 Pro allows you to control just how much of the bokeh effect you’d like in a photo, whereas the OnePlus 5 has a static setting for that. We tried to get the two to match, but the two just wouldn’t lineup. Additionally, the focal length of the images that come out are totally different. The OnePlus 5 has a somewhat telephoto perspective whereas the Honor 8 Pro is significantly wider. Trying to match fields of view causes noticeable distortion on the Honor 8 Pro. We learnt in trying to test the two modes that while the OnePlus 5 is good for shooting portraits of people, the Honor 8 pro can help you get full length portraits, and macro shots of objects, foliage and food in general.
One thing that both the cameras did admirably was lock focus on the intended subject. In no case did either camera fail to lock focus, even in low light. Honestly, we couldn’t pick a winner out of the two, so we are going to call this one a tie.
In this comparison, the OnePlus 5 and the Honor 8 Pro seem to come out ahead of each other in different criteria. There is no clear winner here yet, but that is also because we are yet to put the Honor 8 Pro through our battery of tests which will measure camera performance in finer detail. For now, what is clear is that both the OnePlus 5 and the Honor 8 Pro have very capable cameras.