Tag Archives: Huawei P9 Review

Hokkaido 2016 Photography Adventure Day 4

24th October 2016 – Day 4 Otaru -> Mikasa -> Ashibetsu -> Furano -> Biei

Day 4 marks the start of another new photography adventure in Hokkaido! I am on a photography tour planned for the next 4 days by my friend, Tsuyoshi Kato, who is also a Hokkaido Photo Guide. I first knew Kato san in November 2014 during my first visit to Hokkaido as part of the Central/Eastern Hokkaido familiarisation trip. Kato san is very knowledgable and experienced in planning for photographers who want to visit locations around Hokkaido for an unforgettable photography experience. I decided to engage Kato-san’s professional photography tour services for the next four days as I would love to explore different locations around Hokkaido whereby photographers love to visit.

Departing from my hotel Dormy Premium Inn Otaru, Kato-san’s plan for today was to visit the Furano and Biei region and we started the drive from Otaru towards Furano and Biei, making stops along Mikasa and Ashibetsu for some pretty interesting sceneries and landscapes!

Mikasa

On the car journey from Otaru to Biei, we passed by Mikasa City, this used to be a thriving and prosperous area with the coal mining industry pushing the local economy. Today, the coal mining industry is no longer in operation and this area had been quiet since then.

The Old Pombetsu Coal Mine

Kato-san made a quick stop to show me the Old Pombetsu Coal Mine. The former coal mining buildings and structures are still standing there and it is now closed to the public. There is a informative signboard that had maps, old photos and a short write up of the history on the Old Pombetsu Coal Mine.

Lake Katsurazawa

We continued our journey towards Furano, driving through roads that showcased distinct weather and climate of Hokkaido. In some areas, that would be snow falling on the forest/trees and they really made a very beautiful scenery with the autumn leaves on the branches that had not fallen yet. Another 20-30 minutes drive down the road, the sceneries and landscape might change into autumn only, no snow at all. This is a beauty of Hokkaido that I will always remember, the season can change in just some distance away.

Kato-san stopped at Lake Katsurazawa, it’s a beautiful location surrounded by forests, quiet and tranquil. The colourful autumn leaves can be seen in full foliage around the lake, making it a good spot for photographing the autumn season in Hokkaido. However, the water is brownish and unlike some of the other beautiful clear blue lakes in Hokkaido. The water is not free flowing because it is a large artificial lake created by the Katsurazawa Dam. Even though the water may not look as beautiful like some of her other counterparts in other areas of Hokkaido, the beautiful forests surrounding it would make it a place to visit during the other seasons.

Ashibetsu

Sandandaki Waterfall /三段滝(Google Map location: https://goo.gl/maps/CByHFsf3Jnz)

Leaving Mikasa, entered into Ashibetsu first before reaching Furano. That was a location in Ashibetsu that Kato-san brought me to. It’s a waterfall with 3 sections thus the name Sandandaki Waterfall /三段滝.

A gorgeous location, while the weather was a bit overcast, we were able to spot the colourful trees surrounding both sides of the river, the 3 sections of the waterfall and the downstream after that. The path to the lookout point/hut that can get you close to the waterfall and the downward stream was a bit wet and slippery due to the wet weather.

When we finished photographing and about to leave, snow fell from the sky with a bit of gusty cold wind blowing. The weather in Hokkaido can change pretty quickly in the blink of an eye sometimes.

Furano

Continuing our journey, we drove into Furano. My first impression was a flat and wide valley ground, surrounded by 2 mountain ranges on the sides, Mt Yubari, Mt Ashibetsu and Mt Furano-Nishi on one side and Mt Furano, Mt Tokachi, Mt Tomuraushi, Mt Chubetsu, Mt Hiragatake (Daisetuzan National Park side).

Living at the bottom of a valley can get really really cold during winter, from my experiences when I went skiiing in New South Wales, Australia, many years ago. Mt Kosciuszko (Perisher Blue) wasn’t too cold at the top when I was skiing yet when I reached Canberra, I was kind of freezing (in the night).

Furano had many farms growing different kind of crops. This area is a very popular destination during spring and summer, I can understand why. The entire area in summer season would be packed with crops ready for harvesting. For those growing flowers, the colourful and beautiful flowers would brighten up the whole place. I would love to visit Furano during the summer season and hope to do it some day in the future!

