Let me come clean with you by confessing that I am both a millennial and a technophobe.
When it comes to technology, my mantra is that if it works for you then why change. I’ve got my old favourites that I use in rotation and would be quite content to carry on utilising them – until I discovered how to work smarter and not harder. I’ve had my DSLR camera for about four years now and I’m still discovering things I never knew about it – but what about when you actually need a photographer in your pocket? Enter the Huawei P10 – a smartphone that has had the smarts to pair up with cult camera brand Leica in order to create one of the most impressive phone cameras I’ve ever experienced.
Launched into the South African market this past May, one of the key features of the P10 is the camera technology, which Huawei partnered with Leica to develop. And for those selfie-loving snappers, the P10’s front-facing camera has been enhanced to enable users to produce artistic portraits in a higher resolution and with twice the amount of light compared to other market-related smartphones. Which means no more grainy pouts. But considering my profession, let’s bring things back to food photography.
When I’m in my studio, I would normally use my DSLR for the majority of my shots but when you’re working predominantly with a 50mm 1.4 lens, those foodie-favourite top shots can be somewhat tricky to accomplish. What if you had a small hand-held device to help you with those complex pictures? Although I was initially wary of shooting any kind of content more serious than an Instagram Story on a phone, the Huawei P10 has left me pleasantly surprised. Sharp, clean and featuring an innovative depth-of-field function, the images I snapped on the P10 rivalled that of my DSLR camera and after seeing them blown up on my MacBook Retina, I can assuredly say that the image quality is right up there with the best. For someone like myself, the act of choosing a phone pivots around the camera function and so I tend to ignore any other attributes. Basically, as long as my new phone can make and receive calls and texts, is social app-enabled and has a kick-ass camera, then I’m a happy chap.
While I’ll never renege on my love for my DSLR, I do often find that using a camera of it’s size can be both limiting and awkward – especially when one finds themselves needing to shoot in a crowded restaurant. Usually any photographer would visit an eatery at strange times during the week so as to get the best shots when the location is at it’s quietest, but when you live in Cape Town every day is like a Saturday since the normal 9-5 seems to not apply here. I found this running joke to be true after meeting my friend Candice for a breakfast snap-session at Loop Street eatery Guilio’s Cafe. A slightly mizzly Monday morning – too late for breakfast and too early for lunch – usually means deathly quiet in most establishments. Not Guilio’s. Although from this celebrated cafe’s Instagram-worthy decor to it’s delicious continental Italian menu, you can totally understand why. Its at times like this where the convenience of shooting on a phone is preferable to a large DSLR that the Huawei P10 really comes into it’s own.
Being a fan of the dreamy depth-of-field that my DSLR’s 50mm lens allows me, I was initially concerned that I wouldn’t be able to achieve the same effect when using a phone. Fortuitously, the P10 has a wide aperture feature than really provides the selfsame effect as my lens. This means that any professional photographer looking to add a little ease into their repertoire can still enjoy their signature style without compromising on image quality. The control that the user has over aspects such as aperture, ISO, resolution and colour saturation, also mean that you’re essentially shooting in manual mode on your phone. And being able to have that kind of control changes the way one approaches smartphone photography.
Really getting into the swing of things, Candice and myself snapped all kinds of subjects on my P10 – from coffee to croissants to my curly mop of hair (with me grinning beneath it). Apart from my making slight changes in light, colour and resolution, the Huawei P10 was able to shoot everything we needed it to with aplomb. But don’t let my brief overview detract in any way from the rest of the phone’s features. Here’s a few other great aspects of the P10’s camera for all you technophiles out there:
- Dual lens camera consisting of 20-megapixel monochrome sensor with a 12-megapixel RGB sensor.
- Precise 3D facial detection: All-new intelligent facial recognition technology enables quicker, more accurate feature identification and focusing by using hundreds of detailed identification nodes.
- Portrait enhancement: The camera comes with a powerful facial enhancement algorithm developed for a variety of different face shapes and skin colors. This enables the camera to accurately detect facial features and apply customized effects for more professional-looking shots.
- Dynamic illumination: This auto-sensing algorithm monitors changes in the ambient lighting conditions and automatically adjusts the exposure of different parts of the image to add artistic flair to portraits.
- Bokeh effects: Featuring an enhanced wide aperture mode, the dual-lens camera creates stunning, natural-looking bokeh effects. Developed in collaboration with Leica, Huawei’s depth-of-field algorithm produces subjects with more defined edges while ensuring that the background remains blurred.
- Hybrid zoom: The 20 MP+12 MP dual-lens configuration with 2x optical zoom allows users to zoom in without compromising on image quality.
- The Huawei P10 and P10 Plus feature the world’s-first 8 MP Leica-certified front camera that detects the number of people in the viewfinder and automatically switches to wide-angle mode for group selfies.
Methinks that I’ll be getting really good at taking selfies now…