A closer look at the HONOR View20’s 48MP camera

Over the years, we have been striving to quash the incorrect assumption that more megapixels indicate a better camera. It simply does not work that way. But that changed when we tested out the HONOR View20, which comes with the latest 48MP Sony IMX 586 sensor. The HONOR View20 delivered excellent shots, despite featuring tiny 0.8µm pixels. How did they do it?

Stronger together

The first thing to note is that the Sony IMX 586 sensor here uses a Quad Bayer color filter, instead of the standard Bayer filter. What this does is have four pixels in a square sport the same color filter, instead of the alternating pattern that regular Bayer filters have. So a sensor with a Quad Bayer color filter is actually optimized to capture 1/4th of the rated resolution, or 12MP. It’s worth noting that the HONOR View20 defaults to 12MP images. When it does that, the effective pixel size actually balloons to 1.6µm, which is larger than your regular flagship smartphones.

48MP AI Super Clarity

That pretty much explains why shooting 48MP images with the HONOR View20 delivers pretty poor quality. But then HONOR recently released the 48MP AI Super Clarity mode for the HONOR View20, which allowed us to take amazing 48MP shots too. How does that work now?

What AI Super Clarity does is more than just simple interpolation. You can clearly see there’s more detail than you can get by simply blowing up the 12MP images to 48MP. The only explanation as to why it takes at least 2 seconds to capture a 48MP AI Super Clarity shot is because it takes multiple exposures, combines them into one image via software processing to increase the captured details.

Night Mode

That’s also pretty much how the HONOR View20’s Night Mode work. Take multiple exposures, combine it, get one beautiful image that’s unparalleled by your usual images. This method also circumvents needing complex stabilization algorithms, because the sensor isn’t actually exposed for the full 4 seconds, but rather multiple shots were taken during the time frame.

This also allows for a less aggressive noise reduction algorithm, as the HONOR View20 can then average out the noise in the multiple exposures, meaning less detail will be smudged away by noise reduction. The difference is pretty clear to see in the shot of the ceiling art at the Palace of Versailles. I used it even when it wasn’t exactly dark, but just whenever I felt that I needed more details in your shot.

We were recently in Paris to attend the launch of the HONOR View20, and we were given the opportunity to take some pretty cool shots of the attractions there with the HONOR View20. What do you think? The full image gallery is shared below (only visible in web browsers), or you can also head over to our Flickr to check out the images.

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