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Huawei P30 Pro smartphone hands-on review

Huawei reinforces its claim to the smartphone photography crown with the new P30 Pro

Note the square lens on the left of the three camera lens array; that’s the folded optics telephoto. The fourth ToF camera is below the triple

Key points:

  • Quadruple cameras: three photo cameras plus a ToF (Time Of Flight) 3D sensing camera
  • No more mono camera
  • Radical new SuperSpectrum 40MP camera sensor enables remarkable low light capability
  • Longer 125mm (5x) telephoto lens thanks to clever folded optics
  • Mate 20 Pro style 16mm (0.6x) ultra wide-angle lens
  • Almost 100% 6.5 inch display apart from a ‘tear drop’ style micro-notch for the selfie-camera
  • On-screen optical fingerprint sensor (don’t worry it’s better than the Mate 20 Pro’s)
  • No 3D face-sensor (Mate 20 Pro) so face-unlock will be less-efficient and less-secure
  • Mate 20 Pro style extra-large 4200mAh battery and fast 40W Supercharging
  • Mate 20 Pro style wireless charging with reverse charge mode
Notice the 10x zoom indicator.

Improving on the already remarkable P20 Pro

A year ago Huawei built on its already established reputation for photography innovation in smartphones with the P20 Pro. This was the first triple-camera smartphone, featuring a 40 megapixel sensor and a mono camera, plus remarkable low-light capabilities. It also brought AI smartness to the fore.

Today, Huawei has unveiled the P30 Pro, and what a successor it is. I’ve had the privilege of being briefed by Huawei in advance, which included hands-on use of pre-production samples, though no images taken with these were allowed to be retained.

A radical new image sensor and a cleverly implemented telephoto camera, plus a fourth ToF camera/sensor, top the list of exciting new features the P30 Pro can boast. Here’s my hands-on preview:

Seeing in the dark and that new sensor

It was widely speculated that Huawei would opt for Sony’s new 38 megapixel Exmor RS IMX607, which features a modified Bayer filter array that incorporates white, as well as red, green and blue (RGB) pixel filters. White (colourless) filters increase light transmission and the effective sensitivity of the sensor.

Using the P30 Pro to shoot in almost complete darkness and this is the result.

 

The darkness test scene taken with a Mate 20 Pro

So imagine our surprise when we were told that the P30 Pro uses a sensor that substitutes all the green filters in the Bayer array for yellow filters. Yellow filters transmit substantially more light than green filters. You could call this a RYB filter.

Huawei says this enables the effective maximum ISO sensitivity rating of the sensor to be raised from ISO 102400 on the P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro to 409600 ISO, or two stops (EVs) extra sensitivity. That’s four times more sensitivity.

To back up this seemingly outlandish claim Huawei invited us to use pre-production P30 Pros in an almost completely darkened room. Lo and behold, the P30 Pro was able to record discernable images in what appeared to be almost total darkness.

I also tried a Mate 20 Pro at the same time and virtually nothing recorded on the image.

Under those conditions the picture quality wasn’t great but I’d certainly be thankful of being able to take a picture, without the need for flash, in certain circumstances, when a typical camera would be unable to.

I can’t wait to see for myself if the extra sensitivity of the sensor can be harnessed to improve quality in more realistic low light shooting conditions.

You might think that using yellow instead of green Bayer Filter Array pixels would be a recipe for chromatic disaster. While we were unable to bring shots taken with the pre-production sample devices away with us to show you in this preview article, examination of the P30 Pro results in-phone at the time revealed no obvious colour anomalies.

Indeed, top pro photographer and Leica ambassador, Alex Lambrechts, who has used the older P20 Pro extensively, told me the colour and tonal quality he has been seeing in P30 Pro images is discernibly better than the P20 Pro.

We just have to find out if that’s because the P30 Pro’s new 6.47 inch AMOLED display is better, or maybe the camera and the display are both improved. Alex also says the photographic aperture blur/bokeh effects are processed in a more pleasing way.

What is the ToF camera for?

We’ve already seen a ToF camera on Huawei’s sub-brand model, the Honor View20. Samsung followed this example in its Galaxy S10+.

So what is ToF? It stands for Time of Flight – think of it as a kind of radar or sonar using invisible LED or laser light, transmitted in pulses. This light is reflected back and the time it takes to return to the ToF camera sensor can be calculated in real time as a distance between the phone and whatever reflected it back to the phone.

