Getting High Quality Photos with a 50MP Smartphone: the Huawei P40 Pro

Last year, I photographed a series of portraits with the Huawei P30 Pro. The pictures were impressive; but with every new release of the P-series phone, we can reasonably expect the camera to get better. For this year’s P40 Pro, the camera system includes four lenses — a 50MP Ultra Vision Camera, 40MP Cine Camera, 12MP SuperSensing Telephoto Camera, and a 32MP Selfie Camera — and again made in collaboration with Leica.

Rather than talk about how good the P40 Pro’s top-of-the-line camera system is, I thought I’d just show you with another series of portraits. Also, while every other reviewer is focusing on the phone’s magical abilities to remove unwanted people passing by in the background, as well as glass reflections in the photos, I focused my photography on the resolution and high quality of the pictures.

With this series of eight portraits, I challenged myself to try something different — to go bolder, and to showcase the raw beauty in women (and men). Beauty shouldn’t be defined by how others view us, but instead, how we view ourselves — strongly and confidently. And so I requested each of the subjects to give me expressions that portray how they feel, not caring about how they are shown to the viewer.

I captured these faces using the “Pro” mode on the phone, manually adjusting every setting to achieve the clarity and mood I wanted for each photo. Four of the faces are lit with the Rotolight NEO 2 LED Light (I’ll indicate which below) — and if you’re trying to achieve similar results, most studio lights will do the trick.

Click on the photos below to see them in full resolution. The camera settings are listed below each picture, as well as some photography tips and challenges I had along the way. Hope you like the pictures!

Photographed by ADELE CHAN with the HUAWEI P40 PRO.
Styled by JOE TAN.
Assisted by Jasmine Ong.


ISO 160 / S 1/800s / f1.9
Photographed in natural light downstairs the nylon office.
the camera picks up very even lighting on the shirt, with no blowouts even on the highlights on the tweed hat where the sun hits directly. the tree in the background has a nice bokeh and you can see depth between eugena and the tree.
On eugena: Celine Robert at On Pedder Gaby Mariner Hat, $673; MSGM Blue-Striped Shirt with Fringe Sleeve Detail, $890; Atelier Swarovski by Penelope Cruz Botanical Jewels Vintage Rose Jacket Earrings, $745.
ISO 50 / s 1/1000s / f1.9
Photographed in natural light downstairs the nylon office.
I took a total of 9 photos of yassin with the p40 pro and all of them were good enough to post with no edits needed. The only photoshop done on this picture was to remove the reflection of my shoes from his sunglasses.
On Yassin: Sandro Paris Fitted Single-Breasted Blazer Jacket, $890; Sandro Paris Tiger Print Short-Sleeved Shirt, $310; Gentle Monster MIOMIO 02(1M) Sunglasses, $418.
ISO 50 / s 1/1000s / f1.9
Photographed in sun light downstairs the nylon office.
This was the first portrait i did in this series and the first time using the p40 Pro. Because we were directly under the sun, the ambient lighting was harsh but i think the camera performed decently trying to balance hashy’s skin tone with the busy elements in the background. When you zoom in to 100% (click on the photo), you can see the reflection of me in hashy’s eyes. The shadows on the jacket are also well translated with no overexposed areas where the sun hits the material.
out of all the 8 photos you see here, this one is shown straight out of the phone with no edits made.
On Hashy: MSGM Asymmetric Ruffled Detail Jacket, $672; Sandro Paris Cropped Mandarin Collar Shirt, $455; Bottega Veneta The Pouch Shoulder Bag with Chain, $7,704.
ISO 100 / s 1/2000s / f1.9
Photographed in natural light downstairs the nylon office.
I gave this photo a black & white treatment with some grain for added texture. The sun was hitting one side of Aimee’s face and you can see how it translates into beautiful shadows down one side of her neck.
On Aimee: Sandro Paris Denim Shirt with Coloured Rhinestones, $625; 4 Moncler Genius Simone Rocha Embellished Tulle Bra, POA; Atelier Swarovski by Penelope Cruz Scarlet Flower Detachable Statement Earrings, $945; Atelier Swarovski by Penelope Cruz Scarlet Flower Necklace, $1,490.
ISO 160 / s 1/125s / f1.9
Photographed in the lift, and lit with rotolight neo 2.
It was this particular photo that blew me away with the phone’s camera capabilities. The clarity and textures of the lift and clothing, as well as the rich colour tones are incredible.
On Jesper: Brunello Cucinelli Double-Breasted Blazer Jacket, $5,980; Sandro Paris Graphic Print Short-Sleeved Shirt, $310; Gentle Monster BLING 06 (14M) Sunglasses, $389.
ISO 125 / s 1/400s / f1.9
Photographed in the NYLON Office, and lit with rotolight neo 2.
This photo has the sharpest and best quality of all the 8 portraits. It’s worth checking it out at full resolution (click on the photo) and zooming in to the right eye closest to the camera. The phone also captured the sequin details on the gold jumpsuit beautifully and you can see where it starts to have a nice bokeh towards the camera.
On Ava: Pinko Sequin Embroidered Dress, $755.
ISO 100 / s 1/800s / f1.9
Photographed downstairs the NYLON Office, and lit with rotolight neo 2.
For this moody picture of Tasha, The camera picks up impressive colour tones of the makeup dewi used, and the shutters in the background. at 100% resolution (click the picture), you can count the lines on her lips and dare i say, even the number of brow strands on the side of her face that is lit.
On Tasha: Louis Vuitton Flowers Embroidered Bee Keeper Blouson, $9,800.
ISO 125 / s 1/1250s / f1.9
Photographed in the NYLON Office, and lit with rotolight neo 2.
And for my final trick, here’s another impressive photo that the Huawei P40 Pro can produce; i configured it to pick up detail only where the light hits, casting a soft shadow down the rest of the face. There is no colour banding, and instead you can see a lovely colour gradient across the cheek.


The Huawei P40 Pro performs as well as expected in natural outdoor lighting situations, but it’s under controlled, direct studio light that it outperforms every other smartphone on the market. It produces professional, high resolution pictures with rich detail and good colour tones and contrast. From the few portraits I took, the P40 Pro is certainly good enough for shooting campaigns with; it’s just a matter of the angle of holding a flat smartphone in one hand, while tapping on the shutter button on the screen with the other hand.


The Huawei P40 Series will be available from 4 April 2020, priced at $1,048 for the Huawei p40, and $1,448 for the Huawei P40 Pro. It is available in Silver Frost, Blush Gold, and Deep Sea Blue. 
Buy online at Lazada and Shopee.