Is the Huawei Honor 8 Smartphone Camera any good? (Link to the YouTube Video, if the iframe above is not showing up)
As my LG G5 died a view days ago, I was looking for a well-priced smartphone, which is capable of taking good pictures. I found the Huawei Honor 8 with its 12 MP dual camera for about 340 €. Is this a very good camera for a reasonable price? Let’s find out.
As said before, the Honor 8 offers a 12MP dual camera, one with a color sensor and one with a monochrome sensor. This setup should offer better details and less noise when you capture photos. The focus is set with a laser autofocus and a dual led flash provides enough light in dark conditions. The lenses offer a focal length of about 35 mm and a maximum aperture of 2.2. The front camera is an 8 mp chip with a F2.4 lens.
In terms of Video, Huawei sadly decieds to not implement a 4k mode. You can shoot in 1080p at 60 fps at a maximum. But more on that later.
Note: Take a look at the YouTube video to see the operations and controls of the app as well as the video samples.
The Camera App
When you open the camera app you will be greeted by a life view feed from what the camera sees. At the top, or left in the horizontal mode, you find the Icons for the flash, the wide aperture mode, the filters and the flip to front camera symbol.
At the bottom, or right in the horizontal mode, you find the icon to review your just taken picture, your shutter button and the movie mode button.
With a swipe gesture from the right to the left you enter the settings mode where you can change your resolution, GPS on/off, assistive grid, timer, audio control, object tracking autofocus, etc. as well as image adjustments, where you can configure saturation, contrast and brightness.
With a swipe gesture on the main screen from the left to the right, you enter the “modes menu” where you can set your diverse shooting modes.
The app is very intuitive to use wherefore I had no troubles setting it up.
Taking pictures is easy. Just hit the shutter button – the camera focuses automatically and takes the pictures. In auto mode, they look really good but using the app in pro mode, where you can set up your settings manually, you can achieve even better pictures.
In the pro photo mode, you can set your metering mode, ISO, shutter speed, exposure compensation, autofocus mode and white balance. You will see every change you make directly in the live view picture. Sadly, I found no option to capture RAW.
Your other modes are a beauty mode, where the software, for example, softens the skin tones when taking portraits, and some self-explaining modes like HDR mode, night shot mode, light painting mode, time-lapse mode, watermark, a good food mode and a panorama mode. You can also add audio notes to your pictures.
And of course in pro mode, you don’t have access to the wide aperture mode or the filters. These are only available in the normal photo mode.
As said before, in the automatic mode you can access the colour filters. These offer 3 monochrome settings and 5 colour settings. I would not recommend to use them. Take the pictures in original mode and adjust them in post processing, there are also plenty of filters and you have more room to play with the pictures.
One of my favourite features of the Honor 8 camera app is the “wide aperture” mode. I also call it “bokeh mode” where the software of the camera creates a shallow depth of field like when you shoot with a DSLR and a fast lens. Especially when you want to capture details, this mode is capable of producing very nice pictures. You can set the simulated aperture from F 0.95 to F16. In this mode, you also have the opportunity of post focus. Open the pictures you took in wide aperture mode in the gallery (they are marked with an aperture symbol), and you can set the focus point wherever you want.
The Huawei Honor 8 also offers a lot of customization options to edit your pictures. Just select your picture in the gallery and use the edit options. The important options are: rotate, crop, filter, adjust and maybe watermark and label. Also, there are plenty of gimmicky options like graffiti, mosaic and splash. But in my opinion, these options are not useful.
Because the rotate and crop options are self-explaining, let’s talk about the filters. You have plenty of choices here – that’s why I mentioned not to shoot with one of the few available filters in the shooting mode. The filters a separated into a few categories: mono, nostalgia, shadow, classic, paint, weather, feminine and photo filter. To use them, just browse through and choose one that you like – save the picture und it’s done. Of course, you can also adjust the newly saved filtered images in the adjust mode.
In the adjust mode, you can set brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness, highlights, shadows, hue and b/w filters to create a picture that you´re satisfied with. Using these settings is also very easy. Just click on them and adjust via swiping the adjustment bar until you like the outcome.
The pictures, that this 12 mp dual camera produces, are really good. The colours are very natural, there are plenty of details in the pictures, the sharpness is very good, and at low ISOs, the pictures show very low noise. Of course, the higher the ISO gets, the more noise appears. But also in lower light, you can produce nice pictures, even more, when using the manual mode to fine tune the settings for a lower ISO number. You find plenty of image samples in the gallery below.
One last thing worth mentioning about the photo mode is the panorama mode. It works very easily – just select panorama and you get the panorama overlay. You can switch from horizontal to vertical mode. For taking the panorama, hit the shutter button and pan the smartphone in the shown direction. You can see how the panorama is put together. If you don’t want to use the full possible length of the panorama, just hit the shutter button again and the record will be stopped and the picture saved. The quality of the produced pictures is really good.
Of course, the Honor 8 also offers a video mode. But as this is the budget smartphone from Huawei it is a bit downgraded. You can only shoot in FHD 1080p @ 60 fps as a maximum. The bitrate is about 34 megabits per second.
The modes you have access to are the normal video mode, the pro video mode, where you can change your settings like metering mode, exposure compensation, autofocus mode and white balance. And like in the photo mode, you can also activate beauty video which does the same as with the photos – it smoothens all out.
The Honor 8 also offers a slow motion mode, which creates videos at 720p @ 120 fps.
The video quality is not the best. It’s usable to document things, but that’s all. The colours are good but it lacks sharpness and there is visible moiré to see. In my YouTube Video above, you find some video samples to watch.
For stills, the Huawei Honor 8 is a great choice. The 12-megapixel dual camera produces sharp pictures with good contrast and little noise. Moreover, the possibilities you have in the manual mode or with the wide aperture mode are great for your creativity. The options out of the box are very good for enhancing the pictures. I can totally recommend this smartphone for using it as a photography tool.
If the video mode is also of importance to you, you will sadly be disappointed. The lack of 4k and the average 1080p 60 fps quality is a letdown. You can use it anyway to document things, but if video is one of your priorities, you should consider another smartphone.
I hope my review of the photo and video modes of the Huawei Honor 8 was useful to you when you are on the search for a reasonably priced smartphone with taking photos in mind.
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