ToF cameras are like digital cameras and they have thousands of sensor photosites and each one can record a distance value, building up a three-dimensional view of what the camera sees. And it can do this in real time.

It’s really accurate and potentially better than existing optical image-reliant measuring apps, like Google Measure. You will be able to use it to measure in one and two dimensions and also three, for volume.

ToF capability will also boost the power of AR (Augmented Reality) where 3D computer-generated animated graphics are blended with a real scene.

The Honor View20 prioritises the use of its ToF camera for gaming; you can model your own body and a game can then sense your body motion for real-time avatar control.

I understand that on the P30 Pro the ToF camera aids the optical cameras to more-precisely sense object boundaries so artificial background blur/aperture algorithms make less mistakes. I suspect that the ToF camera can also assist in focusing and object/scene sensing in dark conditions.

Folded telephoto optics

The P30 Pro’s extra-long 125mm (native optical 5x) equivalent telephoto lens camera would have required an unsightly lump in the phone’s otherwise slimline form. Telephoto lenses, by their very nature, have to be long. So Huawei and Leica went for a folded-optics arrangement.

Folded optic lenses in other more conventional digital cameras have also been around for a long time and for the same reason, to fit a powerful telephoto lens into a slim camera body.

This means the lens elements are stacked 90 degrees between the front and back of the device. A key benefit is that there is less of a compromise on the optical design forced on engineers trying to keep the optics as short as possible.

To enable the lens to see in the same direction as the other cameras, a 90 degree prism is used at the top of the lens stack, resembling a periscope. You can tell which is the tele lens because the prism is square rather than round on the camera array.

As far as I know this is a first for a contemporary smartphone. Apple did patent a folded optic layout for an iPhone optical zoom lens a couple of years back, though it hasn’t been demonstrated yet. The P30 Pro telephoto lens is a fixed-focal length lens, though seamless bybrid optical and digital zooming is possible in conjunction with the other cameras from 16mm (0.6x) to 125 mm (5x).  A lower resolution 10x tele mode is also provide and there is even a 50x mode for emergency use.

The P30 Pro’s telephoto camera has a resolution of 8MP, is optically stabilised (OIS) and has a native optical equivalence to a 125mm lens, or 5x the main 27mm (1x) 40MP camera lens. 10x and 50x digital zoom options are available. The ultra-wide camera is equivalent to a 16mm lens (full frame), or 0.6x.

There is another tweak to the main camera, which now has a faster (brighter) aperture of f/1.6 compared to f/1.8 on the P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro.

The P30 Pro next to a Mate 20 Pro

Comparing the P30 Pro with the P20 Pro and the Mate 20 Pro

P30 Pro P20 Pro Mate 20 Pro
Screen size 6.5 inches 6.1 inches 6.4 inches
Resolution 1080 x 2240 1080 x 2240 (408ppi) 1440 x 3120 (538 ppi)
Curved edge display Yes No Yes
Camera 1 40MP SuperSpectrum 27mm f/1.6 (1x) 40MP 1/1.7” 27mm f/1.8 (1x) 40MP 1/1.7” 27mm f/1.8 (1x)
Camera 2 20 MP 1/2.7” 16mm ultrawide f/2.2 (0.6x) 20MP 1/2.7” 27mm f/1.6 MONO (1x) 20 MP 1/2.7” 16mm ultrawide f/2.2 (0.6x)
Camera 3 8MP 135mm f/3.4 OIS (5x) 8MP 1/4” 80mm f/2.4 OIS (3x) 8MP 1/4” 80mm f/2.4 OIS (3x)
ToF camera sensor Yes (back facing) N/A Front facing proximity
Selfie camera 32MP 24MP 26mm f/2.0 24MP 26mm f/2.0
Face/selfie depth sensor N/A N/A IR dot projector
Laser focusing Yes Yes Yes
Chipset HiSilicon Kirin 980 HiSilicon Kirin 970 HiSilicon Kirin 980
Battery 4200 mAh 4000 mAh 4200 mAh
Supercharging 40W 22.5W 40W
Wireless charging 15W with reverse mode N/A 15W with reverse mode
Headphone socket No No No
Fingerprint sensor In-display (improved) Front below display In-display
Water/dust resistance IP68 IP67 IP68

 

Other features

Fingerprint sensor

The in-screen fingerprint sensor on the Mate 20 Pro was a cool entry on the features list and a headline-grabber, but in reality it was slower and less-reliable than the P20 Pro’s conventional scanner built into a button-like pad below the display.

