Generally speaking, high-end phones excel in terms of design, performance, connectivity options, and overall experience, but camera systems still remain the primary differentiators and what primarily motivate buyers to shell out the high-end price.
In their bid to bring in iterative refinements, we have seen manufacturers increase their reliance on multiple camera sensors in the last one year. Huawei P30 Pro, however, takes the game to a whole new level by pushing these extra sensors to unprecedented extremes.
But all that’s on paper. Is the Huawei P30 Pro camera better than what we have on phones like Samsung Galaxy S10+ (review) and Google Pixel 3? Let’s discuss in our Huawei P30 Pro camera review.
Huawei P30 Pro Camera Review: Hardware
- 40MP primary sensor (1/1.7-inch), f/1.6 aperture, OIS, RYYB filter to draw in more light
- 20MP Ultra Wide Angle Sensor, f/2.2
- 8MP sensor with 125 mm telephoto lens, Periscope-style assembly, 5X optical zoom, 10X lossless zoom, OIS, f/3.4,
- ToF sensor for depth sensing
- 32MP selfie camera, f/2.0 aperture
Huawei P30 Pro Camera Review: Color Modes and AI
Even before we begin discussing the camera quality, you need to know the color preset options.
On the viewfinder, P30 Pro has the option to switch between ‘Standard’, ‘Vivid’, and ‘Smooth’ colors. Standard colors are close to natural. Vivid mode oversaturates color tones, but you may still prefer this setting for some pics you’d want to post on social media. Smooth color mode is somewhere in between the two and we are guessing this is the mode most consumers would stick to as default option.
Colors further shift when you zoom in. So, it can be a bit challenging to settle on a particular profile at the start.
In this article, almost all samples are shot with standard color preset.
Also, there is an option to enable or disable AI. AI recognized objects and tweaks color settings accordingly. Unlike on Honor phones, there is no option to turn off AI in post-processing or after you have shot an image.
On P30 Pro, AI refinements are subtle more often than not, so you may keep it enabled by default. But it can stumble at times. For instance, the above image that excesses on pink flowers can be a nightmare for all AI algorithms and the P30 Pro understandably fumbles.
Huawei P30 Pro camera review: Super Zoom
Super Zoom is the mode we can’t have enough of. It’s really magical how far the Huawei P30 Pro, equipped with a periscope-like lens assembly, can see. Before we scrutinize the quality of Zoom shots, let’s talk about the range of the Zoom lens on P30 Pro.
The 1X image doesn’t show the ‘Crossword’ storefront, though we could still see it with our naked eyes.
The 5X image (optical zooms) gives a better view of the storefront. A closer view as compared to what we could directly see.
The 10X image (Hybrid zoom) reveals details we couldn’t make out with our naked eyes
24X zoom revealed markings and labels on the bookshelves
The 50X zoom (digital zoom) takes us further closer, and we are reasonably sure that a tripod would have helped us read the names of one or two shelved books too.
As for the quality of Zoomed images on Huawei P30 Pro, shots clicked at 5X and 10X zoom are perfectly useable. The following image shows a 5X shot and its 100% crop. Details are awesome.
The telephoto camera has OIS and can imitate focal length ranging from 135mm to 1343mm.
Beyond 15X, you can use the P30 Pro to gawk at objects at a distance or read text on a far off board, but the image quality deteriorates significantly. To capture any image beyond 23X, you will need to stabilize your hands or use a tripod.
And yes, the superzoom doesn’t work as good in dark and in low light.
Huawei P30 Pro camera review: Daylight shots
As expected, shots clicked in daylight turned out amazing. Details are excellent, metering is remarkable and dynamic range is wide. The daylight performance is certainly at par with the best flagships out there.
The dynamic range and details captured in long shots (above) are marvelous, but as you can see in the image below, AI can sometimes go overboard.
We noticed that the Huawei P30 Pro is comparatively slower than our Galaxy S10+ when it comes to locking focus for close-ups and macro shots, even if you use the dedicated super macro mode.
Huawei P30 Pro camera review: Indoor shots
Indoors, under artificial lighting, the camera performance remains awesome. The shots we effortlessly clicked are really stunning. Of course, we will need to go into nuances to check how the camera performance holds against the likes of Galaxy S10 or Pixel 3.
The camera can lock focus quickly and understands tricky lighting really well.
Huawei P30 Pro camera review: Lowlight and Night Shots
The real test for flagship cameras comes with low light and night time shots. To improve lowlight performance Huawei uses an innovative RYYB filter on the primary 40MP camera sensor.
The use of Yellow instead of Green allows the P30 Pro to draw in 30% more light. And the wide f/1.6 aperture further helps draw another extra 10 percent.
As you can see in the image above, the intricate details of Kiosk lit in the garden have been brilliantly captured. And the night mode (below) takes things up to a whole new level!
So, long story short – Huawei’s claims do add up. The lowlight camera performance on Huawei P30 Pro is excellent, and it can certainly draw more light than our Galaxy S10+.
Huawei P30 Pro camera review: Portraits
The portrait mode on Huawei P30 Pro often triggers on its own as soon as the camera detects a face. You may also choose between various lighting effects.
Edge detection is flagship grade, which is to say it’s almost perfect. You can change the intensity of blur from image edit options but not before shooting. By default, the blur is a little too intense.
Huawei P30 Pro camera review: Wide-angle lens
One of the quad cameras is dedicated for ultra wide-angle shots. The camera app prompts you to quickly switch to wide-angle mode wherever it makes sense, and this is particularly helpful. The camera software is smart enough to remove edge distortions while shooting in the wide-angle mode.
Huawei P30 Pro camera review: HDR
There is no Auto HDR mode on the Huawei P30 Pro. In fact, the HDR option is buried deep under “More” options and thus HDR isn’t all that accessible. Huawei claims to use AI-HDR.
Having said that, we didn’t feel like we were missing anything. The dynamic range is fabulous as is. With AI mode turned on, the dynamic range feels better.
Huawei P30 Pro Selfie Camera Review
The 32MP selfie camera can capture natural images (once you turn off all the beautify enhancements). The software-powered portrait mode for selfies doesn’t work very well.
Huawei P30 Pro other camera modes
Apart from the highlighted and more useful modes that we have discussed, the P30 Pro lists a plethora of other options in the camera app including light painting, AR Lens, super macro mode, and even an underwater mode.
While most of these are superfluous extras, a few like Document, time lapse, Stickers, etc. are ones you’d occasionally require.
Huawei P30 Pro Camera Review: Verdict
In our opinion, the mark of a great camera is how often you are compelled to draw it out. We keep looking for excuses to pull out our Huawei P30 Pro and are truly smitten. The handset is choke full of camera innovations and the software still manages to keep things simple at the user end. We managed to shoot awesome shots without putting in much work.
Figuring out the right color mode preference took us a while, but we gradually settled for Standard colors. The Super Zoom is unlike what we have seen on any other phone till date, and the low light performance is excellent. The camera also manages to capture an impressive amount of details across all shooting modes and options.
It wouldn’t be farfetched to say that Huawei P30 Pro offers better overall camera experience than S10+, though the later has a few merits of its own. We’d say that the Huawei P30 Pro sets a high benchmark for upcoming 2019 flagships.