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Huawei P30 Pro Camera Review: Can Huawei P30 Pro really capture the moon and take super macro shots?
We tested the Huawei’s claims of P30 Pro’s crazy camera capabilities. The results are pretty remarkable.
Huawei recently unveiled the company's 2019 flagship smartphones- P30 Pro and P30 (in Paris) to take on premium handsets from Google, Samsung and Apple. The P30 Pro can now be purchased in the Indian market at a premium price tag of Rs. 71,990. It's a lot of money and in return, you are promised unmatched camera performance. The company claims that the P30 Pro has the caliber to rival professional cameras as it comes equipped with the innovative HUAWEI SuperSpectrum Sensor, an extreme optical HUAWEI SuperZoom lens and a new Time of Flight (TOF) sensor.
- Industry-leading Zoom capabilities
- Best-in-class Night mode
- Snappy and accurate autofocus
- Images and videos show unprecedented details
- Good dynamic range (Pictures and Videos)
- Feature-rich camera app, top class video modes
- Stunning bokeh shots
- Brilliant video stabilization
- Noise while shooting videos in low-light
- AI enabled Super macro mode could use some improvements
- 4K at 60fps not available
- Wideangle mode could use some image-processing improvements
Huawei even went on saying that P30 Pro can even capture the moon and also take best-in-class macro shots. This got us pumped up and we put the handset to extreme testing to evaluate the company's claims. Before we start with the key specs and camera samples, I would like to mention that the camera performance on P30 Pro managed to exceed Google Pixel 3 XL, the handset that maintained the number 1 spot in our list of best camera smartphones in the year 2018. How did Huawei accomplish the feat? Let's understand in the camera review of the remarkable P30 Pro.
Key Camera Specifications
Huawei has been making some really good camera smartphones from a while now. With the P30 Pro, the company has offered everything that the camera engineers at Huawei has achieved so far. The camera setup on Huawei P30 Pro has got everything that is latest and groundbreaking.
The smartphone features a Leica-powered camera setup that works on Huawei's 4th gen. ISP and developed algorithms. The four-lens camera offers a 40MP primary camera with Huawei's SuperSpectrum sensor. The 1/1.7-inch sensor introduces world's first RYYB color array filter. Huawei claims that the new color array filter is a big step up as compared to the conventional RGB subpixel arrangement. By replacing the green pixels with yellow pixels, the sensor takes in both green light and red light on the visible spectrum. In simple words, the change in the color array setup results in 40 % boost in the overall light intake. The new sensor works on bright F/1.6 aperture. The optically stabilized lens with 27mm-equivalent focal length can touch a super impressive ISO rating of 4,09,600.
40MP Leica lens plus 20MP ultra-wide angle lens plus 8MP Telephoto lens plus TOF sensor
The 40MP Leica powered lens is paired with a 20MP ultra-wide angle lens working on F/2.2 aperture. The super wide angle lens offers 16mm-equivalent focal length. The third lens in the list is an 8MP telephoto lens that works on F/3.4 aperture value and offers 125mm-equivalent focal length. Last but not least, the camera also offers a 4th lens, which is basically a TOF camera to sense the depth information. Before we check out the 50X zoom camera samples, let's understand how the camera setup works to deliver such powerful zoom power.
Huawei P30 Pro Zoom Power: 5X Optical, 10X Hybrid, and 50X Digital Zoom
Huawei managed to touch this new horizon in mobile photography with the help of all new Periscope styled folded optics. By placing the image sensor in a vertical fashion to create a longer equivalent focal-length, Huawei managed to offer 5X Optical zoom, 10X Hybrid zoom, and 50X Digital Zoom. The 10X hybrid zoom takes in data from the 40MP and 8MP lens to offer lossless zoom.
