Smartphones are capable of doing astounding things these days. The camera embedded in such 7mm thick devices is capable of shooting mind-boggling images mimicking the bulky DSLRs. With the advancements in smartphone cameras still in progress, we can see the smartphone makers are striving to bestow the DSLR capabilities into the smartphone cameras. And the presence of a dual camera on smartphones is one of the examples.
What are Dual camera smartphones?
In case of smartphones with dual camera setup, dual camera resides vertically or horizontally either on the front side or on the back panel or on both sides. Such setup essentially requires two lenses with a separate image sensor or film frame for each lens. Among the two cameras, the primary camera works like a normal or ordinary camera: it takes regular images. The secondary camera, however, gathers further information (will be discussed later) and the software blends the information from both cameras to produce images of fine quality and plenty of details.
What is the purpose of Dual Camera on smartphones?
Dual lens camera, which is also known as a stereo camera is provided on the smartphones to produce vivid and well-detailed images. The presence of a dual camera on smartphones is analogous to the two eyes on human anatomy. The presence of two eyes on human body offers advantages like wide FOV (field of view), enhanced depth perception, ability to detect small objects, symmetry and more. And same goes true in the case of smartphones.
A DSLR can produce vibrant shots with plenty of details with a mere presence of single lens then why does a smartphone need a dual camera for the same purpose? This could be the bewilderment amongst the most. To explain in simple terms, DSLRs are equipped with a large aperture, big lens and large sensor, which make them of capable of incarcerating adequate light and plenty of details during the shots. But in the smartphones, providing such components only make it massive and probably impossible to fit in the pockets. And the battery power devoured by such setup is beyond imaginable. So the concept of the dual camera came as an alternative, where the details collected from two cameras blend to form one image resembling more or less like a DSLR output.
Advantages of dual camera setup on smartphones
- Better picture quality
- Greater depth of field in pictures
- Improved dynamic range
- Wide Field of View
- Faster focus
- Refocus ability
- Vibrant colors
- Well detailed
- Lossless zooming
- Improved Low light capabilities / Reduced Noise
- Easy to apply effects (3D effect, augmented reality, Bokeh effect, etc.)
Some Applications of Dual-camera Setup on Smartphones
Back in 2011, when 3D was growing as a thing, LG Optimus 3D and HTC Evo 3D were launched with dual-camera setup capable of bringing 3D sensation on the videos and photos captured. Both the smartphones were the same technique used by the regular 3D cameras. The basic principle underlying the technique is to use the different perspective of dual-camera and create a sense of depth on images. When the subject information (primary camera) and depth information (secondary camera) blends into a single image/video, the 3D output can be obtained.
2. Depth Sensing
The technique involved here is alike to the 3D dual-camera setup. The primary camera captures details of the subject in focus. And the secondary camera garners the depth information of the components in the frame: segregating foreground and background according to distance. This feature allows capturing nifty portraits with Bokeh Effects (foreground focused and background blurred). This setup was employed on HTC One M8, where 4-Megapixel UltraPixel acted as primary sensor and the 2-megapixel sensor was employed to summon depth information onto the images.
3. Monochrome and RGB
Huawei entered the dual-camera game with the launch of Huawei P9 and P9 Plus partnering with Leica. The technology used on the device was quite unique. Among the two cameras, one was employed to capture monochrome (B/W) image. However, another one was used to fill in Colors (RGB) to complete the image. Huawei continued to provide similar setup on Huawei GR5 2017, Huawei P10 and P10 Plus. CoolPad Cool1 and Nokia 8 also followed the same bandwagon.
In this technology, both cameras are quite identical in specs. In this technology, monochrome sensors summons plenty of details. Since the pixels in the monochrome sensor get triggered in little or low lights, the incarcerating of details is quite impressive. The other sensor (RGB) has the sole purpose to bring in colours. So the colours are unadulterated and natural. And the information collected so far from both the sensors combines into one with the software manipulation. As the Monochrome sensor garners plenty of details with the RGB sensor filling in colours, the end results are quite imposing.
4. Wide angle
This approach of dual-camera setup entered the tech world with the launch of LG G5 last year. And LG continued to provide similar setup on the LG G6 this year. This technology is quite straightforward. The two cameras work together to increase the field of view and to bring in wide prospects. With the single lens system, the field of view limits lower values. But with LG G5’s dual-camera setup, the field of view increased to an astounding 135-degrees. So with a similar setup on your smartphone, you won’t have to worry to be missed out in images even if you are being shot among a large group of people.
