Travel and photography is an intertwined industry since the technology first appeared on humanity's timeline - a way to show someone else a place on the other side of the world. As clunky film cameras were transformed by the digital age into quick point-and-shoot machines that anyone can use, it in turn is now fast becoming replaced by the cell phone's onboard camera.
Gone are the days of grainy cell phone selfies - today we're taking our Insta photo with 20MP plus which we can share in the blink of an eye to our social media platforms.
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The newest player on the market with a staggering 40MP camera complete with three Leica lenses is the Huawei P20 Pro - and for me it was love at first sight.
I hadn't upgraded my old Sony for a while because it didn't feel like there were any phones that could compete with its 21MP camera, but when Huwaei's new baby was released I was completely swayed by all the camera specs that seemed to be too good to be true. They even shot their local ad all on the Pro just to prove how cool their cameras were.
After a lot of deliberation I finally managed to snag myself a Huawei P20, because the Pro's price tag is just above an average person's budget, and I was immediately smitten. Even though it only comes with a 20MP dual-lens camera, the power of its camera's software was a beast. The depth of colours, the range of modes that I actually want to use and its Yoda-level intuitive artificial intelligence was the best I've ever seen on a phone.
But what about the P20 Pro? Is it worth the extra, extra bucks or is 40MP just too overpowered for a phone that will be used by an average consumer? By pure chance, I got my chance to test out the higher-end one when Huawei invited press on a short escape to Pilanesberg National Park in the North West to test out its capabilities in the wild.
Here are some notes for those looking to up their Instagram game.
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Popping black and white photos
Both the P20 and the Pro come with a monochrome lens, which means you can take black and white photos from the get-go. You might think this doesn't differ much from just putting a black and white filter on a colour pic, but the shades of black are so rich with no grain, giving you very textured photos, giving it that old-school film effect that doesn't feel faked.
Photo tip: When taking a black and white photo try to have on single element stand out and avoid busy backgrounds.
Say goodbye to grain in Night Mode
Another big feature of the P20s is their ability to take great photos in low light - provided that you have a steady hand. This is especially handy for those outside bonfire pics or dark indoor lighting.
The two pics below were taken with night mode off and on, giving you an idea what the difference is, making the photo lighter without sacrificing quality.
Photo tip: Play around with the setting even when you don't really need it - it can create interesting effects on colour.
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The Aperture setting is my new best friend
I've tried out modes on previous phones where it supposedly blurs out the background for an object in the foreground, but it always looked like a bad Photoshop job. Huawei's aperture mode though has given me some spectacular photos, giving it quite a polished and professional look.
It also comes with a quick double (P20) or triple (Pro) zoom function that's also handy if you're a bit far from your desired target and I find it's a better zoom function than doing a manual zoom in normal mode.
Photo tip: There's a slider that can give you even more depth, but I have found that keeping it on 4 is more than adequate for most shots, and you can even change it after the photo has been taken.
Still no win in the cell phone zoom section
Although Huawei is marketing its 5x zoom capabilities as some breakthrough, it still is the one realm where DSLRs win out against cell phone cameras. I saw a juvenile leopard just a little way off, but it was still too far for the P20 Pro to get a decent enough pic with the zoom. This is one section of the general phone market that is still an elusive dream to be able to zoom with confidence on a mobile without making you feel like you just stepped back a few generations to when camera phones first came out.
Photo tip: As mentioned, the photos look better when you use the aperture mode's double or triple zoom rather than the manual one in normal mode.
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Slow-mo is a fun feature that you'll probably use once
Although you might use this feature once and then forget about it, slow-mo is still a fun mode if you're looking for a quick and funky Insta-story video. We had lots of fun with the bonfire that was set up for us at one of the park's bush camps, and it also looked great when filming (quite nervously) the quadbike action.
Photo tip: This function requires a bit of practice and planning in terms of what you're filming.
P20 vs Pro?
But how do the two handsets compare? You'll only really see the difference in megapixels and number of lenses if you literally hold up the two cameras to each other to take the same photo, but the average user really won't know any better. Both phone's memory is the same and the battery life on both is pretty amazing considering I was taking photos a whole day and didn't even have to charge it.
The only big deal that can sway you between saving your cash and splurging is that you are able to save photos in RAW format on the Pro - something incredibly useful for professionals who publish their work in print or on websites.
Regardless of which one you go for, the Huawei P20 range has definitely set a new standard when it comes to mobile cameras. It feels like we're inching closer and closer to a point where the camera in your phone could actually compete with a DSLR, although we're not quite there just yet.
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