From when it launched until only very recently, the Huawei P30 Pro was ranked the best smartphone camera available on DxOMark. It’s not hard to see why; when we reviewed the P30 Pro we found its camera to be easily the most capable we’d used in a smartphone. Across portraits, landscapes, macro photos and stunning night photography the P30 Pro wowed Ausdroid, and just about every outlet that reviewed it.
Several months later, and Huawei’s P30 Pro is still a kick-ass camera. DxOMark rated Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10 5G one point higher than the P30 Pro, but even that didn’t last long; Huawei’s latest smartphone camera – in the form of the Mate 30 Pro – has knocked Samsung off again.
Much of what makes Huawei’s Mate 30 Pro camera system so good can be found in the P30 Pro, and you can use those features to capture your life in the best photos around. Having used the P30 Pro camera since it was released, I’ve taken some great photos, and I’m going to show you how you can, too.
Using some of the great functions available on the P30 Pro, including Master AI to make photo taking easy, using the incredible Night Mode camera to capture the night like never before, shooting the stars with Star Trail mode and using Dual View Video to capture more of your environment, you too can use the P30 Pro and its brilliant camera to capture your best life.
What’s more, the P30 Pro’s stellar camera is coupled with Huawei’s famous, long-lasting battery-life. Perfect for the holiday season – so Aussie travelers can take advantage of both camera and battery capabilities.
That’s not to mention the incredible optical zoom, super macro and wide-angle modes which you can use in a number of different photo modes, which we’ll walk through as well.
Let Huawei’s Master AI do the job for you
One of the easiest tips to give in a story like this is to do nothing at all, and let Huawei’s P30 Pro do it for you.
In fact, unless you’re shooting a specific scene, you can quite comfortably leave the P30 Pro with the settings unchanged and let Master AI help you to take the best photo of whatever subject you like. While I will use special camera modes to capture certain scenes – night shots, landscapes, portraits and the like – much of the time you actually don’t need to. Master AI will usually pick up what you’re trying to do, and adjust colour, brightness and even shooting modes to get it right for you.
Greenery is an easy one – Master AI will detect plants, grass, trees and the like and switch to a more vivid greenery mode. Now, before you chime in with “that doesn’t look so great” yes, you’re right – in the viewfinder, the results aren’t always obvious.
However, take the photo, and this is what you capture:
Bright greens, earthy tones of the garden bed, and vivid colours in between. These photos take next to no effort whatsoever. Point your P30 Pro at something, ping the shutter button, and you’re done.
It’s not just greenery, of course. What about capturing a beautiful scene with Sydney’s blue skies? What about a close-up macro shot?
Yes, Huawei’s Master AI automatically identifies the blue sky scene, and when pointed up-close at a figurine, it flicks over to “Super Macro” mode which (amongst other things) changes the active lens from the main shooter to the wide-angle lens for some lovely, natural bokeh in the background.
In fact, about the only time you’re going to need to choose a specific photo mode is when Master AI doesn’t detect the scene you want (e.g. it goes for Greenery instead of Blue Sky when you might want the latter), or where you want to force it to use a specific mode (e.g. Night Mode during the day, which can produce some interesting HDR results).
Take brilliant photos at night
As noted above, much of the time you can just take photos at night and Huawei P30 Pro will know what you’re after, and deliver.
However, sometimes it might pick up enough light to decide against Night Mode, when that’s actually what you want. Fortunately, Night Mode is on the quick mode selector, so a couple of swipes on the modes and you’re in night mode ready to go.
How does it work? Something like a combination of HDR – which takes a few shots with different exposures to lighten dark scenes and soften bright ones – and a slightly slower shutter speed to bring in more light, and you’ve got the essence of Night Mode.
And the results? They speak for themselves. By bringing in more light and capturing as much of the range of what’s displayed as possible, instead of a dark scene with little punch, you get a vivid photo showing something like what the human eye can actually see (and sometimes even more).
This last week I’ve been in Zurich, Switzerland to attend GSMA’s Mobile Broadband Forum, and due to some jetlag I was up early. I put the time to good use and captured some amazing photos of the Aldstadt (or Old Town) district:
Of course, I shot many more, but this is just a nice representative sample of what Huawei’s P30 Pro can do after dark. In fact, these photos were shot about 6am (give or take) which, in the northern hemisphere, means it was still quite dark.
Some of these were shot in night mode – to make sure a nice, vivid night scene was captured – whereas others (in these samples, the Opera House and the tram) didn’t need any special modes as the scenes were bright enough to capture a brilliant photo.
