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04-20-2015, 08:05 PM   #1
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New Smartphone Camera approach

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Rather than hewing to this one-to-one ratio, Light aims to put a bunch of small lenses, each paired with its own image sensor, into smartphones and other gadgets. They’ll fire simultaneously when you take a photo, and software will automatically combine the images. This way, Light believes, it can fit the quality and zoom of a bulky, expensive DSLR camera into much smaller, cheaper packages—even phones.



04-20-2015, 11:03 PM   #2
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Interesting. Thank you!
04-20-2015, 11:31 PM   #3
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I don't believe this solution will solve anything really.

Using the same sensor area and zoom range divided into a large number of sensor/lens units will make the device just as bulky and expensive (if not more) as in using one unit with larger sensor/lens.
FI to replace the sensor/zoom lens like in high quality 1" sensor P&S, the smartphone will probably have to use 25+ sensor/lens units, and those units covering longer focal length will be bulky.
The added cost of $50-60 to the smartphone is probably at least 5x as much as the camera add to most smartphones today. So the camera unit will add quite a lot to the smartphone ($200-300).

I suspect that a solution like this will create more problems than it solves.
Maybe they can use this design with a small number of sensor/lens units to get the same performance/zoom range as on a cheap 1/1.7" P&S. But I doubt that it's gives much advantage over using a 1/1.7" sensor with zoom lens.

That they can use this concept to get DSLR IQ out of a smartphone is just marketing BS.

Last edited by Fogel70; 04-20-2015 at 11:44 PM.
04-20-2015, 11:52 PM   #4
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Oh no, cameras are doomed...

---------- Post added 21-04-15 at 07:09 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Fogel70 Quote
I don't believe this solution will solve anything really.

Using the same sensor area and zoom range divided into a large number of sensor/lens units will make the device just as bulky and expensive (if not more) as in using one unit with larger sensor/lens.
FI to replace the sensor/zoom lens like in high quality 1" sensor P&S, the smartphone will probably have to use 25+ sensor/lens units, and those units covering longer focal length will be bulky.
The added cost of $50-60 to the smartphone is probably at least 5x as much as the camera add to most smartphones today. So the camera unit will add quite a lot to the smartphone ($200-300).

I suspect that a solution like this will create more problems than it solves.
Maybe they can use this design with a small number of sensor/lens units to get the same performance/zoom range as on a cheap 1/1.7" P&S. But I doubt that it's gives much advantage over using a 1/1.7" sensor with zoom lens.

That they can use this concept to get DSLR IQ out of a smartphone is just marketing BS.
Look at the latest additions to this thread though: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/75-video-pentax-hdslrs/280472-mechanical-...ml#post3228010

The Iphone is already beating any Pentax video quality by a large margin. ...I know, I know, Pentax cameras are all primarily still photography cameras... The Iphone is primarily a PHONE though.

The phone (camera) industry is developing and pioneering rapidly. The classic camera industry though has digged in firmly into this trench war with each other. They can't think outside their trenches, but the world outside is continueing on its own.

Only five years ago, I was approached by a colleague who saw me showing my Pentax to another colleague. He questened why I would use this big camera when his Iphone could do the same. (I think I even posted a thread about the incident.) He actually had the opinion that his phone could do anything, with the same quality, as my DSLR. Back then, he was far from correct, he was an applephile and an arrogant douche. Today though, he would almost have a point. The gap between smartphones and cameras is getting smaller, just like the incentive to carry around big gear in a separate bag, and just like the incentive to pay extra for that gear.


Last edited by Clavius; 04-21-2015 at 01:26 AM.
04-21-2015, 07:30 AM   #5
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While my K5 and Lumix LF 1 are both video capable, when I want to shoot some video, my tool of choice is my iPhone. My iPhone is pretty darn good with stills too and beats the pants off any dedicated camera I have ever used in regards to metering accuracy. Yes, there will always be shots a phone can't do but they are becoming more and more capable with every new version. I no longer concern myself about having my camera along as my phone can handle most everyday shots.
04-21-2015, 08:05 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by reeftool Quote
While my K5 and Lumix LF 1 are both video capable, when I want to shoot some video, my tool of choice is my iPhone. My iPhone is pretty darn good with stills too and beats the pants off any dedicated camera I have ever used in regards to metering accuracy. Yes, there will always be shots a phone can't do but they are becoming more and more capable with every new version. I no longer concern myself about having my camera along as my phone can handle most everyday shots.

