The Perfect Click
ARE PHONE CAMERAS AT THE PINNACLE OF THEIR EVOLUTION?
The smartphone camera has reached a point in its evolution where it is as good as any entry-level point-and-shoot. We look at the tech advancements
When the camera was first integrated in a cellphone it was more of a gimmick. Now, however, more photos are shot on phones than cameras, showing how this blend of technology and devices was a winning combination all along.
From the basic VGA cameras to optics and sensors that dominate the specification sheets of smartphones, the phone camera has come a long way. In fact, they have become so good and dominant that the entry-level pointand-shoot segment has been feeling the heat for a few years now. Here is a look at where camera tech in the phones stands at the moment.
What started with a basic 0.3MP camera has now graduated to a 13MP camera. We get the feeling that an 8 MP sensor is becoming a standard in the smartphone segment. But the higher megapixel count need not ensure a great image as that depends on a combination of factors such as lens, sensor, image
processing hardware and camera software. In simple terms, a large sensor means more light sensitivity and a better image. An 8MP sensor does not have to be large enough to give a flawless image. And this is why companies seldom speak about sensor size.
SENSOR & SOFTWARE
Nokia did really well with its 12MP N8 with the Carl Zeiss lens. But for its next flagship camera phone, the 808 PureView, the company put in a large 41MP sensor. The large sensor with Nokia’s PureView technology enables oversampling, which means a combination of many pixels are used together to form a ‘super’ pixel. Now, the new HTC One has a 4MP camera which uses the Ultrapixel imaging technology. HTC claims its camera can shoot vivid, true-to-life images with a wide range of colours, even in low light conditions. And this has not been achieved by increasing the megapixels, but by engineering a more advanced CMOS sensor, IPS and optical lens system that captures significantly more light.
For over a decade we have been relying on the phone’s native camera app for all our imaging. Now, there are numerous apps like Instagram that allow users to take images, apply filters or do basic editing and even share the results. Similarly, there are hundreds of camera apps on all platforms with specific or myriad functions. Interestingly, the new Nokia Lumia 920 has a lens feature built into the phone that collects apps installed on the phone to take images with special effects.