Nighttime Smartphone Photography with the Huawei P8

The Huawei P8 has a camera that can go toe to toe with any flagship and at night prepare to be amazed.

by Nicole on October 12, 2015

There aren’t many phones that can hack taking a decent night time photo. The Huawei P8 with its 13MP camera has a few dedicated settings for shooting at night and we’re going to show you how to get the best shots after darks.

The P8 sports a 13-megapixel main camera, f/2 lens with Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS). On the front we have an 8-Megapixel front-facing camera, dual LED flash, Director mode which lets you shoot multi camera  and even Full HD video. It comes with a is 5.2 inches with a 1080p display with a Kirin 930 processor, 3GB of RAM, 16/64GB of storage with a MicroSD card slot for expansion. Under the hood we’ve got 2600mAh battery that spec-hounds will tell you shouldn’t last the day but it get me through my day no problem.

huawei p8 back

Before we get into the settings on the phone, you’re going to need to either find a stable surface to rest your phone on or get a tripod with smartphone mount.  The smallest amount of shake will blur the shot, so come to your shoot ready. Huawei has a pop up in the camera mode suggesting that you get a tripod, which is what I did.  The smartphone mount wasn’t anything special, I picked it up at the dollar store.


The P8 has a few different light effect settings, tail light trails, light graffiti, silky water, star trek and super night each produce a very different kind of photo. When it comes to taking photos of the camp fire, tail light trails and light graffiti we’re very useful since they both let into much light. The modes works by using slow shutter speeds to allow the camera to capture light for longer periods of time, but saves people from having to learn about shutter speeds. This is great since when you take the photo the camera decides how long the shutter needs to be open to produce the best photo. If you’ve never dabbled in this type of pro photography you’ll know just how amazing it that the phone figures it all out for you. When taking a photo in silky water or super night you have the option to stop the count down, the longer you let it run, the more light effects it gathers.

Let’s start with the mode that’s meant for taking photos of the night, Super Night which of all the modes allowed for the most creativity. stopping it early let’s you get creative with how many layers of flame you want, letting it finish lights up the background.

Super night first over exposes to gauge the length of the long exposure for to get a properly lit photo, stopping it early let’s you get creative with how many layers of flame you want, letting it run its course gives you a lit background.

superior night

Super Night Mode – A few seconds of exposure. selecting the fire as the focal point.

Super Night - dark as focal point. suggested time

Super Night – dark as focal point. suggested time

The P8 has some fancy camera modes that help people to capture creative and enhanced images without needing any technical know-how.

If you’re wondering why the photos are so good from a smartphone at night, it has to do with P8 using a Sony-developed 13-megapixel RGBW sensor with a dedicated image processor and f/2 lens, which is designed to deliver better low light performance and noise reduction.

On thing that I think everyone should play around with in their night time photography is of course selecting areas with different lighting, but also adding in a secondary light source.

superior night flash

You can see my dad sitting on the wall trying to take a photo of the fire, his flash went off and created this very cool effect.

superior night lamp

Small lamp was sitting on the wall lighting the rocks behind

Silky Water – Great on Fires Too!

silky water short exposure

Silky Water, 1 second. Short exposure

silky water

Silky Water – 10 seconds. Long Exposure

You can see the difference between the two photos, the first gets a gets solo sparks and cool flame effect. Longer exposure give the flame a more uniform look since the light layers on top over the course of the exposure.

Where things start to get really interesting is when you add in your friends smartphone. In the photo below I used the flashlight of a friends smartphone to light the rocks on the left.

silky water short exposure 3

Silky water with extra smartphone lighting the rocks on the left

Next lets head into Auto mode which will automatically sets a timer based on the lighting conditions, if you enjoyed the creative freedom of stopping the photo when you were happy with how it looked.  You don’t get that in Auto.  You don’t have the option to stop it early, but you get very realistic photos of the fire.


Star Trail – Yes You Can Take Photos of the Stars with Your Phone!

star trails

I’ve never had a smartphone that took such great landscape photos at night and what blew my mind was taking photos of star trails with a phone.

A big part of why night time photos are so good on the P8 is because the OIS can handle up to 1.2 degrees of motion shift, compared to only 0.6 degrees on the iPhone 6 Plus. The OIS does decently in low light, helping to reduce camera shake in still images, but people moving is something totally different.

Landscape photos were also quite impressive.

landscape moon

Shooting people in superior night is tricky since you have to stay completely still of you’ll be blurry.

superior night people

I especially liked this one of my parents, my Dad has mastered being perfectly still, where my Mom just moved a touch and you can see her face is just a little blurry. It’s not easy to take photos of people in Super Night, but it’s still really fun to try. The sparks coming off the fire are were worth giving it a whirl.

I had a ton of fun playing around with the Huawei P8’s many night time camera settings, it’s an accessible way to introduce people to some advanced photographic technique.  I actually meant to do a comparison video between the Pro Camera settings on the Samsung Galaxy S6 & S6 Edge+ but I just didn’t have the technical photography knowledge to take the same caliber of photos.

After this night by the campfire, I fell in love with the P8 not only because of the camera but I was already fan of the form factor. It’s easy to use with one hand.  In a world where 5.5 inch Phablets are all the range I need a phone that fits into my back pocket and I’m able to wield one handed since I will never stop multitasking. Having said that, I am going to be testing out the Huawei Mate S next.  It’s camera is meant to have improvements over the P8.  If you have a suggestion for how you’d like to test out the camera I’m all ears.