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Dual Camera Lenses and Smartphone Photography

Smartphones have really transformed the way how people click pictures. Most importantly, they have made the entire process feel simple and easy. While some companies bank on the Megapixels, many went about using better sensors and other techniques to help produce great photographs.

The cameras had their limitations in smartphones; majorly because of the form factor and the desire of making thinner and sleek devices. Many have been trying to compensate this with software enhancements. Recently, we have started to see many companies bring in smartphones with dual camera lenses on them. It all started with HTC One M8 2 years ago; and then with LG G5 this year, followed by Huawei P9, Honor 8, Redmi Pro and few others.  The latest in the scene is the iPhone 7 Plus from Apple which was just unveiled yesterday. Every Company has implemented the Twin Lens in a unique way.

Huawei P9 and Honor 8: Monochrome Love

In this device, The Cameras has two 12MP sensors set at f.2.2 Aperture, where one of them shoots monochrome only. When you click a picture, the monochrome sensor analyses the picture in terms of the light thats hitting the sensor through the glass and different objects in the frame.

Using all these information available, the system then adds the colour onto the picture from the other RGB sensor. Using the colour and monochrome cameras simultaneously helps in producing a superior image with deeper blacks and vivid colours than a conventional one-sensor setup. Image information from both sensors makes these cameras 100% more light-sensitive than the competition.

Absolutely love the details on the #Honor8

A photo posted by Vijay (@iclickd) on

Huawei P9 Camera SampleThe Dual camera systems also enables you to take pictures with an adjustable depth of field to create background blurs.

LG G5 and V20: Wide Angle

The LG G5 uses the secondary 8MP module as a super-wide angle with a 135 degree angle of view. The main 16MP camera module has narrower field of view which works pretty well and also makes a good combination with the wide-angle.

If you are using the digital zoom the LG G5 switches automatically between both modules. To simplify, if you are using the wide-angle lens and zoom into your scene, digital zoom is applied to the wide-angle image until the angle of view of the other 16MP lens is reached. At this point the camera app switches modules.

Apple iPhones (plus), OnePlus 5, Samsung Note 8: Wide Angle and Optical Zoom

These devices has one wide angle lens and another a standard telephoto lens. The stand-out difference is that, The lenses which will be used for zooming isn’t just digital, but also offers optical zoom which uses the second telephoto lens to take sharp pictures. Apple released the phone with hardware-based 1x and 2x zoom, and a software zoom above 2x to 10x.

The two lenses collect data for the software to process. As shown in the demo yesterday during the launch event, These accomplishes this through machine-learning recognition of objects in a scene, which let it identify people, and by using images captured from the two cameras, to differentiate focal planes. The result is software processed DSLR quality images with Bokeh.

The dual lens also helps in the new “Depth Effect” feature in the camera app that allows you to put the subject in the forefront in focus and blur the background scene; ideal in portraits.

HTC was the first one to introduce a dual camera setup on Smartphones in 2014 with its HTC One M8

Honor 6X and Xiaomi Redmi Pro: Bokeh!

The Redmi Pro’s dual lens implementation is very similar to what HTC introduced. This device features a 13MP primary camera Sony sensor along with a 5MP Samsung sensor on the rear of the device. The camera gives users the ability to choose the focus point after a shot is taken. The hardware-level depth of field processing helps the RedMi Pro to add effects like blurred backgrounds natively. Keeping it simple, The first camera clicks the still images while the other one measures the depth in the scene.

Its interesting on how companies are introducing the secondary cameras without making the phones look bulky and adhering to what we call a good design. With so much of emphasis on photography, I am sure, dual lens on Smartphones are going to make the phones even more fantastic to click pictures; and maybe, open up more avenues for virtual reality!

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Features Smartphones

Huawei P9 Camera Review: The Leica Powered Dual Lens is Magical

Huawei P9 has been one of my favourite Camera Smartphones I have tried this year. With dual lenses, the P9 does a lot more than the competition. This is the second phone after LG G5 to come with a dual lens setup this year. While on the G5, the secondary module is a wide-angle lens, Huawei’s approach is slightly different. The P9 has been co-engineered with Leica, to bring out great details and tones on photographs. Let us look through the Huawei P9 Camera Review, its Features and how you can snap great pictures with this device.

If you have already bought one or thinking about buying one, this would be useful. While the camera is the most interesting feature on this phone, the oct-core chipset, The EMUI, and a fast fingerprint scanner are worth appreciating as well. Read our full review here.

How does the Twin lens System on the Huawei P9 Camera work?

