Our first test scene was relatively easy, as we shot it before it got dark. While it didn't present any challenges regarding available light, it revealed another aspect of the wide aperture that you may not realize.
Having a wider aperture has its downsides too. You see, outside of exposure, aperture size is also directly related to the focus depth or the depth-of-field (DOF) as it's technically known. The wider the aperture, the shallower the focus depth is.
Check the scene below, where you have plenty of detail in both the foreground and background. You will notice that in the more distant areas behind the foreground, on which we focused manually, the details are less defined on the F/1.8 camera than on the F/2.2 camera. In this respect, the camera on the P10 might have an advantage in almost every shooting scenario with good light.
So the narrower the aperture, the more likely it is that the entire scene will be in focus? Well, yes and no. That's indeed the theory, and we just gave you a good example of that, but the reality is slightly different. It turns out that the focus performance of these two phones was quite unreliable after it got dark - even when we locked in the focus with the camera viewfinder. It's one of the reasons we discarded quite a few of our camera samples - they were less sharp than the camera is typically capable of.
So here's a similar scene where the P10 should normally have more of the scene in perfect focus and yet, it wasn't the case.
Have in mind that we observed the inconsistent focusing performance in both models - it's not limited to the P10. Here's another example where you will clearly see that the intricate details on the building's facade are better defined on the P10's photo, even though it shot the scene at a significantly higher ISO (ISO 1000 vs. ISO640). The colors also seem much livelier on the P10, but that could be due to the particular white balance it has chosen to use, so we won't dwell much on it.
Even when it got darker, both of these cameras could pull their weight. Interestingly, the P10 Plus would sometimes go for lower ISO and use the same shutter speed as the P10 (which usually produces slightly sharper details), while other times it would prefer the same ISO as the P10 but shoot at a faster shutter speed for no apparent reason.
When it came to shutter speeds, the lowest these two would go down to in Auto mode was 1/4s. That's a generously long shutter speed, which would certainly be hard to handhold even with the help of the optical image stabilization system (OIS). Good thing we had them set up on a tripod while taking photos. In these cases, the shot to shot time was also significantly longer, as the camera applied extra processing. We would get this in the camera viewfinder: "Sharpening the photo, please wait."
An odd limitation we noticed is that even with Pro mode activated, the cameras would only go as low as 1/17s- even if you still relied on the camera's auto value adjusting. So unless you feel comfortable adjusting the shooting parameters in Pro mode, a good tip for shooting with these phones in the dark is to keep the Pro mode off.
The ISO on both phones maxes out at 3,200, which is reasonable but not class-leading. Since we only later realized the limitation of the Pro mode, for this next extremely dark shot the cameras couldn't go as low as 1/4s with the shutter speed, and they found it hard to expose this scene properly. Both used ISO 3200 and a shutter speed of 1/17s, and it's in this particular scenario that the wider aperture on the P10 Plus helped it expose the photo better. The church walls are way too dark on the P10 color photo.
Just by looking at the photos on this page, you probably already know we're dealing with some pretty good cameras. We're happy with their lens quality, and pleased with how they captured the city sights at night.
In our observations, the Huawei P10 Plus preferred to expose the scene in the same way as the P10, but with a lower ISO. The advantages of this, however, are not as apparent as you might think. In fact, sometimes you might get sharper photos from the P10. And why is that? Well, that brings us to our third takeaway from this test.
We also learned that both of these cameras are inconsistent in their performance - even more so in low light. Many of our low-light photo samples were simply not as sharp as the camera's best samples. And that's with a tripod, and taking extra care to lock focus on the exact same spot before taking the photos. When shooting casually on the go, you might get even fewer keepers if you are not careful. Of course, your mileage will vary.
Our final takeaway is that the B&W camera sensor is indeed noticeably more sensitive to light just as advertised. And you can usually achieve the same exposure with much lower ISO. Of course, not every image would look good in B&W, but those that do have better-exposed shadows due to the wider dynamic range.
Overall, Huawei's dual camera system is a win. We are happy with the entire package, and we didn't even touch upon the special shooting modes such as light painting or car trails, which are unique to Huawei. The wider aperture might not be enough of a reason to pick the P10 Plus over the P10, but the bigger model has other advantages too, so choosing between them will not be an easy call. Rest assured that you'll be happy with the camera, whichever one you pick.