I shot over 200 photos with the OnePlus 12 vs Pixel 8 Pro — here's the winner

Pixel 8 Pro vs OnePlus 12 held in both hands.
(Image credit: Future)

I've said it numerous times before. OnePlus phones offer the best bang for your buck, but in my previous OnePlus 12 vs. Galaxy S24 Ultra photo shootout, the OnePlus 12 came up short against Samsung's finest. I'm not surprised because the Galaxy S24 Ultra is one of the best camera phones around — complete with Galaxy AI features that make the photos I capture look even better after the fact.

But I've fallen in love with another phone, the Google Pixel 8 Pro. It's been my daily driver for the last 6 months, and in my Pixel 8 Pro long term review, I said it has proven to be just as good in the camera department. Oddly enough, it held its ground in my Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Pixel 8 Pro in a photo shootout.

This time I want to see what differences there are between the OnePlus 12 and Pixel 8 Pro. But before you check out the photos I captured, just know that I took all the photos with both phones on me — then I proceeded to check them out all on my computer. That way, I'm better able to pixel peep the photos to see which is better.

OnePlus 12 vs Pixel 8 Pro: main camera

Starting off with their main cameras, I think they both handle this scene on a cloudy day by the beach pretty well. The exposure between the clouds and beach seem to be uniform, so there's no over or under exposure in the scene. Details are also ample with the two, especially in how the wood grain on the nearby rail is visible — including the individual wooden posts in the far background.

The only minor difference I can notice is the brighter image of the Pixel 8 Pro, which is hard to notice when I look at them individually, but it's more obvious side-by-side.

Winner: Pixel 8 Pro

OnePlus 12 vs Pixel 8 Pro: ultrawide

I don't notice a whole lot of difference with this shot taken with the ultra-wide cameras on the Pixel 8 Pro and OnePlus 12. From the exposure of the scene between the clouds and view of these townhomes on a beachside front, to the textures of the nearby walkway I was on while capturing the shot, they're nearly identical.

The Pixel 8 Pro still delivers the brighter picture, but it's not as noticeable this time than with its main camera. I also want to point out that it has a wider 125.5-degree field of view, versus the OnePlus 12’s 114-degrees — clearly making it more ideal if you want to scram in as much of the scene into the shot as possible.

Winner: Pixel 8 Pro

OnePlus 12 vs Pixel 8 Pro: Dynamic range

Wow, now this is strange because heading into it I thought the Pixel 8 Pro would be the clear winner — but that's not the case. The OnePlus 12 clearly pulls off the better dynamic range performance with these shots. It boosts the exposure in the shadows better than the Pixel 8 Pro, resulting in the tree and surrounding area to be noticeably brighter. Its snapshot also has this shimmery glow that catches my attention more.

However, the Pixel 8 Pro produces the sharper, more detailed image when I zoom into the tree's bark. But since I'm judging dynamic range here, I'm giving it to the OnePlus 12.

Winner: OnePlus 12

OnePlus 12 vs Pixel 8 Pro: Color reproduction

The OnePlus 12’s stronger dynamic range performance does seem to boost the exposure in the shadows — so in this shot of a wooden sign — the colors are a smidge subdued. For example, the green plant in the right corner is deeper with the Pixel 8 Pro, along with the yellow in the seal on the lower right corner of the sign.

I think this one can sway either way depending on personal preference, but I simply prefer how the Pixel 8 Pro does it.

Winner: Pixel 8 Pro

OnePlus 12 vs Pixel 8 Pro: Macro

Macro mode is automatically engaged whenever I take closeup photos with the two flagships, which is also indicated by an icon that pops up in the camera app. I hate weeds, but before I ripped this dandelion out from my backyard, I took a snapshot of it to better tell which is the better phone for closeups.

And honestly, it's another close call. Both capture all the details of the dandelion, including the finer details like fine sprouts coming off it. There's also a pleasant out of focus effect that they produce, which helps to keep the attention on the subject. However, these artifacting elements throughout the Pixel 8 Pro’s shot sort of softens the look when I zoom into the dandelion.

