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Dave Collerton

Hello Huawei P20 Pro - Goodbye DSLR's - Part II

Hello Huawei P20 Pro - Goodbye DSLR's - Part II

In part I of this overview of the Huawei P20 Pro I examined the basic functionalty with respect to it's fundamental abilities as a pro level camera. Clearly, it isn't what is typically classed as a professional camera and nor will it ever be. Turn up with one of these for a wedding and you'll likely be lynched. However, the truth is that it is a professional camera for many purposes and, with some care, it can take amazingly good photos especially in low light and close up. No expensive add on glass required here, simply point and shoot for the most part. 

One of the things I most wanted to test on the Huawei P20 Pro was it's low light capabilities. I alluded to this is in my earlier article. These can be found under the NIGHT and PRO menu options on the supplied camera application. What Night mode does is effectively, and very effectively at that, take a number of bracketed exposures which it then combines in camera to create the final image. This process can take upto 6 seconds to complete where the image is very dark but in general, the time is around 3 seconds or less in reasonable light. Now 3 seconds is a long time when you are hand holding a camera so of course, you'd expect the results to be less than perfect. Think again!! The Huawei P20 Pro uses advanced AI technology to compensate for camera shake, slight movements etc and when stitched together, I swear you'll be hard pushed to know that it was a long exposure shot. Let's take a look at a couple of examples.

This example was taken in a darkened room with the subject lit by a light box situated below it. No other light source was used. This is a hand held photograph and the shutter time for this shot was about 3 seconds. In this time the Huawei P20 Pro took 5 exposures, each at slightly diffent EV values. It then stitched these together to create the final image. This stiching process was prety much instantaneous, perhaps a second or two at most. I have processed the final image using Silver Efex Pro 2 because I wanted to create a lithograph look and feel to the shot. No other processing was undertaken. I think that the result speak for itself.

In the next two shots, this time in colour, again I used NIGHT mode to create the images. As before, the shots were hand held, approximately 3 seconds to complete the exposures. For these two images I performed some light processing using Luminar 2018 Windows just to enhance colouration. The sharpness obtained was straight out of camera. Again, quite remarkable for hand held shots in a darkened room.

So, what about low light photography in an ambient situation. This next image was taken in my living room where the only light source was a small lamp. Again, hand held, this time the image capture time was closer to 5 or 6 seconds yet the Huawei P20 Pro excelled with regards handling ambient spot lighting in what was, for all intent and purpose, a completely dark room.

Without doubt, the Huawei P20 Pro excels in low light situations, or indeed, in any situation where long exposures are required or desirable. Camera shake is barely visable and the colours obtained are rich and vibrant. The in-camera IBIS does a remarkable job of stablising your shots and the bracketed EV approach creates vivid photographs of exceptional quality.

Does the Huawei P20 Pro negate the need for all of my camera gear? No, far from it. The other day I passed a Jaguar car rally and despite having the Huawei P20 Pro in my pocket, I instinctively reached for my go to Canon G7X ii which I carry almost everywhere. This was not because I have concerns about the Huawei, far from it, it was purely because I still feel a little more comfortable with a compact, mirrorless or DSLR in my hands at this moment in time. Also, and this is where I think camera phones do lose out, the experience of using a camera phone just isn't the same as using my compact G7X ii. I still like to feel like I am holding a "real camera", despite the fact that the images both take are very much of similar quality. Would I use the Canon G7X ii for low light, hand held shots? Absolutely not!! The Huawei P20 Pro is very possibly unmatched at this moment in time for low light, hand held situations.

In the next article I will introduce PRO settings as well as look at some of the settings under the MORE menu. As always, contact me if you have any questions about the Huawei P20 Pro or this article.

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