I would have to agree. I have the iPhone 6.


However, I continue to carry my LF1 all of the time, and my Olympus Stylus 1 quite a bit of the time, because of their zoom capability, and also because, in anything but great light, their image quality remains significantly superior to the iPhone's. And certainly the low light image quality of the relatively small RX100 or LX100 far surpasses any smartphone. (I sold my RX100 though, because of its limited focal length - shame on me!)


Additionally, the iPhone is to me, as an enthusiast, just plain fiddly to use in anything but automatic snapshot mode, a fact which greatly diminishes its appeal. And, though it may be a minor quibble for many, I like the fact that my cameras have viewfinders.

However, if I never had any experience with cameras as we know them I wouldn't know the difference. And this to me is the biggest problem facing camera manufacturers. Camera phones suit the needs of most people, and as their use spreads, they're becoming the only type of camera most people want and use.


Still, I do not see camera phones rendering stand-alone cameras obsolete. They are the Brownies or Instamatics of the present day. And while they have clearly taken the place of simple, lower-end stand-alone cameras, anyone yearning for a more versatile and capable imaging tool never will be content with a smartphone. At least for the time being.

Because who knows? Maybe this new multi-sensor-and-lens technology, or something else like it, will dramatically upset the current status quo even further!


YMMV, of course!

Last edited by DavidSKAF3; 04-21-2015 at 12:13 PM.
04-21-2015, 10:15 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Clavius Quote
Oh no, cameras are doomed...

---------- Post added 21-04-15 at 07:09 ----------



Look at the latest additions to this thread though: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/75-video-pentax-hdslrs/280472-mechanical-...ml#post3228010

The Iphone is already beating any Pentax video quality by a large margin. ...I know, I know, Pentax cameras are all primarily still photography cameras... The Iphone is primarily a PHONE though.

The phone (camera) industry is developing and pioneering rapidly. The classic camera industry though has digged in firmly into this trench war with each other. They can't think outside their trenches, but the world outside is continueing on its own.

Only five years ago, I was approached by a colleague who saw me showing my Pentax to another colleague. He questened why I would use this big camera when his Iphone could do the same. (I think I even posted a thread about the incident.) He actually had the opinion that his phone could do anything, with the same quality, as my DSLR. Back then, he was far from correct, he was an applephile and an arrogant douche. Today though, he would almost have a point. The gap between smartphones and cameras is getting smaller, just like the incentive to carry around big gear in a separate bag, and just like the incentive to pay extra for that gear.
Yes, this is today. But the video on DSLR will not keep on being underdeveloped/primitive for all future times. The problem on many large sensor cameras is that they only use a tiny fraction of the sensor to capture video, and that the sensors in these cameras is not designed with video on highest priority.

In a few generations, mirrorless/DSLR will close the gap and go ahead of smartphones when it comes to video. Cameras like Sony A7s and Samsung NX1 show what to expect from future large sensor cameras. Try comparing an iPhone 6 with A7s in dark condition and you will see what a 50 times larger sensor can give you.

You just can't defy physics when it comes to capture light.

04-21-2015, 11:38 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by DavidSKAF3 Quote
I would have to agree. I have the iPhone 6.


However, I continue to carry my LF1 all of the time, and my Olympus Stylus 1 quite a bit of the time, because of their zoom capability, and also because, in anything but great light, their image quality remains significantly superior to the iPhone's. And certainly the low light image quality of the relatively small RX100 or LX100 far surpasses any smartphone. (I sold my RX100 though, because of its limited focal length - shame on me!)


