How Will Smartphone Cameras Develop?

Developers have stopped increasing the number of pixels in the sensors. Most of the modern devices are provided with 8 Mp cameras, but it doesn’t mean that the process of improvement has stopped. The quality of photos made with the help of smartphone cameras is pretty close to that made with a regular non-professional camera. To improve the quality developers try to apply different cunning stunts. Let’s talk about some of them.

Photo sensors with reduced resolution

The problem with constant megapixels enlargement is that after reaching a certain limit it begins to negatively affect the quality of images. The thing is that due to the limited dimensions of a smartphone, manufacturers have to reduce the size of each pixel. This allows placing more pixels on the same sensor area. But here’s another problem – the smaller megapixel is, the lesser amount of light it gets and the lower the quality of photos. Just some numbers: if you increase the number of megapixels by 50%, you will be able to get photos that have more dots by 10%. Other pixels are used for compensating the small size.

The possible way out of this situation is dividing a photo sensor into several parts in order to make each separate dot larger. This is the way chosen by Taiwanese company HTC when developing their HTC One smartphone, which in fact has three 4 Mp cameras. Due to this fact the camera of this smartphone is able to grasp 44% of light more than that of the iPhone 5.

Autofocus improvement

Future smartphones will let their owners not to be afraid of blurred pictures. Manufacturers are searching for new autofocus technologies that will enable it to work significantly faster. Right now smartphones use the system you may observe in the optical drive of your PC. The system is the following – a lens is fixed on the movable carriage and it moves to and fro focusing its ray on the photo sensor. But such system is slow to work. So we can expect it to be changed for either of the two technologies: microelectromechanical one and the technology of increasing the number of sensors up to several thousands.

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Microelectromechanical technology (MEMS) uses practically the same principle of operation as traditional autofocus. But unlike the latter, it will provide almost every pixel with its own lens. This will help to increase autofocus working speed up to 200 ms, while now it needs almost a full second. Apart from that, this technology will promote further reduction in thickness of smartphones.

Second technology is developed by such companies as Lytro and Pelican. The essence of this technology is the use of many small sensors instead of one big sensor. Such a system will help to get a large image consisting of many smaller images, and special software will gather the image together from smaller images. Developers say that this will improve image quality. Also, such multiple matrix will allow users to edit image after it has been taken. For example, to change the focus on the photo. Apart from that, such camera structure will allow creating 3D images.

HDR out of the box

In their drive to improve the quality of images developers also improve the algorithms of processing of the received photo data. The example is High Dynamic Range mode which allows getting richer images. For example, JPEG format allows producing maximum dynamic range of 1000:1, while real scenes have brightness dynamic range of 1000000:1 and higher. HDR technique allows eliminating this restriction and getting a more colorful picture.

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