Smartphones have really transformed the way how people click pictures. Most importantly, they have made the entire process feel simple and easy. While some companies bank on the Megapixels, many went about using better sensors and other techniques to help produce great photographs.
The cameras had their limitations in smartphones; majorly because of the form factor and the desire of making thinner and sleek devices. Many have been trying to compensate this with software enhancements. Recently, we have started to see many companies bring in smartphones with dual camera lenses on them. It all started with HTC One M8 2 years ago; and then with LG G5 this year, followed by Huawei P9, Honor 8, Redmi Pro and few others. The latest in the scene is the iPhone 7 Plus from Apple which was just unveiled yesterday. Every Company has implemented the Twin Lens in a unique way.
Huawei P9 and Honor 8: Monochrome Love
In this device, The Cameras has two 12MP sensors set at f.2.2 Aperture, where one of them shoots monochrome only. When you click a picture, the monochrome sensor analyses the picture in terms of the light thats hitting the sensor through the glass and different objects in the frame.
Using all these information available, the system then adds the colour onto the picture from the other RGB sensor. Using the colour and monochrome cameras simultaneously helps in producing a superior image with deeper blacks and vivid colours than a conventional one-sensor setup. Image information from both sensors makes these cameras 100% more light-sensitive than the competition.
The Dual camera systems also enables you to take pictures with an adjustable depth of field to create background blurs.
LG G5 and V20: Wide Angle
The LG G5 uses the secondary 8MP module as a super-wide angle with a 135 degree angle of view. The main 16MP camera module has narrower field of view which works pretty well and also makes a good combination with the wide-angle.
If you are using the digital zoom the LG G5 switches automatically between both modules. To simplify, if you are using the wide-angle lens and zoom into your scene, digital zoom is applied to the wide-angle image until the angle of view of the other 16MP lens is reached. At this point the camera app switches modules.
Apple iPhone 7 Plus: Wide Angle and Optical Zoom
The all new iPhone 7 Plus has one wide angle lens and another a standard telephoto lens. The stand-out difference is that, The lenses which will be used for zooming isn’t just digital, but also offers optical zoom which uses the second telephoto lens to take sharp pictures. Apple will release the phone with hardware-based 1x and 2x zoom, and a software zoom above 2x to 10x.
The two lenses collect data for the software to process. As shown in the demo yesterday during the launch event, The iPhone 7 Plus accomplishes this through machine-learning recognition of objects in a scene, which let it identify people, and by using images captured from the two cameras, to differentiate focal planes. The result is software processed DSLR quality images.
The dual lens also helps in the new “Depth Effect” feature in the camera app on the 7 Plus that allows you to put the subject in the forefront in focus and blur the background scene; ideal in portraits.
HTC was the first one to introduce a dual camera setup on Smartphones in 2014 with its HTC One M8
Honor 6X and Xiaomi Redmi Pro: Bokeh!
The Redmi Pro’s dual lens implementation is very similar to what HTC introduced. This device features a 13MP primary camera Sony sensor along with a 5MP Samsung sensor on the rear of the device. The camera gives users the ability to choose the focus point after a shot is taken. The hardware-level depth of field processing helps the RedMi Pro to add effects like blurred backgrounds natively. Keeping it simple, The first camera clicks the still images while the other one measures the depth in the scene.
Its interesting on how companies are introducing the secondary cameras without making the phones look bulky and adhering to what we call a good design. With so much of emphasis on photography, I am sure, dual lens on Smartphones are going to make the phones even more fantastic to click pictures; and maybe, open up more avenues for virtual reality!