Discussion Evolution of Mobile Photography


Which do you think is more necessary for OnePlus for a good Camera?

  1. Good Hardware Lens

    2 vote(s)
  2. Good Software Lens

    4 vote(s)
  3. Right Mix of Both

    47 vote(s)
  1. KaranRIyer
    KitKat Mar 9, 2021

    KaranRIyer , Mar 9, 2021 :
    Header Credits- @Yash Pratap Singh.
    Hello Friends in the Community. Smartphone cameras have always tried to replace the usage of digital camera's to a certain extent. Lets see how Smartphone cameras evolved over time and what's the current scenario for smartphones like. With current OnePlus Collab with Hasselblad, will it be enough for OnePlus to emerge victorious against the Legendary Pixel and iPhone cameras ? Looks promising on paper but only time will tell.

    Before going deep into my thread mind you its a long read. So just a heads up for anyone who starts reading this thread.
    1. For Tech Enthusiasts details about hardware used for a smartphone camera.
    2. My friend @YRJ and @SJBoss had a similar idea about a similar thread feel free to visit this one
    Smartphone Camera Advancements
    • · Initial Developments in the Smartphone Camera
    1.Nokia 7650 The first camera phones shipped with paltry sub-VGA resolution camera in early 2000. The first camera phones had barely usable camera’s, but the convenience cemented the importance of smartphone imaging.​

    The Nokia 7650

    2. Smartphone manufacturers truly embraced unique form factors and imaging capabilities from 2006-2009.​

    3. N93 series Introduced in 2006, the phone let you flip it over into a camcorder style format with a full-motion assembly affording up to 3x optical zoom. Legendary was N95(Phone not the Mask) with 5MP cam

    The Nokia N93
    The Nokia N95

    4. From Carl-Zeiss to Schneider-Kreuznach and Cybershot, the mid-2000s saw smartphone manufacturers tying up with veteran photography brands. For lack of HDR capabilities, smartphones dabbled in variable apertures and neutral density filters to shoot in bright sunlight.​

    5. The megapixel wars had begun after 2009, and resolutions shot up every year.​

    6. The Samsung W880 wasn’t just the world’s first 12MP camera phone, but it also introduced 30FPS video recording for the first time. Admittedly, this was still limited to 720p resolutions, but it was yet another step in pushing forward video capabilities on a phone. Additionally, it packed a treasure trove of features including a variable aperture, xenon flash, and even a dedicated mode selection ring.​
    Samsung W880

    7. The camera modules however were larger in older phones considerably occupying more space making the phone heavier. But then of course it was not the era of slim smartphones then​

    • Picture correction mechanism: OIS, SS , post processing : HDR, Filters , War of No of Cam & Hardware:

      1. 1. Before 2015, phone cameras focused solely based on the contrast they could detect in a scene. Starting with the Galaxy S5 and iPhone 6, phase detection was added, built right into the sensor: It uses the information coming in from both sides of the lens to calculate where the perfect focus is (where the points of light should meet). It’s faster than the standard contrast detection method, but it’s still not great in low light.

        General Comparison of Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 6

        2. This is where smartphone camera tricks made an entry. The dual pixels used on the most recent Galaxy phones, for example, turn every pixel into a little phase detection system, improving performance in darker scenes. For its Pixel phones, Google went with a time-of-flight infrared laser to measure distances quickly in any lighting situation.

        3. Optical image stabilization (OIS) is more important than you might think: It doesn’t just keep your shaky videos steady, it also means that when you’re taking a photo, the shutter can stay open for longer without any blur, and again that’s crucial in terms of collecting light. On the most basic level, optical image stabilization uses floating lens and miniature electromagnetic motors to move them. As the technology has become more advanced, phones have become better able to incorporate other data (from the gyroscope, for example), to further factor out shakiness. In fact there’s a whole host of different ways that manufacturers do this, both mechanical and non-mechanical.

        For Details for Google OIS & EIS , Click here to read what Google says

        4. Sensor Shift Stablisation: The Sensor-shift image stabilisation system or IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization) incorporates a floating sensor that helps counterbalance any movement within the camera. If your camera has IBIS, all of the lenses will also have image stabilization. This was recently introduced in iPhone 12 pro max.