Huawei P30 Pro showing in-screen fingerprint scan position

The P30 Pro also has an in-screen fingerprint scanner but I am cautiously optimistic it has been significantly improved after trying it on a pre-production device. It’s also further down the display, which – personally – I feel is a more sensible position.

 

I certainly hope my initial impressions are confirmed because the P30 Pro doesn’t inherit the 3D face sensing IR dot projector of the Mate 20 Pro, which makes that phone fast and secure at face-unlocking, even in darkness.

The P30 Pro relies solely on the selfie-camera, which is less secure and not likely to work in low light.

Power

The P30 Pro borrows all the power goodies from the Mate 20 Pro, including the huge 4200 mAh battery, 40W charger, wireless charging and reverse wireless charging so you can top-up other devices from your phone. With Huawei’s more efficient HiSilicon Kirin 980 chip-set, more processing grunt isn’t at the cost of huge battery drain.

Display

Resolution remains at 1080 x 2240 for the AMOLED screen, which is marginally larger (6.47 inches) than the P20 Pro, so you don’t get the super-fine res display of the Mate 20 Pro, but it’s an impressive looking display, nonetheless.

Huawei P30 Pro

It’s also a curved-edge display, which may polarise opinion. I like this because it makes Android Pie 9 gesture navigation from the sides of the display more comfortable. However, it will severely limit your choice of screen protector options.

Miscellaneous

The Infra red transmitter or IR Blaster has been retained, however, rumours that a headphone socket had made a return are only half-correct; the lower-spec P30 (not the Pro version) gets the headphone socket.

Huawei are constantly tempting us with mesmerising new colours and the P30 Pro has a suitably cool selection, including a pearlescent white, which is my favourite.

Initial conclusion

As a photographer, the radical new RYB sensor and the folded optics 125mm telephoto, with Leica genes, is very exciting indeed. I’ll post my feedback on using a production device as soon as possible; we’ll be provided with a production P30 Pro for testing after today’s launch event.

The loss of the P20 Pro’s mono camera will frustrate some. It’s a polarising issue, but my personal view is that I can convert colour to mono effectively in post-processing, with especially good results when shooting RAW. Therefore, the ultra-wide camera, first introduced with the Mate 20 Pro, is very much worth the change. But I do concede this view is not universal.

The fact that the P30 Pro gets much of what was, until now, exclusive to the Mate 20 Pro is also very welcome.

I’m also looking forward to finding out what the fourth ‘camera’ – the ToF camera/sensor contributes and if it makes noticeable improvements to the photographic capabilities of the P30 Pro.

There’s so much to report back on! Watch this space.

 

 

Exclusive Russian Zenit Leica M rangefinder clone

A Leica-built, Russian-designed Zenit M rangefinder clone with a 35mm f/1.0 lens

The Russian Zenit is making waves at Photokina this week. We’ve been to the Zenit booth to find out what all the fuss is about.

The Leica phenomenon

We’re in Cologne, Germany for Photokina 2018 and it’s a German company that keeps on making the headlines this week. That company is Leica. Next to the Leica booth is Huawei, whose premium smartphone models, like the innovative triple-camera P20 Pro, use Leica-branded optics.

Leica also revealed it has licensed the use of its mirrorless system L-mount to its long-time partner, Panasonic Lumix. Even Sigma’s CEO was a guest at Leica’s Photokina press conference. So who else might we find with Leica-related news?

Zenit? Who are they?

A Zenit E with Helios m42 screw thread standard lens from the late 60s, early 70s

Zenit of course. Zenit? Who are they? Some readers will be familiar with the name. Back in the 60s and 70s Zenit, a Russian manufacturer, produced primitive and cheap SLR cameras and lenses popular with beginners. But Leica represents the exact opposite end of the camera spectrum.

Limited edition Zenit M and Zenitar 35mm f/1.0

So how could Zenit somehow join forces with Leica? Well, it’s happened. Zenit is showing a digital full frame M rangefinder clone. It’s a limited edition camera bundled with a remarkable 35mm f/1.0 Zenitar branded lens.

