Reviews on gear and software

Challenge yourself and join me

In photography (and life) you have to challenge yourself to progress, and we all want to progress right?

That’s why it’s important to always give yourself assignments, a while ago for example I asked you guys to use the hashtag #ruggedadventures to post images where you can see the very recognizable LaCie harddrives in cool or work situations, it’s always a challenge to find cool things to do with these shots (working on some myself as we speak), so please keep using that hashtag for that.

However next to photography concepts you can also think about something else.
Now it’s no secret I love Sony cameras, I think at the moment they have the best line up on the market period, and one of the things that I love about them is the EVF, or in other words the Electronic Viewfinder or in other words the “What You See Is What You Get” viewfinder (which you can also disable and make it act like a normal viewfinder for studio use for example, find the “setting efffect” in the menu).

Now using an EVF is cool for many reasons, but one in particular.
You can use the EVF to show information about your settings and see what you get, but you can also use an option called Zebras (for exposure) and Peaking (for focus), now that last one is important for what I’m going to do.

We are all used to autofocus lenses, you press the button and voila, peeep press and sharp (in most cases). But there are also a lot of cool lenses out there that are NOT autofocus, some modern lenses, but also a boatload of vintage lenses, and the cool thing about these lenses is that all look different, you could say that they have their own character. Now a days a good lens is a lens that doesn’t have any flare, that doesn’t give you a weird Bokeh (out of focus areas), no focus fall off around the corners, no weird colors, no fringing etc. etc. it has to be perfect…. and what do we do….. yep we use filters to Instagram the heck out of shot to make it look cool. Now in all honesty I’m not a big fan of using filters that way, but I do love to play with flare, some tinting and sometimes some focus effects. What I actually try to emulate is that old film look, I just love that.

Now comes the cool part.
Almost all older lenses you can fit on the Sony A series.
The reason for this is very simple.
A lens works on a certain distance to the sensor (flange distance), if that distance is equal to what the lens was designed for… well it can focus the way it was designed to do. If that distance is not 100% correct it will lose for example infinity focus or close distance or it will just not work at all. Now the cool thing about the Sony system is that the flange distance is incredibly short, meaning it’s possible to create a convertor for almost any lens you can imagine to use that body. And that opens up a lot of options.

Just do a search online for the term M42
This is a screw-mount lens that is HUGELY popular among vintage lens lovers (like myself), these lenses are readily available in numbers and for little to no money, in fact I’ve bought several on flea-markets for less than 5.00 each, and some are more expensive but in essence if you calculate between 10-50 for a lens you will have a great lens in the 50mm range, and if you add let’s say another 60-70 you will be able to get some really cool lenses, but as always the sky is the limit, some lenses go for well over 1000.00 so beware.

My personal favorite lenses are of course the M42 but also Leica R glass, somehow those Leica lenses are just amazing in color and look and feel, it feels like they make the image even more 3D than a modern lens, it’s something you have to see. Now first things first… don’t even think you come close in sharpness wide open to a Gmaster Sony lens, those lenses are wickedly sharp, also they are incredibly well build and have hardly no defects in the image, when you go the vintage route…. well…. expect a lot of defects, weird effects and slightly softer images wide open, although sometimes…… it can be amazingly sharp.

So why shoot with old lenses when you have the perfect lens?
First off it’s how it looks on the camera, on the street it will immediately set you apart from the guys/girls with a normal lens, this often opens up conversations and makes it much easier to shoot someone. I’ve had tremendous succes with a Yashica film camera for example, I had ZERO “no’s” when I asked to shoot someone with that camera. But next to looks on the camera there is more….