        The Link here shows the actual difference between iPhone 12 pro & iPhone 12 Pro Max

        5. EIS works without the assistance of any additional hardware. For still images, typically an EIS system will boost the sensor’s sensitivity so a faster shutter speed can be used, reducing blur. The lack of mechanical complexity not only reduces the cost of the system; it also significantly improves reliability of the end devices in all applications. For Pixel phones EIS is used only in case of videos where as OIS in iPhones can be used for both photos & videos.
    • Dual cameras: What do you do when you can’t increase the size of your camera lens or your image sensor ( Since basically bigger lens size= bigger focal length), because your components need to be as compact as possible? Use another camera to the mix. The key benefit is clearly more data for the camera to work with, whether that’s more data on color or contrast or being able to make use of a lens with a wider angle. Of course, as phones have become more powerful, they’ve also become better able to crunch the information coming in from two cameras simultaneously.
    • Here, the additional camera enabled the different features distinctive to it .Use a telephoto lens for the secondary camera and you can suddenly get 2x optical zoom, as Apple did with the iPhone 7 Plus. Huawei phones, like the Mate 10 Pro, have a monochrome sensor behind the secondary camera, used to gather extra brightness and contrast information.
    iPhone 7 Plus Wide Angle shot

    iPhone 7 Plus 2x Zoom shot

    • Improved processing: Finally, some of the biggest leaps forward in smartphone camera quality have come not through better optics, but through better software processing made possible by more powerful phones. One of the benefits you can see on a Pixel 2 phone is the way HDR effects can be calculated and applied in real-time as you frame your shot.

    2. The best cam smartphones in the market : Apple with SIS & single Cam , Google Pixel with great software & single hardware.

    Google Pixel3 (12.2MP )

    Honor 9x main Cam shot (48 MP)
    • Google and Apple have been getting one spec on their smartphones right. Yes, you guessed it right, cameras. Since the early days Google’s Pixel phones have been gold standard for smartphone camera with best software processing while Apple seems to be inspiring Google or sometimes the other way around both Tec Giants seems to be complementing each other with good specs so far.
    • One of the examples is HDR features Apple introduced in 2010 in iPhone 4. Google later took HDR to next level by introducing HDR+ mode which did a better than its former counterpart in photograph enhancements. Apple evidently introduced the same idea, Smart HDR in iPhone XS gen in 2018.
    Pixel 3 HDR+ Sample

    iPhone XR Smart HDR Sample
    • Another byproduct of HDR Plus is Night Sight introduced on Google Pixel 3 in 2018. Apple introduced the Night Mode soon after in iPhone 11 and 11 Pro phones. Consequently, Night Mode opened new avenues, Astrophotography being one was introduced in Pixel 4 can blend up to 16 shots in about 15 seconds to capture stars & Milky ways.
    Screenshot 2019-11-25 at 11.14.29 AM.png
    Pixel Astrophotography

    Night Sight Pixel 3

    Night Mode iPhone 11

    • But in both cases, be it Google or Apple both relied on a single good camera sensor + solid software and correction algorithms to get the best photographs from their smartphones. Image processing capabilities are harder to convey than megapixel counting, but Apple and Google prove this is the way forward.
    What do you think is more important for a good photo, the camera hardware or the software?

    Thank you @TibiTibi for listening to what i had in mind, @Mr. BG the thread turned out a bit different but your inputs were insightful. Thanks @YRJ for the constant follow up and tips and tricks. Finally thank you @Yash Pratap Singh. for giving me this opportunity for this thread and wonderful header & proof reading. :):)

    Last edited: Mar 10, 2021

  2. Dresa91
    User of the Year 2016; Most Active User 2020 Mar 9, 2021

    Dresa91 , Mar 9, 2021 :
    Thank you for this great and detailed thread :)

    For me the mix is important:
    Take a look at Google. The camera software of Google makes the best and most out of the hardware.
    Nowadays Google has to use better hardware to be competitive

