THE SMART­PHONE THAT SHOOTS RAW

New Zealand D-Photo - - PRODUCT REVIEW | HUAWEI P10 - For more in­for­ma­tion on the Huawei P10, or to pur­chase, visit con­sumer.huawei.com/nz.

Be­ing the new kid on the block — within the smart­phone mar­ket at least — the brand has al­ready proven it­self ca­pa­ble of build­ing pow­er­ful smart­phones. And while Huawei might still be a rel­a­tively un­known name to some shoot­ers, it’s safe to say that Le­ica’s in­volve­ment

in the new-re­lease P10 pro­vides a pretty big push for the pho­tog­ra­phy crowd

From film neg­a­tives to me­mory cards and now the cloud, the great­est shifts in pho­tog­ra­phy have been rooted in the ca­pa­bil­i­ties and pos­si­bil­i­ties of the de­vices used to cap­ture the im­ages. Th­ese days, there’s no deny­ing that smart­phone pho­tog­ra­phy is grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity and is dis­rupt­ing tra­di­tional cam­era use along the way.

It’s for this rea­son that Huawei — the world’s third-largest smart­phone man­u­fac­turer, one of a very few to have sold more than 100 mil­lion in a sin­gle year — has teamed up with the iconic Ger­man cam­era man­u­fac­turer Le­ica. The Huawei P10, Huawei’s new­est flag­ship and the sec­ond of their smart­phones to be mi­cro bev­elled with the Le­ica name, em­bod­ies their joint fo­cus on rein­vent­ing smart­phone pho­tog­ra­phy. The re­sult: a re­li­able cam­era backed by a pow­er­ful pro­ces­sor, en­cased within an un­der­stated, el­e­gant frame.

The Huawei P10 has two cam­era sen­sors on the back: one 12MP sen­sor with a tra­di­tional colour fil­ter ar­ray and fea­tur­ing op­ti­cal im­age sta­bi­liza­tion, and a 20MP unit that only cap­tures mono­chrome im­ages. Both sit be­hind a 27mm equiv­a­lent f/2.2 lens branded ‘Sum­marit’ — ref­er­enc­ing the Ger­man man­u­fac­turer’s line-up of lenses in Le­ica’s own lingo. The two sen­sors op­er­ate to­gether to pro­duce a sin­gle im­age with more data than would other­wise be pos­si­ble to work with, lend­ing bet­ter im­age de­tail, higher dy­namic range, and lower noise lev­els. They haven’t sim­ply thrown megapix­els at it, though — the rear cam­era can also record 4K-res­o­lu­tion video at 30fps or stan­dard full HD footage at 60fps, its aut­o­fo­cus ca­pa­bil­i­ties are as­sisted by laser, for pre­cise fo­cus­ing in very low light, and ad­di­tional il­lu­mi­na­tion is pro­vided by a dual-colour LED flash.

PRO MODE With any de­vice, the magic hap­pens once you move be­yond au­to­matic. So, un­sur­pris­ingly, the P10 per­forms best when you start tak­ing con­trol of its set­tings by way of the de­vice’s Pro mode.

Ac­ti­vated through a tab in Huawei’s cam­era app, the Pro mode pro­vides full con­trol of imag­ing pa­ram­e­ters such as me­ter­ing, shut­ter speed, ISO, white bal­ance, and man­ual fo­cus. There’s no aper­ture op­tion; how­ever, the ex­ist­ing op­tions pro­vide plenty to work with and would work well for be­gin­ners in need of a step­ping stone be­fore they stop shoot­ing auto. When shoot­ing a sta­tion­ary ob­ject — per­haps a still-life or a seated por­trait — you can opt to keep the shut­ter speed low and pri­or­i­tize other set­tings. Con­versely, if you’re shoot­ing on the street or in low light, you might key in a faster shut­ter speed to get the shot, hap­pily sac­ri­fic­ing some ISO in the process.

