THE FLASHY AND PAINFULLY-LONG LAUNCH of the Huawei P9 earlier this weekdidn't just attract the world's tech press and rising young vloggers, but also luminaries from photography and fashion.
A coffee table book was given out to attendees highlighting the varied visual worlds captured on the new device by an almost endless list of photographers.
So, naturally, we thought we'd delve a little deeper into the dual-lens technology in Huawei's P9 and P9 Plus handsets.
We've already been pleasantly surprised by the camera muscle in the iPhone 6S and Samsung Galaxy S7, but Huawei claims that the P9 lets in 270 per ent and 90 per cent more light than its respective competitors.
The collaboration with Leica means the Huawei P9 crams in two specially-designed 12MP Leica Summarit lenses. These have an aperture of f/2.2 and a 27mm focal length. Two 1.25-micron Sony IMX286 sensors also complete the camera array.
Huawei has developed something called Hybrid Focus technology that allows the P9 (in theory) to capture images with superior speed, accuracy and stability. You want to achieve the best possible focus when capturing an image, and the P9 has three different focusing methods: laser, depth and contrast. The camera will intelligently select the one that provides the best result with no intervention on the user's part.
The Huawei P9 uses two cameras: one that shoots in monochrome and one in RGB. This means if you take a photo in colour the phone uses both lenses to give an image sensor equivalent to a 1.76μm pixel size. But if you snap in black and white, it just uses the dedicated monochrome lens (as shown above and below).
Huawei claims that the monochrome sensor can absorb 200 percent more light than its RGB sibling, meaning that shots taken in dimly lit environments should be free from noise and higher in definition.
This sensor also means the Huawei P9 doesn't have to rely on post-processing and filters to produce black and white photos. As a photographer who remembers the days of popping black and white film into his SLR, this stirs something of an inky fondness.
Overall the results from the phone using the monochrome lens were pleasing and, while it's questionable the capability is really needed, it's a nice attempt at smartphone camera innovation nonetheless.
Leica does offer a M Monochrom camera that's dedicated to all things grey, but at over £5,000 you're paying a premium for a purer image, so the ability to get this in a sub-£500 smartphone could be of interest to some.
Huawei has also implemented a depth measurement chip that supports the creation of shallow depth-of-field shots. This too adds the ability to refocus a shot after the shutter has been fired.
The above image shows this in action. Originally the photo was focused on the building in the background, but post-shot we changed it to focus on the lamppost. Huawei made a big deal about this at the phone launch, although whether it proves popular to most buyers remains to be seen.
Swiping left brings up myriad shooting styles, including black and white shown here, while swiping right presents the camera settings screen.
An upward swipe switches the camera into Pro mode. More and more smartphones offer similar professional options allowing more control over the shot, including adjusting ISO, shutter speed, white balance and more.
Look out for our full review of the Huawei P9 soon. µ