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Feature Articles

Huawei P30 Pro: What's up with this crazy camera!

By Zachary Chan - 7 Apr 2019

My blur is smoother than your blur

My blur is different than your blur

The last new sensor on the P30 Pro is the Time of Flight (ToF) sensor. While the P30 Pro isn’t the first phone to feature this technology (read our Honor View 20 review here), it is still relatively new to phones. The ToF sensor is basically a LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) which measures distance by the time it takes for light to bounce of objects. Yes, like sonar, but with light.

The main use of a ToF sensor is to allow the P30 Pro to shoot photos that not only have more realistic background blur, but also more dynamic, where different objects have varying degrees of blurring based on how far they are in the background. The ToF sensor will also enable more accurate 3D and AR in applications that support it.

Rear camera in portrait mode uses the ToF sensor to measure background object distance and applies a range of background blur, which feels smoother and more natural. It is also able to pick out individual strands of hair sticking out my head.

Shot with the front 32MP selfie camera. While the camera has a quad-bayer pixel binning sensor and HDR support, the single sensor has to rely on software background blur. Notice how splotchy the trees are rendered, as well as the usual universal blur mask applied around me, cutting off the top strands of hair.

One thing I've noticed however, is that Huawei's UI and UX game isn't there yet. They have the hardware capabilities, but focused heavily on AI and software automation. Because of this, the effects that you want may not always activate when you want it to because you have no control of how the AI reads the scene. In the example below, the phone is set to Portrait Mode with the Hearts bokeh effect, but I can get two very different shots because I'm at the mercy of how the AI reads the scene with no middle ground.

That's it for our quick preview of the camera system on the Huawei P30 Pro. Stay tuned for a more complete review of the phone in entirety as we run it through our usual assessment array.

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