This Android phone has a camera unlike any I’ve used before

Trending 4 weeks ago
Vivo X100 Glacier Blue held successful manus against fairy lights and garland of woody beads.Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

For years, telephone brands person been chasing camera image value that rivals master cameras- DSLRs, mirrorless, etc. For mean consumers for illustration me, that has been granted to immoderate extent, fixed we look astatine nan photos we return connected phones’ screens. While telephone photography has improved substantially (even immoderate mid-range phones return awesome pictures), a fewer brands perpetually strive to surpass themselves. Chinese brands particularly excel successful bringing caller (and sometimes ostentatious) features, which keeps nan Asian telephone marketplace some competitory and exciting.

A caller summation to this group is nan Vivo X100, which gets top-of-the-line specs, including nan flagship MediaTek Dimensity 9300 chip, up to 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage. With these specs and a ample curved AMOLED display, nan X100 feels for illustration a adjacent competitor to nan OnePlus 12. The biggest highlight, undoubtedly, is nan rear camera system, which is tuned successful business pinch nan German optics elephantine Zeiss. But its mighty specifications aside, nan Vivo X100 has 1 of nan astir awesome camera features I person tested truthful far, and I consciousness you should spot them, too.

Why is nan Vivo X100 special?

Vivo X100 Glacier Blue telephone pinch Zeiss Cameras.Tusjar Mehta / Digital Trends

Vivo’s X bid has a agelong pedigree of awesome low-light camera performance. Last year, I tried nan Vivo X90 Pro and remarked really nan viewfinder captured much ray than my eyes could see. I besides recovered it to seizure overmuch much ray than nan Galaxy S23 Ultra and nan iPhone 14 Pro.

While nan ample 1-inch format (cropped) sensor connected nan X90 Pro was down its camera prowess, Vivo’s imaging besides relies connected a typical imaging processor, called “V2,” that immunodeficiency nan phone’s chipset and RAM successful creating amended images. In addition, Vivo now has a longstanding business pinch Zeiss — a renowned sanction successful nan optics industry. Zeiss provides typical lenses for Vivo’s X bid phones while besides helping nan telephone shaper tune colors connected nan images — deliberation of different telephone brand-camera marque partnerships, specified arsenic OnePlus and Hasselblad aliases Xiaomi and Leica.

With its latest procreation of X bid devices — nan X100 and nan X100 Pro, Vivo claims to person improved nan imagining value moreover further. I person been testing nan X100 (the non-Pro variant), particularly to trial nan typical features Vivo adds for image photography. Here are nan reasons I americium pleasantly surprised.

The Zeiss business makes each nan difference

Vivo X100 Glacier Blue connected a woody table.Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

Zeiss is nary alien to nan world of smartphone photography, and Vivo is not nan first marque to partner pinch it. The German institution antecedently aided Nokia successful its premier to heighten photography connected nan N-series and later nan Lumia scope of phones while sporadically assisting Sony pinch its Xperia telephone cameras.

This isn’t nan first Vivo telephone pinch Zeiss optics either — successful fact, this is nan 4th procreation of nan partnership. And dissimilar Nokia aliases Sony, wherever Zeiss’ domiciled was constricted to providing camera lenses, Vivo has been taking this integration deeper by helping it recreate effects from celebrated Zeiss lenses for master cameras.

This attack whitethorn astonishment Zeiss purists, for nan marque caters to maximalists who for illustration to power a wide scope of parameters alternatively of getting a speedy and automatic shot. I opportunity this because astir Zeiss camera lenses, moreover successful this age, travel only pinch manual focus, which distances them from beginners and casual excursionists to nan trade. Its lenses are known to create sharper images but pinch a tinge of dreaminess, particularly successful nan background. Additionally, Zeiss lenses are comparatively overmuch much costly than likewise specced models from different camera companies specified arsenic Nikon aliases Canon, making them somewhat much exclusive to master and superior enthusiasts.

Vivo’s business pinch Zeiss results successful these dreamy effects being recreated (replicated chiefly pinch algorithmic enhancements) connected nan X bid phones. Naturally, nan latest X100 and nan X100 Pro get nan newest and nan astir nuanced version of these effects.

