iPhone XS vs OnePlus 6T vs Huawei P20 Pro: high contrast light scene

A test on difficult light situation between some of the best 2018 smartphones
iPhoneXs vs OnePlus6t vs Huawei P20 Pro

iPhone XS vs OnePlus 6T vs Huawei P20 Pro: high contrast light scene

Posted on Nov 23th, 2018

Yesterday I got the occasion to test the iPhone Xs Max, the OnePlus 6T and the Huawei P20 Pro devices altogether during a photo shot

In this post, I’m going to focus on the difficult light situation that you can have shooting during a sunset. With the model facing the sunset, we have a huge dynamic range to record. From the exposure of the light on the background to the model itself on the foreground.

This is a kind of tricky scene even for a regular Dslr / mirrorless camera: you’ve to select carefully what to expose and then with the raw you can try to recover the highlights / shadows

With today smartphones, thanks to computational photography, we can achieve massive dynamic range with the multi-exposure blend of the HDR algorithm.  

The smartphones I’ve used with the OS version are:

  • OnePlus 6T with Oxygen 9.0.6
  • iPhone XS Max with iOS 12.1
  • Huawei P20 Pro with Emui 8.1.0 

I want to add to the comparison also the Gcam port to the OnePlus 6T. This is because a lot of OnePlus users thinks that the OnePlus default camera is not good enough and try a different solution. The Gcam is basically a port of the Google Pixel camera to the OnePlus. It works, in some situations gave good results but on this high dynamic range shot I was surprised to see is not as good as the default OnePlus camera.

Shot on OnePlus 6T

These are the first shot with the new Oxygen 9.0.6 update that as mention in the changelog mention an “Optimized image processing”.

Well, I’ve to say that yes! I see the differences! First of all, in this high dynamic range situation I’ve noticed that the camera fired the shot and then let me wait about a second to process it. This is something similar to what happen shooting with the Gcam port where the app process multiple exposure shots. 

I’m curious to know about how many shots can record the OnePlus 6T and fuse together in this high dynamic range photo.

Shot on OnePlus 6T with Gcam port

The Gcam port is quite popular to a lot OnePlus users but with other phone users too since it improves the stock camera app. In this light situation however, I’ve to say that I’ve saw no improvement at all.

With the standard automatic exposure, the camera gave preference to the highlights but can’t compensate for the dark shadows. Forcing the Gcam to expose to the shadows (on the model, the subject) the highlights are missing. Even the raw file saved with it hasn’t so much dynamic range to recover.

Shot on Huawei P20 Pro

The Huawei P20 Pro is balancing very well the exposure. Although I’ve to say that, using the standard automatic camera mode, we get the lower resolution of all the three device, with a final image that is 10 Mp.

Shot on iPhone Xs Max

The iPhone Xs Max with the new Smart HDR achieve a very good exposure from the highlights to the shadows.

Shot on iPhone Xs Max, raw edited in Lightroom

I did also a develop of the raw file I got shooting the Halide app (soon a post about this amazing app). Since the raw coming from the Halide app is sometimes underexposed (and there’s a technical reason about it) in this situation it helped to save the highlights. Opening the shadow however bring back some noise that I’ve to clean with local brushes. 

An extra shot comparing the different camera

This situation is still high contrast but a bit less than the previous scene since we don’t have a subject in the shadow area. The three devices are almost equals, with the iPhone Xs Max that gives a bit more dull result (that we can enhance with a bit of editing) and the Gcam that shows a bit of more color of contrast.

A look at the details

Looking at the details of the previous shots we can notice how all the four devices are close to call but the Huawei P20 Pro has an extra edge of the overall quality of the details. The reason is that the main sensor of the Huawei P20 Pro is 40 Mp and on the automatic camera mode it undersample this huge sensor combining 4 pixels together. In this way, we have a photo with lower final resolution but with more quality in the fine details of the picture.  

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  • Mircea
    Posted at 13:19h, 12 June Reply

    Hi Alessandro,

    I was very confused with buying a new phone, but today i stabled upon your Blog and I’m glad i did.
    Your beautiful pictures convinced me to buy the oneplus 6t.
    As you said, the secret of beautiful photos does not lie in the technical functions of the phone, but in the artists eye ;).

    Good luck with your career, you have very good artistic skills !
    Ciao from Romania.


    • Alessandro Michelazzi
      Posted at 18:45h, 19 September Reply

      Ciao Mircea! Thank you for the nice words and I’m very happy you found my photos and article convincing about buying the OnePlus smartphone. At the end yes, the eyes and the ideas of the photographer will always win on any technical device! 🙂

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