I recently needed a new smartphone. My previous one was already celebrating his second birthday and started to get slow. So I started looking. One of the most important aspects on a phone for me is the camera. Obviously! So I landed on the Huawei P10. And now, after using it for 1,5 months, I feel comfortable reviewing it.
First of all, this will not be a complete smartphone review. I’m not a tech-blogger, I’m a photographer. So this review will be about the photographic aspect of the device.
The camera specifications
First things first: the specifications of the camera. They are not really subject to feel or emotion, because they are as they are.
The Huawei P10 has two back-camera’s and one front. The monochrome camera is 20MP and the RGB camera is 12MP. Which might not seem much these days, but for a smartphone this is pretty great. The front-cam(or selfie-cam) has 8 megapixels. Which is more than enough for a good photo of you and your friends.
The phone is provided with a flash, autofocus, stabilisation and video. The video’s are in Full HD with 1080p. Also, the sounds is pretty solid. I tried it at a couple of concerts.
The different camera-modes
- Photo: This one is pretty obvious. It’s the standard camera-mode for photography. I’m going deeper in on this one later, as there are a truckload of additional features.
- Monochrome: It’s pretty much the same as Photo, but everything is in black and white. An excellent mode to practice your BW-photography. I actually might do a Monochrome exclusive day or week to train my eye. The RAW-files are still in color, but that’s normal.
- Video: Well yeah, pretty straight forward, but the Huawei P10 allows you to correct your EV down to -4 and up to +4. So I think it’s an excellent phone for vloggers who want to give their shots an extra and artistic look.
- HDR: Or High Definition Range. It’s an awesome feature if your light is going to extremes. Usually during the day, you have loads of hard shadows and washed out highlights. The HDR-function makes sure all is well exposed. I kind of feel it does it artificially instead of using different exposures, but I don’t have hard evidence for that. Also, it did not disappoint me yet, so why complain about the how.
- Panorama: I think everyone likes a panorama from time to time. Especially on holiday. Most smartphones have this function, so the Huawei P10 could not run behind on this.
- Night shot: If you want to take a photo with a longer exposure, but you aren’t sure about shutter-speeds and ISO, you can use this feature. As a professional I can’t suggest using it, but it will definitely help you with quick ideas. I rather use the exposure-settings in Photo-mode.
- Light painting: Writing your own name with a flashlight on a photo. We all like to do it sometimes. But how do you get started with it if you don’t know how all those exposure-settings work? Well, this function will help you with that. Only try this when it’s dark though. It’s maybe one of my favorite of the special features.
- Time-lapse: This is a video-function, obviously. It works in 720p and can record for as long as you want. I once filmed a 2 hours drive with it. I only had to hook it up to a powerbank and the Huawei P10 did all the rest.
- Slow-mo: I’ve had plenty of fun with this one. Playing with my little niece for example. Because those swings go fast, and you don’t want to miss the joy on your kids’ faces. (Sorry for not sharing the cute video’s, my family likes their privacy).
- Watermark: You don’t need Snapchat of Instagram to put your location on your photos. This smartphone has a built-in feature to do that. Location, temperature, date and more. Add it to your photo’s in a quality way. Not something I will use regularly though.
- Audio-note: Take a picture and then record 10 seconds of audio with it. Why would you use this? Well, imagine taking a photo of a landscape and you want to add some extra information for later use. Or your thoughts on a poster you see on the streets. Something I will use for sure to help myself with landscape-shoots.
- Document scan: I remember this being a separate app a while ago. Now it’s just integrated in your smartphone. Need a quick scan of a contract for your archive? Hoover your smartphone over it, and voila.
- Filter: Remember those Lomography camera’s? Well this lets you make photo’s as if you made them on an analog-film. I think it’s cool to use at a party of informal event. But I might not use it that much.
- Good Food: I think the name says it all. Foodies, amp your content-quality with this one. As I usually just start eating right away, this feature is a bit lost on me. Woops, sorry for the developers that did a great job making it!
The main camera software
As I said earlier in this post, I am going deeper into the ‘regular’ camera app. It’s as easy or as advanced as you want it. When opening it the first time, you will have a camera-app just like any other smartphone. And if you are a regular user, that’s plenty. But chances are you are reading this to get deeper into the application on the Huawei P10. You need more features, as do I.
So let’s get into it.
At the top of the app, you have 6 icons. They are pretty straight-forward, but it doesn’t hurt to go over them.
- The flash: when it’s dark, it can be useful to use a flash. Although it often makes your images look flat. So I rather use the exposure-settings Huawei has to offer on the phone than this feature.
- Wide aperture: This gives your photo a bokeh-effect a lot of photographers look for. I recently bought a f1.8 lens to just to achieve this effect. On the Huawei P10 it’s digitally added, but it’s doing a great job. Although it’s a mask on your photos, so there might be a little error once in a while.
- Portrait: This helps you smooth out your skin. If you have a perfect skin, it might not be necessary. But excuse me for hiding people’s pores (totally not mine) from time to time.
- Moving picture: This is kind of like the Boomerang-app by Instagram. But then native on your smartphone. Which means you have more control over the exposure-settings. Perfect if you want the same effect, but with a lot more quality to the photo.
- Colour-settings: Want to have softer or harder colours? Just pick your setting in this feature. As you can shoot RAW, I don’t feel like using this. I will do it myself afterwards.
- Front-camera: Well, this just turns it to the front-camera. Easy at that. This camera has the flash and portrait features too.
Me testing the front cam on a Huawei P10 pic.twitter.com/Fl1sAqRPLP
— Fredography 📸 (@FredPaulussen) 14 juni 2017
Exposure settings and RAW
If you swipe up from the bottom of the camera-application, you get all the exposure settings you might need. ISO and shutter speed. Unfortunately no diafragma adjustments, so let’s hope they add that on future smartphones. Further you can pick the lightmetering-mode, the exposure value up to -4 and +4, focus-options and white balance.
In the menu, that you can swipe from the left-hand side, you can decide if you also want to shoot in RAW. This means the P10 will keep the files in .jpg and .dng. For me it’s always on RAW. But you can easily switch if off by swiping the exposure-settings back down. Because of this option, I find it a great photography tool.
So much to still say about the P10
I feel like I’m barely touching the surface of what I will be able to do with this phone. But maybe I shouldn’t all just put it in one blogpost. It’s a lot to take in for you too, so let this sink in. Go and experiment and come back later when I have some more blogposts about smartphone photography (with the P10).
Recap and final opinion
This review is not complete without a recap and final opinion though. So for me this is the smartphone to do smartphone photography. It’s flexibel, easy in use, has a lot of functions and comes for a reasonable price in the higher quality categories.
Wow, I feel like I wrote so much and still too little about this smartphone. Anyway, I love it and I’m going to have a lot of adventures with it. You will definitely see the results on this blog and my socials. So keep an eye on both!