The Biggest USP of Today’s Smartphone is “Camera”: Crack the Specs Now to Buy the Best Smartphone for Photography

-By Kamal Shrestha, shyresk@gmail.com

“Of what use are lens and light to those who lack in mind and sight?” – Anonymous

“To talk about my days back (school life period), I remember Yashika MF-2, my father’s best analog camera during late 1980s to 1990s. It was always handy and cool camera to capture a good photograph of a family or his friends.”

Smartphone is like a god’s gift for us. We can communicate to anyone easily to the people around the world. We can operate most of the tasks without using computer. If you have got a good specifications of camera in your smartphone, it’s awesome. Though it is fully armed with latest specifications installed for a good quality photograph, lacks of knowledge to use it stand out you in vain. Your thousands of photographs will have no use to speak a living moment of the time.

Photo: shutterstock.com: shutterstock_247222690-750×500

Though people don’t know how to capture a good photograph, they try to take it for memory. They want to share their moments in social networks to collect likes or comments. Now-a-days, Tiktok app is widely used in most of the countries though it was banned in India altogether above 100 apps after recently had a border issue with China. Tiktok is really providing a good platform to share creativity of own and watch it as well. That’s the reason, people don’t like to bargain the specifications of camera to buy a smartphone.

To talk about my days back (school life period), I remember Yashika MF-2, my father’s best analog camera during late 1980s to 1990s. It was always handy and cool camera to capture a good photograph of a family or his friends. Everyone used to take a photograph to click a good moment of festivals, functions and programmes. But, the number of photos would depend on the numbers of snapshot of reel available. The value of photograph was there at that time.  By using smartphone, we can capture lots of photograph that might not be good ones all.

Market places are full of smartphones. If you want to buy a good camera phone, you have to read and know the specs of camera. Only then you can buy a good camera phone of your choice. Attractive specs of camera have become the biggest unique selling point of smartphones in today’s world market. But, customers must know “what type of camera is installed” before buying a smartphone. Only a high megapixel camera phone cannot give you a beautiful photographs or video that you like to always capture.

The really impressive features of Camera to know must before buying a smartphone are as follows:

1. Megapixels

Spec: 108 MP (8P lens), f/1.7, 25mm (wide), 1/1.33″, 0.8µm, PDAF, Laser AF, OIS

Pixel = Pix + el
         = Picture + Element= Picture element is a small addressable element of a digital image; it means the smallest unit (that can be represented minute square) of a digital image or graphics. Pixels are combined to form a complete image, video, text or visible thing on a computer or mobile display.

Megapixel = Mega + Pixel
                  = A million + Pixel
= one million pixels.
The resolution of digital cameras and camera smartphones is often measured in megapixels.  Since pixels are usually square and form a grid just like a chessboard, a 1 Megapixel camera will produce an image roughly 1200 pixels wide by 900 pixels high (1200 x 900 =1,080,000 pixels). A 12-megapixel camera can produce images with 12 million total pixels. This is known as the ‘resolution’. The more megapixels a smartphone camera has, the higher the resolution of the photos it produces.

Photos with more megapixels have more detail, but are larger in file size, so most cameras and camera smartphones have an option to take photos at lower resolution (smaller), if desired. This can be useful for saving storage space.

Rob Layton, who teaches mobile journalism and smartphone photography at Bond University on the Gold Coast, Australia, elaborated. “It’s really a matter of quality over quantity when it comes to the relationship between smartphone megapixel count and image quality,” Layton said. “Old marketing continues the myth that the higher a smartphone camera’s megapixel count the better the image quality. But this is not necessarily always true as so many other elements; from sensor size and image processing to neural network computation and machine learning, [these] are much more critical in modern image generation. Sensor arrays that are larger and deeper will produce better quality images than sensors having more pixels that are smaller and not capable of absorbing as much light.”

Only the higher megapixels of camera phones do not capture the best quality photographs, but it matters other factors as well.

2. Sensor Size:

Spec: 108 MP (8P lens), f/1.7, 25mm (wide), 1/1.33″, 0.8µm, PDAF, Laser AF, OIS

The size of a smartphone sensor is commonly expressed using inches (“) or fractions of an inch. 1/1.33″ size of sensor is the biggest mobile camera sensor size available in today’s market. Customer should look at the sensor size close to 1″ though the big sensor size consists higher price scale of the camera mobile phone. 

The light it can receive from the object into the camera to form a digital image is depending on the size of sensor. So the more light the sensor size grabs from the subject, the more good picture quality it can produce. A camera with a big sensor takes better pictures mean it can pack more pixels that are bigger in size than those found on a smaller sensor.

3. Pixel Size

Spec: 108 MP (8P lens), f/1.7, 25mm (wide), 1/1.33″, 0.8µm, PDAF, Laser AF, OIS

Pixel sizes are measured in micrometres (μm).  A micron is a small unit of measurement that measures length. We can call it “micrometer (‘µm’)” which is one thousandth of a millimeter, or we can say one millionth of a meter. Only a human hair which has a width of 50 microns can be seen by human eye.

It can range anywhere from roughly 0.8μm to 2.4μm. The bigger size of pixel, the better quality picture will be. So the larger pixels on the sensor gather more light to produce good quality of picture. It can be used to photograph on low lighting and at night as well.

4. Aperture

Spec: 108 MP (8P lens), f/1.7, 25mm (wide), 1/1.33″, 0.8µm, PDAF, Laser AF, OIS

An aperture is a space through which light passes in an optical or photographic instrument, especially the variable opening by which light enters a camera. It’s a fixed opening between the lens and the sensor that controls how much light reaches the sensor. How wide or narrow the aperture is expressed in f-numbers. A low f-stop (e.g. f/2) means a wider aperture than that of a higher f-number (e.g. f/16).

