While popular smartphone manufacturers like LG and Apple have just recently adopted dual camera configurations, Huawei has largely led the way, beginning with the Huawei P9. While the P9 never made its way to the United States, the Honor brand is now bringing its own dual camera tech to the US with the Honor 8.
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As we highlighted in our comprehensive review, the Honor 8 offers two factors that are often mutually exclusive: a high-end dual camera experience and an affordable price. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly the Honor 8’s camera is packing with our Honor 8 camera feature focus!
Before we jump into our image analysis, it’s worth reviewing the technical details of the Honor 8’s cameras. The primary configuration is composed of two lenses with f/2.2 apertures. Thanks to Honor’s unique technology, when you go to take a picture, the first lens captures a color image while the second lens captures a monochrome image.
This in itself may seem a bit futile, but when combined with some clever software processing, the Honor 8 is able to produce better, more vivid 12 MP images with crispier details. This can be primarily attributed to a greater availability of light ― up to three times more than a single lens, according to Honor.
This dual lens configuration, in addition to the fast aperture and larger 1.25 μm pixel size, are remarkably functional in lower-light conditions as well, which we’ll analyze below.
The cameras are accompanied by a dual-tone LED flash, which helps balance skin tones when using the flash. There’s also a laser module for laser autofocus, which is utilized in synchrony with contrast detection. Honor says that this improves the Honor 8’s autofocus speed, which is obviously very important when capturing time sensitive subjects.
Of course, we can’t forget about the 8 MP front-facing camera. It has an f/2.4 aperture, and you can view a couple sample images below.
Generally speaking, the front-facing camera produces great results. Yes, Honor’s Beauty mode is alive and well in the Honor 8’s camera software, but there’s now a slider to control the amount of skin softening. It’s fair to say that the results can still look slightly unnatural, but this effect can always be toned down from the default setting or turned off completely.
The camera app also offers a myriad of primary camera modes, including but not limited to manual, panorama, HDR, time-lapse, and slow-mo. Each of these modes works as you would expect. In the panoramic image above, the Honor 8 did an excellent job with stitching each piece of the photo together.
In this panoramic image, there are some areas where the stitching wasn’t perfect, but it’s still a great image overall.
As we have seen with previous Honor smartphones, the Honor 8 includes a wide aperture mode which enables artificial background blur, up to f/0.95. The effect can be very fun to play around with and certainly gives otherwise plain looking images artistic looks.
This effect is still artificial though, and can stumble a bit in lower contrast scenes like the one on the left. Mainly, the processing software seems to have trouble isolating the banner from the cloudy sky in the background. Regardless of the sometimes disappointing results, this mode can really take your smartphone photography to a more creative level.
Although there is an HDR mode which can be manually selected from the modes view, the normal auto mode often provides more than enough dynamic range, making many of the HDR photos virtually indistinguishable from the normal photos.
Taking a closer look at those “normal photos,” you can see just how well the Honor 8 balances the highlights and shadows. In the left image, this can be seen especially when looking at the properly exposed sky and detailed darker areas. On the right, the sky is just a tad overexposed, but the statue in the center is surprisingly well detailed.
Contrast is quite good across the board, actually, as can be seen in the images above. The Honor 8 also seems to do well with color saturation; images don’t come out oversaturated like they often do with the Samsung Galaxy S7, but they’re also still fairly punchy.
Overall, the Honor 8’s camera captures great stills in good lighting. Sadly, video recording isn’t up to par with competing options. In addition to maxing out at 1080P/60p when most others go up to 4K/30p, the actual video quality is a bit under what you might expect. Colors appear muted in comparison to how they do in still images, and the software processing sometimes mixes up the correct white balance mid-shot.
There’s also no optical image stabilization, so it can be tricky to get a steady shot at times. It’s hard to recommend the Honor 8 for video because many competing options simply offer superior quality.
In low-light conditions, the Honor 8’s camera offers surprisingly strong performance when compared to other affordable flagships. Granted, images do still appear noticeably noisy in dim conditions.
Colors also appear less punchy and more muted, although there’s still a good amount of contrast overall. Detail can be a mixed bag and primarily depends on how steady you hold the phone when taking the shot. In order to compensate for the lack of light, the Honor 8 lowers the shutter speed, meaning that the sensor is exposed for a longer period of time.
If you have shaky hands, this can be problematic when trying to capture the details of a low-light scene. Once you minimize camera shake, you’ll get noticeably better results. While the Honor 8’s camera isn’t as impressive in low-light when compared to phones like the Galaxy S7, it’s important to consider Honor’s competitive pricing.
In fact, perhaps the most impressing aspect here is how Honor was able to defy our expectations. One of the most pressing compromises with the vast majority of affordable smartphones is camera performance, yet the Honor 8 still manages to impress in this department.
That concludes our Honor 8 camera feature focus. How do you feel about the Honor 8’s camera? Is it enough to make you go out and purchase the Honor 8? Please do let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!