If one of social media’s main detractions is that things fly by so swiftly that it is impossible to appreciate a good idea, a sweet thought, or a decent joke, then it is worth considering what it means to live in a world where almost everyone has a camera. As French photographer Marc Riboud put it, “taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.” So maybe we should stop treating the camera on our smartphones as just another entertaining app, but as a life-affirming source of balance in the modern world. If that is the case, then the photography advancements like those packed onto the Huawei Mate 20 Series as an outright revolution in smartphone technology.
It is hardly surprising that the first subject matter to fall under the focus of smartphone camera lenses was food. Not only is food something that defines daily human experiences worldwide, it also doesn’t take a very impressive lens to photograph a 12-inch dinner plate from a foot away. In order to capture something more profound, however, Huawei’s Mate 20 Series has teamed up with the Leica to bring the camera company’s Ultra Wide Angle Lens to the palm of your hand. The result is a new standard for all other smartphones to follow.
For non-professional photographers, there are many benefits to a wide-angle lens, especially on a small device like a smartphone. A wide-angle doesn’t just give you a broader field of vision, letting you capture more scenery within the frame; it also adds a sense of spaciousness to your images. While smartphone users have long been calling for a camera that can photograph their entire group of friends or family, what they are getting will also pack layers of depth into every image, draw viewers into their photographs like never before.
Using Huawei’s Super Macro mode, this lens can focus on an object as close as an inch away – making it possible to photograph imagery as small as water droplets on a blade of grass in crisp detail. So get ready to capture the ooze of the chocolate and sparkle of the sprinkles on your meticulously framed desserts for Instagram. The new series also comes with AI-based HiVision, which can identify 1,500 scenarios and over 5,000 objects across 25 categories in the real world, so your picture of a chocolate sundae will come out with the perfect colors from the get-go.
Photography isn’t the only visual medium that has been transformed by smartphone cameras. Both citizen journalism and the entertainment industry have been revolutionized by the sudden ability of just about anyone with a smartphone to produce an award-winning film (think 2015’s indie hit Tangerine) or threaten an oppressive government (think 2010-11’s Arab Spring). But, as anyone who has tried to shoot professional-level footage knows, filming and editing are two very different things.
Fortunately, technology continues to work in favor of the amateur auteur. Nowadays aspiring directors working on shoestring budget don’t need a camera rig to be able to shoot a chase scene, or thousand-dollar lights to produce a color-saturated thriller. In the case of Huawei’s Mate 20 Series, these abilities are made possible with the AI Cinema Mode. This mode offers hue, saturation, and brightness editing as well as a range of preset filters from “Vintage” to “Suspense”, allowing you to select the perfect mood for your footage. Combine this with new AI abilities like image stabilization and composition, and it seems possible for even the most novice filmmakers to create a cinematic masterpiece.
Perhaps more useful for journalists is the Mate 20 Series’ smart-editing Spotlight Reel feature, which edits together highlights of clips that share a similar theme to create a montage of today’s most important news items. So imagine yourself in the middle of a protest march- capturing the speeches of key figures, collecting interviews with organizers and passersby- and being able to post a 10-second reel summarizing all of it before the event is even over. Such technological wizardry should be more than enough to make oppressors think twice before they act.
Thanks to modern technology, life today never seems to slow down. As there are countless new tools that would speed things up even more popping onto our newsfeeds everyday, it is easy to forget that these tools were meant to work for us, to make our efforts more efficient and goals more achievable. Our smartphones don’t always have to push us to work harder to the point where life becomes a blur. In fact, if we take on Riboud’s perspective, those incredible little devices can instead be our tools for appreciating life moment by moment while trying to change the world.