This setup is prevailing amongst a large number of smartphones these days. In this system, the secondary camera has a larger focal length as compared to the primary. This setup is unique to that of wide angle as this setup focuses on the lossless optical zooming. Distant objects can be brought to the frame without losing the image quality. This type of setup also has great insights on the depth sensing and brings out exquisite Bokeh effects. However, in this setup, the primary camera acts as a depth sensor. This type of setup can be found on iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 Plus, OnePlus 5, Samsung Galaxy Note 8, Xiaomi MI A1, etc.
6. Augmented Reality
With the smartphones focusing on Bokeh and zooming with the dual-camera, Lenovo Phab 2 Pro and Asus ZenFone AR come with an entirely new concept. The aforementioned smartphones serve as a foundation to Google Tango Project driving the tech world towards the Augmented Reality (AR). With this setup, the smartphone will be capable of knowing where everything sits in a 3D environment around it: the basic principle behind a lot of AR and VR content. These smartphones serve its use on the 3D mapping of rooms, scanning rooms and inserting objects to evaluate the real-life scenario, etc.
DSLRs vs Dual-camera smartphones
Although the dual-camera smartphones are in the race to rival the DSLRs, one thing is to be kept in mind is that DSLRs are employed with a large sensor, wide aperture, large pixel and sensor size, etc. So with such setup, zooming and effects are natural. Portraits shots and Bokeh effects are natural with increasing blurs with the increase in distance. However, with dual-camera setup, because of the depth-sensing, the foreground and the background can be segregated but the blurring of the background is entirely through the software. And seems to possess quite unnatural intensity.
And in some cases, the subject lacks sharp edges with blurry borders, which is an utter disappointment. And in the case of zooming and wide-angle shots, dual-camera smartphones are way behind the DSLRs. Though the dual-camera smartphones are striving to mimic DSLR shots, they are nowhere close to DSLRs to rival them. However, in the matter of size, weight and portability, dual-camera smartphones are the easy winner here.
Is two camera better than one?
If you are more of a kind to apply effects with switching modes while taking the shots, then dual-camera smartphones can be ideal for you. If you love travelling or visiting places then having a wide-angle camera as a companion turns out to be fruitful. For those, who are indulged into taking portraits and showcase into social media, the Telephoto camera would be the better choice. But if you love natural shots without artsy effects, the single camera works perfectly fine.
In the answer to the question, burrowing the results from the popular camera benchmark test, DXoMark, last year’s HTC U11 (single camera) surpassed the dual camera smartphones like iPhone 7 Plus, LG G5 and Huawei P9. Similarly, this year’s Google Pixel 2/2XL (single camera) has surpassed dual camera smartphones like iPhone 8 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note 8. So we can conclude that with the use of good sensor and lens, the single camera lens can capture superior quality shots. And as the dual-camera technology is in developing phase, we can expect better results in the coming years.
Smartphones with Dual-camera available in Nepal
|Smartphone Model||Principle used||Price in Nepal|
|iPhone 7 Plus (32GB)||Telephoto camera||Rs. 90,000|
|iPhone 8 Plus (64/256GB)||Telephoto camera||Rs. 1,12,500 / Rs. 1,33,000|
|Samsung Galaxy Note 8||Telephoto camera||Rs. 1,02,990|
|Huawei P10 Plus||Monochrome & RGB||Rs. 79,000|
|Huawei P9||Monochrome & RGB||Rs. 59,999|
|Oppo F3 (Dual selfie camera)||Wide angle||Rs. 32,990|
|Oppo F3 Plus (Dual selfie camera)||Wide angle||Rs. 54,990|
|Gionee A1 Plus||Depth sensing||Rs. 44,999|
|CoolPad Cool1||Monochrome & RGB||Rs. 30,996|
|Huawei GR5 2017||Depth sensing||Rs. 34,999|
|OnePlus 5 (6GB+64GB/8GB+128GB)||Telephoto camera||Rs. 59,500 /Rs. 69,500|
|UMIDIGI Crystal||Depth sensing||Rs. 25,900|
|UMIDIGI Z1||Depth sensing||Rs. 45,900|
|Xiaomi MI 5S Plus||Monochrome & RGB||Rs. 52,999|
|Xiaomi MI6 (64/128GB)||Telephoto camera||Rs. 54,999 / Rs. 57,999|
|Xiaomi MI A1||Telephoto camera||Rs. 29,999|
|ZTE Axon Elite||Depth sensing||Rs. 33,990|