How can you tell which is which? In the pre-dawn light, there was still some blue in the sky, and Huawei’s Night Mode captures this in the photos of the two churches. In the other photo, given the brighter subjects, the sky colour wasn’t so visible.
Shoot some star-trails
Look, while this might not be a feature you use daily (or even all that often), it’s a feature that other manufacturers seem to think they do well. However, it shouldn’t take minutes to shoot photos of the night sky. Huawei’s P30 Pro already takes excellent night shots – as we’ve discussed above – but you can also take beautiful photos of the night sky, capturing stars, moons (yes, there’s more than just ours up there), passing aircraft and more, and it makes for some dramatic shots!
For a casual photo of the night sky, you need nothing more than your phone – provided you can stand fairly still (the P30 Pro will compensate for the typical hand wobble) – to take a great photo. However, if you want to capture some star trails, you’re going to need something else.
I’ve shot star trails with a tripod which is the best way to keep your phone stock still while taking long exposure photos. Bear in mind that to capture some decent star trails, you could be leaving your phone still for an hour or more, so you don’t want to be holding it (even if you could).
With little more than a tripod and some patience, you too could capture photos like these. Full disclosure, though, the one showing the aeroplane moving through the shot wasn’t shot on the P30 Pro (I didn’t have it back then) but it would be easily replicated. I just didn’t have a good opportunity with the P30 to capture this kind of shot!
Why capture photos like these? Well, frankly, they look cool. It’s also something that other phones have tried to emulate, but none do it quite like this.
Use dual-view video to capture amazing visuals
Huawei’s dual-view video camera is a neat little feature that you can use to capture video in a new and unique way. Instead of just capturing your subject, why not capture the surrounding environment too, and show both?
I’ve had a bit of fun with this feature earlier this month, capturing some great dual-view videos in and around Zurich showing off some beautiful landscapes and wildlife, nice and up-close while still leaving in the surrounding detail.
How’s it work? Using two lenses at once to capture video, dual-view video uses the main lens to get up close and personal with your subject, while the wide-angle lens captures the surrounding scene. Take, for example, this video of a swan paddling around Lake Zurich:
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Why might you find this feature useful? It’s a great way to give your video some context. All too often, video – especially mobile video – gets you nice and up close with your subject, but you lose the atmosphere. As with life, in video everything happens with a context, and this allows you to capture that context.
In this example, you see a swan bobbing around. Great. However, add in the context, and you see it’s not just one swan, and there’s a lot more else going on. A kid fishing for baitfish, other swans paddling about, and a lakeside swarming with tourists and locals alike on their lunch break.
On my way home, I shot a second video at Zurich’s Airport where you can not only see a plane taking off, but you can also see the wider airport around it which makes for some interesting visuals:
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Using optical zoom, super macro and wide angle lenses for great effect
It’s not just P30 Pro’s AI-driven camera modes which can improve your photography, but the benefits you get from the array of lenses built-in to this smartphone as well.
For starters, you’ve got the headline-grabbing up to 50X zoom, but for crystal clear photos you’ll probably enjoy the 5X optical zoom and 10X hybrid zoom to bring your subjects in closer.
The optical zoom will bring you closer to your subject, but what if you want to get really close? Well, the wide-angle lens can be used to shoot macro photography as well, and the results can be simply stunning.
P30 Pro’s wide-angle lens can get you so close that you can see every intricate detail. A couple of my samples are above, but if you want to get even closer, well .. you need a cooperative subject and a bit more photography skill than I can muster. This sample shot from Huawei’s consumer site shows just what you can achieve:
While the wide-angle lens does great macro shots, it can also do incredible wide-angle photos to capture more of your surrounds – think stunning landscapes, subjects with more of their environment and more. Here’s some of my favourite wide-angle shots:
I find the wide angle lens does a really good job with beautiful landscapes, but it need not be natural wonders – Melbourne’s MCG pops in these photos, as does Paris’ Arc de Triomphe. Wherever you happen to be, if you want to capture more of your surroundings, P30 Pro’s wide angle lens has you (quite literally) covered.
Huawei’s P30 Pro is on sale from all major carriers and a number of retailers, with a recommended retail price of $1,399 (though you may find it on sale for less in some stores!).
For a limited time, you can grab Huawei’s P30 Pro in a limited edition Misty Lavender style for the same price, and each one comes with a stunning Swarovski Crystal embellished case. This is an exclusive to Mobileciti, so if you’re after a phone that really stands out, don’t miss out.