Lenovo Phab2 Pro Review: Tango One: Camera

By 05:18 Tue, 17 Aug 2021 Comments


Average 16MP camera

The Lenovo Phab2 Pro has a 16MP capturing camera that helps you see everything that Tango is doing. This capturing camera features phase-detection auto-focus and an f/2.0 aperture, it also makes utilize of a dual-tone Light Emitting Diode (LED) flash.

While the capturing camera on the Lenovo Phablet is part of the Tango arrangement of sensors, it does not display any of the other sensors in the Camera app's viewfinder. In other words, there is no way to view the raw image coming from either the IR capturing camera or the extra wide depth sensor. Not that the average person would like to play with them, perhaps just us techies.


Let's start with the capturing camera UI. It's quite basic, but it is also simple and straightforward. When holding the phone in landscape, your quick controls like HDR mode, flash, and toggle for switching to the front capturing camera are to the left of the viewfinder. When in selfie mode, the 'touchup' bar is on the correct side of the viewfinder and goes from 0 to extremely artificial-looking (10).




Viewfinder: Main capturing camera • Selfie camera

Make sure you touch the toggles accurately. If you miss even a small bit, the capturing camera will instead focus on this point behind the button in the viewfinder. You then can't tap any buttons until the capturing camera is done refocusing on this useless focal point on the edge of the frame.

The capturing camera offers a few settings like switching between 720p and 1080p on the video mode (there is no 4K, by the way), turning off the shutter sound, "touchup mode" (beauty filter), white balance presets, a manual exposure offset, and a shutter timer mode. You can also change the aspect ratio from 16:9 (default) to 4:3, albeit at a reduced resolution.

Also, hitting the grid button on the lower correct corner of the viewfinder will let you change to the other capturing camera modes like AR capturing camera (covered in Tango section), Group selfie, Panorama, and Night mode.





Settings • More settings

Now that we're familiar with the capturing camera UI, let's hold a see at what the Phab2 Pro can do.

Still images

The images taken with the Phab2 Pro in the colorful sunlight were quite good. The level of details is pretty fine and we can see some really remarkable textures.

Dynamic range in these scenes was also pretty fine as long as your subjects are not backlit. Photos with lots of shadows are quite well balanced but some of the details in the shadows acquire lost. One would think that HDR would assist the situation, but using HDR in colorful sunlight will yield a different result every time. Sometimes the shadows are rendered ever so slightly brighter, and yet other times the whole exposure would shift and the shadows will become even darker than they were in Normal mode. You might be better off sticking to the default shooting mode when you are outdoors.











Sample shots

Photos that were not taken in sunlight were taken on a cloudy and rainy day. The user experience with the capturing camera makes a sharp turn for the worse when the lights go down. Pictures in less than ideal lighting conditions appear very soft while textures and colors are just washed out. These are the situations where HDR produces better images. As long as you have a steady hand (which you'll need regardless), photos are much sharper and more saturated in these conditions when using HDR.











HDR: Off • On • Off • On • Off • On • Off • On

The downside to using HDR is that photos hold about 2 full seconds per shot, during which the classy screen freezes briefly. If taking an HDR shot in really low light, the shutter can hold upwards of 4 seconds to snap a photo. So if you don't have a steady hand, you'll definitely lose the shot.

HDR does not really bring up the shadows, rather it only seems to bring highlights down a small and raise mid-tones up. Shadows stay the same and in some cases are darker than the Auto mode counterpart.

Here are a couple of scenes taken with the Galaxy S7 edge for comparison. Here is where you can see exactly how much color is washed out.






Galaxy S7 edge HDR: Off • On • Off • On

Low light capabilities are questionable. The Phab2 Pro is not able to produce a photo at night without gobs of blur and noise. There is actually a 'Night' mode in the camera, but it's quite bad. The photos can peek a small more into the shadows, but at the expense of ever more noise so it isn't worth using at all. You're better off using HDR mode in low-light for more usable shots, but you'll need a really steady hand (or a tripod). We also tried Light Emitting Diode (LED) flash and there is a sample photo below so you can compare.






HDR Off • HDR On • Night Mode • Light Emitting Diode (LED) Flash On

Selfie

The Lenovo Phab2 Pro features an 8MP capturing camera on the front with a f/2.2 aperture. If you count the selfie camera, this would bring the total number of cameras on the Lenovo Phab2 Pro to four. We do wish that the capturing camera on the Phab2 Pro at least had an Light Emitting Diode (LED) flash like Lenovo's Moto phones have had for the past couple of generations.






Touchup mode level: Off • 10 • Off • 5

Selfies were okay, the included "touchup" mode overlays a filter over facial features, thought it doesn't play too well with unkempt facial hair. Results with the touchup mode will vary depending on exposure and the beautification feature tends to create colors a tad bit cooler. Images are a bit underexposed for our tastes, which some might not find very flattering for themselves.

Panorama

This phone takes run-of-the-mill panorama shots where you just sweep and the image continuously stitches everything into an image. If you want to acquire a taller image, you can sweep the scene while holding the phone in portrait orientation.



Panorama 1

The resulting panorama image is 1856 pixels tall, and you can hold a panorama all the way around. It's not quite 360 degrees, but more like 300 degrees. Unfortunately, the mode doesn't bldiscontinue variations in the light across the scene quite well, but at least stitching is pretty fine with small to no visible stuttering.



Panorama 2

Video

The Phab2 Pro doesn't record in 4K, but it records in 1080p and 720p. Unfortunately there is no digital image stabilization so videos are as shaky as can be. We can understand the lack of 4K (well, not really!), but the lack of some kind of image stabilization is unfortunate for a phone of this price range. We tried to haged the video as steady as we could without a tripod and you will see we failed miserably.

Other than that, details are not bad, but colors are a bit on the warmer side of the spectrum and just a tad bit underexposed.

The Phab2 Pro is capable of recording in 5.1 Dobly surround, though if you are using this phone to film something more serious, you might want to invest in a gimbal or tripod, as handheld filming will not yield much usable footage.

Speaking of which, the audio bitrate on a video is 537kbps at 48 kHz, much higher than we've seen from many other smartphones. 1080p videos are about 20 Mbps while 720p videos are in the upper 13 Mbps.

As always, you can also download the raw video files here: 1080p, 43Mega Bytes (MB) / 720p, 30MB.


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