Winner: OnePlus 12

OnePlus 12 vs Pixel 8 Pro: Selfie

These selfie shots again almost look identical to one another, but I’m giving it to the Pixel 8 Pro — mainly for how it’s a brighter image and the sharper details it pulls in.

While they both get the stubble around my face, the Pixel 8 Pro’s selfie looks shaper with more detail. I can also make out more in the fabric of my shirt, along with the strap around my shoulder.

Winner: Pixel 8 Pro

OnePlus 12 vs Pixel 8 Pro: Portrait

Apart from the minimum 1.5x zoom option for portrait photos with the Pixel 8 Pro, I like everything else it delivers in portrait mode.

I think they do a great job of isolating me from the background, but zooming into my face, it’s clear that the Pixel 8 Pro has a sharper look. Also, the black hoodie around my shoulder is also more in focus than the OnePlus 12.

Winner: Pixel 8 Pro

OnePlus 12 vs Pixel 8 Pro: Zoom

This is one of the juicier parts of this photo shootout because I know that the Pixel 8 Pro is one of the best camera phones for photography. On paper, it has an advantage with its 48MP telephoto camera with 5x optical zoom. That optical range is important because it’s longer than the 3x optical zoom lens of the OnePlus 12’s 64MP telephoto camera. But as I’ve said before, don’t let the numbers fool you because more isn’t necessarily better.

And you know what? This proves true in these 5x zoom photos of this gazebo. When I look at the overall shot, the only noticeable difference is in the OnePlus 12’s better dynamic range performance — resulting in the lawn shimmering more than the Pixel 8 Pro. When it comes to details, this is where it gets interesting because the OnePlus 12 matches the Pixel 8 Pro when I zoom into all the shingles on top of the gazebo.

What I’m more surprised about is the rocks in front of the gazebo; they’re sharper and more detailed on the OnePlus 12 than the Pixel 8 Pro. OnePlus is clearly using pixel binning with great effect with its telephoto camera. Meaning, even though it has a shorter optical zoom lens, it clearly does better than the Pixel 8 Pro.

Winner: OnePlus 12

OnePlus 12 vs Pixel 8 Pro: Panorama

Right away, I like the even exposure of the beachside panorama with the OnePlus 12. For some reason, there’s more of an exposure shift in the middle section of the Pixel 8 Pro’s panorama shot, making it look oddly darker, though the sky looks better and more nuanced in the Pixel 8 Pro's pic.

Furthermore, I want to point out the better details captured with the OnePlus 12’s panoramic photo, which is clearly evident with the rails and wooden posts on the left and right sides.

Winner: OnePlus 12

OnePlus 12 vs Pixel 8 Pro: low light

Low light is without a doubt the area where I see the biggest disparities. The Pixel 8 Pro just makes the OnePlus 12 look sloppy. Not only is there this odd warmish hue to the OnePlus' photos, which tends to make them look orangish, but details are a bit smeary by comparison.

I like the Pixel 8 Pro better in these images because not only is the garage in my backyard better illuminated, but the colors look more realistic and true to life. For example, I can make out the greens in the leaves from the nearby tree.

Winner: Pixel 8 Pro

OnePlus 12 vs Pixel 8 Pro: verdict

OnePlus 12 held in the hand.

(Image credit: Future)

Ten categories all accounted for and I’m shocked by how close it turned out. Even though the Pixel 8 Pro technically wins out when everything’s tallied, the differences between their performances are minimal. The only area where I see the biggest disparity continues to be low light, with the Pixel 8 Pro confidently producing the brighter, more detailed shots.

OnePlus has done a much better job at tuning the cameras in its newest flagship phone, which is why I think it’s one of the best Android phones for photography. Add to that, I know I’ve installed software updates for the OnePlus 12, which could’ve optimized its image processing since I first started using it.

Honestly, I would be totally fine using either phone, but they have their unique selling points — like the OnePlus 12’s cheaper cost and the handful of AI features with the Pixel 8 Pro.

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