Additionally, the iPhone is to me, as an enthusiast, just plain fiddly to use in anything but automatic snapshot mode, a fact which greatly diminishes its appeal. And, though it may be a minor quibble for many, I like the fact that my cameras have viewfinders.

However, if I never had any experience with cameras as we know them I wouldn't know the difference. And this to me is the biggest problem facing camera manufacturers. Camera phones suit the needs of most people, and as their use spreads, they've become the only camera most people know about or want.


Still, I do not see camera phones rendering stand-alone cameras obsolete. They are the Brownies or Instamatics of the present day. And while they have clearly taken the place of simple, lower-end stand-alone cameras, anyone yearning for a more versatile and capable imaging tool will never be content with a smartphone. At least for the time being.

Because who knows? Maybe this new multi-sensor-and-lens technology, or something else like it, will dramatically upset the current status quo even further!


YMMV, of course!
I mostly use my iPhone as a snapshot camera. Both my cameras still get use but I'm just not fussy about bringing a camera everywhere. My LF 1 dies quickly in the winter and can't be relied on while the phone is always there.

My dislikes about the phone as a camera are these.
1. No viewfinder. This is also true of a lot of cameras, even high end ones. It's difficult to see the screen in bright light.
2. You need to perform some touch screen actions to use various functions which are difficult at times. In winter, it requires me to take my gloves off but so does my LF1. Both freeze up in the cold but the iPhone lasts much longer. The K5 wins in regards to cold weather operation.
3. No zoom. Some might argue that point but the zoom function on a phone is nothing more than a crop and since it isn't always easy to see the scene in bright light, it's better to crop after.
4. No SR, at least on the iPhone 5s but I haven't too much of an issue. This will probably be soon corrected.

For the average person who just wants to get some pictures or video, the phone is all you need. A good smartphone like an iPhone of Samsung Galaxy will probably do a better job than most P&S cameras. I would expect to see optical zoom soon on phones or possibly 2 lenses and some sort of shake reduction. I believe these are already available on a couple of phones but not mainstream yet. The phone manufacturers are doing things with digital technology that the camera industry is afraid to do. Photo and video features are becoming the central feature points of new phones. Is the camera industry doomed? I think that will depend on how much of their business they can loose and still survive. That said, there will always be some market for high end cameras and lenses. The trick for the camera industry is keeping image quality better and the prices competitive. That means better entry level DSLR's. If Mom's iPhone pictures of juniors birthday party come out better than the expensive DSLR, that's a lost customer.
04-22-2015, 12:25 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Fogel70 Quote
Yes, this is today. But the video on DSLR will not keep on being underdeveloped/primitive for all future times. The problem on many large sensor cameras is that they only use a tiny fraction of the sensor to capture video, and that the sensors in these cameras is not designed with video on highest priority.

In a few generations, mirrorless/DSLR will close the gap and go ahead of smartphones when it comes to video. Cameras like Sony A7s and Samsung NX1 show what to expect from future large sensor cameras. Try comparing an iPhone 6 with A7s in dark condition and you will see what a 50 times larger sensor can give you.

You just can't defy physics when it comes to capture light.
But we sure can defy logic though. Due to years of underdevelopment the quality gap between cameras and phones has decreased. Not everybody wants or is able to keep up with the latest and greatest cameras. But almost everybody can keep up with the latest and greatest phones. People upgrade their phones for free each year or two. I just received a call myself from my provider that they have a nice new phone waiting for me (for "free") if I extend my contract again. So there probably is a lot of people with old DSLRs and brand new phones, of which the latter outperform the cameras often in not only video. It's creating the assumption that smartphones are better cameras. It's not logical, but it's got even me with my A7, K-3 and 2x K-5 scratching my head.
04-22-2015, 04:34 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Clavius Quote
But we sure can defy logic though. Due to years of underdevelopment the quality gap between cameras and phones has decreased.
I don't think that is the case, but most users want a snapshot device not a photographic tool. So they do not want to invest the effort needed to use the full potential of a DSLR (or any large sensor camera).
They just want a convenient device for effortlessly snapping shots.

