Phones having a dual camera system have established themselves in the smartphone world. This has added another question to prospective smartphones buyers – is dual camera important? Or worth the potential additional cost?
The answer to this question depends on how you use the camera. You cannot accomplish anything without an explanation of what dual camera system can, or cannot do.
Obviously “two” isn’t always better than “one”, because just adding more cameras does not scale the photo quality linearly, if at all.
Dual camera systems present in each smartphone can be used for two or three things only, which are:
- Portrait photo (bokeh/blur)
- Telephoto (zoom) and
- Wide-angle photos.
Would using a second camera and sensor fusion (merging data from two sensors) beat the best single-lens system? So far, this remains an unproven concept.
The feature was first introduced by HTC (HTC M8), perfected by Huawei (Huawei P9) and followed by Apple (iPhone 7+). Portrait photography refers mainly to the ability to take photos with a proper background blur called Bokeh, from a Japanese term). The blur makes the photo subject “pop” and brings focus to it, making for nice photo art.
The camera could, in fact, take a bokeh photo in addition to a normal one. However, that would lead to a huge waste of space and may add processing time (lag) to the camera user experience.
It is quite obvious that at times, zooming is a natural thing to do when you want to frame a photo. Every single smartphone can actually use a digital zoom (magnifying the image). The cost is that that you lose some resolution in the process. Telephoto gives the user a lossless 2X optical zoom.
In the literal sense, wide-angle photography is quite the opposite of telephoto. Instead of wanting to get closer, the wide angle gives you “more” of what’s in front of you. Wide-angle photography was first delivered as a second lens system on the LG G5 and subsequent phones (V20, G6).
It’s not like single lens systems are terrible. There are some tradeoffs with dual camera phones – sometimes manufacturers use lower quality lenses on both sensors. Some have even reported a loss in sharpness of images since the two lenses may not align perfectly. But all this is likely a non-issue on higher-end smartphones doing this setup right.
It’s also obvious that dual camera smartphones offer far more flexibility (and features) with your images. If you can get lossless zoom, wide angle and telephoto with just another lens – why not go for it?
Right now, the only reason seems to be the cost. Most dual camera setups are available on the higher end smartphones only (although that is fast changing – with phones like the Xiaomi A1 priced at just Rs 15,000). Of course – the A1 may not be the phone you want, in which case you may have to shell out some more. Here’s a tip: Sell your phone on Cashify before you upgrade to a dual lens setup.