I want this camera experience on future flagships

Close-up of the Huawei P60 Pro main camera housing

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

The best smartphone cameras have different approaches to zoom these days. For example, Samsung is content to offer dual zoom cameras (3x and 10x), Google offers a single 5x camera, while many other brands limit themselves to 2x to 3.5x cameras.

After several weeks of using the HUAWEI P60 Pro, I realized that I would like to see this particular telephoto experience on more smartphones. Let me explain why.

The best holiday trick – macro via the camera

The P60 Pro comes with a 3.5x telephoto system that can also shoot macro photos. We don’t see this often; It is a technical challenge to bring close-up focusing to complex periscope/telephoto camera systems, due to their long focal lengths and complex lens design. It’s much easier to enable macro functionality on ultrawide shooters with their short focal lengths, but shots via these cameras usually see much more perspective distortion.

However, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen macro mode via the telephoto lens, as the Xiaomi Mix Fold previously offered this feature. But it’s still a nifty addition here, meaning you don’t need to get as close to a subject to get a great macro shot as you need to with an ultrawide camera or dedicated macro lens. This has the advantage of not potentially casting a shadow on the subject or frightening them if they are an insect or animal. Check out the gallery above for some examples, while the second image below shows how far I was from the subject.

Using the camera for macro shooting also means that crouching awkwardly for a few seconds to get a close-up shot is now optional. And that’s a good thing because my knees aren’t what they used to be.

HUAWEI has also made several software changes to take advantage of this super macro mode. For one thing, the default mode is the 3.5x camera, though you can switch to the usual ultrawide camera for traditional macro shots. It is clear which camera HUAWEI wants you to use in this mode, but it still suits your preferences.

HUAWEI P60 Pro takes macro photos via the telephoto lens, complete with full auto focus capabilities, bringing you a more convenient experience.

Additionally, the phone offers manual focus adjustments and can focus on subjects as close as 10cm (3.9 inches) away. Manual focus is a big win, as several flagship phones can have tricky autofocus when trying to take a macro shot via the ultrawide camera or telephoto lens.

But the ability to focus on subjects 10cm away is also welcome, as conventional cameras require you to take several steps back. HUAWEI also offers a 10x option here, and while these results aren’t usually wallpaper-worthy, at least you don’t get a blurry result like the Pixel 7 Pro. In this case, the Pixel has defaulted to a 5x crop from the main camera ( the P60 Pro is stuck with the camera) but switched to the periscope lens for the 10x version. The 5x periscope camera was simply unable to focus on a subject that closely.

The P60 Pro tends to stick to a native periscope camera shot much more often, while Google’s Phone is more prone to cropping from the primary or ultrawide sensor (as is the case below). Therefore, HUAWEI’s images are generally more detailed and less sharp. However, we sometimes see blurry edges and highlights which makes the comparison look closer than it should be. However, the P60 Pro tends to hold a useful edge. Check out the comparison below.

A great phone for low light zooming

The P60 Pro’s camera also offers a /2.1 aperture, which is reasonably wide for a 3x telephoto lens. In comparison, the Pixel 7 Pro 5x Periscope Camera has a /3.5 aperture, while the S23 Ultras 3x Camera is /2.4, and the 10x Periscope Camera has a tiny /4.9 aperture. Of course, HUAWEI’s camera doesn’t have the same native zoom factor as competing brands. However, the large aperture, combined with OIS, an RYYB image sensor, and the intelligence of HUAWEI software makes zooming in low light better than most.

Check out the mixed lighting comparison below, with all the phones using their telephoto lenses. The first comparison is between Google’s phone and the P60 Pro, taken at its native zoom level. Neither phone is awful, but HUAWEI clearly captures more light and fine detail than Google, which erases detail due to noise reduction.

Meanwhile, the second comparison shows the P60 Pro versus the vivo X Fold 2 in similar mixed lighting. It is clear that the HUAWEI image offers much more readable text, much less blurring and a brighter overall scene. Of course, it’s worth noting that the vivo phone has a 2x telephoto lens that lacks OIS. But it’s still a remarkable comparison given the brand’s low-light credentials and a reminder that OIS is essential in a high-end camera phone.

The camera app sticks admirably to using the telephoto lens for all but the darkest zoomed-in scenes. This can backfire sometimes though. For example, the vivo phone switched to a crop from the main camera in the scene below, while the HUAWEI phone stuck to the telephoto camera. The results are much closer than you’d expect, but the P60 Pro exhibits more sky noise, artifacts above the window, and a smudged look overall due to the noise reduction algorithms. Live shooting is clearly not perfect due to excessive sharpness. But the fact that we’re talking a telephoto lens versus a main camera is pretty impressive stuff.

To be sure, low-light zoom appears to be one of several trends in the smartphone camera space in 2023. The OPPO Find X6 Pro, in particular, delivers equally outstanding results with its 3x shooter. The HUAWEI P60 Pro’s use of a large aperture and innovative RYYB color filter keeps it at the forefront of this fast-moving space.

Good enough for normal zoom

This is a zoom-focused camera, after all, and the HUAWEI P60 Pro still delivers respectable image quality across various ranges, as you can see above. The Pixel 7 Pro and Galaxy S23 Ultra undoubtedly deliver better images at long range zoom (10x or higher), but I thought the P60 Pro delivered great results up to 10x.

HUAWEI is following a recent trend of adopting very high-resolution sensors (48MP or more), and these megapixels are put to good use to enable better hybrid zoom at distances far beyond its native 3.5x zoom level.

However, there is a limit to how far the intelligence of the software can take you. As the comparison below shows, it’s really not much of a competition for Google in the long run.

I want this versatile zoom camera on other phones

HUAWEI P60 Pro takes pictures again

Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

There’s no question that the P60 Pro’s telephoto lens is quite brilliant, even if it’s not the absolute best in every category. Samsung and Google battle it out for long-range zoom, the 3.5x macro shots aren’t flawless, and, of course, the camera doesn’t always hold up in low-light conditions compared to other phones’ main camera crops.

A single versatile camera is better than two or three of lesser quality.

Still, the P60 Pro makes a strong case for having the most versatile telephoto experience of any phone thus far. I’m a big fan of the Galaxy S23 Ultras 10x camera, but I’d love to see Samsung offer an equally versatile shooter for its 3x lens. After all, the ability to take great macro, low-light, and long-range photos from a single lens is incredibly useful and helps you capture great photos no matter the conditions.

#camera #experience #future #flagships
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