It has character/soul
All these vintage lenses have a certain look, the Russian models can be very very rough, the German models can be pin sharp with beautiful (or harsh) bokeh, some lenses have an insane amount of blades creating cool smooth buttery bokeh, some lenses have a defect and create swirly bokeh artifacts which can be incredibly cool, some lenses are literally afraid of the light and flare as soon as you aim them in the general direction of the light, etc. etc. In short… all these lenses look differently, and in all honesty somehow I just feel more like a photographer when I’m shooting with these lenses, yeah I know it sounds weird, but it’s true. I just LOVE the looks and how you have to work a bit harder and be a bit more aware of the limitations but most of all the strong points of those lenses.

You WILL be hooked
Now trust me on this one, you WILL be hooked.
Shooting vintage lenses is addictive as can be.
For me it’s always a bit of a wave, sometimes I shoot with it a lot and sometimes I just forget about them and shoot with the new lenses.

Why this new interest?
Good question
A few years ago I got into contact with Techart on a trade-show, they were the first to create a module that makes EVERY manual lens a fully functional auto focus lens, yes you heard that right, it will make that old M42 or Leica R lens a fully functioning AF lens. Now that full functional has to be taken with a grain of salt, but it is very impressive. Next to just using AF it will actually also support face tracking, continuous focus, single shot etc. Some people even claim that with a new firmware update Eye focus on the Sony works…. I don’t know that yet (it seems impossible, because not even every Sony lens supports that, but hey who knows).

Ok. so why that new interest.
As explained before I just LOVE that look of the old lenses, but sometimes I just don’t feel like always manually focus and just want to shoot fast, well at least faster than manual focus. Over the last 2 years I’ve tried to get in contact with Techart a few times and with no success, which is a shame because I would have loved to test this convertor out. With the release of the new Sony A7RIII my interest was peaked once before, the new A7RIII has an insane new focus system that is reportedly doing wonders for people with Canon AF lenses, if you have to believe some people, some Canon lenses perform faster in difficult light situations on the Sony than on the native cameras, now that’s interesting.

Now when the AF is that good, and it’s based on the mirror-less concept it really triggered me to try to get that Techart module again. Thanks to CameraLand in the Netherland I now have a review sample and next week I’ll begin testing the AF capabilities of this unit. The unit itself is not cheap, and if you don’t look online it seems way to expensive to get the convertor for Leica R and M42. Leica makes a convertor to mount Leica R on M (the Techart is a M mount) but these retail for up to 320.00 euros which added to the Techart makes it too expensive for what most people will do with it. However when you surf a little bit and google on “Leica R on M” and “M42 on Leica M” you will quickly find good quality converters for around 20 euros, in fact I ordered 2 for 37.50 including shipping. Now we are talking 😀

Ok the Techart is still expensive, but in all honesty it’s worth every single penny, because now you can use all those amazing old lenses on your new camera. And that’s what this project for me is all about.

 

The project
The coming months I’ll be shooting several M42 and Leica R lenses on my Sony A7RIII, with AF and Manual focus. I will label these as #VintageLensOnNew on my social media, and I ask you to do the same. Write a small piece about your favorite lens and make some images and share it on social media, but most of all send them also to me…. I will select the coolest shots and best stories and post them on my blog with links to your work. Also in our vlogs and digital classroom episodes I’ll be giving attention to this project.

We all need lenses to shoot, and lenses contribute to a large amount of the budget.
By using an AF convertor and some simple converters you have a tremendous amount of choices for lenses. Now don’t expect to be shooting the Olympics with these lenses, but from what I’ve seen now the Techart is fast enough to keep up with model-photography (easily), street and travel photography and I even saw someone doing some sports with it. So next to this project this could be the coolest way you can imagine to build a huge arsenal of very unique looking lenses that will not only trigger your creativity but most of all save you a boatload of money. (hey I’m Dutch).

So join me for this #VintageLensOnNew project and start hunting down those treasures.
Because that’s an added bonus to this project…  it will also motivate you to go out to hunt for these lenses, and that….. will give you great shooting opportunities because often these flea-markets are filled with cool characters and colorful or vintage stuff. So this project is not only fun it will also be good for your health (making those extra miles on those markets).

