OnePlus One goes against Canon 5D Mark III, does surprisingly well

by: Edgar CervantesAugust 18, 2014

oneplus one aa (15 of 34)

Photo and video enthusiasts will promptly tell you there is no way a smartphone camera can ever match a DSLR camera (especially one like the Canon 5D Mark III, known to be one of the best DSLRs for video). This is mostly true, but what can we say when we witness this seemingly impossible task being realized?

Italian film director, screenwriter and producer Giacomo Mantovani put the OnePlus One up against the legendary Canon 5D Mark III. The results were stunning – intricate 4K video testing proved the Chinese smartphone can, in fact, beat the Canon 5D Mark III.

Is a OnePlus One really better than a DSLR?

Does this make the phone a better option for videographers? Definitely not, and for many reasons. This video test was done under perfect lighting conditions, a set-up that puts no strain on the smartphones minuscule sensor.

While the OnePlus One’s camera details and video clarity did beat the 5D Mark III in plain daylight, there is no way any smartphone camera sensor can beat Canon’s acclaimed full-frame sensor. Larger sensors make for better low-light quality (less grain, noise, etc.). Get both devices in darker environments and the differences will quickly become apparent.

Now that we have that technical difference out of the way, we can start talking about the very nature of both contenders. A DSLR offers video versatility and flexibility that can’t be beat by a mobile device. Availability of lenses, accessories, modes and upgrades is what made DSLRs the go-to tool for many professionals.


Smartphone modes and manual controls has been improving, but in many ways you are kind of stuck with what you get. You can’t purchase a new lens and increase the aperture, for example.

In short, the OnePlus One may be a great option for video enthusiasts who may not feel like carrying a full DSLR and everything it comes with. Sometimes having convenient quality is better than having the best quality. Giacomo Mantovani does say the OnePlus One is better in ideal lighting, so it might be perfect for certain shots. He also says there are reasons why DSLRs are where they are in the industry.

What this test does prove is that OnePlus did an amazing job putting this smartphone together. 4K video is no insignificant feature; being able to handle it like a champ is even more impressive. After all, beating a full frame DSLR in ANYTHING is an astounding success, in and of itself. Sadly, the OnePlus’ invite system continues to make the $300 gem a hard device to purchase.

  • Jayfeather787

    That’s very nice One Plus. You have amazing camera technology, but APPARENTLY you don’t have the technology to have a convenient way to buy the actual smart phone!!!!!!!

  • MadCowOnAStick

    Great, now sell it to the public.

    • MasterMuffin

      Nah only to famous people so they can promote the device

    • YuYu Elsalmi

      I thought you can simply order it from Amazon
      Correct me if I’m wrong

  • everardok

    Does this make the phone a better option for videographers? Definitely not, and for many reasons. This video test was done under perfect lighting conditions, a set-up that puts no strain on the smartphones minuscule sensor.”

    Then don’t make a frivolous claim that it’s better, since you’re only testing under one perfect condition. This article is pointless

    • I don’t care what perfect conditions they set up. Seeing the price point of that Canon, it should outperform a CELL PHONE in the category of photography no matter what!

      • Steve Steiner

        They tested 4k VIDEOgraphy. In other words, more pixels and faster processor than the Canon. It’s still commendable, but hardly earth shattering.

      • Jebus

        go check the released date of Canon 5d MkIII and shut up.

  • meran

    It beats DSLR in strong light and high f number (large field if view) but any mobile can’t stand against optics physics of shallow depth of field zoom and low light and night performance this video only covers one portion of videography which is resolution

    • Sam Marino

      “f number”…you mean aperature?
      “Large field if view” ? -______–

      Please go and take a photography 101.

      • Jesus

        Watch out everyone we have a photography badass over here

      • Peter

        F-number is accurate. If you were a true photographer, you’d know it. The higher the F-number, the smaller the aperture. Yes, it’s aperture, not aperature.

        Perhaps “Photography 101” should be on YOUR reading list.

        • Sam Marino

          It’s called aperture officially, on the camera it says F1.8 or F4 etc..

    • Rickrau5

      Lol wut.

  • Tony C

    My one plus doesn’t look that good. Did you guys clean it up afterwards?

    • Steve Steiner

      The source video claims no color correction or enhancements.

      • Tony C

        Thanks for letting me know. I didn’t bother to look into that!

      • It’s confirmed! No color correction or enhancements.

    • You might find interesting also this other test I have done:

      • Tony C

        That was absolutely amazing! I put this in my favorites! Thank you for sharing it with me! WOW!!!

      • Void

        Well, this is amazing. How to keep the smartphone steady like that? Do you mount it on some kind of mechanic arm? Movements are so smooth, I’d like to do that kind of videos too with my OPO.

