Date:13 February 2017
Let’s address the elephant in the room: this was supposed to be a three-way between the iPhone, Mate 9 and LG V20 to crown the king of the dual snappers. I couldn’t get the V20 in time and tried throwing my G5 in the pit… It held its own, but the scratched camera glass was a great disadvantage.
In one corner you have supreme simplicity. The iPhone camera interface and features are so intuitive that my 5-year-old daughter was taking ‘gram-worthy snaps within seconds of figuring out where to put her fingers so that the lens isn’t obstructed.
In the other corner you have the second coming of the amazing Leica dual lens system. An upgraded 20MP monochrome camera adds another level of detail to what is the market leader in capturing subtle image nuances, but plagued by a menu system that has been split into two parts – with the bit where you set the resolution using the same landscape swipe gesture as you use to access the manual controls.
These two can trade blows all day. Huawei has mastered the art of auto focus, employing laser assist, phase detection as well as depth scanning. The latter allows it to do that software background blurring thing and let you refocus the image after the fact (if you shot in wide aperture mode).
Apple also plays with the two cameras to achieve software bokeh, but there’s zero refocussing to be found here and it relies on the telephoto (zoom) lens as the basis for the image.
You’ll get more consistently good photos from the iPhone, but some investment in learning the menu systems and familiarising yourself with manual controls will see you doing amazing things with the Mate 9. It’s a tight call, let the images speak for themselves.
Similar focus issues on the Mate 9, but wider field of view.
iPhone focus didn’t land where I expected.
Portrait mode on the iPhone uses the telephoto lens.
Each Mate 9 colour image uses the monochrome sensor as the image base and paints in colour. You can then use the splash effect to isolate a colour.
The iPhone’s excellent colour reproduction and low light performance – from the wide aperture – make for a great experience.
Nothing beats the drama of a proper black and white sensor.
The wider field of view is a treat on the Mate 9 wide aperture mode.
Dual cameras were the 2016 flavour of the year, I wonder what 2017’s flagships will bring.