One of the highlights of the Oppo Find X3 Pro is a microscope camera claims to depict details up to 60x magnification. The question is: How is that even possible and how good is the image quality? Well, it's time to find out! Consider this a small primer before we post ou detailed Oppo Find X3 Pro review.
I must admit, I was amazed when I first tried out the microscope camera in the Oppo Find X3 Pro. Macro cameras are something that we are familiar with on smartphones by now, but when it comes to a microscope camera, it is total uncharted territory. If you have more than just a passing interest in photography (like me), you might be interested in the following questions:
- How do you click microscope photos on the Find X3 Pro?
- Micro vs. Macro - How does the microscope camera work?
- Is it a gimmick?
If you are not interested in any of the questions but have somehow landed on this page, you can simply gawk at the pictures in the gallery below and tell us what you think of them in the comments section.
Clicking microscope photos on the Find X3 Pro is quite a simple chore. It is just another 'mode' you can access from within the camera settings and all you need to do is go around looking for subjects to click photos of. The more pertinent question here is whether the entire phot taking experience is any different from, say, clicking a macro photo. As it turns out, there are quite a few differences.
For instance, the microscope camera relies on a lens without autofocus and does not feature manual focus either. For the same reason, the familiar tap to focus gesture does not work in this mode. Instead, you have to ensure that you are at the right focal length to end up with a sharp image.
Now you have a kind of see-saw with which you can not only slightly adjust the distance, but also ensure that the smartphone is on steady ground.
Now change the distance of the camera so that it is about 1 to 3 millimetres away from the lens. If the picture doesn't come into focus, you can try changing the angle of the smartphone a little. If you take a picture of the small object at an angle, you will see a sharpness gradient even without having the perfect distance.
Tap the shutter button and voila! The photo is captured. Of course, the most important thing is to make sure that the final result is not blurred. You might have a little more luck using the volume rocker or alternatively, you can also activate the capture by tapping on the display in the settings. The microscope camera does not have a self-timer.
When taking microscope pictures, you can also switch from 30x magnification to 60x magnification. Does the camera have more than one focal length? Let's take a closer look at how the technology within works.
Oppo is quite proud of the fact that the microscope camera offers 30x magnification, sports an f/3.0 aperture, and uses a 3-megapixel sensor. The previously mentioned 60x magnification comes into play via digital zoom, which I wouldn't really recommend you use with 3-megapixel images.
A classic microscope is composed of a light source, a condenser to focus the light, the slide, and an objective and eyepiece. If you remember your biology lessons, light shines through the object is magnified by several lenses and rotated so that it is not upside down when you look through it. In order to focus, you can change the distance of the lens from the object. Of course, such a system doesn't exist in the Find X3 Pro.
While Oppo did not reveal too many details about the microscope camera, a press image revealed that the system consists of four lenses. In doing so, Oppo has now chosen the focal length to give an image scale equivalent to 30x magnification. The light source is derived from a small LED ring that is mounted around the microscope camera. In addition, it is highly recommended that you use the camera in rather bright environments.
While microphotography is about magnifying objects, macrophotography is more about imaging subjects to scale. Scales of 1:1 or 1:2 are ideal, but meanwhile, lenses with a scale of 1:4 are also sold as macro lenses. Ideally, however, a subject should appear on the sensor in a similar size as it is in real life. However, such requirements from the world of classic photography are no longer quite as relevant in smartphones. As a rule, macro cameras are the lenses on the back of mobile phones that have a shorter closest focusing distance - i.e. objects at a short distance can still be displayed sharply.
Another quick digression: over the weekend, I talked to my sister about the Find X3 Pro's microscope camera. She is a PhD student in biology and therefore knows a lot about microscopes and the digital possibilities of modern microscopes. She considers the Find X3 Pro to be less suitable for professional use. The 30x magnification is insufficient because even microscopes for children offer magnification levels of up to 150x. The options on the Find X3 Pro are also not extensive enough to be able to make it a viable scientific alternative.
While it is certainly practical to have microscope photos capture directly on the cell phone memory for fieldwork, for example, this can be realized in a more cost-effective manner via a variety of attachable cell phone lenses.
Laboratories are usually adequately equipped with integrated, high-quality microscope cameras for obtaining reliable scientific data. A cheaper, less professional alternative, e.g. for use in lab practicals for students, are 3D-printable "cell phone mounts", which enable students to snap photos directly via the microscope using nothing but their smartphones.
What do you think of the image quality that the Find X3 produces with its microscope camera? Can you think of any other scenarios where the microscope camera comes in handy or is it just a gimmick?