Huawei P20 Review: Camera - Image Quality, SefiesBy cheatmaster 11:35 Wed, 18 Aug 2021 Comments
Daylight image quality
Huawei's Master AI is enabled by default from Settings and the maker wants you to utilize it. As we established in our Huawei P20 Pro review, the "smart scene recognition" is quite fine but the "smart capturing camera adjustment" - not so much. While the capturing camera recognizes the scene properly and turns on the correct mode accordingly, its presets for each scene go overboard with the colors and contrast.
Take the Blue Sky mode and the Greenery mode, for example. The Master AI overdoes it with the blues and greens to some extreme levels, and in the meantime, it applies some unnecessary vignetting. At first, we thought we might have the Vivid Leica mode on accidentally, but no, it's the Master AI that goes all-in for those eye-popping looks.
Master AI (Blue Sky) • Off • Master AI (Greenery) • Off
On a positive note, the super vivid approach works brilliantly with food, and you won't need any extra filters to create the best out of your plates next time when you are at a fancy eatery.
We will return to explore more of the Master AI for the low-light shots. For general photography, we prefer to switch it off completely.
The regular 12MP snaps (no Master AI) turned out very good. The dynamic range is impressive, but we already expected that as Huawei has been doing the multi-camera stacking for a few years now. The resolved detail is plenty for the most part, even if not that impressive on foliage.
The colors are accurate, the white balance is spot on, the noise levels are low, and the contrast is excellent. The samples suffer from over-sharpening here and there, but nothing too extreme.
Huawei P20 12MP capturing camera samples
Leave it to the Master AI, and you'll acquire less boring and more colorful shots at the expense of some detail, blown highlights, excessive oversharpening, and darkened corners.
Huawei P20 12MP capturing camera samples with Master AI
The Huawei P20 can do the 2x lossless zoom we have already seen on the P10 and Mate 10. It's possible thanks to those multiple captured frames giving more data to work with than what you'd acquire from a single 12MP shot (or 20MP). We tried some shots, and those indeed turned out pretty fine with enough detail, same colors and dynamic range as the normal samples, but a small bit noisier. We wouldn't go as far as calling this optical zoom, but it's much better than any digital zoom we've seen elsewhere.
Huawei P20 12MP 2x zoomed capturing camera samples
Even though it packs a 12MP color sensor, the Huawei P20 can do 20MP hybrid color images. These don't match the 20MP monochrome ones for detail. It's always best to utilize the 12MP color images.
Huawei P20 20MP color samples
The monochrome images have even more impressive dynamic range, but as usual, taking black&white photos is more of an artistic endeavor rather than a mainstream thing. The monochrome 20MP images came out with a remarkable amount of resolved detail - we noticed much better-defined foliage and other high-intricacy detail when compared to the color images. Noise is pretty much non-existent, while the contrast is simply amazing.
Huawei P20 20MP monochrome samples
It's a bit annoying to switch from 12MP to 20MP from settings each time you go from color to monochrome capturing camera and vice versa, so we'd advise for leaving everything to 12MP. The monochrome shots at 12MP are simply one of the most detailed images you can acquire from a smartphone camera, and they have a smaller memory footprint than the 20MP ones. Plus the lower resolution comes with the added benefit of lower noise levels.
Huawei P20 12MP monochrome samples
And now for the million-dollar question - is the P20 capturing camera as fine as the P20 Pro's? Short respond - Yes! Shooting with both phones on default settings (12MP with Master AI for P20, 10MP with Master AI on P20 Pro) revealed pretty much identical results, sans the image resolution that is. The resolved detail seems about the same, the Master AI is equally overboard, and the contrast and dynamic range are on par.
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