By checking the ‘RAW for­mat’ op­tion within the cam­era set­tings, both the RAW and JPEG for­mats will be saved to the in­ter­nal stor­age. Giv­ing you more con­trol over the im­age out­put, the dig­i­tal neg­a­tive file con­tains un­pro­cessed pixel data, di­rectly from the sen­sor. As no in­for­ma­tion is com­pressed with RAW, it means that you’ll be able to pro­duce higher-qual­ity im­ages, while prob­lem im­ages that would be un­re­cov­er­able if shot in JPEG can be cor­rected in Light­room.

MONO­CHROME MODE Le­ica is well known for its Le­ica M Monochrom, which also has a full black-and-white sen­sor — hav­ing a smart­phone that uti­lizes sim­i­lar tech­nol­ogy is great news for black-and-white shoot­ers. It’s clear that the favoured brand among street pho­tog­ra­phers has had in­put here; the Huawei P10 ren­ders black-and-white im­ages with a high level of clar­ity, wide dy­namic range, and grace­ful gra­da­tions from shadow to high­light.

The logic be­hind Huawei’s 20MP full mono­chrome sen­sor seems strange but is pretty straight­for­ward when you think about it: by re­mov­ing the tra­di­tional colour fil­ters in a typ­i­cal RGB im­age sen­sor, the light hits the im­age sen­sor at full spec­trum, un­fil­tered, al­low­ing the im­age sen­sor to col­lect all of the in­for­ma­tion. In prac­tice, this means greater sharp­ness, depth, and clar­ity.

AU­TO­MATIC OP­TIONS For those who still want to stick to their tried-and-true cam­era gear but want to get snap­ping with a phone that pro­duces strik­ing im­agery eas­ily, the P10 is a great op­tion. Soft­ware is a big rea­son that the P10’s pic­tures are su­perb; with ‘en­hanced fu­sion al­go­rithms’, the de­vice — at least in the­ory — pro­duces sharper and more vivid pho­tos than most other smart­phones cur­rently on the mar­ket.

The cam­era app fea­tures a trio of colour pro­files — Stan­dard, Vivid, and Smooth — that let you take richer, more sat­u­rated im­ages that are In­sta­gram-ready, with­out the need for edit­ing. It also senses groups and au­to­mat­i­cally switches to wide-an­gle shots when more peo­ple en­ter the pic­ture. And, in Por­trait mode, the P10’s dual-lens set-up cre­ates a 3D im­age of the sub­ject’s face, us­ing this to work out which parts of the im­age should be in fo­cus in or­der to cre­ate a dig­i­tal depth-of-field ef­fect. This ef­fect, which is ba­si­cally the il­lu­sion of bokeh, in­volves some hefty tech­nol­ogy to pro­duce, but, put sim­ply, in­volves ar­ti­fi­cial blur­ring post-cap­ture to cre­ate a shal­low depth-of-field ef­fect. Although noth­ing com­pares with the real deal — which only comes by way of a large-im­age-sen­sor-based cam­era with true large aper­ture lens — the P10 does a pretty good job at sim­u­lat­ing it.

Be­yond the cam­era, the P10 has a de­cent 64gb of stor­age, and a HiSil­i­con Kirin 960 octa-core pro­ces­sor cou­pled with Huawei’s Ul­tra Me­mory tech­nol­ogy that in­tel­li­gently al­lo­cates, re­cy­cles, and com­presses me­mory to en­sure that the de­vice al­ways per­forms at the peak of its game — even dur­ing fast-paced shoot­ing or when load­ing the apps you love. Its bat­tery is ex­tremely ca­pa­ble, too, last­ing an im­pres­sive 15 hours. All of this is en­cased within a slim 6.98mm pro­file and all-metal body, capped with a 5.1-inch full HD dis­play.

HUAWEI P10, 1/ 100S, F/ 2.2, ISO 100

HUAWEI P10, 1/ 35S, F2.2, ISO 250

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