Huawei P9 Camera Review

The Huawei P9 smartphone, recently launched in May 2016, garnered a lot of attention around the world with their dual camera lens system in collaboration with Leica. When I first read about the announcement about the Huawei P9 smartphone, I was excited with their dual lens system and their collaboration with Leica, a world famous camera brand.

Recently, I got an opportunity to review the Huawei P9 smartphone camera and I am thankful for the two weeks plus that I had with this smartphone. What happened was that my iPhone 6 had a very bad apps crash and it kind of damaged my rear facing camera and flashlight. Therefore, I wasn’t able to do any live updates with photographs and my Instagram became Latergram. The Huawei P9 provided me with the opportunity to do my mobile phone photography during that two weeks plus review period.

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The Huawei P9 provided me this opportunity to test and review it. In this article, I would concentrate on the camera review on the Huawei P9 while the other segment of the review (aesthetics, user interface) has been completed in an earlier article on my personal blog covering technology and other personal areas of interest.

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Huawei P9 smartphone camera is amazing for its technical specifications and photography system packed inside that beautifully designed and well built smartphone at the size of my palm. During my two weeks plus review period, I had a very interesting and fun time with the Huawei P9, producing some pretty good quality photographs straight out from the smartphone without any further editing. Huawei had been using these slogan “Reinventing Smartphone Photography” in their website and from my short review stint with the Huawei P9, indeed, it can and I think it would reinvent smartphone photography.

In an earlier article that I shared on my personal blog, the Huawei P9 press release article, let me recap some key information and details –

Integrating the design values and engineering excellence of both Huawei and Leica in a smartphone photography system co-engineered by the two companies, the P9 brings together best-in-class hardware and software, from optical lenses and sensors, to image processing algorithms, empowering users to capture the highest-quality images.

Key to the P9’s superlative imaging capabilities is a dual-camera design that fully unleashes the power of Leica’s optical lenses, renowned for precision and attention to detail, and subject to the industry’s most stringent quality screening requirements. The RGB camera on the P9 specializes in capturing color, while the monochrome camera is outstanding at acquiring picture detail. The two rear cameras of the P9 work in tandem to enable users to create images of superior detail, depth and color. The P9 truly excels in low-light conditions, as the dual-camera design guarantees that more light and detail can be captured.

There are many features packed inside the Huawei P9 smartphone camera.

Swipe left on the main camera screen, you can see 14 modes that you can choose from – Photo, Monochrome, Beauty, Video, HDR, Beauty Video, Panorama, Night Shot, Light Painting, Time-Lapse, Slow-Mo, Watermark, Audio Note and Document Readjustment

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Swipe Right on the main camera screen, there are

  1. Settings
  2. In Photo mode, you can shoot in RAW (not available in other modes)
  3. Resolution – 12M, 9M, 8M, 6M
  4. Film mode – Standard, Vivid Colours, Smooth Colours
  5. Camera grid – Off / Grid / Phi Grid / Fibonacci Spiral (Left) / Fibonacci Spiral (Right)

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On the main camera screen, you can use Full Auto, Pro (almost full Manual) mode, Virtual Aperture (similar to Aperture priority) mode.

When using Pro mode, you can control and change the settings that you desire except the aperture is at f/2.2

  1. 3 metering modes – Weighted, Partial, Spot
  2. ISO – Auto or 50-3200
  3. Shutter speed – Auto or 30s to 1/4000s
  4. EV – -4.0 to +4.0
  5. AF-S , AF-C and MF
  6. White balance options – Auto, Cloudy, Tungsten, Sunlight, User Define 1

In Virtual Aperture mode, you can adjust the aperture range from – f/16 to f/0.95, however the other settings cannot be changed.

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Other key points to highlight

  1. EXIF information available and it’s very useful. It’s very similar to the information and data that you see on compact digital cameras, mirrorless cameras and DSLRs.
  2. Further editing can be done on the phone itself e.g. Rotate/Crop/Filter/Splash/Illusion/Adjust/Beauty/Mosaic/Graffiti/Watermark/Label

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What are the key factors to me that make the Huawei P9 camera stands out?

  1. Film mode (Vivid colours) – the photographs are bright, colourful and rich. I like this particular mode a lot.
  2. Fibonacci Spiral (Left or Right) – this is great for those starting out in photography to learn one the rules of composition, the Fibonacci Spiral is an absolute classic to make them learn. I believe that even for seasoned and professional photographers, the Fibonacci Spiral comes in useful when using the Huawei P9 to compose their photographs.
  3. Monochrome mode – I love it, straight out from the Huawei P9 smartphone. On a personal note and my own personal preferences, I felt that they were good enough to be uploaded and shared with my readers on my various social media channels and platforms. However, I can understand that if there are comments/views that post editing can be done/should be done to make the monochrome photographs better or edited in a different B&W style, I also agree and I would look into it at a later time.
  4. Many customisable functions of the main camera screen, you can be fully automatic or (almost) full manual.
  5. 14 modes to choose from when you swipe to the left of the main camera screen.
  6. Choose from Full Auto, Pro Mode (almost full manual), Virtual Aperture (almost aperture priority)
  7. In Panoramic mode, you can take also take using landscape mode panorama beside portrait mode panorama.
  8. Easy to use once you get the hang of the camera app, I reckon photographers would love it.
  9. Small and lightweight, ideal for mobile street photography

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There are a few points that I don’t really like is

  1. Noise level at high ISO
  2. Battery heating up when using the smartphone and I need to slow down, allowing it to cool down before continuing to use it

Huawei P9 and P9 Plus were born from the results of a first collaboration between Huawei and Leica, following from an agreement of a long term partnership that was announced in February. Leica has been deeply involved in the development of the Huawei P9 and P9 Plus, with significant technological collaboration on many aspects of the camera, in the areas of optical design, imaging quality, image data processing and mechanical construction of the camera module to the graphic user interface. In this collaboration, we can see the high quality and standards from the dual camera lens system powered by Huawei and Leica deep collaboration, seen inside the Huawei P9 smartphone through their Hybrid Focus Technology, 12MP dual BSI CMOS sensors and image processing algorithm. The photographs that I took, produced by the Huawei P9, through this special and deep collaboration between Huawei and Leica, are a testimonial to the quality of the dual camera lens system and technology inside it.

The photographs that I took and shared on my 500px, Flickr and Instagram photography sites were not edited any further on the computer or any other software. They were straight out from the Huawei P9 smartphone camera system. I would leave it to the readers to view the photographs and have an understanding of the potential (and real) quality of the photographs taken with the Huawei P9 smartphone camera. Post processing/editing can be a very personal preference matter and also can be very subjective. The quality of the photographs that I took with the Huawei P9 were good and I was able to share it with my followers and readers on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook without any worries of post processing on my part.

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The Huawei P9 is not going to replace my current photography system setup. However, it has a place in my overall technology, business and photography setup. In my personal humble opinion, the Huawei P9 is an excellent smartphone for both leisure/business users and also for photographers, people like me who would love to have the best of both worlds of work and mobile phone photography inside the Huawei P9.

To me, as a photographer, a technology gadgets enthusiast, a person on the move handling marketing and social media, the Huawei P9 is an excellent smartphone choice that I am most likely going to own it down the road. While it would not replace my iPhone 6, it would most likely to co-exist with my iPhone when I decide to work with 2 mobile phone numbers, one for work and one for personal using a combination of one iOS smartphone and one Android smartphone, capturing the best of both worlds.

I would like to thank Huawei Singapore and Ogilvy Public Relations for the opportunity to review the Huawei P9 smartphone.


Created with flickr slideshow.

 


Created with flickr slideshow.

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