Better Than A Camera: Love Letter to Honor 8
Before we move on, please do not mistake this as a paid article; it is not. This is also not a review, treat it more like a preliminary review if you might. It is not a full-on in-depth review that we usually do. It is more of an opinion, a sort of marvel actually that we have come this far with mobile device tech.
I first got my kick into the mobile device world when I first had my own mobile phone. I remembered clearly that it was a Nokia 6600; a brand new sort of smartphone with VGA camera capability. It was truly a technological breakthrough at the time. The phone was bulky and plastic, very sturdy too. It was marvellous, at least at that time. I still miss that device. On phone cameras, a device like the Nokia 6600 received the highest recognitions with its brightly coloured screen, and a VGA camera. A camera barely having a single Megapixel number at all.
Today though we rage on about cramming more and more megapixel in a camera that is less than a 5 cents coin (in Malaysia) in size. But here is the thing, we only get one main camera capable of greatly detailed shot on phones these days. With certain numbers, that may not mean anything as well. It still cannot replace DSLR cameras these days even though they keep boasting about matching DSLR performances. The little sensor powering our cameras can only do so much, and that is a limitation that smartphones might have to live with for another at least five years or so. Or is it?
So what is better than one camera with one sensor? Obviously, two cameras with two sensors. It is kind of obvious from the title, right? But why the Honor 8? There are more devices out there with dual-lens technology as well, take the Huawei P9 or Mate 9 for example. Let’s put it this way, accessibility to the technology. Plus, having used an Honor 8 myself; I fell in love with that package. It is a remarkable piece of hardware.
Sure, there is some flaws to it, it is not perfect. In fact, there are no perfect devices in the market now. If there is, no one else should buy other phones other than that. At this point I must stop a little bit for Apple iPhone fans; your devices are not perfect either, why keep changing the phone if it is perfect then? But I’m in love with the camera on the Honor 8, no, the cameras; there are two of them.
The camera units on the Honor 8 are two 12-megapixel shooters that are crammed into that small body of an Honor 8. What happens in general dual camera set ups like the Honor 8 is that both cameras take a photo that would be stitched into one highly detailed shot like what you get in a DSLR package, you double the sensor and the photo of the same subject. Like most dual-lens set up as well, the Honor 8 features a single RGB camera sensor and a single Monochrome sensor. Why?
Monochrome, or black-and-white sensors tend to pick up details better than RGB sensors. You notice that most monochrome photos come with super details, not photography trickery or photoshopping; the way the monochrome sensors are built in a way to absorb light better and in turn produce more details in their shot. So to add details, quite obvious really, add the monochrome camera in with the package. The issue now is with the monochrome, you get no options of colours.
That job is handled by the regular RGB camera sensor that you normally get in most devices these days. With Honor 8 the RGB sensor adds colour details to decorate to the monochrome photo from the other camera. The RGB sensor of modern smartphones though are deemed detailed enough to decorate billboards and photo galleries these days. So now with two of those cameras, the Honor 8 can stitch a photo with at least twice as much detail comparatively.
But it does not have the dual pixel autofocusing and that makes autofocus on the Honor 8 slower. Not necessarily, with two cameras the device benefits from having two available Image Signal Processing (ISP) units. The ISP are responsible for most of the autofocusing on most of the mobile devices these days. It also acts as a depth measuring tool to enhance the image focus. But one ISP doing so much work may slow things down. With dual ISPs, each one does its own thing, paired with laser autofocus technology; autofocus is lightning fast.
You even get a greater depth-of-filed control on the already wide F2.2 aperture lenses, pre and post capture. You can opt of super detailed photos that has the whole photo and its environment in focus. You also can have super shallow depth-of-field effect on your photos. Obviously that is done with some software sorcery as well in the phone.
So much flexibility, in a single device almost eliminating the need to carry a heavy DSLR set up with super expensive lens. Of course, there is a certain realism to the ‘Bokeh’ from those crazy expensive lenses that may not be found on the Honor 8, but with a certain know how and by not overdoing things, you get pretty darn close; you almost cannot tell the difference. The slightly bigger 1.25 micron sized pixels on the sensors do help to capture more details in low-light as well to ensure photos with as little noise as possible.
At this point, I am still hearing the question asking me “why? Why the Honor 8?” Let me clarify on that. There are many options for a modern smartphone with dual-lens camera. I have to add that some of the choices are very good too. But consider this, the Honor 8 is, in my opinion one of the better looking devices with a more defined design character in the market.
You get premium hardware fitted into the device that is wrapped also in premium quality alloy and glass material. I have to also add that the build quality is nothing short of top-notch. Yes, it has its flaws; but which device does not? The fact remains that you are getting high-spec, dual-lens camera, fast charging, and refined finished hardware for quite a bit less than what you pay for similar devices. So my question is; why would you not fall in love with this package?