50X Zoom: Hardware + Software capabilities
Software plays a crucial role in achieving the incredible zoom power on the P30 Pro. Keeping in mind the mobile device's design constraints, the company has utilized Field-of-view fusion technique to achieve the far-sight zoom. It is with the help of this software technology that upto 3x magnification, the camera only uses software algorithms to zoom in on subjects. The telephoto lens comes in action for 5x zoom to yield lossless results. And for 10x and above, the camera uses the combination of both software and hardware (optical zoom and super-resolution algorithm) to capture images.
Can you really capture Moon?
I couldn't believe Huawei's claims of unrivaled 50X zoom until I got my hands on the handset. For an entirely new camera technology for a mobile platform, it is surprisingly good and certainly one-of-its kind. Even the most premium rival handsets from Samsung, Google and Apple couldn't match the P30 Pro in this particular feature. We at GizBot even gave the smartphone to a random set of people to test the 50X digital zoom. You can watch the video on our YouTube channel to see their reactions.
Capture distant objects in line-of-sight
The images shot at 50X are not always usable but if you have a tripod handy or trying to shoot a large object with a steady hand, the results can be satisfactory. The above image of the moon was shot without any tripod. As you can see in the image, the P30 Pro's 50X Zoom was able to capture the craters on the moon's surface. This is incredible and cannot be achieved by any other smartphone in the world. And not just moon, you can also capture a beautiful sunset, distant birds and everything that's in your line of sight.
Macro Photography on P30 Pro
In addition to the 50x zoom feature, the camera setup on P30 Pro also promises some great macro photography results. This is achieved by the 20MP super-wide angle lens which offers a minimum focus distance of 25mm. At this distance, you can take some really good macro shots if you have patience as the camera takes a while to focus on the object. It's really annoying sometimes. Once the Super Macro mode is kicked in, you can capture some really good macros from P30 Pro.
I wish Huawei had provided a dedicated Macro mode as it would have made things much easier for end-users. With the camera setup relying on company's AI engine to enable macro mode, you have to be very patient for the desired shot. You have to find the exact distance from wherein the camera's macro mode is enabled automatically. Besides, a slight shift in the color balance is also experienced in macro mode.
Image Quality- Brilliant in Daylight
These are just two aspects of the camera performance on the Huawei P30 Pro. In general, the smartphone captures images with brilliant dynamic range, punchy colors (saturated sometimes) and impressive contrast. By default, the camera captures images in 10MP resolution. You can enable the 40MP sensor (developed by Sony) for highly detailed shots. However, the zoom and many other features don't kick in with the massive sensor.
The 10MP daylight shots are perfectly usable, full of lively colors and good contrast. Even the 6MP shots look amazing and allow you to use the camera in full-screen mode. The post-processing and AI have also been improved with the P30 Pro and you get to see natural colors in the pictures. The AI is not over-intensive, like in some previous Huawei phones which gave highly animated shots.
Low-light Camera Performance- P30 Pro is a Google Pixel Killer
Daylight shots are mostly brilliant from high-end smartphones priced above 50K. It is the low-light camera performance that shows the real potential of the hardware and software. The P30 Pro has three things working in conjunction to improve the low-light camera output. It is the massive 40MP primary lens working on brighter f/1.6 aperture, optical image stabilization (OIS) and the new RYYB sensor which takes in 40% more light. Before we get into details, check out the above image which was shot on P30 Pro in auto mode. The star trails are clearly visible in the night sky. No other smartphone can capture such kind of shots with such promising output.
Shot captured in absolute dark
The standard mode in Huawei P30 Pro creates some magic when subjected to extreme low-light. Even the Google Pixel 3 XL's Nightsight cannot match it. The camera is able to capture so much of details in almost absolute darkness that you will end up taking multiple shots to believe the results. The above shot was captured in a very dark environment and still, the image has come out well lit and shows good resolved details. The image data shows the ISO levels- 51,200. Importantly, the camera can even touch the ISO levels of 4,09,600 which is simply insane for a smartphone camera setup.
