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Here’s what the Huawei P8 Lite’s camera can do

By Jules Wang June 15, 2015, 5:38 pm

The state of play in the mid-range smartphone sector is a crowded one. Nearly all of these devices provide a fluid experience when page peeping or tweet tapping or status swiping.

One of the biggest differentiations in this field, though, is how the camera works. This spec usually exhibits the most variation in how manufacturers choose to compromise: the glass, the sensor, the software; all of them are up for the corner-cutting.

IMG_20150614_153948

There’s no doubt the Huawei P8 Lite’s camera falls victim to this syndrome. The high-contrast picture to the right has a sky blown out, some trees devoid of true color and a lot of bland sand. So, why bother covering this camera?

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Well, the P8 Lite’s bigger sibling could provide a major contrast or an uncanny comparison here. Also, while there aren’t as many fancy software enhancements on this thing as there are on the P8, there seem to be just enough to overcome some faults of the P8 Lite’s hardware.

 

Oh boy, you don’t want to see how badly I screw up a selfie panorama. But before you scroll down (jerk), here’s the brass tax between the P8 and P8 Lite lenses:
[table]

,Huawei P8 Lite,Huawei P8

Rear sensor,13-megapixel Sony BSI,13-megapixel Sony RGBW

Aperture,f/2.2,f/2.0

OIS?,No,Yes

Flash,Single LED,Dual-tone LED

Front sensor,5MP,8MP

[/table]

Simply put, we have a spec gap here. There is a difference between soda and diet soda. But does the variant taste like the original at all? Let’s get some samples in from the P8 Lite:

 

The good news is that tap to focus works fine. That said, Colors trend on the cool side, with browns, reds and tans taking the most damage; keep in mind that many humans may have such pigment. Shutter speed also looks to be a bit slow. Some dull edges appear if you look at 100% crop. As previously mentioned, though, the sensor poorly evaluates contrast, which can make HDR results hilarious.

 

That’s not a bunch of random blank space, that’s an actual HDR file. I took two of these in one afternoon, along with a few others close to literal carte blanche.

 

If you can get a proper picture, exposure is improved all around. It’s only up to parity, though, with cameras of comparably-priced smartphones.

 

Those contrast issues also make their mark in the dark, enabling more noise to appear and drowning out details. The severity of the fall-off from bright to unlit is also something to note. Take a look at that gas station photo: there’s a huge shadow on the ceiling where the lights aren’t and there’s no trace of the SUV’s opalescent blue. I swear that those lights had more influence on the ceiling than you see here.

 

The selfies are not immune to the contrast problems. But at least you can clone yourself by improperly using the selfie panorama mode. It’d definitely help cinch more people into the “frame” by artificially extending it. In general, panoramas are generated in what I’d like to call the “target” method, as opposed to the “scanned pan” utilized by other panorama modes. Any way you call it, I prefer the P8 Lite’s method.

Screenshot_2015-06-15-15-14-08

There’s also an “All-focus” mode; one of those features that allow touch-to-refocus editing. Yes, it works.

 

Video is in 1080p at 30 frames per second. You might need to tap on the viewfinder to coax the focus occasionally. The main problems, however, remain inconsistent exposure and poor contrast. A light sea breeze blows and plows over my monologue.

In the end, what we know is that the Huawei P8 Lite’s camera is not as impressive as the P8. But while the software is simple and efficient, there’s just clearly no punch to the pictures we have here. The BLU Life One, which you can get for $100 less than the P8 Lite, has a pretty good product for its optics, but a sluggish experience overall.

Like I said earlier, it’s all in where you make the compromise.

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