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Phone Cameras: How have they progressed so quickly?

Posted June 17, 2019

Once upon a time, a camera phone was considered as a prestigious possession. Those were the times when just a handful of mobile handsets came with an integrated camera. Nowadays phones come with multiple cameras and inbuilt AI (Artificial Intelligence), phone cameras certainly have come a long way in a short period of time.

Free image via Pixabay

The Fast-paced Growth of Phone Cameras

Back in 1999, Kyocera Corporation introduced the world’s first mobile videophone in the market, the VisualPhone VP-210. With the ability to store 20 JPEG images this phone was available for $325. Today you would get smartphones with the ability to record 4K videos and storage capacity of several gigabytes for that cost.

Samsung and Nokia were the mobile phone manufacturers who then took this trend seriously and launched new phones with in-built cameras. There were also a few devices that were available with the option to add a camera attachment to click pictures. The VGA camera was one of the first types of camera technology used on mobile phones. VGA or video graphics array indicates a resolution of 640×480.

This number might look minuscule today, but back then, this was a sophisticated feature on a mobile phone. The mere concept that you could click pictures on a compact handheld mobile phone was a breakthrough in the mobile phone segment.

Samsung SCH-S250 which hit the market with a 5MP camera was one of the crucial mobile phones, a trendsetter. It paved the way for new standards in the field of mobile photography.

The improvement of the camera built into the mobile phone required the support of the improvement in the overall hardware, the storage capacity in particular. Smartphones today come with large inbuilt storage capacity and many of them even have expandable memory.

The Technology That Rules The Smartphone Camera Market

From integrating one rear camera and one front facing camera the trend of including dual camera is dominating the market. There are several mid-range smartphones that come with a dual rear camera today.

Triple camera design has already hit the market. In the dual camera set up one lens does the job of depth sensing. This helps create portraits with blurred backgrounds. In the triple camera set up, one lens does the job of depth sensing and the other is used to capture wide angles. Taking things up a notch the Samsung Galaxy A9 is one of the smartphones that comes with 4 rear cameras.

The increased number of lenses is not the only improvement in phone cameras. The phone camera image processing has improved leaps and bounds. AI-based computation is also used to touch up the images and create better-looking portraits. AI also helps detect the scene and the subject to create better shots. The other benefit is the improvement in the night shots or those clicked in low lighting conditions. All this can be attributed to the use of 3D sensing integrated into various smartphones. This has also helped in the improvement of facial recognition features.

Smartphone Cameras Replacing Digital Cameras

A recent trend is that digital camera sales have dropped due to people using smartphones for everyday use. You might not be carrying your digital camera with you at all times but your smartphone might be there in your pocket. Therefore smartphone cameras are designed to pose a tight competition to the digital cameras. The one major difference lies in the presence of optical zoom in digital cameras.

Most phone cameras only bring digital image zoom. But quirky features like the ability to capture panorama shots and even 3D photos make the smartphone cameras more fun to use. There is a whole new line of smartphones that have hit the market with action camera features. These even come with superior electronic image stabilization capabilities, this helps prevent blurs in the images. It’s quite clear that people are favoring smartphones over having to haul around a digital camera and it will be interesting to see what other technology the mobile phone will replace over time.

Source: Clever Shop List

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