Feature Articles

Huawei Mate 30 Pro: The new low light master

By Marcus Wong - 5 Oct 2019

Video performance

Video features

 

Ultra Slow-motion

Now here’s where the Mate 30 Pro really shines. Slow-Motion capture comes under the 'More' tab in the camera, and the Mate 30 Pro lets you do anything from 4x (120fps) to 256x (7,680fps) capture. Captures beyond 32x slow-motion start with a box in the center of the frame that you can move and resize.

This acts as an optical trigger so the instant the camera detects motion in the frame, it starts capturing. For movements too small (like the flapping of the bee’s wings below), you can deactivate the window and start capture manually. As you can see, it’s only a 35-second capture, but the results are quite impressive. Almost like having National Geographic filming capabilities in your pocket!

 

4K Time-lapse video

Time-lapse isn’t exactly a new thing, but there aren’t many smartphones out there that let you do 4K time-lapse without needing additional software. The Mate 30 Pro lets you create time-lapse either in full Auto mode, full Manual mode, or by choosing either the desired Recording Speed, or the desired Recording Duration.

That’s certainly more intuitive than trying to determine the number of frames and working in reverse, as some cameras would have you do. In fact, the Mate 30 Pro even prompts you by telling you what subjects are ideal for which recording speeds, making your selection easier.

The fact that smartphones can be easily charged by a battery pack and the relatively lower power consumption compared to full-sized interchangeable lens cameras makes this quite an attractive option.

 

AI Colour effect

Here’s something that doesn’t quite work as well though. The AI Colour effect attempts to gives you more separation between your subjects and the background by only rendering people in colour. Everything else is captured in black and white.

As you can see from the video, it does work to a certain extent, but because there is no way to define a subject with this feature, the masking just fails when you have multiple people in the scene. It also appears that the colour effect is subject to changes as the distance varies, so it could be a difference of mere steps before the person in colour would go black and white.

In all fairness, this effect is more commonly seen in photographs, as it would otherwise require the frames to be painstakingly painted by hand. So it’s really quite an ambitious thing Huawei is trying to do here. Perhaps it might work better if you were able to at least fix a particular person as the target?

 

Live Video bokeh

We’ve all become accustomed to software bokeh for photographs now, but for video? That would certainly be a pipe-dream for film-makers. As with the AI Colour effect above though, it seems Huawei’s trying to do a little too much with AI. There’s again no way for you to choose the subject of the filter, and no way to adjust the level of bokeh either. In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy Note10, which actually debuted this feature first, has a better implementation at this point in time.

 

Conclusion

Make no mistake, the Mate 30 Pro’s camera system is certainly a revolutionary one. By smartly incorporating two larger-than-usual sensors, Huawei has created a video-focused counterpart to the P30 Pro’s obvious photography focus ones.

And the results are equally impressive. Colours are accurate, and the camera adjusts for changing exposures quickly and accurately so you no longer have the issue of colours being drastically different when moving from one camera to another.

From what we’ve seen, the larger sensor of the Ultra-wide Cine camera definitely makes a difference in terms of low light capture and sensitivity. If anything, the improved slow-motion capture mode has no equal among other smartphones in the market, so that certainly puts it one rung above the rest.

We’d love to see how it compares to the camera modules on other recently released smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Note10+ and the iPhone 11 Pro Max, but that will have to come in a later article after the Pixel 4 gets launched too.