Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 quick review
Usually at DPReview Connect we focus on high-end devices from established smartphone manufacturers. However, sometimes we come across devices from lesser-known manufacturers that, because of their specification and price point, have the potential to make excellent alternatives for budget-minded mobile photographers. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 is such a device.
The Redmi Note 2 was first announced back in August. Currently selling at around $170 for its unlocked base model with 16GB of storage, it comes with a MediaTek Helio x10 system chip which is also used in HTC's top-end model, the One M9+, an $800 device. Other specs include a large 5.5-inch 1080p Full HD display and a 13MP main camera with on-chip phase detection. Storage is expandable via a MicroSD slot.
Courtesy of retailer Gearbest.com that ships Xiaomi devices worldwide we've had the chance to try the Redmi Note 2, shoot a wide range of samples and see how it generally performs as a device for mobile photography.
- 13MP sensor
- Dual-LED flash
- 1080p video
- 5MP front camera
- 5.5-inch 1080p LCD display
- Mediatek MT6795 Octa-Core processor
- 2GB RAM
- 16/32GB storage
- MicroSd support
- 3020mAh (removable)
The camera app is fairly simple and easy to use. Exposure compensation is accessible via a slider on the focus target, but otherwise manual control is limited. Manual mode allows for manual setting of ISO and white balance but not shutter speed. HDR mode can be activated via a button on the main screen and special modes, including Manual and Panorama, are accessed by swiping up on the main screen. Swiping down reveals a set of image filters.
The two images below were taken in bright light. In such conditions the Redmi Note does not appear to stick to a specific base ISO but fluctuates between ISO 112 and 117, which won't make much difference in practice but looks unusual in the EXIF data. As you can see in the samples exposure is very good, with generally natural colors and vibrant reds. Our sample unit showed some variation in sharpness across the frame but when zooming in to 100% it becomes obvious that in terms of image detail the Redmi cannot quite keep up with the best in class, even at the center of the frame. In bright light edges are well defined, but fine low-contrast detail is noticeably smeared by noise reduction and luminance noise is visible in areas of plain color.
The two images below again show good exposure and pleasant colors but close-up we can see that finer textures, such as the brickwork in the left image, is being smeared. Luminance noise is pretty intrusive in the blue sky and in some mid-tone areas we can see first hints of chroma noise.
The next two images were taken indoors which made the camera increase ISO to 246 and 449 respectively. At a shutter speed of 1/30 sec camera shake is not much of an issue, and color and exposure are still good under artificial light. However, as we can see in the 100% crops, noise becomes more intrusive and edges are softer.
For the darker artificially lit scenes below the camera pushed ISO to 647 and 847 respectively. At these light levels shutter speed is often reduced to 1/15 sec which can result in image blur through camera shake. It's a good idea to take a series rather than just one picture if you want to make sure to have at least one sharp image.
That said, exposure and color are still decent but, as we can see on the white shirts in the image on the right, the camera is a little more prone to highlight clipping at higher ISOs. At a 100% view things don't look too pretty now, with a lot of smeared noise, soft edges and a lack of any fine detail. Images taken in such dim conditions are still good for sharing on social media but not really suitable for larger prints or viewing at full size.
The two samples below were captured in light conditions that would be a challenge for any camera. It is commendable that the Redmi Note 2 manages to maintain good exposure but in the 100% view we can see a lot of noise, softness and no detail at all. It's good to know that in an emergency situation the Redmi is capable of capturing a meaningful exposure in these conditions but don't expect to use the images for any quality-critical purposes.
HDR and panorama modes
We also had a look at some of the HDR and panorama modes in the camera app. As you can see below the HDR mode is capable of recovering some of the clipped highlights in the sky and lifting the shadow areas, giving the scene a more balanced tonal distribution without making it look unnatural. As we've seen on many other devices before, there is a slight drop-off in sharpness but you would only notice at a 100% view.
There is no other way to say it, the Redmi Note 2's panorama mode is one of the worst we have seen in a while. Image output is tiny, you'll find stitching errors even in pretty simple scenes and fine detail is non-existent. It's fair to say that you should find yourself a decent panorama app in the Google Play Store if you want to capture this type of image with the Xiaomi device.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 offers a bright 5.5-inch screen in a solid-looking plastic body with an attractive minimalist design. Thanks to a powerful chipset in general use it feels responsive at all times and the camera app is easy to use. It doesn't offer a lot of control but the most popular special modes, HDR and panorama, are on board. The results of the latter are pretty disappointing though and budding panorama shooters should find themselves a third-party app when using the Redmi Note 2.
In terms of camera performance the Xiaomi is a bit of a double-edged sword. Exposure and color are consistently good up to the highest ISO values, but in terms of image detail and pixel-level image quality it can't quite keep up with the best in its class. Smearing of fine low-contrast detail is noticeable from early on and luminance noise is quite intrusive even at base ISO. This means the Redmi Note 2's images are great for social sharing and general use at smaller size, but those who are planning to generate the occasional large-scale print or view images at full size should probably look for alternatives. The latest generation Motorola Moto G for example comes with a smaller screen but offers arguably better image detail and a weather-resistant body at a very similar price point.
