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Huawei P30 Pro review: The camera alone is reason enough

By James Lu - 21 Apr 2019
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Camera features and imaging performance

Camera Features and Imaging Performance

Huawei and Leica have been pushing the envelope with smartphone photography for a few years now and the P30 Pro continues that trend with an innovative new quad camera setup.

The setup has a triple camera system on the main camera module. From top to bottom you get: a 20-megapixel f/2.2 ultrawide, a 40-megapixel f/1.6 wide, and finally an 8-megapixel f/3.4 telephoto with 5x optical zoom. Both the wide and telephoto lenses have optical image stabilization. The fourth camera is the ToF (Time of Flight) 3D lens, and is located to the right, just under the LED flash.

Top to bottom: a 20-megapixel f/2.2 ultrawide, a 40-megapixel f/1.6 wide, and finally an 8-megapixel f/3.4 telephoto with 5x optical zoom. The fourth camera is the ToF (Time of Flight) 3D lens, located under the LED flash.

The 20-megapixel ultrawide is the same lens we saw on the Mate 20 Pro. It has a 16mm equivalent focal length in 35mm terms, which gives it a very generous field of view of about 110 degrees.

f/2.2, 16mm (ultra-wide), ISO100, 1 sec

It also doubles up as a very useful macro lens (as seen on the Mate 20 Pro) with a focus distance as close as 2.5cm.

The new 40-megapixel wide angle is equipped with Sony's new SuperSensing sensor. It has a focal length of 27mm in 35mm terms, which is roughly equivalent to what the human eye sees. By default, it will generate super detailed 10-megapixel photos through pixel binning, but if you prefer, you can opt to save the full 40-megapixel image. The wide angle lens also uses a new RYYB color filter, which Huawei says collects more light than traditional RGGB filters, resulting in better low-light performance.

f/1.6, 27mm (wide), ISO50, 1/400 sec

The star of the show however is the new 8-megapixel telephoto lens. It has a unique periscope design that places the sensor to the right of the actual camera module. What you can see when you look at the lens is actually the back of the periscope lens' front element. There's no mirror here, the light is refracted at a 90-degree angle towards the sensor by a prism. The refracted light then passes through five additional lenses to get the final image.

The telephoto lens offers a focal length equivalent of 135mm (5x zoom over the main 27mm wide angle lens).

f/3.4, 135mm (5x zoom), ISO50, 1/100 sec

If you use Huawei's Hybrid Zoom, which combines digital and optical zoom, you can get a focal length of 270mm, or up to 10x zoom. Compare what details you can discern from 5x optical zoom (seen above) versus a 10x Hybrid Zoom below:-

f/3.4, 270mm (10x hybrid zoom), ISO50, 1/100 sec

It can even do up to 50x of pure digital zoom, for a ridiculous focal length of 1343mm. Obviously, image quality isn't great at this distance.

f/3.4, 1343mm (50x digital zoom), ISO50, 1/100 sec

The ToF camera is used for autofocus and Portrait Mode. It creates a depth map of what you're looking at, which allows for better edge detection and subject separation for generating bokeh.

Like the Mate 20 Pro, Huawei's default camera app is enhanced by Huawei's Master AI, which can now recognize and tune settings for up to 1,500 different scenes. The P30 Pro also includes basically every shooting mode you can think of, including HDR, Portrait, slow-motion video, time-lapse video, and the excellent Night Mode we first saw on the P20 Pro.

Image quality is excellent with great detail, true to life colors, and minimal noise and processing. Unlike many smartphone cameras, corners are sharp, and there's very little lens distortion. Don't be afraid to use the 10x hybrid zoom either, because unlike most digital zooms there's hardly any loss in image quality, and thanks to the optical image stabilization it can capture tack sharp images fairly easily. Here's how the below photos compare against Huawei's very own Mate 20 Pro, here and here respectively.

Click for full-size image.

 

For even more camera imaging performance notes and sample images, check out our earlier firsthand experience with the Huawei P30 Pro in Paris.

9.0
  • Design 9
  • Features 9
  • User-Friendliness 9
  • Performance 8.5
  • Value 8.5
The Good
Versatile quad camera setup with incredible image performance
Up to 50x digital zoom
Longest battery life around
Super fast 40W charging and 15W wireless charging
Reverse wireless charging
Gorgeous curved AMOLED display with tiny notch
Bone conduction "Acoustic Display" speaker
Fast and reliable in-display fingerprint scanner
The Bad
Only Full HD+ resolution
No stereo speakers
No headphone jack
Proprietary memory card
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