Tech

The most important smartphone camera features for 2020

Verena Ottmann & Stroemung

Mobile phones with up to four main cameras, high-resolution sensors, special mode for low light, HDR and very good noise behavior ensure that the recordings are worth seeing.

Premium photo equipment costs

Ever larger and more powerful image sensors, faster lenses from brand manufacturers and faster CPUs for processing are waiting for the users with current high-end smartphones – sometimes for a lot of money.

On the other hand, current entry-level cell phones also provide images that appear to be from another world compared to photos from analog compact snaps of the past. However, you have to do without premium features such as a Leica lens or AI.

Better photos through AI

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Fivefold optical Leica zoom: In the Huawei P30 Pro, a prism directs the light from the lenses to the image sensor.

© Huawei

Huawei’s Hisilicon, in particular, is one of the major providers of AI-based components with the Kirin 970, 980 and 990 processors. The CPUs are equipped with a so-called NPU (Neural Processing Unit), which performs independent calculations, for example when optimizing images. And the motif programs of the smartphone cameras also benefit from the smart components, since the AI ​​is responsible for the motif analysis and the selection of the exposure parameters.

The Kirin 990 is about Huawei Mate 30 Pro to find. Its dual NPU takes care of better photos and videos. The eight-core processor also supports 5G. This performance can also cost something at Huawei: The Mate 30 Pro comes to around 1100 euros. However, you don’t necessarily have to spend that much money on an AI-controlled camera smartphone. The Kirin 980 has already integrated a neural processor unit. It can be found in the Huawei P30 for around 450 euros and in the P30 Pro for around 600 euros.

New technology for in-depth information

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First-class photo cell phone: The Huawei Mate 30 Pro with a quad Leica camera and 40 megapixel sensor

© Huawei

A quality factor for a cell phone camera is the depth of field and how the lens deals with lights in the blur area (bokeh). In principle, the lens aperture is responsible for the focus level: the wider the aperture, the lower the depth of field or the less clear the background of a subject.

Some smartphone models like that Samsung Note 10+ for around 900 euros and that LG G8S Thinq for 400 euros are equipped with a special camera sensor (“3D”) for depth of field. Other manufacturers – such as Sony at Xperia 5 – Instead, install three lenses with different focal lengths and apertures. Google also uses the Pixel 4 on two camera modules with 16 or 12.2 megapixels for a blurred background. The f / 2.4 or f / 1.7 aperture used here also helps when shooting in low light.

Brand lens?

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Motorola One Hyper: The main camera works with 64 megapixels.

The quality of a cell phone camera naturally depends on the lens used. But is there really a plus in image quality when a bright lens from a well-known manufacturer is used?

Not necessarily:

The most important thing is the interaction with the image sensor and the signal processing. The aperture value provides a first clue for this: it should be as small as possible for an open aperture that allows a lot of light to pass through. Bright digital cameras start here at f / 1.8 or less. Smartphones can keep up with this: For example, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ uses an aperture of f / 1.5. In addition, there is the possibility of optical zoom, about five times with the Huawei P30 Pro. Although not continuously adjustable, the desired image section is captured by the lens or by switching to the (ultra) wide-angle or telephoto module and not – as with the digital zoom – not calculated.

Buying guide:

Cheap smartphones under 300 euros

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