ON SAFARI: Road-testing the Huawei P30 Pro

A BRIEF summary of my memories during a spellbinding week at the Phinda Private Game Reserve in South Africa include:

  • Two lions basking in the sunshine breaking through rain clouds, framed by the colours of the rainbow.
  • Baby lion cubs finding time to play with each other, their curious faces staring through the tall grass.
  • Soaring above the pristine, untouched beaches of Sodwana Bay.
  • The fiery red sunsets that sink below the horizon after another incredible day exploring the African plains.
  • Sam, our ranger and guide, who is everything a visitor seeks: knowledgeable, friendly, warm and hilarious.

While many are ingrained in my mind and undoubtedly will be for some time, it's with the flick of a finger I can vividly re-visit my experiences in at the reserve and the Bayala Private Safari Game Lodge and Camp.

Smartphone cameras are at a point now where they have become replacements for the kilograms of gear many budding photographers will lug half-way across the world.

It is so easy now to preserve the memories we create both home and abroad - in incredibly high quality.

Take the Huawei P30 Pro.

The company invited media from across the world to the wild plains of Africa to road-test the new phone, and its headline feature - the camera.

Equipped with four lenses, including a wide angle and a zoom, the flexibility and quality of the Leica camera built in undoubtedly allows any anyone to capture those memories.

The zoom in particular is a game-changer when it comes to snapping some of the world's most dangerous animals from afar.

And the wide-angle provides a new perspective for budding photographers looking to get more creative with their snaps.

National Geographic cinematographer Shannon Benson, better known as Shannon Wild, said the development of camera technology in smartphones had vastly changed approaches to capturing images.

"One of the things I noticed was how responsive that is, that's really important for me in terms of reaction time, focusing quickly is really important," Shannon said.

"Even just things like, if I'm just not in the camera and I want to go into the camera, it's quick."

Media on a game drive at the Phinda Game Reserve in South Africa. Huawei invited media to road-test the camera capabilities of the P30 Pro.
Media on a game drive at the Phinda Game Reserve in South Africa. Huawei invited media to road-test the camera capabilities of the P30 Pro. Will Hunter

Shannon grew up on the Darling Downs and moved to South Africa about six years ago.

While she cut her teeth taking still images, she wants people to share the memories of their holidays through video.

"There are certain things you can project in a still photo and there a certain things you can only really convey in film," she said.

"That is especially when it comes to wildlife.

"A video is going to make them feel like they were there way more than a still.

"If you're going to go home and have your family sit through 1000 still images of your holiday, it's going to be a lot more realistic and enjoyable for the viewer if there're some videos instead."

She said the principles of filming were the same that applied to shooting video.

"Absolutely get a few stills...but have a play and start practising in video. All the fundamentals are the same and as you practise more and get more comfortable you start getting more creative," Shannon said.

"After the fact it's really fun to play with putting clips together and creating storylines.

"It's one of the reasons I love videos so much.

"A really good image can convey emotion and really share a moment, but there's something about a video that elicits a stronger emotion."

A lioness stalks its prey in another morning at the Phinda Game Reserve in South Africa.
A lioness stalks its prey in another morning at the Phinda Game Reserve in South Africa. Will Hunter

And if you want to make sure you film those special moments, it pays to pull back a bit.

"A lot of people want to zoom right into an animal but they're going to start moving around and then all of a sudden you're trying to chase it with your screen," Shannon said.

"Zoom out a little bit and give your subject room to move."

Shannon, along with photographer Archie Brooksbank, were on deck in South Africa to show media how to get the best shots and footage out of the smartphone.

"With video you can take home quality footage and they actually have more of a chance to really experience how you experienced it," she said.

"I want to show Africa and not all of Africa is the same.

"You get to show the animal's environment, which is half the story."

The writer travelled as a guest of Huawei Australia.

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