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The world’s most advanced smartphone camera technology is here

Promotional Feature by Huawei

Feature image, credit: Kofta, Shot on Mate 10 Pro

Huawei and camera legend Leica have worked together on advanced phone photography tech since 2016 and the launch of the Huawei P9. But there are all-new advances in the Huawei Mate 10 family that should get every mobile photographer and Instagram fan excited.

For non-camera geeks out there, we need a quick primer on Leica first. Over the last hundred-plus years, Leica has been recognized for its premium optics manufacturing and high end cameras.

It is world-famous for the artful quality of its lenses in particular, which are loved by some truly iconic photographers who have mastered taking pictures in the notorious “Leica Glow.” And Leica is behind the amazing SUMMILUX-H lenses used in the Huawei Mate 10 and Huawei Mate 10 Pro‘s dual camera array. A great lens gets you sharper detail, less distortion and a much better handling of light sources.

What’s so special about Leica?

Leica cameras and lenses are regarded with the sort of awe usually reserved for famous film directors. But why?

Leica’s most famous cameras use “prime” lenses rather than zooms, which lets them fit incredibly sharp wide aperture lenses into a frame you can carry around easily. Camera rucksack not required.

These lenses are what lets a photographer blur out the background behind their subject. As well as providing a pro-grade look, this lets your subject “pop” much more than a basic camera would. Hey presto, you have a taste of that Leica magic.

You get this Leica image style in the lenses of the Huawei Mate 10 and Huawei Mate 10 Pro, too.

All about aperture

They can also claim a “world’s first.” The Huawei Mate 10 and Huawei Mate 10 Pro have amazing f/1.6 lenses, on not one but both rear cameras. This is the first and best seen in any phone in the world, as of December 2017.

A yellow beatle toy car

Credit: Miss Snail, Shot on Mate 10 Pro

But what’s that number? f/1.6 is what’s known as an f-stop rating. It tells you the size of the aperture of the lens. The aperture is the hole through which light is let through, to reach the sensor.

The bigger the aperture, the more light a camera has to work with. This is all the more important at night, when you want as much light as possible. With less, a camera has to ramp-up sensitivity, which is what makes your photos look noisy or soft. Or both.

Getting shutter speed just right

This isn’t the only part of the Huawei Mate 10 Series camera’s low-light arsenal either. Optical image stabilisation (OIS) means when a slightly longer exposure is needed at night, you don’t have to keep your hands rock-solid just to avoid ending up with a blurry image.

The ultra-wide aperture and OIS work as a team, ensuring the Huawei Mate 10 and Huawei Mate 10 Pro don’t need longer exposures as much as the competition. While OIS is a great tool for us low-light phone photographers, the knock-on effect is that anyone walking across the frame will look blurred if the exposure is too long.

This can look great if it’s the effect you’re after, but most of the time you’ll want the camera to capture a scene as your eyes see it. Luckily, the Huawei Mate 10 Series brings zero-lag photography, so you can capture shots of all kinds of objects in motion.

After an arty, Leica image-style effect instead? The Huawei Mate 10 and Huawei Mate 10 Pro can handle that too. This is where the lens hardware fits, like the other half of the puzzle, with Huawei’s software.

Getting creative

Using the camera’s manual mode you can deliberately slow down the shutter for an otherworldly effect that a) improves image quality and b) blurs motion for a dramatic look. You can go further too.

The Huawei Mate 10 and Huawei Mate 10 Pro have a Light Painting Mode that uses a smart collage of photos to get an ultra-long exposure effect. It’ll turn car headlights into neon lines coasting along the street, for images that wouldn’t look out of place in a gallery.

Leica’s lenses equip the Huawei Mate 10 and Huawei Mate 10 Pro with the skills to be the only camera equipment you need. The software makes it capable of handling any situation, and unlocks some truly creative potential.

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So far we’ve given Leica a lot of credit for the Huawei Mate 10 family camera hardware, and Huawei the software props. However, the core Huawei tech deserves praise too.

These phones have dual ISPs. That stands for image signal processor, and these chips handle the data from the camera sensor as you hit the shutter button, turning it from raw data into a photo. By using dual ISPs, the Huawei Mate 10 Series cameras can use both sensors on the rear simultaneously without a performance hit.

This isn’t the “performance” only people obsessed with benchmarks should care about either. A camera that takes good pictures but feels slow is not fun to use. You need speed as well as image quality to make up a world-class camera setup like the Huawei Mate 10 and Huawei Mate 10 Pro‘s.

Huawei has really stepped up its camera chops. In just a single year the company has reinvented smartphone photography, partnering with Leica to bring consumers a mobile smartphone experience that is as much about hardware as it is optics and artistry. What will Huawei do next?