Joining the project is cool of course, but also please spread this blogpost to other people you know that are into photography.
Even if it’s not the love for vintage, it could actually save them a lot of money in lenses, because as mentioned before most of these lenses might be good and ok, some are real gems and rival modern lenses in sharpness and looks, just for a fraction of the price. let’s make #VintageLensOnNew rock. And don’t forget to send me those stories and images and your favorite lens.

 

LaCie DJI Co-pilot thoughts and tips

Some products are released and you wonder…. “why that name?”
Or you just ignore the product for the simple reason that you think it’s not for you.
Well it’s no secret I’m a huge fanboy of the LaCie products, and we also work together with LaCie on some things, but still I hope you understand that this article is 100% my own thoughts, not paid for by LaCie, and certainly is not colored in anyway by the fact we work with them. In fact the ONLY reason I work with companies is because I just love their products, in my opinion that’s way more important than anything else, because that way you guys will give me your trust, and I would never do anything to break that…. well that being said let’s start.

The DJI Co Pilot
The minute I heard the name I was not immediately interested and I can imagine that many of you also have the same thoughts that I have…”It’s for a drone, and specific a DJI drone” right?….. well I understand that 100%, but I couldn’t be more wrong.

Let’s start with a little bit of a backstory.
Annewiek and I ran a computer store for many many years (actually over 2 decades) and in that time one of the things we learned was to make sure you have backups, and people knowing me know this is without a doubt something I always stress. We store not only images but actually frozen moments in time that will never ever come back, if something happens to them I would be devastated. Now in the studio or at home it’s easy. Just add a DAS (Direct Attached Storage) and a NAS (Networked Attached Storage) and if you want to be sure always backup this weeks work on a separate harddrive and take that home or to a friend or parent. But how do we do this on the road?

Well in my case I always travel with 2 rugged drives and backup every night (automated process) on these two drives, I’ve set them up like a sort of “mirror” with software. Now when we travel, one drive goes in the suitcase and one drive comes with me or Annewiek. And when we leave the room or hotel one drive is in our car or in our bag so when something happens in the hotel/house we have our images and video…. call me crazy but trust me in over 2 decades of running a pc store I’ve learned from other peoples mistakes.

So in short we always carry around a drive.
Now let’s go back in time.

There was a time when cards could be filled up during a day, in fact there were days where I easily would fill up 2-3 cards by just visiting the zoo, at that time cameras were not really build for RAW and cards were certainly not ready for RAW…. oh sorry let me rephrase… cards were not prepared for my addiction to shoot a lot of images (that sounds better and closer to the truth I guess) anyway… we needed more room.

Enter the Image Tank
Oh my, did I love these, I was literally in love with them, I think that over the years I have owned at least 3 different image tanks before ending up with one that had it all (expect battery life that was), replaceble harddrives so I could grow the system, extra batteries (very much needed) a “crappy” display that actually was so bad you could only see that it was done, and…. well it was relatively small…. oh man who am I kidding, the bloody thing was huge and heavy. But… it always traveled with me.

Ok we are now many years ahead in the future and we (in all honesty) don’t really need an image tank anymore. Cards are up to 256GB and if you have deep pockets you get much higher capacity. But there is also more, where in the old days I shot with one camera I’m now shooting with my A7RIII from Sony for stills, I have a Sony A6500 for the vlog, we drag a small Zoom recorder with us for recording interviews if needed and I have a drone (Mavic pro with me), plus we of course have our dashcam. I have to say…. this is in a worst case scenario, but it does happen that we bring all of this. (oh and add my phone to this). Long story short… we shoot a lot of material.

Again, we don’t really run into problems with cards, even when roaming the streets of New York I hardly shoot more than 64GB (my max card size) and when I do, well… I always have a second one with me, and I also never fill a 32GB card with video for the vlog, unless I’m doing time lapses, but hey… we have another 32GB for video with us. Yes I use 32GB for video and 64GB for photography, I always shoot very short videos for the vlog so I normally manage well within that capacity.

