Yesterday smartphone maker OPPO announced an innovative 5x zoom system for smartphone cameras that uses a dual-camera in combination with a prism and periscope-style lens design. It's only 5.7mm tall, and therefore could fit into even the thinnest smartphones. Unfortunately, OPPO did not release too much technical information but there are a few prototype devices available to shoot with at the OPPO both at the Mobile World Congress. We gave the camera a quick try, and had a closer look at the sample images and embedded EXIF to find out more.

The camera app on the prototype phones is kept very simple, with the main feature being a big zoom button. One tap on the latter makes the camera jump from wide-angle to a 2x zoom factor; a second tap jumps to the full 5x magnification. There are no intermediate zoom settings. The sample images below were taken at those respective lens settings and show a well-illuminated test scene at the OPPO booth.

 Wide-angle, ISO 189, 1/189 sec
 2x zoom, ISO 115, 1/100 sec
 5x zoom, ISO 111, 1/50 sec

The camera produces 12MP images and in the EXIF data aperture at all zoom settings is reported as F2.0. At ISO 189, sensor sensitivity is the highest at the wide-angle setting. It decreases to ISO 115 at the 2x zoom setting and ISO 111 at the 5x setting. Shutter speed is reported at 1/100 sec at the wide-angle and 2x setting and 1/50 sec at the tele setting.

There is no way of knowing if the reported EXIF is accurate but, looking at the scene and considering the tele-portion of the lens construction is optically stabilized, it could well be the case that at the tele settings the light fall-off on the OPPO system is much less significant than on a conventional zoom with changing apertures. The image quality of the samples seems to support the ISO data, with the zoomed images not showing noticeably more image noise or less detail than the wide-angle shot.

Of course, we are looking at a prototype device here and the image output of an eventual production phone might look very different. Nonetheless, the sample images out of the prototype do look promising and we hope to see an OPPO device with the 5x zoom system being launched soon.