Torinuma Park  

Our first destination in Furano is Torinuma Park. Upon arrival, I was greeted by good weather, I saw clear blue sky, sunshine with cloud cover! This good weather made me very excited, I had overcast sky, snow, rain and chilly winds for my first four days in Hokkaido. The beautiful sunlight cast the colourful autumn leaves on the leaves into something magical, green, yellow, red and orange colour leaves against the beautiful clear blue sky. I was ecstatic and blown away, this was the autumn that I had been seeking when I arrived in Hokkaido.

We explored the forest surrounding the lake at Torinuma Park. There were some great places to take photographs from different spots with different perspectives, when the strong winds blew across, the leaves dropped and fell onto the lake, providing the lake with a pretty layer of colourful leaves on its water.

Lunch – Shinasoba ramen by Shinatora

One of my favourite Japanese food is Ramen and during that afternoon, I was brought to this local ramen shop in Furano, the name of the ramen shop is Shinatora, their shop speciality is a soup base mix of pork and fish! When I had my first taste of the Shinasoba ramen, I was in heaven!! This special and unique ramen is really oishii!! Ramen is an absolute delight during the cold autumn/winter seasons, hot and heartwarming.

Rokugo Viewing Platform / Kyohsai Farm (Furano Jam Garden)

With such a delicious and hot ramen lunch inside us, Kato-san brought me to the area near the foot of the Mt Tokachi / Mt Furano mountain range where the famous Kyohsai Farm / Furano Jam Garden was located, they had some many different types of jam for sale, along with a nice café to have coffee while resting at the same time. Although I didn’t buy any jam, I would love to come back during summer and visit this place again! Kato-san said this place is very popular during summer season!

Behind Furano Jam Garden, there was a small dirt road leading up towards a small hill, suitable for cars to drive up the small dirt road. On the road upwards, there was a famous lone tree that stood out from the row of forests beside the road. From the ground up perspective, the lone tree looked like it’s “floating”!

On top of the hill, there were farm lands, we visitors must be careful and considerate, not to trespass and trample onto the farm lands because we might destroy the crops and hurt the farmers livelihood and hard work.

There was an open area with a nice hut on the top of the hill, known as Rokugo Viewing Platform. The view up there was breathtaking, a great panoramic view of Furano. The cold autumn winds were blowing hard at us and I was freezing again when the cold winds hitted me! However, I was greeted by another iconic scene of Hokkaido, the light rays shining through the clouds onto the land.

There was another monologue tree nearby the Rokugo Viewing Platform, used by television company for some of their drama productions! It’s a very famous and iconic tree!

Mizusawa, Biei

The sky was turning dark as Kato-san drove up towards in the direction of Biei. A tale of two seasons in Hokkaido, separated by maybe 30km, from autumn into winter season. It was close to sunset timing when we arrived at this spot in Biei, snow was falling and it was cold around -1° (it’s not the coldest yet for Biei, Hokkaido).

There was a small farm house up on the hill, standing alone in the midst of the snow covered fields. While the small house stands alone in the open, it’s not alone at all, the role and significance cannot be underestimated. Somehow, I am always able to relate to lone/single objects e.g. lone tree, lone house etc etc … We might be monologue / single at times, however we are not alone because we attract the things around us to come to us.

Driving down a short distance from the small farm house, Kato san made a stop beside an open field between two forests. There were two trees that stood out in between the two forests. I stood there, enjoying the sceneries, peace, quiet and tranquility. It was really cold for me because I wasn’t really suited for winter season. After taking a few photographs, I stood there and enjoyed the moment while I am freezing myself out there (due to the chilly wind and rain).

The sun had set for the day, we also made our way to our hotel in Nakafurano, had our dinner, enjoyed the onsen and had a good night sleep.

Hokkaido Autumn 2016 Day 4 


Created with flickr slideshow.

Hokkaido Autumn 2016


Created with flickr slideshow.

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.

IMG_20160629_155051

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.

bdr

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

Screenshot_2016-06-27-17-03-14

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)

Screenshot_2016-06-27-17-03-32

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.

Screenshot_2016-06-27-16-50-01

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

Screenshot_2016-06-27-17-04-34

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

Screenshot_2016-06-27-16-55-15

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.

cof

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.