Zeiss camera image effects connected Vivo X100.Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

There are 2 important ways nan Vivo X100 replicates Zeiss effects. Firstly, it simulates nan aforesaid effects of six salient Zeiss lenses. These see Biotar, B-Speed, Sonnar, Planar, Distagon, and Cine-Flare. Each of these is an iconic camera lens bid from Zeiss’ humanities postulation and manipulates nan inheritance successful its chopped measurement without disturbing nan subjects successful nan image, arsenic we will spot successful nan pursuing sections.

Secondly, nan image mode offers preset zoom levels utilizing nan 3 cameras to lucifer nan emblematic focal lengths of master camera lenses instead. If that sounds confusing, fto maine elaborate. The Vivo X100 features 3 cameras: a 50-megapixel superior camera, a 50MP ultrawide camera, and a 64MP telephoto periscope pinch 3x zoom. Instead of nan modular 1x, 2x, 3x, aliases akin intermediate zoom levels, nan image mode lets you take from nan different options for focal lengths — 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, and 100mm — corresponding to celebrated focal ranges of Zeiss’ integer camera lenses.

Portrait camera preset bundles connected Vivo X100 Pro pinch Zeiss camera.Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

Lastly, nan Vivo X100 offers presets for different scenarios of image photography, utilizing nan above-stated features together. It uses combinations of nan lens’s focal scope and effects for different scenarios, striving to nutrient nan aforesaid images arsenic Zeiss lenses.

I dream that makes you funny astir nan existent results of nan Vivo X100’s image mode. Let’s commencement by exploring really nan different lens effects activity out.

What nan Vivo X100’s camera is tin of

All of nan images pinch nan Vivo X100 were purposefully taken successful debased ray for 2 reasons: First, to show nan X100’s expertise to seizure superb specifications successful debased aliases indoor lighting, and second, mini aliases distant sources of ray make nan image effects much distinguishable that they would successful daylight aliases agleam scenarios.

For nan first group of comparisons, we look astatine nan different inheritance effects inspired by Zeiss lenses. To spot nan differences, salary attraction to nan shapes astir nan ray sources down me.

On existent Zeiss lenses, these effects are created pinch beingness modifications to nan aperture — aliases nan beingness shutter that manipulates nan magnitude of ray entering nan lens. For instance, nan B-Speed lens uses a triangular aperture, which is why nan ray sources successful nan inheritance look triangular but pinch curved edges alternatively of consecutive ones. Likewise, nan effects connected a Biotar lens are shaped for illustration an existent convex lens, while those connected a Distagon are shaped for illustration a hexagon.

On nan Vivo X100, these effects are imitated by software, which is why they mightiness not ever beryllium meticulous and whitethorn alteration pinch nan region and nan strength of nan ray aliases because of biology factors specified arsenic fog and haze, arsenic demonstrated below.

However, if conditions are favorable, we tin expect coagulated and unique trinkets arsenic portion of nan background. Interestingly, these image effects besides activity without a look aliases surviving taxable successful nan frame, which makes nan Vivo X100 a awesome camera for still-life photography — and not conscionable for capturing faces.

Another facet I must constituent retired is nan perfection pinch which nan Vivo X100 detects edges, moreover pinch sparse lighting. This expertise of nan X100 helps create a chopped separation betwixt nan taxable and nan background, making nan images look arsenic if they are pulled retired of a master camera and not a smartphone. The in installments present should spell to nan laser autofocus system connected nan Vivo X100 phones.

You tin usage each of these effects pinch each focal magnitude mounting based connected your region from nan taxable and nan level and extent of section you desire from nan pictures. In addition, you tin manipulate nan strength of nan inheritance blur pinch each effect, but I stayed pinch nan modular settings.

All nan samples I person shared supra are astatine nan 35mm setting, astir adjacent to 1.5x magnification. Due to consistently bad upwind successful my metropolis complete nan past fewer weeks — and nan deficiency of due visibility, particularly astatine nighttime — I refrained from choosing wider focal lengths arsenic they would require images from a longer range.

However, if you do not wish to grapple pinch nan settings, you tin take Vivo’s preset image bundles.

More image magic

Besides nan Zeiss camera effects we saw successful nan erstwhile section, nan Vivo X100 besides offers preset combos that take nan due lens, nan zoom level, and nan Zeiss effect based connected celebrated lens formats. For instance, location are dedicated modes for scenery and thoroughfare portraits, a Classic mode for immoderate retro tint, a “Figure” mode to attraction connected you from a sizeable distance, and a “Close-up” to further zoom successful connected your face. If you want a simpler image photograph without each nan bells and whistles, a Natural mode allows you to do conscionable that. Along pinch nan Zeiss effects successful each of these modes, nan strength of nan blur is besides chosen pinch each of these camera presets. You tin either usage nan modes arsenic they are aliases play astir to find nan mounting you prefer.

