Megapixel count alone does not make for a great camera phone

New Delhi | Published: March 27, 2017 3:30:11 AM

The smartphone arena is extremely competitive and each brand is constantly working towards creating a differentiator to catch the consumer’s interest. Currently the trend revolves around photographic experience.

We should not scrap pixel count when comparing smartphone camera specs, but when it comes to the hardware and software that create a great photo, the megapixel count alone just isn’t enough, says Will Yang, brand director, OPPO India.

The smartphone arena is extremely competitive and each brand is constantly working towards creating a differentiator to catch the consumer’s interest. Currently the trend revolves around photographic experience.

Camera phones, specifically, have come a long way over the past few years, with a variety of inno-vative elements that have enhanced the quality of images. Consumers often look at specifications when buying a smartphone, this more than often seems the correct trail. A common misconcep-tion is that more mega-pixels mean that the image quality offered by a particular smartphone is better than the other. While it is true to some extent, this is not the only para-meter in deciding the perfect image quality as factors such as lighting, new and creative angles, the various modes, minimum chromatic aberration, good focusing speed play their respective roles.

Let’s take a deep dive into what makes a great camera phone. There are several factors that make a smartphone’s camera superior than the other. The two pivotal factors that should be kept in mind when comparing camera phones is hardware (parameters such as the sensor size and the aperture of the lens are important) and secondly, the software or the photo-processing algorithm which influences the quality of photos.

Here’s an insight on how these variables function while clicking a photo with a smart-phone. The term pixel is not alien to us anymore, but do we know how pixels make a difference and how sensor supports this fact? The customised sensor of camera phones arranges pixels in a unique pattern to let in more light thereby producing better images that are rich in quality and brightness. Customised sensors are rare to find on smartphones and it becomes all the more important when it is the front facing camera. A mix of mega pixel and sensor is a must but creating a balance between the two is the key to creating a clear, bright and strikingly rich in colour photograph.

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Smartphones now come with an aperture technology. A smaller aperture number means that the camera allows more light into the lens. The higher aperture value will adversely affect the image quality in low light conditions. For instance, a large lens aperture of f2.0 for front camera means that there is significantly more light coming onto the sensor and more light being captured at any given instance by the camera. The size of a lens aperture is described by its F-number, which is calculated using the lens focal length to the diameter aperture. As such, a larger F-number refers to a small-er hole, and therefore less light getting through. This is why smartphone manufacturers talk about larger apertures, with smaller F-numbers.

Last, but not the least, a phone camera also needs good optimisa-tion on the software to make camera interface easier and more intuitive for the user. There are various apps that a user can find on their smartphone’s play store, while there are brands that come with in-built applications.

We should not scrap pixel count when comparing smartphone camera specs, but when it comes to the hardware and software that create a great photo, the megapixel count alone just isn’t enough. It’s time we shift the focus somewhere else— perhaps that underestimated sensor.

One of the best features in a smartphone, price band notwith-standing, is a great camera, the feature for which nobody wants to compromise. People are using it as a replacement for cameras. The fierce battle among picture shar-ing apps such as Instagram and other social video sharing plat-forms such as Vine are increasing the need for smartphones with a better shooter.

The writer, Will Yang is brand director, OPPO India

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