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Why do smartphones have so many cameras? How many do you really need?

Remember the first time when you took a picture on a cell phone camera? Then immediately deleted it because it was crap? Yeah, me too. We’ve come a long way in terms of mobile phone cameras. These days it’s not uncommon to see phones with two or more cameras.

Have you ever wondered why do we need so many cameras? Here we attempt to explain just that.

It’s all in the lenses

Phones primarily come with a single sensor to capture the image, but there are times when phone companies try to spice things up by adding additional lenses to produce a different effect on the image.

Some of the popular ones are:

  • Depth sensor: Depth sensor is used to calculate the dept between the foreground and background image to create the bokeh effect that people crave.
  • Wide-Angle: Wide angle or Super-Wide angle sensor in some cases are wide angle lenses to capture wide angle photos.
  • Monochrome: Monochrome sensors are camera sensors that produce colourless images for an even aperture and better low-light performance.
  • Telephoto: Telephoto lenses offer a better zoom feature for a crisp lossless image.
Samsung Galaxy A9 with quad camera setup at the rear unveiled
Samsung Galaxy A9 with a quad lens camera setup

Phone manufacturers haven’t come to a unanimous stand on which lense they would like to develop further. In recent times, manufacturers have adopted two or more lenses for their effects, and hence users are left with phones that have multiple cameras — often making them look like Wall-E or Mr. Waternoos form Monsters Inc.

Also read: How to use Google Pixel Camera app on any phone

Smartphone camera is fast overtaking

However, you do have to give them credit for the progress they’ve made in camera technology. Modern phones are almost good enough to replace traditional cameras, pocket cameras — barring some exceptional ones like the Sony RX100 VI that are pretty rare to come by these days.

At this rate, smartphone cameras will become the only camera anyone would ever need in about a decade, probably less.

You can already see that a lot of photographers have started using their smartphones as an alternative to their professional DSLR setup. Not only has it become increasingly easier to capture better shots on a smartphone, but it’s also more portable.

So, until the consumers and ultimately the phone manufacturers decide which camera lens they should standardise, we will continue to get such multi-camera phones in our market.

I feel that a single lens camera assisted by A.I. — like Google Pixel — is the best way to go, but I might be old school. We’ll see what the future has in store for smartphone photography.

Also read: Optical image stabilisation vs Digital image stabilisation

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