Designed in Russia, made in Germany?

Etched on the back of the Zenit M body is the message ‘Designed in Russia’ though I understand the body is actually produced at Leica’s Wetzlar facility in Germany. It certainly contains Leica components, Andrey Verfolomeev, vice president of the Zenit company, confirmed to me.

Designed and made in Russia

The Zenitar lens, however, is entirely the work of Zenit, both designed and manufactured at the company’s Krasnogorsky base near Moscow. Verfolomeev points out that much of their work is for the Russian military, so the optics of the Zenitar 35mm f/1.0 can be expected to be top-class.

Just 500 Zenit M and Zenitar 35mm f/1.0 combos will be produced, according to Verfolomeev, 450 of the bodies will be light grey (it’s a matt grey, not the customary silver) and only 50 will be black.

The price is €5,500 and most are reserved for the Russian market, though around a hundred will be available to European buyers.

Original leather

If you’ve used the old cheap Zenit film cameras, you may recall the strong Russian leather odour that came as a no-cost extra. Apparently, the leather used on the Zenit M has been specially chosen to match the hide used back in the old days.

Verfolomeev says Leica and Zenit have been working on the Zenit M project for two years and it owes much to the enthusiasm of Dr.Andreas Kaufmann, chairman of the Leica Supervisory Board.

Fundamentally, the project is designed to remind everyone, in Verfolomeev’s words, “that we’re still here”. Zenit, which is owned by the Russian state holding company Shvabe, employs 3,500 people and apart from its military work, the facility is gearing up to produce more mainstream cameras and lenses.

A range of Zenit lenses compatible with a variety of camera mounts is already on the market and the 35mm f/1.0 design will eventually join the rest of the range.

While the Zenit M is a strictly limited-edition model, less expensive successor camera models are in the pipeline and these will sell at a lower price, if not at the bargain basement prices of notorious old Zenit Bs and Es. Watch this space!

 

Zeiss ZX1 Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera

Zeiss are developing their own full-frame compact system camera, the Zeiss ZX1.

Press release issued by Zeiss

ZEISS ZX1

The Camera Concept for the Creative Flow in Photography

First full-frame camera from ZEISS with first-class image quality and the familiar, intuitive image editing and connectivity of a smartphone.

OBERKOCHEN/Germany, 2018-09-27.

ZEISS ZX1 – That is the name of the newly developed mirrorless full-frame camera from ZEISS that was presented today in Cologne, Germany. Thanks to the ZEISS lens and a sensor developed in-house at ZEISS, the camera delivers first-class image quality combined with an operational concept and user experience that make the photographer’s jobs-to-be-done as intuitive as on a smartphone.

The ZEISS camera concept is just the first step to opening up a new world of possibilities for ambitious photographers – from taking the shot to editing the image and sharing it on the web.

SHOOT. EDIT. SHARE. – Harmonized hardware, software and optics for a seamless creative process

SHOOT: the ZEISS ZX1 features a newly designed, integrated ZEISS Distagon 35 mm f/2 T* lens with autofocus that has been perfectly matched to the 37.4 megapixel full-frame sensor developed in-house at ZEISS. The interplay between the lens and sensor ensures first-class picture quality with that typical ZEISS look.

EDIT: The ZEISS ZX1 enables photographers to professionally process RAW images directly on the camera thanks to fully integrated Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC. Moreover, the ZEISS ZX1’s unique user interface supports the user’s particular workflow without any interruption – providing direct access to the most frequently used functions via a 4.3″ multi-touch display.

SHARE: when the networked full-frame camera is connected, the user can upload selected images directly to the internet – without the intermediate transfer to memory cards or other external devices.
512 GB of internal memory provide sufficient space for approximately 6,800 RAW files (DNG) or over 50,000 JPGs – more than enough to handle photos, even during a longer trip, and giving the photographer the chance to let their creativity flow. Versatile connectivity options such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB-C ensure that various peripherals can be connected. Over-the-air software updates keep the camera up to date without requiring a computer connection.

Designed with a passion for detail and a focus on the essentialsThe design of the ZEISS ZX1 is characterized by its iconic shape with carefully crafted details. The overall form and reduction to just those elements that are absolutely necessary lay the foundation for an ergonomic camera and ensure easy handling. The symbiosis of hardware and software is exemplified by the newly defined user interface that utilizes the 4.3″ multi-touch display. The slightly bent screen separates the live view from the control elements, making camera operation comfortable and straightforward.