        • Thanks a lot. In this video I mounted it on a Glidetrack Hybrid HD, which is a professional slider. While in the video comparison with the Canon I mounted it on the hot shoe of the 5D, in order to get the most matching shot possible. Thanks a lot once again. Please feel free to share and subscribe. All the best.

  • Ammar Nadim

    itshard to believe. its an exmors rs4 sensor doing the job :D

  • RH

    Anyone that uses a dSLR that can’t take a photo better than a smartphone, needs to sell it and stop taking photos! It just bugs me when I see friends of mine spend thousands of dollars on dSLR’s, lens units and the like, and they use the auto mode 100% of the time. They never use shutter priority, manual mode or play around with any of the features! The only reason they have one is because all their other hipster idiot friends have one. More money than brains. Heck, the number of times I’ve used auto mode on my dSLR you can probably count on one hand, with 3 fingers missing. I never use it. Why? Because it’s a dSLR that’s why. If I wanted a point & shoot, I would save the money and get one.
    Same with kit lens that come with the camera. They never buy another lens, except the one that came with the camera. Geez…stick with an inexpensive point & shoot, you’d be better off.

    • moew

      I’ve never used auto mode on a DSLR, does it work better than a cell phone in perfect lighting conditions for it’s sensor?

    • I completely agree. Photography is an art, not just a profession, what you can get with manual control is outstanding. Like you I never use auto apart in conditions in which you have to smoothly pass from a light environment and a dark one (and vice versa). In that case you can benefit from it. But in general there are no ways I would opt for automatic mode. Then, with regard to this phone, I love the idea of being able to shoot something nice while I am out for a relaxing walk in the forest, or in the city, and I am really pleased to be able to shoot such great 4K videos in ideal light conditions, but as I already said, I don’t expect (and I don’t suggest anyone to expect) to consider this phone as a replacement of your DSLR cameras. :)

  • Thanks a lot Edgar Cervantes! I really appreciate that you wrote about my test. Once again, the reason of this comparison is exclusively to discover how good is the OnePlus One camera in ideal light conditions, compared to a professional DSLR, nothing less nothing more. I wouldn’t use a phone for professional shooting, but for sure this is an incredible device for all filmmakers that want to be able to shoot something great on the go, when they don’t have their professional equipment in the bag.

    Many thanks Android Authority, your are great! Thanks for sharing!

  • moew

    Drop that on POTN, it’s very clear the 5D was out of focus, lulz.

    I could put a camera out of focus and do comparisons against a Samsung Droid Charge and make the Charge look better. LULZ. Nice setup of a video.

  • Guest

    Are you kidding me people, its NOT DIFFICULT to get one. Go on the forums, people are handing out invites left and right.

  • gordonyz

    I suspect it’s 4k video vs. 2k on 5D3, sure you gain some detail, that’s it.Take a still photo with 1+1 vs. D800E/D810 if better I’ll buy.

    • Divine Jakiro


    • By the way that’s not the case… the 5D is well known for a “softer” image in video mode… you can say anything you want but that’s the reality, full stop. Then, I tell you that never ever I will even think to shoot professional stuff on a smartphone. If professional equipment differs from consumer equipment, also in terms of price, there are many reasons, which in any way this video comparison pretends to argue.

      • Jerry Rich

        Well put, your “video” pretends that the 1+1 camera is as good as an out of focus DSLR. Your Canon DSLR video is way beyond soft. I think you should return that lens for warranty work.

        • Guest

          haha, what do you mean by “”video””? It is a video is it not?

        • You make me laugh, why don’t you spend a second of your time and read video descriptions, maybe you’ll understand more about the aim and a meaning of a “video” like this. And, probably you never made video with a Canon 5D otherwise you’d know that the “softness” is one of its biggest issues. Peace

      • thomas sim

        You had ignore the question above. I watched the video, and it’s obviously biased video comparing 5DM3 shooting 1080P video vs over plus one shooting 4k video. Anyone except blind people would think OPO 4k video are much sharper than 5DM3 1080P video. You’re purposeful comparison of video in 300% crop tells it, and the fact that you had not include any indication that it was 1080P vs 4K video comparison shows it.

        • Again, you still don’t understand the reason and aim of this test. Read the description below the video and then you’ll understand. Tell me, what’s the point to compare the 5D HD with the HD of a tiny smartphone? That’s ridiculous! The point here is simply to say: I have finally found a cheap device that can shoot great stuff (in ideal light conditions) when I am out for a walk or for location scout etc… so I am not forced to bring my very good but very big cameras with me all the time, when I am not working. You also should calm down and consider that the 5D is not a cinema camera and not even a video camera, it is PHOTOGRAPHIC camera that shoot also nice (but very soft) videos, so its video function can be safely compared with a cheap smartphone able to shoot nice videos, as none of them have been created with the primary function of video recording. Thanks for watching anyway.

  • Eric Santos

    Nonsense. The 5D Mk. 3 only records Full HD, OPO goes way beyond, 4K. I was expecting a clever comparison, this is very idiotic. Compare pictures, not videos that are 4x larger/smaller.

