Looking back at the most recent batch mobile manufacturers, OnePlus falls into those that have grown in popularity and also in the location of its facilities. Part of them are in Taipei (Taiwan), specifically one of the OnePlus photo lab, and we had the opportunity to meet him in the first person.
An office that already triggers curiosity a lot, where we saw many engineers dealing with aspects of the OnePlus software and hardware and also where we were able to meet such important members of the company like its co-founder Carl Pei or product manager Zake Zhang, whom we could interview. A visit that also had the incentive to participate in a session of feedback photographic and in a photo contest (with better results than expected). We tell you in detail.
One of its main facilities in Asia
The facilities we visited have existed since 2014, the year that the brand was known and that we had the opportunity to interview Carl Pei thoroughly (here the second part). It is located in Taipei and consists of several sections, all dotted with corporate colors (and the Never settle not missing).
These offices are responsible for camera software and hardware, working both on the products already launched (reviewing the operation) and on what is to come. Between the different rooms we find an entrance starring an avalanche of merchandising that the brand has been accumulating over the years, the meeting rooms and then the main room of the workers.
Elsewhere is a leisure, exercise and rest room (with a large mural to build Legos that was already quite full) and finally the laboratories per se.
This is not the only laboratory that the brand has, being several in Asia, but it is one of the most advanced dedicated to the quality of the image they have. In broad strokes of what it is about (and what we could see) is simulate several possible scenarios at the photographic level in order to create a range of tests as complete as possible.
Thus, speaking of the laboratories there are five rooms, among which the following units are distributed:
- Calibration test laboratory
- Camera development laboratory 3A
- HDR development laboratory (high dynamic range)
- Automatic functional verification laboratory (perhaps the most striking, now we will show you)
- Automatic objective test laboratory
Together they can simulate both daytime, indoor, dark scenes or certain types of photographs such as macro or portraits, as well as different types of lighting (backlights, front, back, etc.). As we will see, they are rooms full of calibration charts and other usual elements in photographic tests and as appropriate they are more or less automated processes.
Calibration test laboratory
In this room different lighting conditions are established for test exposure times using various calibration tables. A manual process of debugging the algorithms is carried out so that the results obtained in the laboratories are similar to those that the user has in his experience.
They showed us with a moving and illuminated object, testing these different lighting conditions. They also showed us the timers (They are in several laboratories), which measures the exposure and frame rate.
Camera development laboratory 3A
With these three A they refer to automatic systems for focus, white balance and exposure. In this unit of the laboratory they test these aspects, with a series of test methods of the brand in addition to other standards as an ISO chart.
HDR development laboratory (high dynamic range)
In the next section we will talk about the session of feedback that we had with the OnePlus photography team, but as an advance we can now comment that the manufacturer has focused enough efforts to improve the dynamic range, being one of the improvements with respect to the OnePlus 6T the HDR according to the brand. In order to improve it, one of the laboratory units focuses on creating an environment with the maximum dynamic range, with a range difference (from darker to lighter) of 1: 128 EV.
What is sought with these tests is to improve the quality of the images in question of this parameter, testing it in different scenarios at lighting level.
Automatic objective test laboratory
In many cases they are semi-automatic tests, which although they have to be adjusted and activated by a human operator, they are developed automatically, pulling robotic arms and other mechanisms. In this case it is an automatic verification of the target image quality indexes, so that they are generated up to 18,000 images per day.
The practical utility of these tests is to achieve quality image stabilization in all possible scenarios. It is about reaching the best point (or the most balanced) between the different variables, such as clarity and noise.
It is also where portrait mode is tested. For this there are some mannequins of different aspect, it can be tested in different light conditions as we have described.
Automatic functional verification laboratory
This room is a common room through which the rest of the laboratories are accessed, so that it is open and the truth is that it impresses quite a lot, reminding those click farms that occasionally appear on our networks. The reason: we see more than one hundred connected devices working at the same time.
At the time we visited it, these were OnePlus 7 series smartphones, that is, OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro. And the function of a station of this type and dimensions is to perform stress tests to automatically verify the Camera app and its functions.
What is put to the test more specifically is the stability of the Google test suite (CTS, VTS, ITS), with the aim of ** guaranteeing the stability of the basic functions of the camera. And what we could see is that the phones were continuously activated by testing the functions of the camera app, so that everything was registered and there were notifications for the engineers if a device was detected. bug. In a way and as explained to us, this becomes the incubator of the new versions of the camera software, especially the part that tries to correct errors.
As a reminder, OnePlus is part of those manufacturers that supported Android as an operating system uses its own software layer. OxygenOS, known for its beginnings as ROM and a kind of platonic operating system aspirant, also has its own camera app that has evolved in the hands of hardware progression.
The session of feedback photographic
According to Carl Pei, Zake Zhang and other members of the brand team (specifically the photography division), OnePlus's philosophy in this area is that taking a photo in automatic is enough. For them a good photo must be natural and it has to be able to transmit emotions, settling in a point of balance between naturalness and emotions and fleeing from exaggerated effects such as supersaturation.
The philosophy of OnePlus in photography is that taking a photo automatically must be enough
One of the resources to achieve that in the cameras of their equipment is in their opinion HDR improvement, having introduced the HDR + and the HDR in low light in their latest updates. In addition, as Zhang explained in the interview, the idea is that artificial intelligence in the end supposes a real help in this regard, so they work with it so that given the detection of a scene there is an adequate automatic adjustment.
Their cameras, like many others, have room for improvement. And in order to reduce this, they asked the media that visited their facilities what improvements do we expect in them and how will be our ideal mobile camera, talking about results, hardware and the app.
It was a very interesting session, in which we could see in broad strokes besides the differences that occur in preferences according to regions (India, China, United States, Europe It never rains to everyone's taste). We could contribute our feedback in the group formed by the people of Europe, the United States and Oceana and among other things We value the intuitive in an app and the versatility of the triple rear camera, leaving enough suggestions after a rain of them among which were focus by tracking, a two-handed mode for video, lighting effects for portraits, having all the functions in all lenses or the audio jack (for connect the mic for the videos).
The OnePlus team responded to all requests, responding as much as possible. In the case of our brainstorm they commented that having all the functions (for example, night mode) in all cameras will require having the same sensor, but that they are studying it just like the lighting effects in portrait mode or object-tracking.
The same does not happen with the two-handed mode for video, commenting that it may be something that interests a relatively small number of users.
As an addition, we all participate in a photo contest within the OnePlus conference using its last flagship, the OnePlus 7 Pro. There were four categories (portrait, landscape, night and urban) and in Xataka we got a prize (It was an edible prize) for this photograph, taken around the Nanya Rock, north of Taiwn.