Huawei’s Mate 30 Pro: Testing 7680 fps Slow Motion

One of the headline features of the Mate 30 Pro is its super slow motion capabilities. Most smartphones available on the market today, if they offer slow motion, do it at either 120 fps, 240 fps, or up to 960 fps. This typically comes in the form of a sensor and system that can take 120 frames per second video and do clever interpolation to appear as if it is a higher frame rate. We’ve seen some good and bad solutions here.

The way that traditional slow motion cameras work is on a sliding scale – the trade-off between frame rate is resolution. If you reduce the area of the sensor that needs to take the image by one quarter, then technically the fast memory storing the video data can store 4x as much – as long as you can poll data from the sensor at 4x the speed, it should be good to go.

It seems that Huawei is doing a mix of things here to get 7680 fps. The camera offers several settings, which comes with a slider from 2x to 256x. Any setting 32x or lower gives a 1080p video, while 64x and higher gives a 720p video:

  • 1080p at 120 fps = 4x speedup
  • 1080p at 240 fps = 8x speedup
  • 1080p at 960 fps = 32x speedup
  • 720p at 1920 fps = 64x speedup
  • 720p at 7680 fps = 256x speedup

There are no graduations in between. At 4x and 8x, users can take as much video as they want, and extend it all into slo-mo, but for the 32x speedup and beyond, the system will record a certain amount of video and slow it down. At 32x speedup, the video is 16 seconds, essentially recording 0.5 seconds of video. At 64x, the video is 32 seconds, recording 0.5 seconds of video. At 256x however, the video is also 32 seconds, meaning that the sensor can only record 0.125 seconds of video. It is worth taking that into account.

The other thing with slow motion video on this scale is light. The thing being filmed has to be illuminated sufficiently in order to get full detail. For anyone going around with 7680 fps photography on the brain, carrying a strong LED light for those dark areas of existence is probably worth the effort.

So here I’m going to show three videos taken with the Mate 30 Pro. This first video is the camera in 1080p mode, recording at 960 fps. This is what most high-end smartphone cameras can do.

Here we have a steady set of bubbles being created from the stream of water.

Now we can slow that down to 7680 fps.

Those first drops of water can accurately display the ripples from the spoon. One thing to note here is that with a smartphone camera, getting the thing to focus correctly while also holding a light is a right pain. That’s partly why the water stream is a bit out of focus in our close up shot. In the continuous stream section, we have some super slow motion water.

This third video was taken outside, and the simple act of dropping a leaf on a windy day.

If anything, 7680 fps here is too slow. Again, the focus plays a role here, and without a manual lens it is quite difficult to get it right for the shot as a whole. We can see the cyclist in the background slowly peddling through the shot, but we have lost detail on the leaf itself.
 

Huawei’s Mate 30 Pro: Daylight Photography Hands-On Huawei’s Mate 30 Pro: A Benchmark or Two
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  • zepi - Monday, September 23, 2019 - link

    These high FPS modes are in the end just tools.

    Depending on the creativity of the videographer and the limitations imposed by the restrictions they can be useful or useless gimmicks.

    Duration restrictions are quite severe, so it is not clear that these are actually usable for capturing interesting things. This is difficult to assess without actually trying and learning to use these tools.

    Often times setup for such video captures is so time consuming and expensive, that it is impossible to create repeatable exercises to master such restricted tools...

    Still, it is nice to see such features.
    Reply
  • StevenD - Monday, September 23, 2019 - link

    The ultra high FPS stuff is always a gimmick, I am much more pleased with the results of a good 240 fps than the impressive but short-lived 960.
    7680 is something else though. I can see it being useful filming explosions, but in that case, it's even harder to get the right shot, especially if you're using consumable materials, and the phone might not survive every time.
    Reply
  • olde94 - Monday, September 23, 2019 - link

    As a tinkerer (diy guy) and an engineer having a camera that can capture 125 micro seconds is really something useful, even with the limit as long as "getting it to capture the right time span" is not an issue. But for creative use i hardly see the use, but i might not be creative enough Reply
  • mdrejhon - Tuesday, September 24, 2019 - link

    The high speed features are not necessarily gimmicks for study purposes - for example, the analysis of displays benefits well from a true native 1000fps (and higher) high speed camera. High speed videos of display refresh cycles at http://www.blurbusters.com/scanout is one good example of high speed video becoming accessible to DIY researchers and student scientists who otherwise could not afford a high speed camera. Reply
  • alexvoda - Monday, September 23, 2019 - link

    Just like removing the headphone jack (and not replacing it with another port) is stupid, removing the volume buttons is stupid.
    Something that before you could previously control just by using touch, now requires you to look at the phone.
    I really wonder when we will outgrow this trend of removing physical controls in phones, cars and everything in between.
    Reply
  • zepi - Monday, September 23, 2019 - link

    Volume control is handled by the BT-headphones. Reply
  • close - Monday, September 23, 2019 - link

    That's just one of the use cases. Turning the volume up or down for the ringer or any app streaming/casting to another device is another. And yes, you can always do it from software but it requires enough additional steps to make it annoying *every time* with no workaround. Reply
  • soliloquist - Monday, September 23, 2019 - link

    Or when you are using the phone... you know, as a phone.

    I know no one does that anymore. But in that off chance that people want to actually talk to each other, being able to change the volume without moving the phone away from your ear/mouth is helpful.
    Reply
  • not_anton - Sunday, September 29, 2019 - link

    (AirPods user) Yea, sure... Reply
  • BedfordTim - Monday, September 23, 2019 - link

    Especially when you have the phone in a case to protect the wrap around screen. Reply

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