A few days ago, Huawei published what seemed an innocuous if typically touched-up promo photo proclaiming the photographic prowess of its P9 smartphone on Google+. What the person publishing this photo likely did not know is that Google+, like photo-sharing services such as Flickr, preserves the camera EXIF metadata in any image you post. First, the image.
Lens flare being a matter of taste put aside, that's a great photo of a very attractive human being. The detail in the hair, especially, with the sun hitting the individual strands, is quite striking. And for a smartphone camera, that's downright impressive - edge detail like that can be very difficult to get right. But this photo is almost suspiciously noiseless and crisp. The light balance you can at least chalk up to editing after the fact, all but a given for smartphone camera promo shots, but the level of detail is indeed excellent.
A little too excellent. Well, perhaps not... given the contents of the EXIF data for the photo, which I've pasted below.
Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Lens: EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
Focal Length: 135mm
F Number: f/4
Camera make: Canon
Flash: Not used
Exposure Bias: -1 EV
Now, here's the out, and the one I kind of expect from Huawei's official response: the text for the accompanying social media post for this image never explicitly says the image was captured with the P9. But you'd be absolutely forgiven for thinking Huawei very much wants you to believe it was.
We managed to catch a beautiful sunrise with Deliciously Ella. The #HuaweiP9’s dual Leica cameras makes taking photos in low light conditions like this a pleasure. Reinvent smartphone photography and share your sunrise pictures with us. #OO
So, did Huawei come out and say this was a P9 photo directly? No. Do they want you to associate the P9's dual Leica camera performance and this image, per the statement about its abilities in low light conditions "like this?" Of course they do. That's marketing. And when a smartphone and a luxury brand team up to try and sell you something on the basis of a name, you should always be suspicious.
We've reached out to Huawei for comment, and will update this piece with any statement they provide.
Huawei has issued the following statement to us in regard to the image (which they have since deleted from their social networks):
It has recently been highlighted that an image posted to our social channels was not shot on the Huawei P9. The photo, which was professionally taken while filming a Huawei P9 advert, was shared to inspire our community. We recognise though that we should have been clearer with the captions for this image. It was never our intention to mislead. We apologise for this and we have removed the image.
In short: if you believe Huawei, this was all just a big mix-up. If you don't? Well, I'll leave that to you all.