It seems that the sensor is able to capture light even from the minutest light sources, which sometimes can be a drawback. If a light source is emitting a certain color wavelength, the same tint can be seen in the overall image. The sensor also seemed pretty inclined towards red hues as most images displayed a red tint. Nevertheless, the P30 Pro allows better control over the camera output. It is less likely that you will end up with blurry shots in challenging light. Thanks to the optically stabilized lens and brighter aperture.
You also get Huawei's Night mode that works on long-exposure technique and often delivers well-lit shots. Enable this mode when you want to see some extra details in the night sky and in shadow areas.
Wide-angle Camera Performance
You can capture some really good looking dramatic shots with the 20MP wide-angle lens. Wide-angle shots show equally better details as compared to standard shots; however, if you look closer, you will find some loss in overall details. Besides, saturation levels also got hit in wide-angle mode and I also experienced some washed out results. The color balance also varies when you enable wide-angle mode but the overall results are still very much usable. I have also tested the wide-angle mode on Galaxy S10+ and at some places, I found Samsung doing a better job in the final image output.
Video output: AIS + Dual OIS, better results than Galaxy S10+ and Apple iPhones
As far as video quality is concerned, the P30 Pro does a good job. It's not the best video camera out there but is certainly better than 95% of the premium smartphones. This is due to the fact that the colors in the recorded video footage shot from P30 Pro are not always true-to-eyes. The camera also shows somewhat weaker dynamic range in daylight. Besides, Huawei also hasn't offered the 4K video recording support at 60fps so we shot videos at 1080p 60fps and 4k at 30fps.
While recording videos, the autofocus works effectively and the output looked unbelievably crisp when light conditions were favorable. Details take a toss in low-light and also noise levels rise up; however, the video output is still best-in-class, better than Samsung Galaxy S10+ and Apple devices in low-light situations.
What sets the P30 Pro apart from the competition is the video stabilization. While the two lenses in the quad-array setup are optically stabilized, Huawei has also added AI image stabilization (AIS) to further improve the camera's output. The combination of optical stabilization and AIS makes Huawei P30 Pro's video output most stabilized in the market. You can capture stable videos even while walking and that too without a gimbal. Moreover, the extra freebies are thrown in by Huawei in the form of video filters such as AI Color, Background Blur, Vintage, etc. are just super fun to use and deliver excellent results.
You can also shoot wide-angle videos in 4K and that too with the stabilization enable. The feature comes really handy if you are using P30 Pro as your sole camera device for travel photography. Besides, you also get slow-motion at 960fps for some high-level creative shots.
Portraits and Selfie camera performance
Last but not least, Huawei P30 Pro also captures excellent portraits. The newly added TOF sensor isolates the subject beautifully from the background to create a very DSLR-like bokeh effect. The aperture mode captures portraits in 2x magnification for a more significant bokeh and it just looks best-in-class. Moreover, the bokeh created is not just a random effect, which is mostly the case with smartphones. It is carefully applied and the sensor also effectively takes care of critical elements of the subject to avoid unnatural blurring.
For selfies, the P30 Pro offers a 32MP selfie camera, which is the highest on a flagship handset. The image quality is generally good in daylight and in indoor lighting. The camera also offers AI HDR+ mode that basically applies machine learning to handle uneven lighting to prevent under or overexposed self-portraits. Selfies shot in daylight display excellent dynamic range and punchy colors. Portrait mode could have been better though as it doesn't match the performance on Pixel phones.
Huawei P30 Pro is the most interesting, well-rounded and versatile camera smartphone in today's time. It offers everything that an amateur and a professional photographer would need from a mobile camera setup. The crazy zoom features are unmatched and start a new era of mobile photography. The low-light camera performance is once again something a different game altogether. Additionally, the impressive portrait camera output, wide-angle lens and super steady video stabilization make P30 Pro the most recommended camera handset in the year 2019. I can easily ignore some software issues as the P30 Pro delivers the best-in-class results in different lighting conditions and comes out as the most feature-rich and smartest camera smartphone in town. In a nutshell, with the launch of P30 Pro, Huawei has made mobile photography interesting once again.