Gone are the days when “Selfies” were a pass time or an occasional activity the teens in the downtown indulged themselves in. It has become such a strong trend that many see it as a ceremony during gatherings! This one time when my friend was struggling to get a good frame into his selfie shot, I offered to take the click for him and guess what? He was almost offended! He HAD to take his SELFIE to be able to brag about it later. And for many out there, pouting is instantaneous as soon as someone points the phone’s screen at them. While that craze is getting more of a serious affair, smartphone makers seemingly want to use that as a leverage for their innovation. Vivo is one such Chinese OEM who has been focusing on selfie-centric phones and have now taken things to a whole new level with the Vivo V5 Plus, a phone that is so selfie-centric that it has dual lens on the front which is quite powerful. Read on, as we lift the curtains off the dedicated camera review we did because it surely deserved one!
Vivo V5 Plus camera specifications
Primary front camera with 20MP Sony IMX276 sensor with a size of 1/2.78” sensor size and f/2.0 aperture comprising of 5 pieces of lenses. This, we are told, is co-engineered with Sony to bring out some stunning output. Can shoot up to 1080p videos. Comes with a moonlight flash to provide a soft radiant complexion to the faces in selfies.
Secondary front camera with an 8MP sensor that is dedicated to regulating the aperture size that makes it possible for that DSLR like BOKEH portraits. We will be capturing this in greater details on the depth.
Rear camera 16MP sensor with f/2.0 aperture with PDAF and LED flash, can shoot up to 4K videos.
The camera app
Many of us underestimate the importance of a well-working camera app with options being laid out for “intuitiveness”, and more so when it’s a camera centric phone it’s gotta be a seamless, frictionless experience. And this is something that Vivo has done, while some might call it “so iPhone-ish”, it’s a simple app that needs no tutorial.
You can double tap the home button or use the camera app to bring up the camera. And once in there, there is the obvious shutter button, an option to bring up some filter and switch for the selfie camera. There are also quick options to move into panorama, video and face beauty mode that lets you “modify” the parameters to get an output the way you want. From keeping it realistic to making people look like Barbie dolls, it’s all possible.
At the top is the option to toggle between flash, HDR, Modes that bring up the NIGHT, ULTRA HD, PPT, Anti-Shake, Pro, SLOW MO and TIME LAPSE. The gear icon is for the settings to get into more options for the timer, gesture clicking and so on – pretty rudimentary. The app launch time is snappy and we never for once had an issue.
First, lemme take a selfie!
We usually don’t do this but since this phone is all about the selfie camera, we take it up first. Claimed to be the world’s FIRST dual selfie camera on a phone (although there have been others like Lenovo Vibe S1), the Vivo V5 Plus takes some stunning selfies and the output is nothing short of something that’d amaze you. The focusing and processing speeds are top notch.
The key highlight is the BOKEH feature that puts the focus on the subject and blurs the rest of the portions. The best part is that you can tell the camera to focus on your face thus blurring out the background or focus on the background and blur out your face. This is one of the key features that many of us get the DSLRs. Is the V5 Plus going to match that DSLR performance? Of course not, but the mere fact that a phone’s camera can even come this close to that kind of output we are seeing is nothing short of commendable.
All that goodness is not just restricted to daylight but also in lowlight and indoor conditions. The iconic “moonlight” feature from Vivo has a very soft light going onto the subjects in the frame to ensure that the pictures are not blown out and look quite natural and at times a “Radiant complexation” as Vivo would want to call it as if someone was using some professional lighting equipment. The same LED flash that does this, also acts as a momentary flash if you aren’t up for the light to be on thru the process of selfies.
The selfie camera shoots 1080p videos and is quite good. The audio captured are also quite consumable. We tried it with some skype calls and the callers on the other side were quick to recognize the change in the quality of video they were getting and many even asked if we got some high-end webcams – guess that should say it all!
Primary camera – the overshadowed underdog
The primary camera is a 16MP f/2.0 shooter with LED flash. There is no optical image stabilization but there is PDAF on board. The camera does a very good job again in the lines of the selfie camera – fast to focus and process the image. And one can take the phone very close to the subject while shooting and the phone still manages to latch on focus very quickly. We’ve seen how many other phones struggle to get focus with close-up subjects and at times they require a manual tap, not the Vivo V5 Plus.
Images in daylight come out good with nearly accurate color reproduction. While the white balance is accurate enough, the dynamic range is not among the best. Switching to the dedicated HDR mode too didn’t show much of a difference but there was that occasional shot where the magic showed up. As the lights go low, there is noise seeping in but it’s kept in check through software optimization. But this is at the cost of softening the overall image thus loosing sharpness. And if there are lights around, you can expect some flares making their way. One has to be an advanced level user to ensure you get some good shots in low light. Videos come out a bit shaky as there is no OIS and this is where we feel Vivo should’ve included EIS at least – not that the videos are too bad but just that the phone is camera-centric, we cannot stop expecting a better output. Alright, enough of talking, we will have you take a look at the pictures and judge them based on your liking!
HDR and Ultra HDR: Moody Blues
Vivo offers an HDR mode and an Ultra HDR mode hidden under the modes. But on most occasions, one can hardly tell the difference or there is precious little when it comes to the impact the HDR modes bring in. But in certain cases, the HDR mode does highlight portions in the shadow, and it’s rather inconsistent. Check out the picture taken in Normal, HDR and Ultra HDR mode, see if you can tell the difference – it’s very subtle.
Look at the second set of pictures below and see how the HDR mode brightens up the entire structure.
Macros & Close-ups
This phone is a delight to use when it comes to taking macros and close ups! The focusing as we said before is fast and consistent. Even in low light conditions, the performance sticks to its goodness.
If only the dynamic range was a little better, the pictures would’ve been much better! That being said, the phone is capable of taking some stunning shots, as good as the flagships at times when the light is good.
Indoors and low light
If you know how to play with the different parameters of photography, you can get some good shots but there is lots of image softening going on which is very evident when you zoom in even a bit.
Verdict: Go ahead! Shoot Yourself!
So the Vivo V5 Plus, hands down, is a brilliant selfie camera phone. It brings in that elusive BOKEH effects via a dedicated lens while the main front facing lens is co-engineered with Sony and that shows off in the output. If we were to nitpick, it would be the over softening of the images shot in the dark with that moonlight LED option but it’s a really tough condition for any camera to shoot. The primary camera is bit of a letdown when compared to the supremely fantastic front camera. If only Vivo had included OIS or EIS, low light performance and videos would’ve been much better but in most of the other conditions and in keeping the software free of gimmicks, Vivo wins kudos in our books. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with the V5 Plus and hope you did too as you eyeballing the samples we have taken for you.
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