Starry nights, sparkling streams and mighty mountains - HUAWEI P20 Pro shows it all

Syed Mehdi Bukhari explains how to do light paint photography and capture star trails with a smartphone.
Published June 19, 2018

My enchantment with Gilgit-Baltistan, the land of milky-white springs and rivers, goes back a decade. I have memories associated with this region — from starry nights to bright and sunny days, and from the ferocious sound of flowing rivers to the sweet chimes of waterfalls.

The natural music of Pakistan's north flows from place to place through its soothing breeze. This time, my travel companion was the HUAWEI P20 Pro. Whatever I explored in the hot wilderness of Skardu and cool valleys of Hunza in this month of June is presented here.

Huawei has crafted a formidable contender for the crown of best smartphone camera. I’m not yet convinced that it deserves that accolade, but I can say with certainty that the HUAWEI P20 Pro’s night mode is a groundbreaking innovation that produces some of the best night shots ever taken with a phone.

The way Huawei’s night mode works is a technical marvel. The camera’s shutter is open for a full four seconds during which time I get to see the image exposure steadily rising until night scenes start to resemble daytime — and then all the information gathered is intelligently used to render a clean and sharp image.

The P20 Pro has a special Star Trails mode as one of the options in the light painting mode. This doesn't have any time limit. You also shoot in Silky Water, Light Trails and Light Painting modes. Let discuss some of its special features one by one.

Star Trails mode

Thankfully, HUAWEI P20 Pro’s ISO level can go upto 12,800, and deliver relatively neat and clean images even in pitch black nights. I shot in darkness for star trails, and the results amazed me.

The great thing about this feature is that it does not over expose the foreground lights, but takes a base exposure at first and then it continues to add star trails over the scene.

Silky Water mode

Another cool feature in the HUAWEI P20 Pro is to take a snapshot of water streams, rivers and waterfalls in a way that it looks smooth and blurry for a beautiful professional-style photograph.

This mode can be accessed inside the Light Paint mode, where you can expose for streaming water for an unspecified time and it will not overexpose the ambient light.

Hybrid Zoom

It is the hybrid zoom that really makes the HUAWEI P20 Pro really stand out. Many dual-camera smartphones offer up to a 2x zoom, which often proves rather modest. Huawei offers up to 5x hybrid zoom, with steps all the way up and a button to switch between 1x, 3x and 5x zoom. Images shot at 3x and 5x zoom are very good, even in low-light.

The HUAWEI P20 Pro sports a 3x optical zoom which means it can deliver lossless image quality due to its optically design special lens with sensor. However, when you zoom further till 5x, it will zoom digitally and you may see some effects of pixelation.

Light Paint Mode

Lastly, here are the photos shot in the Light Paint mode at night. I set a steel wool on fire and shot a 25 seconds long exposure. This feature can help in creating some exceptional light paint work with controlled level of ISO.

With the HUAWEI P20 Pro, the company has finally produced something that I would recommend over competitors regardless of the price. It costs Rs99,999, but it does give a better experience than its rivals in terms of the photo quality, features, and battery time.

All photos have been shot by the author using the HUAWEI P20 Pro. The images are non-edited and non-retouched.

This content is produced in paid partnership with Huawei and is not associated with or necessarily reflective of the views of and its editorial staff.