The Huawei P8 camera - my experiences so far

Just a post without any comparison this time, just the best shots I've been capturing with the Huawei P8 so far - although you'll see a few of these shots in future posts as well. But first, I'll share a bit more of my thoughts on the Camera UI - some of it is easy, some of it quite confusing.

Of course, Huawei brags about the camera of its newest flagship - every major brand does. During the announcement in London, CEO Richard Yu took a serious amount of time to talk about the innovations in the camera. With the P6, Huawei announced macro shots from a distance of only 4cm. It improved the low light performance with the P7 and the P8 is an important next step, with - according to Huawei - "best in class" OIS and a 13MP RGBW sensor, which should be able to gather more light. Also, Yu was proud to announce a "DSLR level" dedicated Image Signal Processor. In all, Huawai promises better light, better white balance and more natural colours.
Huawei P8 13MP RGBW sensor
And although it's not a bad shooter, the P8 13MP sensor can't beat the Samsung Galaxy S6 for instance, as I've shown in my previous comparison. That's not very surprising, the S6 has 16MP in 16:9 aspect ratio, de P8 "only" 10MP - that's quite a difference, but of course: the Huawei P8 is more affordable at €499.

Its low light performance is where the Huawei P8 excels, allowing you to make surprisingly bright shots in even very dark circumstances with extreme shutter speed up to 35 seconds. That's quite a unique feature, the only other examples I know of are the Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM1 (up to 60 seconds), the Honor 6 Plus (from Huawei as well, 60 seconds), and the new LG G4 (more expensive, 30 seconds).

Super Night mode
Of course, you'll need a tripod to use the Super Night mode, and that's something not many people use - but more people might consider getting one after they see the results. The UI of the camera is not very easy and I've been complaining about it in in this post already. I'll repeat it here: if you are used to shoot in 10MP (16:9) and you choose Super Night mode it will switch to 8MP in 4:3 (!).

So if you want to make a night shot in 16:9, you'll first have to manually choose the 6MP resolution - only then it will directly choose the same aspect ratio in Super Night mode. There is no other way to switch from 16:9 in 10MP to 16:9 in Super Night Mode, you'll have to choose 6MP first. The reason for "downgrading" the resolution? Probably it combines ("doubles") pixels to gather more light in this mode. That's all fine, but it would be easier if it would stick to the same aspect ratio you're working in. Worse: once in night mode, you can't change the aspect ratio at all.

Since you'll have to go this way, the software won't jump back to your favorite highest resolution when you stop using the Super Night Mode - you'll have to go back to settings and manually set it back to either 13MP or 10MP. And since it takes quite a few steps to check in which resolution you're working, I've been taking a lot more shots in 6MP than I intended to.

In the post I linked to above, I shared a video how Super Night mode works. It wasn't until later I discovered quite a bit of digital distortion when looking at the result at 100%.
So too dark is something the Huawei P8 obviously isn't too happy to handle. Here's another example in my messy basement - a few old books and glasses on the shelves. First, in auto mode to show you how dark it is in fact

next in Super Night mode - ISO 100, 12 seconds (no extra light)

When I don't manually choose ISO 100 but leave it to the "auto" setting the software chooses ISO 200 and the camera "only" needs 9 seconds for a brighter result.
The level of detail is quite impressive for such dark circumstances, as you can read the titles of the (Dutch) books.

Like I've written before, you'll need a tripod for results like this, and although they're not at all expensive anymore (like the cheap selfie-tripods), I wonder how many of the customers Huawei hopes to find for the P8 will actually buy one. Of course, an extra possibility with these shutter speeds are "light paintings" - I didn't try that out myself yet, you'll find a few examples here at Petapixel.

One more thing about the camera UI - something Huawei shamessly copied from Apple: when you touch to focus, a little "sun" will appear next to where you focused, so you can change the exposure of your shot. Works like a charm though.

The "normal" shots
Having said all this, I'd like to conclude with a selection of the "normal" shots I captured with the Huawei P8 since I have it. You'll find all 39 shots I selected so far on Flickr in their original sizes, including a few Super Night shots in 6MP.
Close-up. First glass of wine after the Huawei announcement in a bar on Heathrow.

Sunlit flowers in the early morning always make my day

My all time favorite model, sleeping close-up

Almost too many details in this one :-)

Close-up product shot

On King's Day

Without and with HDR


Just a clear blue sky and parasol

Super Night Mode, 11.57 sec.

Super Night mode in a near dark studio - 20.24 sec.

Without and with exposure correction


Like I wrote, you'll find all 39 shots I selected so far in a dedicated album on Flickr so you can have a detailed look for yourself - more P8 shots will follow in due time, and you will find some of the shots included in future comparisons as well.