Over the past few years, smartphone manufacturers have been monitoring the quality of mobile cameras very closely. Some argue that thanks to innovation, mobile photography will soon replace digital cameras and DSLRs.
The first smartphones allowed capturing images that were far from ideal. But today, mobile users have access to graphics, filtering and even aperture control.
The development of mobile cameras has led to the fact that today we can take professional, bright, highly detailed photographs on a gadget that easily fits in your pocket. The following innovations have brought mobile photography to a new level.
Low light shooting has always been the weak point of smartphones. Implemented on the latest flagships from Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, the mode allows you to switch between two different apertures of f / 1.5 and f / 2.4. The cameras of these devices have special aperture settings that allow you to correctly determine the exposure. In a dark room, the aperture opens to a record f / 1.5 to allow more light into the sensor and avoid noise. It tapers to f / 2.4 in clear weather for bright, crisp and rich images.
Modern mobile cameras can create artificial depth of field. It is achieved through complex image processing. For example, the Google Pixel 2 uses computational photography and HDR + technologies. First, a series of underexposed images are captured, then the frames are combined to balance the contrast. The result is a high dynamic range image. The AI then analyzes the pixels belonging to the foreground and background and applies blur to the latter. The result is a shot with a clear foreground and a blurry background.
The early slo-mo feature had the disadvantage that the final video was slow to process and took up too much storage space. The problem was resolved when manufacturers switched to dynamic DRAM, which allows sensors to capture up to 960 frames per second. It's not easy to master slo-mo. It will take some learning to shoot such a spectacular video that is shown in commercials, but the effect of this option will be amazing.
4K video and stabilization
Qualcomm's SnapDragon 800 processor was the first chipset capable of 4K video capture. For 4K recording, the camera sensor must have a resolution of 8 megapixels or higher. Most smartphones use H.264 or H.265 to compress video, but some flagship models (iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy Note 8) allow you to choose one of the codecs at the user's discretion. The pleasure of a 4K video shot on a smartphone is often spoiled by the lack of stabilization, which is not yet available for budget models.
Previously, the camera's Pro mode was limited to white balance and ISO settings. Today, in professional mode, you can independently set exposure metering, shutter speed, exposure, choose an image format, enable or disable AI algorithms. Such an abundance of settings makes the smartphone a real semblance of a professional camera.
The first smartphones used digital zoom. It allowed you to enlarge the image on the display and crop it, however, it noticeably spoiled the image quality. Its successor, the optical zoom, zooms in on subjects while maintaining detail without losing quality.
Last year, Oppo introduced 5x optical zoom for mobile cameras. The design of such a lens resembles a periscope, where one of the sensors is located inside the smartphone at an angle of 90 degrees to the penetrating light. So far, optical zoom is a privilege of flagship devices, but there is no doubt that it will become more affordable in the future.
When password-based protection was deemed weak and fingerprint scanners were no longer sufficient, manufacturers began to implement AI-based face and iris scanning systems. In order for a smartphone to recognize its owner by sight, it needs a card consisting of several thousand points. At the same time, artificial intelligence knows that a woman can apply a different makeup, and a man can grow a mustache or beard.
Some manufacturers have started using artificial intelligence in cameras to improve their images. With the help of AI, the smartphone can identify the scene, objects and change the shooting parameters so that the frame is more attractive. Some users consider AI in the camera a dubious feature and point out that the pictures are often oversaturated, and the faces are too bleached. At the same time, automatic improvements are what most people who are not ready to mess with editors want want.
The Topic of Article: Why is smartphone photography so popular?.