“We know that we exploring new ways and initially addressing a special target group with the ZEISS ZX1. With our concept we are focusing on ambitious, professional creatives who want to produce their photographic experiences quickly and efficiently, and inspire as many people on the Internet as possible. This requires a streamlined workflow in addition to high-end features. This is exactly what the concept of the ZEISS ZX1 offers,” explains Jörg Schmitz, Head of the Consumer Products business group at ZEISS.

ZEISS ZX1 available from early 2019

The ZEISS ZX1 will be available at selected dealers in early 2019. ZEISS will announce the recommended retail price at the start of the official market launch. Starting now, anyone interested in receiving information on exact availability can register at www.zeiss.com/zx1

Zeiss

Kodak Pixpro AZ1000 Astro Zoom

Press release issued by JK Imaging:

Kodak Pixpro launches flagship AZ1000 at Photokina 2018

Award-winning line up of Kodak Pixpro digital cameras and devices continues to provide smart and affordable choices for photographers and creatives of all levels

JK Imaging Ltd., the worldwide licensee for Kodak Pixpro digital cameras and devices, has announced the launch of its flagship AZ1000 Astro Zoom camera at Photokina 2018 in Cologne, Germany today.

The newest, flagship Astro Zoom camera is a bridge digital still camera and will be revealed on the Kodak Pixpro. A powerful 102X optical zoom model, with 20.68 megapixel image sensor and 3.5 mm focal length, the AZ1000 showcases the brand’s commitment to offer outstanding performance at a fraction of the price of traditional and more expensive DSLR bodies and lenses.

Other features offered by the AZ1000 include multi-language support, a 4 hour charging time, 90 minutes of video shooting or 400 shots, a 15MB internal memory, red-eye reduction, slow synchro, 6 seconds or less recycling time, photo touch-up, and smile and blink detection, plus 7fps full resolution burst mode and 1/200 shutter speed (30 seconds).

Kodak Pixpro will also be exhibiting a wide array of its award-winning cameras at the Photokina 2018 show, which runs from 26th – 29th September, ranging from compact, point-and-shoot, mega-zoom bridge cameras to Kodak Pixpro’s growing category of 360° immersive VR cameras.

The company’s commitment to the emerging 360° VR camera category has born three generations of 360° cameras thus far and has answered the needs of enthusiasts worldwide, by providing easy-to-use cameras that go beyond traditional video. This year’s exhibit will feature a sneak peek into the next generation 4K 360° VR camera for the consumer market. The current Kodak Pixpro 4KVR360 consumer model is shipping now throughout Europe and will be demonstrated in booth with unique, engaging and immersive content.

The popular and award-winning Kodak Pixpro SP360 4K prosumer cameras preferred by dedicated content creators and professionals will also be displayed and demonstrated in booth. JK Imaging takes a unique approach by bundling useful camera accessories and complimentary PIXPRO software for editing and stitching on Mac and PCs with all 360° VR cameras. All Kodak Pixpro 360° VR camera models are YouTubeTM compatible for 360° interactive videos and Facebook compatible for 360° photos and videos.

The newest 2018/19 Kodak Pixpro family of cameras will continue to offer consumers a variety of feature-rich, long-zoom options within the Astro Zoom line. Rounding out the Kodak Pixpro Astro Zoom camera line up, the company will show the entry level 25X zoom option with the AZ252, and a myriad of other models including the AZ401, AZ422, AZ527, AZ652 and AZ901, all available now and designed to give photographers of every age and skill level more choices at more value.

This year’s Kodak Pixpro camera line will continue to offer four ever popular and affordable compact point-and-shoot models with the entry level FZ43, FZ53, FZ101, FZ102, FZ152 and new FZ201 comprising the Friendly Zoom category. These models give consumers a variety of choice between AA and Li-ion batteries depending upon preference and start under £100 for the entry-level models.

To add yet another option for savvy consumers, the Kodak Pixpro Digital Devices stand will feature and demonstrate their commitment to giving consumers added benefits and more power in a Micro Four-Thirds model with the S-1, a mirror-less lens camera with an assortment of detachable lenses for those avid photographers looking for a compact solution without compromise.

For more information and for product availability, please visit: http://www.pixpro.world/