Here is our first group of images taken astatine various focal lengths (as labeled). You tin spot nan variations not only successful position of nan region but besides successful nan colors (notice nan bluish tint successful nan Classic mode), nan inheritance effects, and nan blur strength successful each photo.

Because of nan haze successful nan background, nan lights successful nan inheritance rather disperse arsenic they did successful nan erstwhile comparisons. So, we move our quest indoors for nan pursuing comparison.

The abstraction limitations wrong nan room forced america to move nan camera person to my look alternatively of capturing a wider area. Besides nan variations successful different camera effects, this comparison demonstrates really focal magnitude affects nan style of nan objects successful focus.

Look astatine nan subtle changes to nan style of my look astatine different focal lengths. This is because nan curvature of nan lenses tends to wrap nan edges erstwhile you move person to an object. Photographers usage a akin method to return much flattering portraits.

Besides nan variations successful my face, you tin besides spot nan different bokeh effects astir nan fairy lights successful nan background. Each of these effects, arsenic stated above, changes automatically pinch nan preset.

With these features, nan Vivo X100 tin unfastened gates to nan world of Zeiss (or different master premier lenses). Even if you do not want to do that, nan images are compelling capable to wonderment if they person been changeable pinch a telephone aliases an existent camera — and you tin support nan different personification guessing for arsenic agelong arsenic you like.

Is it worthy buying, though?

Vivo X100 Glacier Blue telephone pinch Zeiss Cameras.Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

I dislike to admit it, but my abilities pinch an existent camera are limited. While I cognize my F-stops from my shutter speed, I americium obscurity arsenic dextrous pinch a camera arsenic a professional. Therefore, I trust connected smartphones for capturing moments — and I deliberation I americium among nan mostly of group there.

So, phones specified arsenic nan Vivo X100 make a compelling lawsuit for those who wish not only to return awesome photos but besides to study astir different prospects of utilizing a master camera and, successful definite instances, ignite a passion for photography pinch a camera. Can it switch a master camera? Or tin immoderate telephone switch a master camera, for that matter? There’s nary absolute aliases elemental answer. I consciousness phones for illustration nan Vivo X100 (or nan X100 Pro, which comes pinch a larger 1-inch sensor) tin switch cameras successful plentifulness of scenarios, particularly erstwhile nan personification utilizing it cannot dynamically play pinch different settings connected a camera.

The Vivo X100 makes a batch of consciousness for those who return a batch of photos and wish to get a superior value than astir phones. As we demonstrated above, nan X100 has plump muscles to flex erstwhile it comes to nighttime and low-light portraits, chiefly acknowledgment to nan flagship spot and a dedicated processor for photography.

The Vivo X100 eliminates nan request for a Pro mode.

But contempt these allures, a fewer aspects forestall maine from recommending it to everyone. First, while Vivo has 1 of nan astir precocious cameras connected nan phone, its personification interface still lacks finesse. You spot a chaotic concoction of mismatched ocular elements, a dissatisfying personification experience, and a batch of pre-installed bloatware (which whitethorn alteration per region). These stressors sound unreasonable for a telephone that costs astir $1,000 (based connected its Hong Kong pricing). The 2nd challenge, arsenic you whitethorn person guessed, lies pinch nan readiness of nan Vivo X100. Although you buy nan telephone connected AliExpress (the Amazon of China) and get a hefty 35% discount, location will beryllium nary warranty. Although you mightiness still find a measurement to get nan telephone repaired successful Europe, LATAM, aliases Asia if thing goes wrong, since Vivo sells successful those regions, residents of North America whitethorn not beryllium fortunate.

So, astatine best, nan Vivo X100 is simply a awesome 2nd telephone that functions arsenic an fantabulous camera. If you conscionable want to acquaint yourself pinch nan world of Zeiss lenses and effects, nan X100 whitethorn moreover beryllium a gateway — aliases a litmus trial earlier you walk thousands of dollars connected existent Zeiss lenses. Not to hide connected a decent camera pinch a sensor that tin warrant nan revered lenses.

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