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Solving the P30 Pro color problems

Let me start out by saying that I’m horrified by the fact that no-one saw this in reviews. It goes without saying that I always have my doubts with reviewers that review smartphones for photography. I strongly have the opinion that those reviewers hardly take any time to shoot serious stuff with the cameras, maybe it’s because of time constraints or it’s simply because they don’t know about DNG.

Long story short (because I could really rant about this), it’s the reviewers we trust, they often get cameras or other devices before the general public and let’s be honest we often determine our spending on their advice. In the past reviews with the P20 Pro I already had my doubts because according to most reviews the images were not more than ok, and only slightly above for example Samsung and Apple….. from the start I suspected them to use the P20Pro on JPG and 10MP because when I shot the P20Pro I was over the moon with the DNG/RAW files on 40MP, but the 10MP JPGs…… mawh not that much, over processed and not color accurate, actually exactly what the reviewers said. Now when you bring a phone like the P20Pro and now the P30Pro on the market aimed so strongly at photographers I really and I mean REALLY can’t figure out why they don’t give the cameras to real photographers that do real work with it. As soon as the P30Pro was announced I was ready, ready to be amazed, come on this is Huawei a brand 2 years ago I would not think about buying but ever since the P20Pro I’ve been a Huawei fanboy, and no I’m NOT affiliated with them, I paid full retail for my phone and they didn’t even a funky color so I ended up with black.

My p30Pro arrived and I couldn’t wait to test it out, to my horror this was not what I expected, images were horrendous. Not in sharpness or noise, not on JPG those rock, and even the video is A LOT better, but my beloved DNG/RAW files on 40MP with all due respect I have no other name for it than…. not accurate at all, not by a mile. At that point also my frustration started to build, all those reviews, all those people that have millions of views and claim to be professionals in their trade…. is it my device? is it me? so i started asking around online, now not a lot of people owned the P30Pro but the once that did to my surprise ALL confirmed that reds were indeed funky, and trust me it’s not just the reds.

Ok so what’s going on?

In essence it’s not that hard to figure out.
The P30Pro is using a new sensor, let’s keep it simple.
A normal sensor captures RGB (often in a Bayer pattern), but this new sensor captures RYYB, meaning not Red, Green and Blue but Red, Yellow, Yellow, Blue. In essence this means more light capture but it also brings a problem. In a balanced colorspace we work with a blackbody curve on which our white point sits (often revered as D65, or 65K or 6500) When you draw a line through these points you end up with a balanced system where Red connects with Cyan, Blue connects with Yellow and Green connects with Magenta. let’s visualize this, this is a REC709 colorspace rendered in 2D. Just ignore the dots, it’s a report from one of my ISF calibrations.

As you can see, the primaries colors are RGB and the secondary colors are CMY.
Normally a colorspace is 3 dimensional. This means that every color has a fixed coordinate, for red REC 709 for example this is

RGB color space parameters[2]
Color space White point Primaries
xW yW xR yR xG yG xB yB
ITU-R BT.709 0.3127 0.3290 0.64 0.33 0.30 0.60 0.15 0.06

And this goes for everything. So Adobe RGB, ProPhoto RGB, REC709, BT2020, P3 etc. all colorspaces that have fixed coordinates for the colors, this way we always know where the colors should be. Now we can manipulate these colors actually pretty simple. Because it’s a 3 Dimensional colorspace we use the so called HSL settings to get the colors in their position. (Hue, Saturation, Luminance) Now this is not the complete story, because there is also something called Gamma but let’s keep it “simple” for now.

Ok so the first images I took with the P30 Pro looked like this.
First the RAW file without any adjustments and after that the JPG and although the JPG is slightly over saturated it’s actually pretty accurate, that thing is really really red.

Ok so you don’t have to be a genius to see that this is not right, and again I really can’t understand why no “professional”  reviewer did not see this.
In essence what’s probably going wrong is that by creating green out of the yellow they shift red towards orange (which is what you see) however when you look closely you see that also blues and cyans are affected, which is to be expected seeing a colorspace is a “balance” thing, if the balance is not 100% ALL colors shift.

Now this got me thinking.
Some people said it must be a problem with the sensor, but that doesn’t make any sense at all. Think about it, the RAW file is captured, and from there the JPG is created, not the other way around, so why would the RAW file be wrong and the JPG correct. The weird thing however is that both in the native app on the P30Pro as in Lightroom CC as in Capture One the P30Pro files just are wrong.

At first of course you panic and you think the worst.
But let’s be honest, what is the first thing I learn you guys when you visit my channel/workshops etc.?
right always calibrate your screen and use the colorcheckers. So I decided to do the same thing but now with my P30Pro.

This is shot with the Xrite colorchecker SG
This is a really nice colorchecker with plenty of patches so you can create nice smooth correction files.

Now this is a HUGE mess, reds, skintones, blues… well let’s be fair almost every color is totally wrong, and not for a small amount.
Luckily Xrite delivers some really nice software to create custom profiles. And it’s not hard, just export from Lightroom, or Capture One and the software does it’s magic. And indeed… voila.
same Raw file

And there we go, now this is something I recognize.

So what do we do?
Well until Huawei somehow fixes their RAW/DNG files (and that shouldn’t be hard seeing it’s only a wrong profiling) you will have to use a separate profile for your DNGs. And again its really easy to build and in all honesty if you’re serious about photography you probably already own a colorchecker.

So is this it?
no I wish, there still is a huge problem for P30Pro owners. Although the files are not lost and you can easily correct them you do have to realize that this is a problem that is very serious, all the apps on your phone that are able to work with RAW files like for example Snapseed, Lightroom CC etc. will all suffer from problems when you open the files directly, meaning editing the RAWs on your phone is NOT possible (if you want accurate colors), so Huawei really has to change this in software and create a proper ICC profile for their DNG files. Luckily this is solvable with software, it’s simply put creating a correct correction file and it’s done. So let’s hope that this maybe helps a bit.