“Hey Frank, wait a minute this review thingy is going the wrong way dude…. ”
Yes I know, don’t worry.

The state of mind of the photographer
When I walk around in New York or any other city (I just always take NY as an example because I never shoot more images than in that city… it’s CRAZY) I might not fill up my cards but there is much more to worry about.

  1. My camera could get stolen, actually I did lose a 5DMKII at Photokina a few years ago during a demo I gave for Elinchrom, we actually have video footage that shows the camera in a rack under my laptop, and in the next scene it’s gone. Because I was rushed I didn’t backup the previous day, so I did not only loose the camera but also all the images, including some private shots of us and friends in the city which I still feel sad about.
  2. I could forget my camera somewhere, yes it did happen to me once, luckily it was still there.
  3. A card can crash. I always try to steer away from cheap cards but it happened to me a few times that a card just went from working great to refusing to read in any device I tried it. Sandisk btw had great service and replaced the card without any problem, but I still lost half a day of shots.
  4. When switching cards I can make a mistake…. did I really format that card that was full… or was that an empty one…. oops
  5. You can loose a card very very easily. I’m incredibly lucky, over all these years we lost app 4 cards, which in my book is still 4 too many. Luckily however never during a trip or with material on it, finding some wood now to know on…… one moment……… ok I’m ready to continue (don’t push your luck with this).
  6. Many more things can happen……

So where does the LaCie DJI Co-Pilot come in?

It’s so much more
The LaCie DJI Co-Pilot could be labeled as a hyper modern image tank. It’s not able to just work together with DJI products but it will actually do a lot more, in fact…. I think that it will be used by more people that don’t even own a drone than it will be by people that DO own a drone, as long as they realize the importance of a device like this.

So let’s take a look at some of the things it can do
First up the design.
You know I love the rugged drives, and it’s not just because they are orange (Hey I’m Dutch), but it’s the way that the drives are protected and don’t slide around in your bag or on a table.

Ok.
Looks nice right?
Even if it’s not orange…. LaCie maybe a Frank Co-Pilot in Orange one day 🙂 ?

It’s not that big, although it’s by no means small, (137.2 x 111.8 x 35.6 mm) but it’s a very good design to just drop somewhere in a bag and don’t worry about it anymore.

But design is not everything (is Apple listening :-), ok that was harsh).
So let’s see what this baby can do.

Copy files from an SD card to the Harddrive.
Connect your camera directly to the device to download files to the Harddrive (wonder if that also works with my Phone, but I see no reason why not)
Talking about phones… it can also charge your phone via the internal battery
And the internal battery can be charged by the included wall charger… but also via the USB-c connector (I don’t know the time difference)
View the images and video via the Android or iOS app
Via the display on the drive itself you can monitor the progress of copying

Now this all breaks or succeeds by the app that is used.
And what I’ve seen so far I’m very excited about it. I don’t expect it to show my RAW sony files full resolution on my Phone, as long as I know they are there it’s more than enough for me, and the app does that flawlessly as far as I’ve seen so far (do remember I don’t have a review unit yet), with video it’s able to playback even 4K video and to be honest this is a very handy thing for me because I can than quickly check if all the video is well recorded and I can record it again if necessary. Of course you can do this also on the camera but I find it much easier via an app.

Ok so why am I so looking forward to this product
As mentioned before we shoot a lot, and I’m always afraid of losing my data, with the LaCie DJI Co-Pilot I can now make (incremental) backups whenever I take a rest stop somewhere, let’s say we’re walking in NY and we want a coffee, let’s just backup the card and leave with shop with the feeling that all my files are save, want to watch some video from what we shot, start the app and watch. Want to charge my phone on the road… no problem… just charge.

