You’ve probably seen the hype reviews… like TNW’s. Even Marques Brownlee has been on Twitter pitching the camera as a 40MP / 20MP

But it’s most likely all hype.  Remember HTC One M8?  It also pitched itself at having some massive megapixel range, only to find out the output images were sadly 4MP.

Why Does MegaPixel Matter?

While true, Megapixels aren’t everything, they do indicate a special quality.  First, if you do prints, you’ll need more megapixels to print to large print sizes without loss.  But most importantly Megapixels allow you to do more Post Processing.

A 4MP image will output an image that holds 2 – 4 MB’s worth of data.  But a 12MP image will capture a lot more image/light data (a file size of 8-12MB.)  The more data in the image file, the more you can do in post.  With less image data, images will break under various post-processing.

I have an exotic camera (Sigma DP3) which actually is a 46MP camera.  How this works is that Sigma put multiple sensors stacked on top of each other.  Each one filtered for a specific light range. The resulting image file (in RAW) is roughly 60MB of data!  That camera produces the most stunning images (under the conditions it’s good for), and in post, I can push image data ranges without any degradation.

Huawei P20 40 MP?

When I read about the P20 having both a 40MP and a 20 MP b/w sensor, I was floored. I was excited.  I thought, “this must be the  next phone I have to have.”  Then I saw the sample output files at dxomark.  It was a wash.  It was less than stellar.  It ran in the same quality bandwidth as the iPhone X and the Google Pixel 2.  Most notabily removed from the review was the largest Android phone brand (Samsung’s flagship S9+)The raw files were NOT 40MP in size.

When I jumped into the full image on DxoMark – The full files were NOT 40MP in size.  The resolution appeared to be the same as iPhone X and Pixel 2 (10-12MP.)

I was confused…. it’s 40MP, why is the image size that of a 10MP image?

Evidently, the camera uses a new kind of Pixel design – so 1 pixel on the P20, is equivalent of 4 pixels. This is normally referred to as “equivalent megapixels.”  It’s also a marketing scam.

So we get to a controversy with the phone.  All the reviews I’ve seen so far, are showing a 10-12MP equivalent file output.  Where’s that 40MP image?  It should be upwards of 40-60MB in size in raw and 16-20MB file size in JPG… so where is it?

Some say that it can’t really produce a true 40MP image.

Others are saying, that it can produce 40MP in a “certain mode.”

This is where my skepticism comes in.  Why would you hide the main feature of your camera, in a “special mode.”  Why has no one produced this special 40MP mode in any review yet?

Remember the HTC One M8?

HTC One M8

I fell for a similar marketing scam years ago when the HTC One M8 claimed to have massive megapixel ranges.  Only to find out, the output file was really the quality of a 4MP file (8MP less than their competitors at the time.)  They really were readjusting their pixel size so that they can claim they are shooting at a higher output.  In reality, it’s not.

HTC was really readjusting their pixel size so that they can claim they are shooting at a higher output (on paper.)  In reality, it was producing somthing less than the competition.

You cant do much post-processing processing on those HTC One M8 images, or they’ll easily distort.  Once I discovered this, I was pretty depressed.  I felt cheated by HTC.

So is Huawei running a similar marketing campaign as HTC’s One M8?  Or can they really produce 40MP quality images?

Where are those P20 40MP images?

One reason no one is reviewing that supposed “special mode” on the Huawei P20, is that the image quality might be pretty poor.  Perhaps at full resolution, the images are noisy or plain bad.

Or, perhaps it’s just a myth that it can really shoot true 40MP.

It just makes no sense why the 40MP images are not released to the marketers.  But looking at Dxomark, I was pretty dissapointed in the image quality. While it was a smigdeon better in one or two imags (than an iPhone X or Pixel 2), it really wasn’t earth shattering.  It seemed too contrasty, and in low light it seemed pretty poor.  There’s an image of a woman on a boat – it’s possibly one of the worst images I’ve seen taken in low light.  The image is already breaking up (without any post-processing!)

We’ll know more as the phone is introduced into more hands.  For now, it’s all hype driven marketing.


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