    • Probably you missed the point mate… this comparison is not about stills but video. Let’s say that you are out for a walk, you see an interesting “composition/view/fact/etc..” and you’d like to film it. Would you prefer regretting of not having your DSLR with you in that moment, or indeed would you be pleased to have a 4K camera – right in your pocket – which is able to shoot amazing stuff (in a ideal light condition)? Nobody is saying to use this camera for professional works, the only aim of this video is to compare how well it performs (in a ideal light condition) respect a professional DSLR camera, nothing less, nothing more.

      • Eric Santos

        You are right, however how Android Authority made the article header and title, it leads to thinking it’s a general camera comparison. Also no mean to disrespect your comparison.

        • No offense taken mate. I just would like people to take it easy and take this video test for what it is.

          By the way, I am about to publish the 4K version of the OPO footage. Please subscribe to my channel so you’ll be informed once it’s up!

          Once again, thanks for watching. All the best

  • Alan

    Such a lame comparison. Compare 1+1 with Panasonic GH4 please.

    • Jerry Rich

      Agreed, I’d go one step further, do an honest compare against most point and shoot cameras. The 1+1 camera has already lost to most of 2014 flagship reviews.

  • milagroful

    Damn that camera is nice! I stopped wanting this phone because of the waiting list but now it’s back on my radar. Wonder if I’ll get an invite before something better comes along.

    • Jerry Rich

      Give me a break, the 1+1 camera is hardly a great camera. It is beaten handily by almost all of the 2014 flagships.

  • Jerry Rich

    Well you’ve convinced me of one thing, that Canon 5D MK III is certainly a piece of crap! I’ll stick with my Nikon D4 thank you very much!

  • Alborz Azizpour

    Funny, nice try :)))))) and don’t say it was a serious post :D :D :D try that with different focuses and moving the camera while trying to focus on a moving subject and all the hundreds of differences. You can’t compare two camera with a series of “still” videos and just by cropping 300%. But it was funny regardless ;)

  • hoggleboggle

    They did the same test with the note 3 a while back with the same conclusions. 4k downscaled beats 1080 native

  • That’s Great. One plus.

  • JDMillest

    sucks that more people cant get there hands on the one.

  • bull shit ain’t gonna read anything about One plus one what shit load of company.. I am reading reviews for ages and still I don’t even know how I am gonna buy it.

  • RiDER

    i have one 1+one to sell, in cart, freshnew from invite. who wants it ?

  • Jonathan TAM

    IMO the XIaomi MI3 snapdragon 800 variant is the best bang for buck in my country at 245 usd.

  • Kerry Ling

    Hmmm… not a good comparison at all. The image quality of a dslr system rely not only on the body but also
    1. The type lens
    2. Quality of the lens
    3. The calibration of the lens to the body
    4. Aperture setting affect the depth of view – large aperture make a thin focal plane.
    On a smart phone. Its has a fixed focal lenght calibrated lens. It is like using a calibrated prime lens on a slr. To make the comparison valid, these are minimal conditions. The video from the comparison do not justify the performance of the Mark3. The writer need to be careful when he do comparison like this, he doesn’t seem knowledgable enough for this. Didn’t even bother listing the conditions/setting on the mark3 like aperture and focal length, what lens was used.
    Bye the way,I do agree the oneplus 1 did a good job from the samples.

    • Sorry if I just copy and paste but: probably you missed the point mate… let’s say that you are out for a walk, you see an interesting “composition/view/fact/etc..” and you’d like to film it. Would you prefer regretting of not having your DSLR with you in that moment, or indeed would you be pleased to have a 4K camera – right in your pocket – which is able to shoot amazing stuff (in a ideal light condition)? Nobody is saying to use this camera for professional works, the only aim of this video is to compare how well it performs (in a ideal light condition) respect a professional DSLR camera, nothing less, nothing more.

  • Moe

    I have a 64gb Brand new unboxed unlocked in the UK One Plus One

  • thepowerof

    I guess I need to use my OPO camera more! This is some amazing tech for the price.

  • xian

    Very misleading title. Nothing really special here. When you look at clearly, the color reproduction is way off on the oneplus one. It did a decent job in zoom tests obviously because it has 4k option but overall, im not that impressed.

  • Guys, this is the original footage shot with the OnePlus One, available for you to watch in 4K UHD!

  • flamencoguy

    Small company doesn’t have manufacturing capacity, that’s all it is. I don’t think it is a ploy or strategy of creating demand through scarcity.
    I joined, I posted on forums, I got invite and I bought.
    Now I am very happy.

  • Jaspreet Singh

    Waiting for mine to be delivered :)

  • debbie

    hi plz how can i get this phone please

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  • Dace

    The Canon seemed to be out of focus the whole time. Why is that?