And the cool thing…. as soon as we are back in the hotel just connect it to my laptop via the fast USB-C connection and….. well it acts like an external harddrive and I can make a mirror copy of all the files on the rugged drive and have my mirror set in tact. For me the LaCie DJI co-pilot will literally mean that one of my Rugged drives will be replaced with this one, and from carrying around “dead weight” just to be sure that we have our images with us, we now actually can make use of that drive that we carry around.

Now what if you’re not obsessed by dataloss
Well let me first say that you absolutely should, but what about people that shoot less images, or even jpgs etc.? Well also for this group there is a huge benefit… you don’t have to bring your laptop anymore, well ok it doesn’t mail, or play games but loads of people just drag their laptops with them on a trip just to backup their images. For a fact I do all my social media and mails on my phone, and use the dictate function a lot, this has transformed my phone actually to the task that was first done with my laptop. So I can imagine that the LaCie DJI Co-Pilot makes it possible for a lot of people to just leave their laptop at home and bring only this on a trip and travel REALLY light.

Conclusion
There are many products I love, but not so often are products released that got me excited. I can’t wait to test out the Co-Pilot. I think for ANY travelling photographer, being a smartphone or DSLR shooter and even when you’re out in the field and just want to make sure your files are backuped up the Lacie DJI Co-Pilot will be an amazing new tool for this. A real review will follow soon I hope.

OH…. and I forgot one very important thing.
The LaCie DJI Co-Pilot OF COURSE is covered by the amazing data recovery program from Seagate.
Need more convincing to buy one…….. ?

Huawei P20 pro on the street in Amsterdam almost final conclusion

I never ever spend so much time on reviewing a smartphone, but I think the P20Pro is often not reviewed the way that photographers use it in other reviews, or features are not mentioned that I think are very important. Now don’t worry this will NEVER become a smartphone blog, it is and will always stay a photography blog.

Than why spend so much time on a fricking phone?
Well first of all because you guys keep asking me about it, and secondly and probably the most important reason is that this phone is just a real step forward in usability for pro shooters, one could say that it’s the first major break through in years in this segment, and in all honesty I don’t really regard this as a smartphone review, I REALLY and honestly see this as a PURE photography review, yes it’s that good.

So after the last review you guys asked me how it would perform on the street, just a few shots were not enough to give an impression and “as always” I agree, so today we went out on the streets of Amsterdam for about 30 minutes to shoot some images. Now before I start lets make a few things clear…..

  1. Oversharpening
    PLEASE Huawei, PLEASE lower the sharpening in the JPGs, I don’t want to go as far as that they are unusable, but when you shoot something with fine detail it’s literally unusable, it might look fine on instagram but I would never shoot something like that for even the slightest important shot, it’s really hit and miss. Some shots look nice and detailed but most with fine detail are just a mess. And this is a shame for the very simple reason…. it can easily be fixed in a firmware update.
  2. Nightmode
    Absolutely magic, I don’t know what’s going on but even when there is motion in the shot it’s a perfect shot without any motion, you really have to see it to believe it, but also there PLEASE back down the sharpness a LOT, again it’s hit and miss, some shots are amazing, some are just horrendous

Ok, so JPG pretty much is hit and miss… but who cares about JPG ?
Well if you want to use the amazing night mode you have to work with JPG, so I really hope they will address this in firmware, again it should be incredibly easy to do.

Ok let’s go to the goodies…..RAW
40MP pure raw files…. mmmmm
Now we are talking, this is night and day compared to the JPG files, the RAW files I didn’t expect a lot from when I bought the phone (to be clear I’m NOT associated with Huawei, in fact I did try to contact the Netherlands and got a standard reply that they are not interested in working with Photographers… well ok, and I paid full retail for my phone). The moment I got the phone and saw the RAW files I did like them a lot, but after today it did convince me about one simple thing….

