Simplifying complex camera technology for elevated video experience
By Tasleem Arif
Smartphones have pretty much replaced the big, bulky cameras we used to lug around for ‘special’ moments. With the click of a button, a smartphone today provides you with the best quality photographs and the ease of sharing it with the world. It’s passé to think that only an expensive digital camera can provide quality pictures when mobile companies around the world have invested big bucks to perfect the photo and video capturing experience with smartphones for billions of users around the world.
These powerful cameras that make any smartphone complete have revolutionised the use of the device. Today photographers, vloggers, videographers, influencers, journalists, and content creators prefer the use of a smartphone as opposed to a camera. Smartphone cameras come built-in with features that sense and adapt to the light and surroundings you’re shooting in.
Empowered by powerful photography tricks, smartphone cameras today are equipped to achieve results that were once only possible with a professional camera. State of the art hardware and software amalgamation has led smartphone users to take on the ambitious task of shooting films with the smartphone camera. The prefect example of this is the sensor used in smartphones – which is at par with the flagship ultrawide cameras. Equipped with these, the smartphones today are just as capable of achieving the next gen autofocus delivering clear images with the incredible colour and temperature consistency.
Another innovation was in the domain of computational photography – an area that lives at the intersection of computer graphics, computational vision, and optical sensor. With computational photography, smartphones have been able to leverage the growing computational power of devices, as well as improved cloud technology, to break through the traditional limits of smartphone camera hardware. The seamless results derived from the smartphone’s camera have eliminated the tedious processes involved in post-production of images and videos. As a result, smartphones today can achieve similar results in comparison to entry-level professional cameras, and sometimes even mimic those of high-end cameras.
But we also must not forget, capturing videos on smartphones requires much more than just taking photos. In addition to the deep learning and computational vision techniques applied to each frame, video processing also needs to consider the stability and consistency between frames to ensure that the video appears smooth to the viewers. Moreover, smartphone videos also need to provide real-time previews for users making video a much more intensive a task than a photo.
This creates exponentially higher requirements on the processing power of the smartphone, with huge demands placed on instantaneous computing power and power consumption. Over the years, this demand has led to huge advancements in computational photography. Through a rigorous work in training AI algorithm catering to video, this technology has helped overcome the challenge of shooting different objects with different lenses for the deep learning technology that enables the smartphone to detect which regions of an image contain human subjects, as well as analysing their position in relation to the background.
Capturing a picture or video is simply about creating art. While digital cameras allow a user, who has taken the time to learn photography, a whole lot of creative freedom; smartphones take over that detailed control over a frame. The beauty of this for a lay person lies in the fact that now he has the impetus to begin telling a story with a simple device in hand.
The writer is vice-president and head R&D, Oppo India