which phone is king of the cameras?

Note: All shots below were taken in the default auto mode as this is how most will choose to shoot. Both the P30 Pro’s ‘Master AI’ and the Galaxy S10+’s ‘Scene Optimiser’ are enabled by default which recognises what you’re shooting and optimises the picture accordingly.

In shooting a colourful playground against the daytime sky, using the phones’ primary cameras, the P30 Pro showed a more evenly exposed scene and a punchier picture overall owing to its very wide dynamic range. The S10+ overexposed the scene, resulting in washed out colours.

The situation was reversed when switching to the ultrawide camera of each smartphone. Shooting at the beach, the S10+ did a better job capturing the colours and contrast in the scene more accurately. Even though the S10+ technically has a lower megapixel count on its ultrawide camera, it still captures more detail thanks to its superior image processing.

The ultrawide camera on the S10+ is also wider than the Huawei, which allowed me to fit a little more in the frame.

Zoom is where things get interesting. The S10 Plus, like most flagship phones, offers a 2x optical zoom on its telephoto camera, whereas the P30 features 5x optical from its telescope lens.

Photographing a shipwreck at the beach in 2x zoom, the P30 Pro produces a punchier picture, however the S10+ is slightly more accurate with a more evenly exposed image and natural looking colours. The P30 Pro also blows out the highlights, completely washing out the blue sky, clouds and mountains in the background.

But, unsurprisingly, when moving to a 5x zoom the S10+ is no match for the crystal clear optical zoom on the P30 Pro.

At 10x zoom, there is a tiny loss in detail on the P30 Pro. This is because Huawei is using data from multiple 5x optical zoom shots in addition to some algorithmic magic to extend it to 10x and the results, while not as sharp as optical zoom, are certainly impressive.

The difference between this and the S10+ effort is night and day, not only when it comes to detail and sharpness but in the texture and tone of the rusted out shipwreck, all of which the P30 Pro retains with aplomb but the S10+ loses.

The low light shots are where I was well and truly blown away by the P30 Pro. A shot of a Buddha statue was taken at night in almost total darkness and yet somehow the P30 Pro was still able to pull in an incredible amount of light to capture an image that is richly detailed with bright and vivid colours. Huawei’s night mode requires you to keep your hand steady for seven seconds to get a good exposure, which is twice as long as the S10+’s night mode, but the results are in a class of their own.

Even in the standard photo mode, the P30 Pro is a low light champ, exhibiting a level of detail and clarity which few rival phones can match.

While the Galaxy 10+ remains a fantastic phone for photos, The P30 Pro has set a new benchmark with its game changing night mode and the clarity of its 10x zoom, and for that Huawei should be commended. The ultrawide camera and ho-hum video recording mightn’t excite as much, but overall this is still the most impressive and versatile camera phone I’ve used to date.

Krishan is a multi-award-winning Australian technology journalist.

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