The P20Pro could be the best street/travel cam out there today in the compact range.
Yes you heard that correctly. But I also added could be.
In essence.
If you are ok with shooting on the 40MP RAW setting, and not using all the special features like HDR, Lightpainting, portrait etc. and can work with the wide angle lens this is in fact a full replacement for a compact camera. Yeah the compact camera will be better in some cases, but let’s be honest your phone is always with you and the compact camera you have to drag with you. In essence I would say that the resolution of the sensor is really good, without doing the scientific stuff I would say it renders detail just as good as 30mp sensor in a DSLR, there is some fringing in some areas due to the bayer filter they used which is inherent to the pixel binding but for a smartphone…. man this baby can shoot.

Ok let’s take a look at some images.

First up dynamic range
All these files are straight out of the camera with Lightroom adjustments, now this might not be your taste, but I tried to show how much you can get back from the files, and it’s pretty impressive. Again… remember this is a smartphone… or let’s say a really really compact camera.

Next up some more shots with difficult lighting situations and some bright colors.
Now it has to be said that when you shoot with perfect light the noise levels are extremely low on the RAW setting. HOWEVER… as soon as you start to push files you might end up with some noise in the shadow areas where a DSLR will be as clean as a whistle. However do remember that this is a much smaller sensor with a huge amount of pixels, and…. also as with DSLRs with 40MP you should actually never ever judge noise on 1:1 on your monitor, for the very simple reason, that’s like looking at a billboard with a magnifying glass. I dare to say that the more noisy shots will hold up to prints as large as A3 and maybe even A2 without showing any problematic noise. Kick in a little bit of noise reduction in lightroom or your favorite plugin (I love Topaz denoise for this, use Doorhof99 as a coupon for a cool 10% off (and I don’t mean this as a commercial, just pointing it out for you guys to save some money)) and I’m sure you can print a lot larger.

Also do realize that a little but of noise is not a bad thing, just a few years ago almost every single DSLR had noise above ISO400, we’ve come a long way with that and every year also these cameras will get better, for now it’s already not a big deal, but I’m very anxious to see the future.

Ok next topic.
Black and white
I’m a bit in doubt with this one…
Why not just shoot color and make it Black and White right?
Well yes and no.
The main advantage of the BW sensor is of course the noise levels and dynamic range. Because it’s a dedicated monochrome sensor it handles noise and dynamic range a lot better than the main sensor, add to this that it’s also a very nice 20MP and shooting dedicated BW is in fact not a really bad thing. Call me old fashioned but I just LOVE shooting BW with a real dedicated setting, but only when it gives me an advantage over color. For example I never shoot BW on my Sony’s but I love shooting BW film in my Leica R or Mamiya RZ ProII, with the P20pro shooting BW is a dedicated sensor with advantages, so why not use it 🙂

Now one thing that I found really fun to work with is shoot in aperture mode and just lower the aperture all the way down. It’s a bit of hit and miss and some images came out pretty ugly but when it works…. man this is a LOT of fun.

Talking about Depth of Field.
You’ve heard it before, the sensor is REALLY big for a smartphone and the aperture is really fast, meaning if you stand close to your subject and choose your focus point carefully you can get some awesome DOF effects, I think a lot of people could be fooled by this shot and might even think it was shot on a full frame DSLR.

The Bokeh is ok so it’s a bit of a give away that it’s not a Sigma Art 1.4 lens… but let’s be honest, this looks pretty sweet right?

Ok so how bad is that noise?
Well it’s ok.
This was shot in a pretty dark parking garage.

And let’s do a 100% crop of this one.
This is with a slight noise reduction in Lightroom (not the best noise reduction)
PLUS… I zoomed in on a problem area, focus was actually somewhere else but there was less shadow there, so just focus on the noise, not on sharpness.

And this is without any noise reduction.
Seeing it wasn’t the brightest situation I think it’s very usable, also remember this is a 40MP crop from a smartphone.

