The majority of smartphones’ cameras zoom either digitally or through a few optical zoom presets, with a few notable exceptions. However, LG Innotek’s new Optical Telephoto Zoom Camera Module suggests that this may soon change.
When you use a smartphone’s digital zoom or even a less expensive point-and-shoot camera, all you really do is make the pixels in the middle of the image bigger. Consequently, the shot becomes more grainy as you zoom in.
Individual optical telephoto modules with varying focal lengths are utilized by some smartphones. Unlike digital zooms, which allow for sharper images, these require users to select one of the available focal lengths rather than continuously zooming in and out. Additionally, the phone’s multiple modules consume space that could otherwise be used for a larger battery.
LG’s Optical Telephoto Zoom Camera Module, which is built into the phone’s back, is designed to overcome these limitations by enabling users to continuously optically zoom from four to nine times. By physically moving the lens in increments of one micrometer (a micrometer is one thousandth of a millimeter), it performs this function in the manner of a proper zoom lens.
An optical image stabilizer is also included in the module to reduce blur in photos taken at longer focal lengths. Optical picture adjustment considers more honed pictures than computerized picture adjustment, the last option of which makes up for camera developments by (somewhat) carefully focusing in on pictures.
The new module is said to be flat enough that it won’t give phones with it a “camera bump,” which is a bonus.
For the Optical Telephoto Zoom Camera Module, LG Innotek and Qualcomm Technologies are currently developing software that will include autofocus, auto-exposure, auto-white balance, and lens shading correction. At this time, it is unknown when the technology might begin to appear in smartphones that are commercially available.
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