  3. Yash Pratap Singh.
    Lollipop Mar 9, 2021

    Yash Pratap Singh. , Mar 9, 2021 :
    Great work @KaranRIyer!
    I think that the Camera OS plays a major role in determining the output from a device. Even in really old iPhones and Sony XPERIA phones, the photos comes out really great due to their excellent software image optimization!😉
    And the thread looks really great, well structured and systematic. Would love to hear the opinion of @TibiTibi @otto2 @cdnfarmer @script on this topic 😄
    It's your effort bruh! 🙂

  4. KaranRIyer
    KitKat Mar 9, 2021

    KaranRIyer , Mar 9, 2021 :
    Thanks a lot.
    Yes its definitely a mix but software is majorly playing a role in post processing. So OS plays a major role. Before i forget there s a poll running on top of thread ;)

    True that CyberShot series from Sony had great image quality owing to great software. Once again thanks a lot

  5. Dresa91
    User of the Year 2016; Most Active User 2020 Mar 9, 2021

    Dresa91 , Mar 9, 2021 :
    I already voted :p

    Yeah,...HW + SW = ✅

  6. Nipu_1998
    The Lab Reviewer - OnePlus 9 Series Mar 9, 2021

    Nipu_1998 , Mar 9, 2021 :
    Great thread👏

    With the leaps in computational photography, software can makeup the shortcomings of hardware. But always, a good sensor with large pixel area( not higher crazy 3 digit megapixel sensor)+ good quality lens + good image processing algorithm can give the best output.

  7. KaranRIyer
    KitKat Mar 9, 2021

    KaranRIyer , Mar 9, 2021 :
    Hey Thanks a lot. True

  8. TibiTibi
    Photography Expert Mar 9, 2021

    TibiTibi , Mar 9, 2021 :
    I would say all should be in balance.
    Of course I'm not Thanos 😁.

    Good overal HW with good SW.

    A chain is only as strong
    as its weakest link.

    E.g. The HW is not only the camera module with lenses.
    As example the Xiaomi Mi Note10 - the first 108MP phone - really capable photo machine but the CPU SD730 and storage UFS 2.0 degraded the overal performance.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2021

  9. TibiTibi
    Photography Expert Mar 9, 2021

    TibiTibi , Mar 9, 2021 :
    Good summary and elaboration about evolution and revolution in the area of phone photography.

  10. SRD.
    Lollipop Mar 10, 2021

    SRD. , Mar 10, 2021 :
    So here it is @KaranRIyer . I have seen that evolution from Nokia feature phones to the latest one.
    Such a nice read and beautifully clicked.

  11. SRD.
    Lollipop Mar 10, 2021

  12. KaranRIyer
    KitKat Mar 10, 2021

    KaranRIyer , Mar 10, 2021 :
    Thank you so much @TibiTibi . Tried my best

    Thank you visting :). @SRD.. Yes even i have seen that. I have gone from me having a phone without camera to choosing one with the best possible
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2021

  13. KaranRIyer
    KitKat Mar 10, 2021

    KaranRIyer , Mar 10, 2021 :
    i see what you did there with small header 😂😂.
    I agree, Google is now doing the same. They already had the best software, now they are upgrading the camera hardware. Yet they have done so much with so little. Other companies should follow the same trait. But i guess making good software and hardware increases cost as compared to just focusing on one.

  14. dsmonteiro
    Community Consultant Staff Member Mar 10, 2021

  15. KaranRIyer
    KitKat Mar 10, 2021

  16. SJBoss
    Lollipop Mar 10, 2021

    SJBoss , Mar 10, 2021 :
    Even though I'm familiar with things you've mentioned, There's hardly anything I can add here as I belong to point and shoot clan but a great post nonetheless.

    Keep up the good work.

  17. KaranRIyer
    KitKat Mar 10, 2021

    KaranRIyer , Mar 10, 2021 :
    haha yes even I'm an amateur at that. Thanks a lot

    Helder_DAlmeida, SJBoss and Dresa91 like this.
  18. KaranRIyer
    KitKat Mar 10, 2021

  19. SARANG S
    Cupcake Mar 10, 2021

    KaranRIyer likes this.