The Huawei P30 Pro is getting a lot of the glory, but its sibling, the Huawei P30, is also raising a lot of user interest for a deep-dive Camera Benchmark score, so we’re happy to oblige. On the surface, the P30’s camera looks a lot like the Mate 20 Pro camera system with small differences, but they don’t behave the same way.
Key Camera Specifications and Uber-G Camera HW Score
- Rear Camera System (3 cameras)
- Primary: 27mm 40-MP f/1.8 (10-MP auto mode)
- Ultrawide: 16mm 16-MP f/2.2
- Zoom: 81mm 8-MP f/2.4 OIS
Image Quality Analysis
Important: let’s clarify some terminology we’ll be using:
- “image processing”: software work that improves the image data quality
- “image filtering”: software work that changes the style (aesthetic) of the photo.
- “context photo”: a great approximation of what we see
- Including how dark the scene actually is
- Only to provide the context of the shot.
A note about the Uber-G Camera Benchmark: our camera scoring system is based on four “Pillars” or sub-scores that provides much-needed nuance: day, night, zoom and ultrawide photography.
Bright Light Photography
In daylight photography, the hardware is not extremely stressed, and even though the Huawei P30 Pro has superior lens and sensor, any difference is all about the color treatment and HDR management.
Above: the Galaxy S10 picks up the natural hue of the sky a little better, but both phones use a similar amount of sharpening filtering, which is on the high side.
Above: The difference between P30 and P30 Pro are minimal in this scene but P30 Pro got the overall hue a bit better. If you compare it to the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, you can tell that the tuning style has changed, and in this particular scene the 30-series uses a more artificial contrast, and you can see stronger ringing “halo” around some shapes.
The 30-series better preserves texture in some places, like on the roof shingles. On the other hand, the appearance of the grass on it is more rugged than it really is because of the artificial sharpening image filter.
Both the P30 and P30 Pro are better are capturing HDR details that the Mate 20 Pro. For example, the darker areas of the trees are better captured by the P30 Series. Check the trees to the right, and look at the grey wall texture on the lower left.
Below, you can see a closer view of how colors are different when compared to the reference scene. Without seeing the context, you wouldn’t know, but matching natural colors make shots more predictable to the photographer.
When it comes to sharpness and against the rest of the market, Huawei P30 does very well but is a bit handicapped by the 10 Megapixel resolution (in auto-mode) against 12 or 16 Megapixel competitors. With only a 2 Megapixel difference, the sharpness of the cars is already a bit higher on the S10.
You can manually switch to the 40 MP mode, but you would lose some HDR benefits from the Quad-Bayer simultaneous dual-exposure capabilities that only works in 10MP so that a switch may increase “pixel detail,” but decrease other quality factors.
In low-light photography, the differences between Mate 20 Pro, P30 and P30 Pro are more pronounced. Let’s consider the scene below, which is challenging for any camera:
The streetlights have a slightly yellow tint, but Mate 20 Pro tends to wash it a bit. Also, in this scene, P30 uses a slower ISO (3000) to perhaps capture better colors, while Mate 20 Pro used “brute force” with a higher ISO (5000) and more aggressive color treatment (+ higher noise).
Below, the P30 Pro captures colors that are farther away from reality but uses a low ISO (2500) to capture the lowest noise, sharpest image out of the three Huawei phones.
Below, a cropped photo at P30 vs P30Pro can show the differences a little better and see how the “pro” shoots slightly sharper images in these difficult conditions.
As lighting conditions degrade, that’s where the superior lens (f/1.6 vs. f/1.8) and sensor (RYYB vs. RGGB) of the P30 Pro start making a more significant difference.
And to compare with a phone that most people know, let’s look at what the iPhone Xs produces: a much noisier picture, but without preserving more details or capturing better color hues.
Unfortunately, the P30 does not have the P30 Pro’s extraordinary night photo capabilities, but still competes with Mate 20 Pro, which is very good.
The Huawei P30 camera may not get the 135mm zoom of the P30 Pro, but it does inherit of an identical 80mm zoom that made Mate 20 Pro (and P20 Pro) the best mobile zoom cameras at some point. We found the P30 to have about the same objective performance as Mate 20 Pro.
Above: the sheer difference in quality with a well-known flagship phone should make it clear that the P30 Pro has a high-quality zoom capability. Below, we compare it with the Mate 20 Pro which has the same specs as P30.
There was no significant difference in details with Mate 20 Pro but there’s a bit more image filtering going on. Below, we compare P30 (80mm lens) and P30 Pro (135mm lens), the difference is noticeable and pretty obvious.
In bright light, the P30 Ultrawide (UW) camera does quite well and outputs a level of image quality close of the P30 Pro. You even find the same chromatic aberrations in the same places if you know what to look for. When it comes to color, the P30 actually captures slightly more life-like colors than P30 Pro because it doesn’t over-expose as much. Warm tones from a sunny day like in the scene bellow come out better with P30.
Below: a comparison of chromatic aberration, again the P30 does better despite the seemingly lower specs.
In low-light, the P30 ultrawide shots blurrier version of the P30 Pro’s photos of the same scene, but shares general color tuning. Some loss of detail is due to the lower resolution sensor, but some seems due to aggressive noise-filtering. The Mate 20 Pro shows a bit more noise, but generally preserves detail better and has a perceptively sharper photo. Huawei can probably find a better balance for noise-removal.
Like the Huawei P30 Pro, the Huawei P30 handles ultrawide colors better than Huawei Mate 20 Pro, but Galaxy S10 captures much more realistic color tones with less noise.
Above: the P30 has better color than Mate 20 Pro, which has better details and noise. It’s not easy to find a balance and pick the right tradeoff.
Above: all ultrawide mobile cameras have some vignetting issues (brighter on the center) but Galaxy S10 manages to pull off life-life colors better, and you can easily edit the photo to match the P30’s brightness (remember, Brighter isn’t always better). Below, the S10 image is cleaner and much less noisy.
Our tests confirm what the specs were hinting at: the Huawei P30 brings “beyond Mate 20 Pro” photography to the Premium market ($400-$600) and quickly trickles down a camera package that was hailed as being “the best” high-end camera not so long ago. The Huawei P30 pushes premium phones cameras to the next level in absolute quality and value for the price.
The Huawei P30 has the best mobile camera in the Premium market right now.
|Uber-G Camera IQ||Sub-scores|
In the broader market, phones cameras like the LG G8 (LG G8 camera review) or the Galaxy S10e (S10e camera review) are a bit better in low-light but are inferior in zoom quality. Both competitors launched at ~$800+ and technically are “High-End” phones, but look for street prices.
The Huawei P30 is a huge leap over last year’s P20 camera system and intensifies the competition in the “Premium” price segment currently dominated by the OnePlus 6T when it comes to camera IQ. We keep an updated list of the best smartphone cameras, check it out!
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