True Monochrome: Don’t settle for second best

True Monochrome: Don’t settle for second best

Promotional Feature by Huawei

Since the invention of the camera, only a handful of brands have attained true fame. We associate even fewer with a particular lifestyle, social identity or cultural movement. However, Leica has succeeded in achieving all of this. Cameras bearing the Leica logo have eternalized countless memorable images, including V-J Day in Times Square, Muhammad Ali, The Falling Soldier, and Che Guevara, for over a century and mostly in monochrome.

THE “LEICA GLOW”

Since the establishment of the Leica brand, Leica lenses have been praised for the sharp images and detailed shadows they produce. The term “Leica glow” originates from a distinct photographic quality exhibited in early Leica black-and-white photos, before the invention of colour film.

Following the shift to digital, Leica took the photography world by storm with the launch of the M Monochrom, a black-and-white digital camera with a single monochrome sensor. Due to the absence of a colour filter array, the M Monochrom offers better light transmission and resolution than its colour-focused competitors, providing excellent bit depth and dynamic range. However, the camera’s high price tag and limited production run have ensured that it is only enjoyed by a select few.

A SMARTPHONE WITH THE “LEICA LOOK”

The Huawei P9 is the first smartphone to emerge from Huawei’s partnership with Leica, which co-engineered the Huawei P9’s camera hardware and software. The Huawei P9 boasts dual monochrome and colour Summarit H 1:2.2/27 ASPH lenses. As with the Leica M Monochrom, the Huawei P9 uses only its monochrome sensor for black-and-white shots, allowing for better light transmission, sharpness and contrast. Following the success of the Huawei P9, Huawei further developed its dual camera technology with the Huawei Mate 9, which upgraded to a 20M monochrome sensor.

Even more recently, Huawei introduced the Huawei P10 and Huawei P10 Plus with the all-new Leica Dual-Camera 2.0 and the Leica Dual-Camera 2.0 Pro Edition, which both feature the first Leica certified 8MP front camera. With a 12MP RGB sensor, a 20MP monochrome sensor and enhanced fusion algorithms, the Huawei P10 and Huawei P10 Plus are the first to include 3D facial technology, portrait enhancements and dynamic illumination. The Huawei P10 Plus also carries SUMMILUX-H lenses with a larger f/1.8 aperture to capture more light in low light situations.

Black and white shot taken with Monochrome sensor

TRUE MONOCHROME

Most smartphones use software filters which convert colour into grayscale, but these shots don’t offer the nuanced tonality of native monochrome sensors, as you can see in the following comparison.

In the photo on the right, captured with a competitor’s device, many details are lost and the tonal progression is less smooth. The photo on the left, taken with the Huawei P9, displays better grey-scale, higher bit depth, smoother progression and greater depth of field. Black-and-white smartphone photos are usually inferior because the original raw image data is not available. However, cameras that leverage dual camera technology are different: the monochrome sensor provides the detailed raw data, which the colour data is then overlaid on – this is what makes it able to capture more detailed, natural-looking images with a higher bit depth.

A side by side photo comparison

The new Huawei P10 Leica Dual-Camera 2.0 is especially great for capturing natural colour and monochrome bokeh in Leica image style. With the Huawei-Leica depth-of-field algorithm, users can capture sharper, clearer edges and vivid colour in every shot, while the background remains blurred or out-of-focus. Effects that could only previously be achieved with thousands of dollars of equipment, make-up and post-production are all now available in your pocket.

Now that you know the difference between true and software-produced monochrome, don’t settle for second best! With the Huawei P9, Huawei Mate 9, Huawei P10 and Huawei P10 Plus, you can embrace the raw power of pure monochrome photography and create your own “Leica look.”

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