QuoteQuote:
Not everybody wants or is able to keep up with the latest and greatest cameras. But almost everybody can keep up with the latest and greatest phones. People upgrade their phones for free each year or two. I just received a call myself from my provider that they have a nice new phone waiting for me (for "free") if I extend my contract again. So there probably is a lot of people with old DSLRs and brand new phones, of which the latter outperform the cameras often in not only video. It's creating the assumption that smartphones are better cameras. It's not logical, but it's got even me with my A7, K-3 and 2x K-5 scratching my head.
But even an really old DSLR can give better IQ than the latest smartphone, but a lot of that is up to the user.
Some users might expect to get the full potential out of a DSLR without any knowledge of exposure, and using the DSLR in full auto, but they will most likely be disappointed in the result.
For them a small sensor camera (smartphone) will probably suit them better as exposure/focusing is not as critical on them.
04-22-2015, 06:17 AM - 1 Like   #11
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Technology is advancing. I have the Panasonic CM1 which uses the same 1" sensor from the Z1000. ISO aperture (f/2.8 - 11) focus all changeable manually full PASM modes RAW shooting too. It's about the same size as an iPhone 6 but thicker. Fixed 28mm Leica branded lens. You can get a 2 x extender for it. Have a 3 x zoom in this thing at the same size and it would be a premium compact killer.
04-22-2015, 06:38 AM - 1 Like   #12
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Apple recently bought an Israeli company which specializies in multi-lens arrays on sensors, apparently. There's no doubt that the mobile companies are looking for ingenious ways to increase the capabilities of the cameras in their products, and I expect they are buying up lots of small companies in this field (the MIT article reads a little like a sales pitch). I guess the mobile industry's trump card is the huge R&D budgets it can bring to bear on two resources - software and software development, and the production of special processors on which to run it. I don't think the traditional camera industry is about to disappear or anything, but it is facing a very uncertain future, I would guess. For whatever reason, they just can't seem to click with software and with mobile. And that, it effect, it what consumers are spending such huge sums on. Every time the mobile outfits manage to raise the bar on their cameras a little higher, another layer of stand-alone camera buyers falls away.

Would I like an iPhone 6 which offered an optical-quality zoom of say 24-100mm using multiple sensors or lenses, all stitched together in software? Sure. Would I pay much for it? Nope. But then chances are I would not have to. Soon after the introduction of such a gizmo, the sheer scale of hundreds of millions of units would drop the price right down. Within a year or two, it would not even be thought a premium feature any more, just a standard one.
04-22-2015, 07:03 AM - 1 Like   #13
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It is only a matter of time before the camera applications of smartphones automatically source image information from other smartphones that were operating in the same area and time to increase image quality. There is already an app that you can install on multiple cameras and make them fire at the same time. It combines the image data. It doesn't even matter if the cameras have different format or lenses, the software figures it out.
04-22-2015, 05:11 PM   #14
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These three shots were all taken handheld in the English Lake District with the Panasonic CM1 mobile phone:

1. f/8 1/50 ISO 125



2. f/8 1/30 ISO 400



3. f/7.1 1/50 ISO 200

07-01-2015, 02:57 PM   #15
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I have a Xiaomi Mi3, which has the last gen top of the line 1/3" (I think) Sony sensor... IMX135? The phone supports raw photos. The results are pretty amazing. With a cleaned lens it is just sharp sharp sharp. The 13 MP photos beat my K-5 with 18-55 out of the water, and even at it's best the DA 50 1.8 can barely compete. Low light is a bit pathetic, of course, but in daylight? The dynamic range isn't too bad either, once you make use of Lightroom to pull down the highlights. If I can find a smartphone photos thread and a way to upload a full res photo (after some tinkering) I will. These days, if I want a _very_ sharp wide angle-ish photo in good light, I'll take out my phone, even if my K-5 is in my hands (especially of course if everything is supposed to be in focus).
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