February 25, 2019 weblog
Oppo's 10x optical zoom camera system wins attention at Barcelona event
Switch between three cameras. Get up as close or go as wide as you want. Get your "professional" compliments without having had to lug accessories, as your magic wand was the sleek device right in your pocket. Oppo is taking the wraps off its latest-greatest smartphone camera tech, in a device with a 10x lossless zoom.
("Lossless zoom?" That means when scaling the image up, you don't pay a price in a bad-looking result. Zoom in and uncross your fingers.)
Oppo made its new tech revelation at an "Oppo Innovation" event 2019 in Barcelona. They staged their presentation ahead of the Mobile World Congress. The company allowed some journalists a hands-on with the prototype phones and, at that event, playing around with the camera was what they were there for.
The camera tech was shown off in a prototype device that came with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC. Several tech watchers there emphasized in their write-ups that this was a "preview" device designed to show off the camera technology rather than as a presentation of a new phone. They saw how the phone was capable of pulling off shots from ultra wide-angle to telephoto.
The structure in three pieces: a wide-angle lens, main camera, and telephoto lens combo. Engadget called it a triple-camera solution. It is a triple-camera array, or triple camera system as the company described it. Go from 16mm to 160mm inside your phone.
"Utilizing a breakthrough triple-lens camera structure, our 10x Lossless Zoom brings you one step closer to every wonderful moment," said a promotional video.
One camera can take extra-wide angles; the second camera is a "daily-life" main camera, and the last but goodness knows not least is a star attraction. This one has two lenses that are assembled like a periscope and no matter how much you zoom in, the photo stays clear.
Engadget's Richard Lai said, "Oppo is also quite proud of the fact that it's managed to keep this triple-camera module to just 6.76mm thick."
Also on that note, Aamir Siddiqui in XDA Developers nicely summed up Oppo's selling point: a "10x lossless zoom in a really compact form factor that makes it perfect to be utilized in smartphones without adding the bulk that conventional optical zoom setups would require."
Reports said the camera tech feature will be in a device for release in the second quarter of this year.
The Verge's Vlad Savov talked about optical image stabilization, which caught his attention in the hands-on try. "Oppo has added optical image stabilization (OIS) to both the main camera, which will feature a mighty 48-megapixel resolution, and the telephoto lens." The tighter the zoom, he said, the more necessary OIS becomes, so this is a must."
Engadget's Richard Lai also chose to highlight OIS, as this telephoto camera comes with optical image stabilization. Lai said they were told "that the latter has a stabilization accuracy of up to 0.001445 degrees—apparently a 73-percent improvement over its 5x zoom counterpart."
Savov's other takeaway: "while I wouldn't say that the results are quite as pristine as having a dedicated camera with a true optical zooming system, this is definitely the closest we've yet come to conquering the seemingly insurmountable challenge of injecting real zoom into the tight confines of a smartphone."
Fundamentally, it is hard to argue that the key takeaway is that Oppo managed to pack in so much pro photography goodies into such a small space. This is where Oppo seizes on bragging rights: "Don't be deceived by the slim body. We used a periscope design to house the telephoto lens inside the casing of the phone, and we also used D-cut lenses to keep the camera extra-compact. This brought the entire triple camera module down to a width of under 6.76 mm—a space saving of 120%. In other words, you get much more camera per millimeter."
Well, go ahead and swoon over your foldables at MWC but Oppo's optical feat in this smartphone announcement had Raymond Wong in Mashable sufficiently focused.
"Cramming 10x optical zoom into a smartphone is a hell of an engineering feat," he wrote. "Look around at most smartphones and even the best...only have cameras capable of 2x optical zoom."
Wong's assessment at this early look stage was that "As I said on Twitter, 10x optical zoom on a phone is overkill for most people, but at least Oppo is trying something new." Wong added, "Maybe innovations like 10x optical zoom ultimately don't make sense on a phone, but it at least gives Oppo a way to differentiate its phones from the status quo."
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