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A new phone from TECNO hits the market, TECNO customers and users freak out before we can put it in its paces – but the bigger question is how does this new handheld compare to the predecessor before making a financial decision to acquire it?

This is what you are about to find out in a couple of short and precise paragraphs, but today’s agenda will examine the camera prowess, or lack thereof, of the TECNO Camon 12 that has been in the Kenyan market for a couple of days now.

In the initial impressions story, we lauded the device for bringing noticeable upgrades over the outgoing but still capable Camon 11. The new model is a better device on the whole, with improved finishes, a bigger and better screen, and significant upgrades in the camera department.



With that in mind, we can easily start talking about those snappers. Shall we?

The hardware

Before I go too far, I am here to commend Transsion Holdings, the Chinese company that has made it possible for millions of Africans to afford smartphones. Transsion is the head of TECNO, Infinix, and iTel brands, among others that make home electronics for people on a tight budget.

Now, the highest compliment I can pay the TECNO Camon 12 is that it has refined the phone’s abilities in the camera department. The high marks are linked to a better selfie snapper and a triple camera system that has graced the device for the first time.

It is worth noting that there is a Pro model of the Camon 12, which has a 32 MP front shooter against a 16 MP sensor on the device at our hands, and an 8 MP that is snuck under the display for the locally unavailable Camon 12 Air.

On the primary side of things, the system is quite standard: both the 12 and the Pro version have three sensors: a depth sensor measuring 2 MP, 8 MP for the wide-angle, and 16 MP main sensor. These are outstanding numbers on paper, and you could not get them on the cheap a few years ago. In fact, using several camera sensors was only introduced with the likes of the Huawei P20 Pro, and I am glad people who do not have P20 Pro money can get to enjoy that novelty, although that is not the entire story.

Camon 12 Notch
Notch housing the selfie cam

Speaking of hardware not being the entire story of a mobile phone photography experience, there is always the case of software, which is the magic that processes those images; good software can give you class-leading samples, and the best camera hardware can be brought down by mediocre software. The Camon 12 strikes a balance between the two worlds, meaning the hardware is terrific for the price, and the processing aspect is good too, but not extraordinary because this is a sub-20K device, so keep that in mind.

Software and features

This part includes the camera interface, modes, and features that have been integrated into the camera app to make it a pleasant experience, and by extension, a good snapper.

Firing up the app takes you right to the AI camera mode, which is the main page you will be shooting from. The AI integration implies there is no need for the user to play with settings for an experience that is pleasing to the eye. Instead, the entire exercise is performed by a series of complex algorithms that look into a scene to determine the correct colour adjustments. All you have to do is sit back and relax while the phone does all the manual work for you.

Can you trust AI to do a good job in this regard? Mostly, the answer is yes, but professional photographers love to do that process by themselves because AI can be a little too aggressive with colour balance and reproduction. However, those are pro camera users, which you probably aren’t if you are like me – and make the majority of people who are going to buy or have already purchased the Camon 12.

Ultimately, you are going to like those images as I did, and while at it, make sure you have steady hands. Alright?

 

Now, speaking of camera modes, you can take pics with fake blurred backgrounds, otherwise known as a portrait or bokeh shot. I was not very impressed with the outcome here, but remember how much you are paying for the Camon 12.

For the adventurous, there is an AR shot mode that introduces AR features to your images, but I did not use it afterward, that is besides testing purposes. I suspect you do the same thing too.

The 8 MP wide-angle lens is backed up by a wide-angle mode, which expands your view. It comes in handy when you want to integrate more people or features in your image, although TECNO does not say how big wide the lens can get. To my eyes, it is substantially so, and I was glad about the results.

By the way, there is a macro mode as well, which means you can come close to a subject and shoot an impressive image without any subject blurs. I am impressed.

Macro sample

Front camera

As reported, the selfie snapper is a 16 MP sensor, which is not surprising because TECNO has selling Camon devices with front snappers that are packed to the brim with megapixel counts.

Apart from making me look very light-skinned and bright, the 16 MP sensor is a good one for the most part. you can include more people in the shot with wide-selfie, take bokeh shots, and do a video for your Instagram or Twitter followers if you are into such kind of activities that some may think are a little on the narcissist side.

Video

You can take 1080p, 720p, or 480p samples using the primary camera. Footage looks favourably although a little jerky. Steady hands will come handy if you record a lot, and we even recommend you get a stabilizer – although, let’s face it, that is a tool for professionals who likely have more expensive gear.

Summary

These are good cameras, and you have to understand their limitations if you are to appreciate their offerings truly.


You get a modern setup that is complemented with bokeh and wide-angle lenses, which is hard to come by at this price point.

The selfie camera is impressive, although it is going to make you prettier, and that rubs most people just right because who wants to be aesthetically challenged?

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