Now what do I think of the phone?
It’s awesome. Love the new screen and look, it’s blazingly fast, it’s even able to decode 1080P .ts streams on the fly to cast to chromecast without any hickups, video looks really nice and smooth in 4K and stunning stabilization in 1080. Fingerprint sensor just works and the camera…. oh man really don’t start about the cameras.

Having a wide angle, standard and 5-10x zoom is just plain awesome.
I would love to have the wide and standard on 40MP but let’s be honest 20MP wide and 40MP is pretty cool too. Oh and the selfie camera is also great (finally)

Just fix the colors on your main MAJOR selling point sensor.
Oh and next time…. maybe first send a device to people that know how to shoot RAW 🙂 (hint hint)

As always feel free to leave comments below. I’ll post some images soon which I took with the camera, but trust me…. run to the store and get one.

The coolest market on the planet…… if your into this

It’s no secret that I love old cameras and vintage lenses.
So what do you think about a market spanning several streets with just cameras, lenses, accessories, books, prints, wetplate portrait takers, buying, selling….. it’s insane…. well enter the fotografica market in Doesburg.

This has been the second time we visited and in all honesty it’s really something we plan our holiday around, unless we really don’t have another option we are there. The cool thing is that you can literally find anything. For a few weeks I’ve been looking for a rubber eye piece for my leica R7 and although you can find them online the prices are often insane also due to the added shipping costs. On the fotografica it took me not more than 15 minutes and a sales person from Germany just opened up a box…. and voila how many do you want….. bingo.

Now I can spend a lot of letters on it, but I always believe that images speak much clearer… do beware…. I have a lot, for the simple reason it’s impossible to just capture this with 3-4 images, it’s not even possible with the amount I shot but I picked some things out that I really liked to share with you guys. So take some popcorn, grab a soda and join me for the Fotografica 2018 Doesburg.

All images were shot with the Huawei P20 Pro and edited in Lightroom, I’ve mentioned it before but this phone is just amazing when you use it in the pro mode on 40MP RAW. It’s the first phone that I call my camera that can make calls….. normally I would have brought my Sony A7RIII but sometimes shooting on a market just works better with a phone.

 

As mentioned it was not only cameras, there really is a mix of very old cameras but also prints, like these.

I Always call these the magic lanterns, and they are so cool to look at.
Maybe one day I’ll get one 😀

I didn’t by any film, because somehow…. I don’t really trust this kind of display in the bright sun, but to be honest 1 euro each is not that bad, and maybe you get some funky results.

Don’t you just LOVE these colors.

Of course we all need some energy to shoot…..

Yes the P20Pro can even shoot with a reasonable DOF. (this was not done after the fact, it’s really the way the camera shoots.
Oh… and I love the front camera in the picture.

I dare you to take time and not find what you’re looking for.

Not all cameras are serious thought, isn’t this cute as heck.

One of MANY booths… Annewiek finally admitted that I don’t have a lot of cameras…. although the way she said it… doesn’t really comforted me….mmmmm

Also loads of darkroom material… although in all honesty I don’t really knew this one. It’s an automatic Dial camera????

Oempf….. a dream next to each other…. Voightlander, Rolleiflex and Leica…..

Some light reading for the evenings….. 😀

And all in such fine condition…. and I’m not talking about the legs… which I actually just saw now while typing this.

Colorfilm timer… I still remember my grandfather using one of these, or similar (it’s a long time ago)

Still best camera ever build in my honest opinion. I own one and it will be the last one I ever sell if I ever stop shooting.

No it’s not a portable crematorium or heater…. it’s a very predated projector (I call them magic lanterns, and I actually believe it’s the real name)

This guy actually did good business LOL

Doesn’t this just move you?
This is such awesome stuff.
Realize that in the old days this for people was PURE magic and could transport you to a totally different world….. the times we still had imagination.

LIGHTMETERS………………………!!!
LIGHTMETERS………………………!!!

I just don’t know why exactly but Leica has a real draw on me.
I use a R4 and R7 (R4 is for sale actually) and they do render images beautifully and look great (and that viewfinder is awesome) but still I do think there is way too much price expansion on these cameras, it’s almost like it’s gold….. (yeah I know it’s obvious)

Who doesn’t like brownies….
I always tease Annewiek a bit by asking her if she wants a brownie……

Again some really cute bears and cameras.

I actually really liked this idea.
This guy was selling old lenses and cameras with clocks inside….
We had to leave rather early so I didn’t walk back but I would love one… think about making one myself now but with a digital clock.

Also loads of stereo photography stuff.
One of my “idols” Brian May (from Queen) is actually pretty involved in this stereo photography stuff.
I never did it myself… maybe one day.

In that period people really valued photography.
Look at the framing and the interior, isn’t that just awesome
Although in all honesty… it did call up more a memoriam feeling than a wedding, what do you think?

LOVED the girl on the portrait, just amazing. That period of photography was just awesome.

I think a housing for underwater photography.

Extension bellows.

I still remember my very first strobe, I was REALLY young then.
It indeed had little bulbs that only worked once… now a days we would say “what a waste” at that time we just threw them out… unbelievable when you think back about it. My second one was better by the way that one you could rotate.

Now don’t think I’m that old (I’m only 47) but I was brought up in a family of very enthusiastic photographers.

Special editions, in funky and cool colors.

ain

I hope you guys enjoyed this blogpost.
If you did please leave comments below and share this, we want to grow our channels so your help REALLY helps, even a like or comment 😀

 

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)