So how does 40MP look when you shoot it under good conditions?
Well like this.

I think that pretty much shows what you can expect.

 

“Final conclusion”
Overall I’m more than impressed with my new Phone.
I truely think that this is a major step up from ANY smartphone out there, and this camera system actually rivals many many compact cameras, will it beat a Sony RX series? well no duh, that’s a totally different camera, it has a zoom lens, it’s a dedicated camera and it has better noise handling, but… it’s also more expensive if you have to buy it next to your phone and the RX100 is one sick camera. Will it beat anything that is well… cheaper? I didn’t test all cameras out there of course but I almost dare to say that if you look at sub 500 euro compact cameras this will actually beat it with a margin.

Do remember… you have to be ok with shooting with a “prime lens” if you want to use the 40MP setting. Stay away from the JPGs until they fix it, which again I really hope they do because if they do, I dare to say this is a killer allround camera because the 3x tele lens is actually more than ok (stay away from the 5, just crop from the 40MP sensor or use it because you have to, it’s not bad but it’s far from good).

One thing I really have to mention as conclusion.
My phone is hardly used for making calls, I do my work on it, answer mails, update social media, watch videos etc. and I take a LOT of photos and video, and I mean A LOT, with the P20 pro for the first time I now have a camera/phone that makes me happy when I see the results, not because I see cool shots but most of all because I see the detail and dynamic range I normally missed.

Add to this the 4000Mah battery which lasts me all day, I don’t know how they do it but my Note 8 always needed at least one top up per day, and with the P20 Pro I end up with 15% left at night.

And finally… the most important thing that will make or break ANY camera phone or camera….
BOOT UP TIME…
This thing is FAST.
Just double tap the volume button and you’re ready to shoot, you can even set it up to shoot an image as soon as it boots.

 

Improvements…
1. Back down on the sharpening of JPG’s
2. Back down on the sharpening of JPG’s
(I mention this twice because it really destroys an otherwise awesome camera in JPG)

3. In the camera it would be nice to create a custom order, I would for example love to see, PRO, Night, BW, Video next to each other and the rest after these three. It shouldn’t be hard to do in software, but it would make working fast a lot easier.

Ok I think this concludes the very long review.
Again, I only did this because you guys kept asking me things to try out, and because I think this is a ground breaking product. And let’s be honest….. it is a camera 🙂
No go out and buy one…. tell them Frank send you.

Huawei real life photography situation

Everytime I upgrade my phone I try to write a small review about it, mainly focussed on the camera.
With the P20pro I have to be honest I’m so impressed but also pushed by the reactions and questions I get that it’s becoming a really long review, and we have some more coming.

Yesterday it was time for the workshop at “Buurtspoormuseum”, or in English… a railroad museum.
Before and during the workshop I squeezed in some images with the P20pro (including modelshoots which will be shown later), the idea was to test out how good the P20Pro now really is when you take it with you during a trip to a museum etc. And I can say…..

It’s very very good
Considering it’s a smartphone I have to add.

Of course you have to realize that to shoot on the 40MP RAW setting you’re stuck with the wideangle view which is app 27mm compared to a full frame. This does limit you somehow in where you can take the camera with you. When you can get close to your subjects, or when you love wider shots it’s really a full replacement for a compact camera with fixed lens, the 40MP files are a whopping 78-80MB and contain a load of detail and color. Also dynamic range really surprised me for a smartphone. Now do remember I won’t say it’s better than a fixed lens compact, I say you can leave it at home for a trip (Huge difference).

 

“So Frank, the 40MP is according to some only usable in good light, what’s your opinion”
Well of course it works best with good light, that’s obvious, still I took a lot of images with it inside the museum and it really shows that a larger sensor is hugely beneficial, I think also that that is where the clue is. Loads of those reviews were written before someone got the camera for a longer time, and I can imagine that when you shoot images under tungsten that it’s terrible (most cameras are very bad under tungsten), I shot some in the museum yesterday in pretty dark areas but with “daylight” and to be honest the images really are very good, you can see noise, but nothing a very simple push on the noisekiller will take away, use a plugin in like topaz denoise (use FrankDoorhof for a cool discount) and you will end up with superclean images that can be printed REALLY large.

