How to use “Bokeh” Mode or Aperture Effect in Huawei P9

The latest flagship smartphone from Chinese manufacturer, Huawei P9 has made a lot of buzz globally. There is no question that the P9 is Huawei’s best smartphone ever – being one of the most compact ones around. But the most publicity of P9 was done around its dual-camera built in collaboration with German Leica Camera.

While the review of P9 is soon to arrive published, here we have a separate edition of another special feature in P9’s camera. That is “bokeh” mode (Huawei calls it as “aperture effect”) – to blur out the background (or foreground) in a more flexible way than any other smartphone camera.

The most pleasant background blur I have seen from a smartphone camera was the one from Nokia 808 PureView four years ago. But now with dual-camera setup and additional algorithmic approach, Huawei P9 offers to control the strength of background blur which is really cool to play with.

Following are two quick shots taken with Huawei P9.

Huawei P9 - Dual Camera - Aperture Effect Huawei P9 - Dual Camera - Aperture Effect

Not to mention the professional/manual mode in Huawei P9 along side the RAW format, the P9’s camera UI features a separate mode for aperture effect. When enabled, you won’t have access to any other feature of the camera including flash.

Here is how you will use the Aperture Effect (or bokeh mode if you like that way)

In the camera app, you will be provided with an “aperture” icon on the left side (landscape view). Tapping the icon will activate the mode and you will have a bigger aperture control within the frame along with a slider to adjust the aperture. (It’s not an actual variable aperture but just a simulation of aperture effect. Huawei P9’s camera has a fixed f/2.2 lens aperture and software works with the dual-camera to simulate the aperture effect.)

With the slider you can simulate aperture opening as wider as as f/0.95 and as smaller as f/16 to take photos with shallow depth of field or greater depth of field respectively

huawei-p9-bokeh-mode-4 huawei-p9-bokeh-mode-3

Just aim at a view, tap over an object you want to focus, slide the aperture and shoot.

Well, it was something you could do before taking the shot but you can do the same after a photo has been shot in this mode. Refocusing! Once a photo has been shot, you can go into gallery, select that image (you will see the aperture icon on every image shot in this mode.) and tap the aperture icon to activate the editing mode – this time on an image (instead of a live camera view). Now tap another object to focus in the image, slide aperture to change the effect and save.

Each save event will “save as” a new JPEG image without loosing the original shot so that you can re-edit and save again.

What’s better than a video demo? watch below.

Hope this post will help some who were wondering about the same.

Note: This article is not a camera review and does not contain any kind of remarks (positive or negative). That will be done in the review soon. It’s only an article to introduce a camera feature in Huawei P9 in a better way. For more detail on Huawei P9 Camera, check our in-depth review of Huawei P9.

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  • Gary

    Apple will add this feature and get credit for revolutionary innovation

    • pippong

      You damn right!

    • John

      I doubt that. As a photographer, the bokeh looks fake to me because it’s just a simulation of aperture effect. Apple may improve its camera sensor and lens in the future so the bokeh effect will be ‘real’ (not simulation/software-driven)

      • Asif Butt

        As a photographer would also know that, the real bokeh effect can only be delivered with larger sensor and and a lens with qualified optical elements. That can not be possible in slimmer devices. mobile phones will always be featuring simulated/software based bokeh effect with multiple other properties unless a dedicated larger room for camera in mobile phones is preferred by the smartphone users today.

  • axile lim

    Q1) Can the bokeh mode be activated with front camera?
    Q2) If not, is there any way to control the camera using bluetooth or remote when mounted on a tripod? I asked this is if i want to take a wefie in a restaurant and then edit the depth of field later.

    • A1) the feature works with dual-camera that is only the primary camera right now. So No! you can’t use the feature with front camera.

      A2) You might use the feature on tripod with a Bluetooth Remote shutter device (usually comes in $2 only). But you will need to turn on the mode manually on the phone first. Place it where you want on the tripod and then use remote to capture. You can use refocusing later (edit the depth of field later)

  • Reinier Wintraeken

    Question: When i first tested out the bokeh mode everything worked fine. When i go into bokeh mode now there is a small difference. Instead of changing the aperture when sliding up and down next to the focus point i now change the brightness of the picture. To change the aperture i need to go down and slide horizontally. I have no idea what caused this change but i would like to reset it back.