Like mentioned earlier, The Huawei P9 Camera has two 12MP sensors set at f.2.2 Aperture, where one of them shoots monochrome only. When you click a picture, the monochrome sensor gauges the picture in terms of the light thats hitting the sensor through the glass and different objects in the frame. Using all these information available, the system then adds the colour onto the picture from the other RGB sensor. Using the colour and monochrome cameras simultaneously helps in producing a superior image with deeper blacks and vivid colours than a conventional one-sensor setup.

Dual Lens on the Huawei P9

Further, Image information from both sensors makes the Huawei P9 camera 100% more light-sensitive than the competition. The Dual camera systems also enables you to take pictures with an adjustable depth of field to create background blurs. Let us look at how can you do that a little later.

Camera UI and Modes:

When you launch the camera button on the Huawei P9, you see a very simple UI which still looks very iOS‘ish. However, Swiping towards the right, brings in various modes to choose from.

Camera-Modes-Huawei-P9

One particular mode worth mentioning is the Monochrome one. The quality of the output is fantastic. The contrasts and tones are worth falling in love with. Have a look at some samples below.

While on the camera screen, when you swipe towards the left, you get these different menu options. These let you set the resolution of the photographs to either standard format or the wide-screen one. There is GPS Tag, if you like to tag your pictures to the location. Pretty useful option, if you are a traveller and want to make a summary of your route & sort at the end of your trip. There are few more straight forward options.

Huawei P9 Camera Options

Similar to Leica cameras, there is a Film Mode which gives you three options to tune your images while shooting. They enhance the colour quality of your pictures. Although, each one of us have our preferences when it comes to colours and saturation, Its still worthwhile checking out.

Leica-Filters

You also have live filters in the camera. Once you click the icon, you will be able to see all the filters in action. You can then choose according to your taste.

Camera Filters Huawei P9

Pro Mode Huawei P9 CameraMost of the settings on the Huawei P9 Camera are visible when you are on Pro Mode. To activate the pro mode, you will need to swipe up above the shutter button. Once you are in Pro mode, you will be able to adjust the focus points, shutter speed, Exposure Values, White Balance Settings and even the focus modes. Notably, it was weird not to find the option to tune the aperture settings. As a photographer, I really missed this.

Once you are in Pro mode, you can again swipe left and now you can find more options show up. The first notable feature is the option to store photos in RAW (DNG format). In a RAW mode, the pictures are captured as-in with all the information intact available for you to post process the image later. This is very nifty, if you love playing with your images on Lightroom or Photoshop. You have an option to change the camera grid, if you prefer to get some aid while composing the pictures. There is an optional level scale too!

Tap to Focus:

The Dual lens systems on the Huawei P9 Camera enables you to take pictures with an adjustable depth of field to create background blurs, what we call Bokeh. On the camera screen, once you select the Aperture icon here, you will have an option to click a picture with aperture settings and option for tap to focus; which results in specific part of the image being focused. You can also click a picture and then adjust the depth later.

Tap to Focus on Huawei P9 Leica

When you go to the gallery, you can see these images with a small lens symbol. You can then tap open the picture and adjust the settings. There is a slider which appears next to the icon. This helps you to change the width of the aperture. Wider (least the number) the aperture, greater the background blur. This way, you could tune the image to your preference – as shown below in this image.

Defocusing-on-Huawei-P9

The software Emulates as open as f 0.95. That makes the picture focus sharp at that point and everything else has this creamy blurred effect to it. Since it’s a software made, its easy to identify as the edges get very smooth.

Auto Focus could’ve been even better. Although, the above mentioned software focusing options does come to rescue at times.

The Video mode gives you some options for manual controls as well. The video quality is decent and the colours looks good too. The P9 only records upto a 1080p and doesn’t support the 4K resolution output. Further, Lack of Optical image stabilisation also means, you may face some issues in low-light conditions; or if you want great quality, I recommend using a tripod.

I hope the latest version of the software, EMUI 5.0 with Nougat, would bring in even better camera software optimisations as well.

Summary:

The Huawei P9 camera maintains a good exposure regardless of the conditions you shoot. Highlights are just about right. The noise levels are impressive too.The camera also bumps up the details in some of the photos especially in the low light scenarios making the picture look neat.  Food pictures look great too. The camera adds the right amount of contrast and saturation to make the picture pop and appealing. The highlights are well separated from the shadows.

HDR is pretty good as well. It brings down the shadows and increases the colour saturation. The dynamic range of the images are pretty good. The two cameras working in conjunction definitely helps the device click great pictures. The pictures look even more good when you have a high dynamic range in the scene.

The option for RAW file processing might really impress people who love tweaking their images. Something I really miss on this phone is a hardware camera button. That would’ve been a nifty addition.

I recommend using the monochrome mode when you have too much of dark zones in your scene. That makes the contrast of the images look Magical.