Aperture, shutter speed and ISO (camera’s sensitivity to light) are the three pillars of photography.  A higher ISO would be photographing an indoor sporting event where the light is low and subject is moving fast. By choosing a higher ISO we can use a faster shutter speed to freeze the movement. And, aperture works much like the iris and pupil of an eye, by controlling the amount of light which reaches the retina. A bigger aperture hole lets your smartphone camera sensor gather more light, which it needs to produce quality images.

5. Lenses and Focal Length

Spec: 108 MP (8P lens), f/1.7, 25mm (wide), 1/1.33″, 0.8µm, PDAF, Laser AF, OIS

The focal length of the lens is the distance between the lens and the image sensor when the subject is in focus. It is measured in millimeters (e.g., 25 mm). It’s the distance between the lens and the sensor, which determines the field of view and magnification. The more lenses bring better picture quality. Just like, 8P lens is made up 8 plastic lenses. 7P= 7 plastic lenses.

The focal length number tells us how much of the scene is captured in the picture. The lower the number the wider the view, and the more we can see.  The higher the number, the narrower the view, and the less we can see.   This is illustrated below – where the camera is stationary and the focal length (in white numerals) changes: It is believed that more lens elements mean better picture quality. More on that here.

6. Image Stabilization

Spec: 108 MP (8P lens), f/1.7, 25mm (wide), 1/1.33″, 0.8µm, PDAF, Laser AF, OIS

Image stabilization is helpful to focus when the camera is moving. It’s a mechanism used in cameras to stabilize the recorded image which forms a quality picture.

OIS- Optical Image Stabilization – It can be able to reduce blur due to a small shaking of a lens when smartphone held in the hand. Cameras or phones placed in a tripod do not need to use OIS. It does not prevent motion blur caused by a moving subject.

EIS- Electronic Image Stabilization – It works without the physical hardware means the software interprets those movements and aligns each frame together detecting small movements.

AIS- Auto Image Stabilization – It allows the camera to take long exposure videos and shots, especially in low light conditions, while maintaining a sharp and detailed image.

7. HDR

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range.  It means that your camera will process photos slightly differently than normal in order to capture greater detail from bright and dark areas in your photo. It is able to represent a much wider contrast, and a larger group of colors. If you enable HDR, the camera takes multiple pictures at different exposure levels and combines to make a composite photo with balanced highlights and shadows.

8. Flash

Flash provides additional light to handle darkness of area which allows to achieve more balanced exposures of the subject.

LED Flash – It allows the phone to be used for things such as shooting low-light videos.

Xenon Flash – It produces an extremely intense full-spectrum bright white light for a very short duration. It consists of a glass tube filled with xenon gas. Usually, xenon flashes are brighter than the LED flashes.

9. Panorama

It’s a wide shot — works by stitching several images together to build the Panorama covering left, right, up, down, and all around. The wider the shot, the more curved panorama will appear.

10. Optical zoom:

It helps to take photos from a distance. It moves the lens elements of the camera in order to magnify the image. This means you can zoom in with your mobile camera without worrying about losing picture quality. 3x optical zoom in a mobile camera is an acceptable improvement for better picture quality.

11. Periscope Camera

Spec: 48 MP, f/3.5, 103mm (periscope telephoto), 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF, OIS, 4x optical zoom, 10x hybrid zoom

Now-a-days, Periscope camera emerged as a strong domain of smartphone photography. It has the potentiality of significant better zooming result. Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is packed with Periscope Camera which claims to deliver 10X hybrid zoom and a huge 100X space zoom.

12. Video Resolution

Video is a form of entertainment that consists of visual media. This consists of a sequence of photos that are displayed at a certain rate to show motion. These photographs are still images that are referred to as frames. The frame rate is thus the number of frames displayed per unit of time, and is measured in frames per second (fps) also measured in Hertz (Hz).

The higher the frame rate, the better quality you will get in video and animation. Games almost always run better using a GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) and display capable of high frame rates > 30 fps.

2160p= 4K
1080p= Full HD
720p= HD

13. Battery Capacity and Storage Space:

Battery capacity of smartphone is measured in milliamp-hours (mAh). We need at least most improved capacity of battery for smartphone photography. We find very rare smartphones having outstanding battery life or large capacity battery with the combinations of latest smartphone specifications though we have fast-changing technologies as well as wireless charging for battery life improvement.

Storage space is another fundamental specification for smartphone photography. The high end megapixel smartphone equipped with strong features clicks the image of high quality which impacts on storage space as these images are of high space. Most phones today come with at least 32GB of inbuilt storage space as an absolute minimum. You’ll also find a lot of phones offering 64GB or 128GB and more.

It’s hard to know which one is the best camera smartphone which will click us the fantastic pictures. The best smartphone for photography determines a smartphone having a good pack of specs with latest technology installed, and fine processing capabilities of camera with good battery life and storage space along with knowledge of digital smartphone photography. The competitive Best Camera smartphone brands are available in the market — iPhone, Samsung, Google Pixel, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc. These are all will be worth of buying a good smartphone once you have a good budget in hand.

(Reference: 1) https://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/48-megapixel-camera-explained/ 2) (https://newatlas.com/smartphone-camera-aperture/42524/#:~:text=Aperture%20is%20essentially%20an%20opening,needs%20to%20produce%20quality%20images. 3)https://www.photomodeler.com/kb/what_is_camera_focal_length/ 4) https://thesmartphonephotographer.com/)

Published by Kamal Shrestha

An Alone Traveller, Intense Blogger, Creative Designer and an English Teacher.

19 thoughts on “The Biggest USP of Today’s Smartphone is “Camera”: Crack the Specs Now to Buy the Best Smartphone for Photography

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