 

“how fast does it start, is it annoying?”
One of the most important things.
On the Note8 the camera booted pretty fast, but the P20Pro beats that by a margin.
Just double tap the volume down button twice and you’re first image it shot and you’re ready for the next, or if you don’t like that… (like me)… just disable that option and you’re camera starts up in I believe 0.3 seconds and it doesn’t take the first shot. It’s faster than starting up my A7RIII actually.

 

“Does it start up in Pro?”
Yes, thank you Huawei, I’ve had several complaints from people that their phones always booted up in JPG mode and they had to change it to pro to be able to shoot RAW. With the P20pro it seems that as long as you don’t close/kill the camera it will always boot up in pro if you ended in pro after the last shot.

 

“How about that night mode… gimmick or really that awesome?”
Well yeah… really that awesome and I can add a AWESOME to that. It’s pure magic. Just hold the camera relatively steady and it does it work, now that alone is not the magic. But….. what I never expected was the intelligent system behind it. I shot several night mode shots with students moving around, our makeup artist at work etc. and to my surprise ALL those shots really look like they were one shot slight HDR exposures, I have no clue how the camera does it, but a 4 second exposure where a moving makeup artist is captured completely still….. maybe it’s haunted or something but it’s almost scary.

 

“how about zoom?”
I did tell you guys before that I would probably not use the zoom lens because I would rather just crop the 40MP image, and I still stand behind that remark, but I’m a photographer by trade. I’ve shot some images on 3x tele (app 80mm) yesterday and must say, it’s far from bad, in fact… if you only need the JPG… no reason to not use that zoom option and just use the image without cropping. The lens does render very nicely and is actually very sharp and contrasty enough.

 

“Can it trigger studio strobes?”
Eh… well…. that’s a cool one.
I tried to learn my Elinchroms the preflash of the strobe hoping it would trigger my Elinchroms, but I had no luck, it did work but it’s very very instable and not workable at all. I also got a Godox A1 at the moment in our studio and that product really looks interesting, we tried it this weekend with a Godox system and an iPhone and it’s absolutely awesome, you can trigger the A1 from the iPhone and it even does ETTL, cool (and the app supports RAW), but… according to Godox there would be an Android version before September 2017 and…. well….. there is nothing yet…. not even a beta I can try. This is REALLY bad I think from Godox, the product is awesome don’t get me wrong, but it’s almost May 2018 by now and there is not even a beta yet while they promised September 2017, absolutely ridiculous. When they fix this however you will have a great way to trigger your strobes. For me it will be fun to test it a few times, but it will of course not replace my A7RIII in the studio. However drop an A1 in your bag and you have a kick ass portable strobe solution just in case. It’s like having an off camera speedlight with you. Godox HURRY UP YOU HEAR ME…

 

There are a lot more questions, so maybe I’ll answer those in another post or video, just let me know in the comments below.
To close this one….
Here are some images I shot yesterday, just quick snaps but you can see how the camera held up in these situations, I tried to not make it too easy with very high contrast scenes, darker areas etc. I think it did really well. These are straight out of the camera, RAW, adjusted in lightroom CC classic without any presets, noise killing or plugins.

Now a very quick semi conclusion
Most images you shoot with your smartphone will end up online, 10MP is more than enough for that, and all the modes that work in that resolution are absolutely well thought out and handy. When you are more serious without a doubt don’t underestimate that huge (for a smartphone) 40MP sensor, it really really surprises me. This is the first major step forwards for photography in years in smartphones. If you’re up for renewal and you love photography I can’t think of any other smartphone out there that will even come close. (yes it’s that good)