Huawei P9, photo review and test

Huawei p9 photo review black white mode

Huawei P9, photo review and test

Posted on Oct 25, 2016

Here’s my Huawei P9 photo test and review, a smartphone that captured much interest in the photography market thanks to the collaboration with a historical brand as Leica.
Huawei with P9 has focused on the photographic industry, a field that now seems to move of choice for users interests: photography with smartphones is gaining for years in interest for the users, replacing the segment of compact camera and is going to affect also the sales of  SLR and mirrorless camera: offcourse in many respects the latter will be impossible to challenge (especially for the size of the sensor and optics that allow different focal lengths) but it is very interesting how the mobile filed with modern smartphones are improving every year rising the bar of competition between the brands which are investing significant resources in order to offer more and better cameras.

   I suggest you to give a look at the smartphone review page where you can find other articles about smartphone photography :

We are therefore in a very interesting time because manufacturers have realized that we may have reached a (temporary) limit of exploitation of traditional smartphone sensors. So there’s who – like Samsung –  has got a bit more “traditional” approach proposing the Galaxy S7 with a slightly larger sensor, a wider focal aperture (f / 1.7) and a smaller number of megapixels (12 megapixels total) to benefit in situations of difficult light. Then there are those who – like LG with the G5 – proposed a smartphone with a dual lens: one with a focal length for “extreme” wide angle  (close as result as a Fisheye in the GoPro style) and the other with a more traditional focal lens. The two focal size can work together to simulate the classic zooming you can have on a dslr with a zoom lens.
Huawei with P9 got instead a third way: first of they arranged an important collaboration with an historical photo brands like Leica, which provides the lenses for the Huawei P9 smartphone.

huawei p9 photo reviewThe collaboration with Leica, however, did not stop only with the lenses. They have implemented the same system seen with the famous Leica Monochrome: a camera without the classic Bayer array, capable to capture only the brightness information without the color component.
We’ve to remember in fact that the digital color is reconstructed in a manner of an algorithm from a demosaic process that occurs in a conventional sensor with Bayern matrix. In practice, the image captured by the color sensor with Bayer array is an image with a 2×2 color repetitive pattern where two pixels are green, one blue and one red. The remaining colors and shades are reconstructed through mathematical functions. Since this process may come out of the problems with very fine pattern (moirè problem) they are minimized by the producers by introducing filters in front of the sensors that blur slightly the recorded image.


So we’ve to say that a classic Bayer matrix sensor loses some sensitivity to light because of the color filters placed over the sensor and also lose a bit of sharpness of the lens due to the antialiasing filter.
Huawei has decided to implement two cameras with two sensors on the P9 smartphone: a “classic” color camera with Bayer matrix and a monochrome camera sensor as in Leica monochrome without Bayer filter. The advantages we should is a greater sensitivity of the sensor and therefore a better performance of the lens with fine details that in the night situations (high Iso settings).

Thanks to for the device I could use for this test.

Huawei P9 photo review: construction quality

There’s no doubt that the Huawei P9 follows the actual trend of the leader smartphone class and offer a very high-quality build and design: the device is very thin (7.11 mm) and looks nice and elegant. The design style is very much linked to the one we’ve seen on the Nexus 6p ’cause was Huawei the producer of it. So is still present the black bar on the back but it’s totally flat compared to the little bump we’ve seen on the Nexus 6p. On the black border, we can find the two Leica lens.

So let’s see now how the Huawei P9 performs with this photo review.

Set studio photography, Huawei P9 Black and White mode

For this set in the studio I’ve used before the natural light getting inside out huge window, then I create a dark environment and I’ve used on contrast continuous LED light with a beauty dish to create a more dramatic and strong contrast. The photos you see here are just straight out from the camera, only resized for web view.

I’ve used the Pro shooting mode cause then I could set the ISO and the Shutter speed. Is important to notice that you can also set the contrast of the picture you are recording and this help a lot to get the final picture you want!

Set in studio, color mode with Huawei P9

Here are some photos shoot in color mode with the Huawei P9 in this photo review and test. We want to highlight that the .raw file format is available only shooting in color mode. It ‘s really a mystery about this restrictive choice and why we cannot get the raw file shooting in Black and White mode with the Huawei P9.
In any case, I was pleasantly impressed by the quality of the color obtained from photos taken with Huawei P9. The colors are intense but not oversaturated.

Street Photography around Florence with Huawei P9

So for this part of the photo review with the Huawei P9 smartphone, I want to try some shoot doing a bit of street photography around Florence on the day and in the night.

I took this pictures always activating the “Pro” mode and working alternately: some images are taken with full manual setting optimizing all the parameters like Iso (obviously trying to keep them as low as possible) and the shutter speed.
A lot of the photos instead -those who demanded a more rapid in the shot- I relied on the automatic exposure program. In any case, I can feel satisfied with the results. The downside that I address with the Huawei P9 is the focus speed is not at the level of the competitors, I found it honestly a bit on the slow side. The autofocus is in fact particularly slow in seeking the point of focus and this can lead to some missed shots. My suggestion -for critical and fast focus- is to set a fixed focus distance and to working with it manually mainly setting to the infinite point: with this setting you will have in focus pretty much all that is between 5 meters from us to infinity. For subjects closer than 5 meters you will off course to adjust the focus. I hope that with the future software update Huawei could improve the focus speed of the P9.

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