The good, the bad, and the ugly (and the amazing!) - my P40 Pro camera experience

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2eyesee Senior Member • Posts: 2,288
The good, the bad, and the ugly (and the amazing!) - my P40 Pro camera experience
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I’ve had my P40 Pro for a few weeks now and been testing it out and doing some comparisons with my RX10 IV.

I’m really keen on getting the best out of any camera I own, and the P40 Pro is no different. I was expecting compromises with a smartphone as a photographic tool, and as I already have an RX10 IV, it made sense use it as a benchmark for comparison.

The P40 Pro has been a mixed bag for me. A disappointment in some ways – probably my fault for buying into false expectations as a result of the hype. But there is one particular mode that has blown me away with the results it can achieve.

So to the comparisons.

There’s one thing to note about the P40 Pro’s main camera that has been pointed out to me on this forum. The main camera’s lens is 23mm, but 1x zoom is 27mm, and 27mm is achieved by cropping the 12.5MP 23mm image output to a 27mm field of view and enlarging it back up to 12.5MP. This has the effect of softening the image a little - you get better results zooming out to 23mm (the point just before you hit the wide angle lens):

100% crop - P40 Pro 27mm vs 23mm

So onto the BAD - the 18mm camera is hideously oversharpened - you can see lots of aliasing along high-contrast edges:

100% crop -  P40 Pro 18mm vs 23mm

Now the downright UGLY - the 5x zoom on the P40 Pro is a smeary mess with lots of aliasing, unable to render any fine detail. I realise comparing directly it to the RX10 IV is unrealistic, but the quality is so poor I won't every be using it for photography (although it could be an option for 1080p video if I need it - stabilisation is excellent and 1080p is only 2MP resolution):

100% crop - P40 Pro vs RX10 IV 135mm

Now for the GOOD - the 50MP AI mode. It's able to achieve significantly more detail than the standard 23mm. I've scaled the 50MP image down to match the resolution of the 23MP (12.5MP):

100% crop - P40 Pro 50MP AI (23mm) vs 23mm

And the AMAZING thing about the 50MP AI mode is that it captures significantly more detail and dynamic range than my RX10 IV. Here I've left the RX10 IV shot at full resolution and scaled the P40 Pro shot down to match:

100% crop - P40 Pro 50MP vs RX10 IV

So while I'm disappointed in the wide and zoom cameras on the P40 Pro, I find the 50MP AI camera incredible and probably worth keep the phone for on its own.

Of course there are limitations with the 50MP AI mode - it's not suitable for low light photography or moving subjects. But I do find it 'clever' enough to manage some motion in the scene, such as a passing car. I'll need to investigate further on how much motion in the scene it can handle.

Regarding low light, I suspect that the standard Photo mode at 23mm will be best, as it's using the full sensor (so more light), rather than a crop that 1x zoom 27mm uses. I haven't done serious investigation yet, but in low light I prefer the results generated by standard Photo mode rather than Night Mode.

The really annoying thing I find about the P40 Pro camera app is that you can't just default to 23mm. What a shame it's so awkward to select the focal length that give the best results.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 Sony RX10 IV
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