Nov 16, 2017
Nov 18, 2017
Nov 16, 2017
Nov 15, 2017
|_MG_5100 by tim and jan|
from Welcome to the Saloon!
|The Grimm 11 year old by Ryan Gardner|
from Trick or Treat
|Heron with fish by APenza|
from A Big Year - birds
See some of the most iconic black-and-white photographs throughout history brought to life by a community of colorization enthusiasts and professional retouchers in the new book Retrographic.
Shopping for a photographer? Whether you are one yourself or not, chances are you could use some ideas. From stocking stuffers on up, we've got some photography gift suggestions for every budget.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. Drum roll please... the #6 spot belongs to none other than the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DH HSM Art.
Read the story behind this gorgeous wedding photo captured at Trolltunga in Norway by husband and wife duo Priscila Valentina Photography. The 14 hour hike in the rain that preceded this shot was TOTALLY worth it.
Go behind the scenes with filmmaker Nick Arcivos, who recently created a beautiful cinematic short film in Paris using only the iPhone X, a couple of gimbals, and a few lights. The results are very impressive.
A Bay Area startup offering a pay-by-the-photo camera service cleverly addresses the pain points photographers experience when they pick up their first DSLR. But can it survive the smartphone?
It's been a big year for software innovations, dual cameras and huge displays. Take a look at our picks for the top smartphone cameras and why we think they stand out.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. At the #7 spot is the ready-for-any-weather Olympus Tough TG-5.
By combining his skills as a time-lapse filmmaker and an engineer, Julian Tryba created this out-of-this-world creative 'layer-lapse' of New York City that alternates between night and day in time with the music.
Canon Japan's new lineup of novelty camera-themed gifts was just revealed online, including a lens mug and lens thermos, two retro camera-themed USB drives, and a picnic mat.
The Profoto A1 most certainly isn’t for everyone [...] But for those who are used to using the Profoto systems, and want something that pairs seamlessly with the strobes you already have, there is no better companion.
Fujifilm has asked a US district court to clear it of any wrongdoing, after allegedly being threatened with trademark litigation by Polaroid.
While a couple of our reviewers are out testing the Sony a7R III in Arizona, back in Seattle we slapped the camera in front of our studio scene to get a close look at its image quality. See how it stacks up against the competition.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and the #8 ranking belongs to the Nikon D7500.
B+W has announced a new aluminum filter holder that offers three slots so users can use multiple filters at the same time. The holder goes with the 2mm thick 100mm square filters it launched earlier this year.
8K video is coming a lot faster than you think, and Blackmagic is ready for it. Meet the DeckLink 8K Pro, a new high performance PCI-E capture and playback card built to handle 'real time high resolution 8K workflows.'
"Glass is everywhere in photography. From Eugène Atget’s reflective vitrines to Lee Friedlander’s sly self-portraiture, photographers have long been in thrall to the visual complications glass can inject into a composition."
Former Apple Aperture lead developer Nik Bhatt has designed an iOS app called RAW Power that lets you edit raw photos from your professional camera using your phone and tablet.... color us intrigued.
Advertising photographer Blair Bunting got his hands on the new Microsoft Surface Book 2, and it blew him away. Bye bye MacBook Pro...
The OnePlus 5T retains many of the 5's features and specs, but comes with an edge-to-edge display and a dual-camera that is optimized for low light.
Sony's recently announced IMX461 backside illuminated medium format sensor will bring 100MP resolution and almost 2x the speed to the next-gen Fuji GFX and Hasselblad X1D.
With the ‘Rent a Hasselblad’ camera equipment renting program, the camera makers is aiming to give enthusiast and professional photographers easier access to its medium-format photography products.
They say seeing is believing, and that's exactly what happened when one DPR staffer took the Google Pixel 2 out for an afternoon shooting under challenging conditions.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. At the #9 spot we have the Fujifilm GFX 50S, a medium-format camera that took CP+ 2017 by storm.
Instagram is testing a new feature that lets you follow hashtags in addition to people, making it possible to keep track of your favorite #landscapes or #portraits without leaving your home feed.
Despite the gigantic volume of second hand film bodies in existence, it seems there is still a demand for new 35mm SLRs with a retro feel. The latest is a remake of the Ihagee Elbaflex from the 1960s, but with a Nikon F mount.
The Polaroid Insta-Share Moto Mod straps an instant printer directly to your Moto Z smartphone, so you can print your photos as soon as you've captured them.
The Mitakon Speedmaster 135mm F1.4 lens is being relaunched in 7 different mounts, including: Sony A, Sony E, Canon EF, Nikon F, Fujifilm G, Pentax K, and Leica L. Got an extra three grand lying around?
In January, Kodak announced it would bring back the beloved slide film Ektachrome. The timeline has been pushed back a bit, but Kodak says you can expect to purchase Ektachrome again in 2018.
Instagram popularity is threatening some of the most beautiful landscapes in the US, as hordes of 'nature lovers' trample over the same spots over and over again in search of the same exact shot.