I can draw with light.
A few days after receiving the OnePlus 10 Pro 5Ga solid, if unexciting, Android smartphone that offers pro-level features at a bargain price, I started exploring the features of the camera app.
I’ve long been a OnePlus fan and its big camera pans. For example, it was the first smartphone I ever used to offer macro photography. I loved taking close-ups of the insides of flowers, bugs, and more Waterdrop. However, not everyone liked it, and the OnePlus 10 Pro does not include a macro camera. However, it has a long exposure.
Most smartphones now offer some form of night photography or long exposure settings after Google started the trend in 2018 with Night Sight pixels 3. Today’s wide range of long exposure and night photography options include presets and sometimes a degree of control to lengthen the exposure (more if you put the phone on a tripod).
Previous OnePlus phones allowed you to create long exposures by using the manual camera settings (shutter speed, ISO). The OnePlus 10 Pro 5G makes the shooting style a preset (slightly hidden under the Camera app’s “More” menu).
While I like to use manual settings trying to catch stars (I do a lot of DSLR photography), I love it when smartphone manufacturers combine the best they can offer in lenses and sensors with software and algorithms to simplify what would normally be complicated.
And if I’m being honest, I’ve tried capturing certain types of long exposures with every single smartphone I’ve tested over the past few years, with varying degrees of success.
Here’s what I want: streets with nothing but car lights whizzing by. People blur as they walk past me while the rest of the world stands still. light art.
I achieved all three with the OnePlus 10 Pro long exposure setting.
As I mentioned, the setting is easy to find, but what’s even more impressive is that it’s dead simple to use (and limited for the same reason).
You cannot select the lens or magnification. The default is the 48-megapixel main camera, which I think is fine.
You also can’t choose the length of the exposure. The default value is 5 seconds. I know that doesn’t sound like much, and I had no illusions about catching the stars spinning overhead at night. However, a lot can happen in five seconds and I was hoping to capture it all in pictures.
I couldn’t think of a better place to test this theory than on the busy streets of Manhattan at night.
Five seconds isn’t a lot of time, but it’s enough to make your hands and body shake or move. To catch the action I had to stop, put my feet up and hold on. I can’t remember if I held my breath or exhaled slowly.
I started by aiming the camera at other late-night commuters rushing toward me. In the unedited shot above, they’ve all turned into ethereal, ghostly blurs, hardly any people. Nevertheless, the effect is fascinating.
Next, I geared the OnePlus 10 Pro towards traffic. For these shots, I stood on the sidewalk near the street, and in one instance, leaned on a pole for further support. I drove to an intersection in search of more traffic. Five years ago I could not imagine taking such pictures with a smartphone camera.
I tried other experiments. At a party with lots of wall and party lights, I tried to get the phone past them and from the party guests to the lights. I’d say the results are intriguing and artistic, if not entirely useful.
As I mentioned, you don’t need a tripod to take these pictures, but using one opens up another cool photographic opportunity.
The next morning, I grabbed a tripod, another smartphone, and the OnePlus 10 Pro and headed down to my dark basement. I put the OnePlus 10 Pro on the tripod and turned on the flashlight on my iPhone 13 Pro.
I set the timer on the OnePlus for 10 seconds and then ran to get in front of the camera. I could hear the OnePlus10 Pro count down 10 seconds, but unlike an iPhone, the rear LED light doesn’t blink to show you it’s counting down. That was a bit annoying.
My goal was to move the iPhone as fast as possible, hoping that the OnePlus long exposure would capture the full trail of light.
I figured out how to spell “hello” backwards, and when the countdown was up, I wrote it quickly. The results are not bad at all (I cropped the image a bit).
Next I made a spiral. That was nice too. Next time I will use a different colored light.
If I have one general criticism of the OnePlus Pro 10 5G’s long exposure preset, it’s that the image processing seems to take multiple long exposures and stitch them together into one image. You can see that in the way the light breaks up in the spiral at regular intervals, or the way the car lights seem to penetrate each other almost stuttering. I hope future software updates smooth this out a bit.
I can, of course, dive into Pro mode and open the shutter for up to 32 seconds. However, that also means adjusting ISO and focus. For consumers, this long exposure preset is just enough and they should be able to create their own wild images with minimal effort.