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

By Zachary Chan - 7 Apr 2019

My color is different than yours

The game-changing SuperSpectrum Sensor

If you’ve seen my unboxing video, I’ve talked about how the P30 Pro (and P30) feature a brand new 40MP SuperSpectrum sensor that bucks convention of a traditional RGB Bayer filter array, which is used by just about every digital camera in existence today and replaces the Green channel with Yellow. Instead of an RGB (RGBG in a Bayer array), the P30 series boasts of an RYB (or RYBY in a Bayer array) sensor.

According to Huawei, because the Yellow filter is able to absorb both red and blue light channels, it is able to provide more vibrant photos on both ends of the warm and cool spectrums. The new sensor is also 40% more light sensitive, greatly improving low-light capabilities.

Instead of taking the latest off-the-shelf Sony IMX sensor like everyone else, Huawei ordered a custom bespoke sensor that only their phones will have. While it is arguable that RYB is really any better than RGB—there must be some reason why camera manufacturers haven’t ventured from RGB since the early days of digital photography—it is different, unique, and rebellious, and that may be all that matters.

Here's the thing though, (on both the P30 Pro and P30) only the main 40MP camera has this new RYBY sensor, but the ultra wide and zoom cameras still use standard RGB sensors. This means that there will be color discrepancies between shots when you switch between focal lengths. It also means that whatever benefits Huawei claims you'd get from the P30 Pro is only applied to photos shot with the main camera.  What I'm hoping to see from Huawei is an earnest effort to tweak the color profile of its cameras so that the difference between lenses are not so apparent.

All examples below are direct photos from the 40MP SuperSpectrum sensor and cropped shots RGB 20MP Ultrawide. Photos from the 40MP sensor are definitely punchier with greater dynamic range so they don't look as flat. 

40MP SuperSpectrum sensor.

RGB 20MP Ultrawide (cropped).

40MP SuperSpectrum sensor.

RGB 20MP Ultrawide (cropped).

Here's another example of the amazing low light capabilities of the P30 Pro. The top picture is from the main 40MP SuperSpectrum sensor, while the bottom is a cropped shot from the 20MP Ultrawide sensor. When I mentioned colors felt punchier, I don't just mean reds. Just look at how it renders the night sky. There is visibly less noise with greater detail retention and dynamic range even on fine details.

40MP SuperSpectrum sensor.

RGB 20MP Ultrawide (cropped).

I do however notice a halo effect that appears in some pictures. This could be a side effect of the various image and frame re-compositions that the phone applies, but it is annoying that it can just show up. This is most apparent when you have contrasting objects and backgrounds. You can actually see it in the two Eiffel Tower images above between the sky and the trees, but the images below better illustrate what I'm talking about:-

The top image seems totally fine, while the bottom image has a very apparent halo around the subject, where the grass color is completely different.

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