Build complex toys and simple tools
by Tony Karp
It's not that often that you get a chance to see into the future. For me, the last time was when I got my first digital camera, about twenty years ago. Auto-everything, 10x zoom, image-stabilized lens. Wow! Only two megapixels, but that was enough to see where things were headed.My latest digital camera is a Sony RX100 M6. Very good, but not that much different from my first digital camera, as far as excitement goes. It's more evolutionary than revolutionary.I just got a Huawei P30 Pro smartphone, and it's the future. Here's the bottom line: the P30 Pro can take pictures that the Sony RX100 M6 can't. Yes, the Sony is a fancy-shmancy camera, and the Huawei is a mere smartphone, but its four cameras can, in many ways, outperform a traditional camera.The Huawei P30 Pro has:
+ A super-wide angle camera - 16mm equivalent. It's the widest lens I've ever used.
+ A main camera with a new type of sensor that can basically see in the dark. You can shoot just about anywhere.
+ A telephoto camera with a 135mm equivalent lens.
+ Enough smarts and AI to make it all work seamlessly together. In all the pictures I took on this venture, only a single one had the exposure wrong. All the others were pretty much dead on.Without getting bogged down in specifications and pixel-peeping examinations, let's find out the real story. Field trip! Off to the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum, which is only about 10 miles from us, as the drone flies. It's a really tough photography environment, with things, large and small, crowded together, looking up and looking down. And it's poorly lit, mainly daylight coming through windows.One other note. All of the pictures here are exactly as they came from the P30 Pro. No cropping or post processing.
Technical notes. I set the P30 Pro camera into the "Pro" mode in case I wanted to make adjustments to exposure, etc. In the end, I just let the camera do its thing so I would get some baseline of where the P30 Pro overexposed, underexposed, or got the white balance wrong. Surprise! Every shot was pretty much dead on, which also is a new thing for me.On this trip, I also brought along my Sony RX100 M6 as a backup camera. I didn't use it. If you see the number of shots I made with the P30 Pro's super wide angle camera, you'll understand why.If you look at the pictures above as the result of a magazine assignment, it's very possible that we've reached the point where this sort of thing can be done with a smartphone instead of a regular camera. I've been hearing this idea for years, but I think we may have reached the point where it's practical. Add the fact that you now can have a very capable camera that's always with you. For me, it has expanded my photographic universe.Alas, like any camera, the P30 Pro has its problems and frustrations (sounds like my wife's description of me). But that's for a future discussion. And my Sony RX100 M6 is going to be around for a while because it can do things the P30 Pro can't. Another thing for a future discussion.Political note: I received my P30 Pro on May 8, 2019. Seven days later, Donald Trump signed an executive order that put Huawei into play as a bargaining chip in an ongoing trade dispute. The P30 Pro is not sold in the United States (I had to buy an "International" version with no warranty), but Huawei has to deal with American companies. No one knows how this lose-lose situation will end.--"You can have my Huawei P30 Pro, Mr. Trump, when you take it from my cold, dead hands."
- Paraphrase of a speech by Charlton Heston at the 2000 Republican convention.
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