Dream Cell Phone Camera

Eli_C

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The camera is arguably one of the most important features on a smartphone. Apple has some of the best cameras, with Nokia, Samsung, LG and Sony having very good cameras as well.

Larger sensors and larger pixels are more important than more megapixels. Optics, shutter speed and image processing are also very important. While DSLR (and to a lesser extent point n' shoot) cameras can have very large sensors, the size, and more importantly the thickness of phones limits the size of the sensor. The Nokia 1020 has one of the largest sensors (8.8 mm x 6.6 mm sensor size) and has a reasonable thickness of 10.4mm (same thickness as the Moto X), setting a reasonable upper limit on sensor size and acceptable thickness.

Many people are looking for 4k video recoding, setting 4096 x 2160 as a minimum resolution. However this is a 16:9 aspect ratio and most sensors are 4:3. This would give a minimum resolution of 4096 x 3073 for a sensor resolution.

So an ideal camera would have the following sensor

2.2µm pixels (21% larger than HTC's 2µm"ultrapixels" and 215% larger then Apple's 1.5µm pixels [2.2x2.2=4.84]/[1.5x1.5=2.25])
4096 x 3073 resolution
12.59 MP
9mm x 6.8mm (61.2mm^2 - 341% larger then Apple's 17.94mm^2 sensor)
Curved Sensor
BSI
phase detection autofocus
Optical Image Stabilization


Additional Features:
*laser autofocus, like the G3

*a second camera with a smaller sensor, like HTC's M8 and Google's Project Tango
-the second camera should have infra-red capabilities
-be at the other end of the phone, more separation would give more depth of field
-second senor could be used to help sharpen primary image

*flash should be at the other end of the phone from the main sensor, not right next to the primary sensor

*a dedicated shutter button at the bottom right of the phone

*possibly something like the Movidius VPU

Thoughts? Other ideas?
 
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Eli_C

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Apple has the best camera? Okay dude, that's your Opinion. But I personally think the Note 4 has the best camera.

Very constructive post... not

I said Apple has one of the best and agree that Samsung has very good cameras, in fact the Note 4 may beat the iphone 6

DxOMark Mobile - DxOMark

However, you completely missed the point of the post, and that is how to have the BEST camera. What stats and features would really make it stand out?
 

grex18

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To the op good stuff. I personally believe nokia hands down puts the best cameras in there devices. I have a samsung note 3 and I think the camera is garbage. The photos on my phone dont even compare to my girlfriends iPhone 5. Im seriously considering switching to nokia because the camera is that important to me. I hope whatever nokia is doing ends up in an android device.

Posted via Android Central App
 

Eli_C

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To the op good stuff. I personally believe nokia hands down puts the best cameras in there devices. I have a samsung note 3 and I think the camera is garbage. The photos on my phone dont even compare to my girlfriends iPhone 5. Im seriously considering switching to nokia because the camera is that important to me. I hope whatever nokia is doing ends up in an android device.

The downside of the nokia approach is the processing overhead that goes into "combining" the pixels. With newer SoC this may be less of a problem, but shutter time is very important to many users.

Interestingly, if the curved CMOS sensor pan out, the optics will be thinner, allowing for even larger sensors in the same thickness phone.

So if you want to push the MP count up, they may be able to pull off something like
20.65 MP (as in the Z3 and Turbo)
5248 х 3936
2.2µm pixels
11.54 x 8.66 mm (99.94mm^2)


Regardless, the focus needs to be on larger sensors and larger pixels, low light performance, with faster focusing and faster shutter speeds.
 

JohnBoy412

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The camera is arguably one of the most important features on a smartphone. Apple has some of the best cameras, with Nokia, Samsung, LG and Sony having very good cameras as well.
I gotta stop you there, I do not think cameras are the most important feature on phones at all.. they are however an important selling point.
Also Apple does not have one of the best cameras, and in fact has always been slacking behind other manufactures.

Larger sensors and larger pixels are more important than more megapixels. Optics, shutter speed and image processing are also very important.
Good point.

I think if companies like Nokia put as much effort in their software (like Apple) as they do in their hardware cameras will leap forward a huge step in quality, without the need of new hardware innovation. This is probably also be the more economical sense solution, and is most likely why Apple keeps pursuing this.

Thanks,
 

Eli_C

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As I stated, cameras are "one of" the most important features. You may disagree, but I would guess to most users it is one of the most important features.

Software can only do so much. If you have a small sensor and small pixels, you don't let much light in - poor low light performance, slow focusing, etc...
 

Eli_C

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Currently the front page poll (12/2/14), asks, "How important is camera quality in your next phone purchase?" and the current top result is, "Very important" at 52.8% (4,764 votes). I think that supports my statement pretty well, especially since only 5% claim they don't care about the camera.
 

mrjspeed

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For nice 4K you'll definitey want more than 4096 x 3073 resolution on your sensor. If I'm not mistaken (I'm not a camera expert), Apple and probably other OEMS pull off some pretty smooth/anti-shaky 1080p videos by capturing the video on the full sensor and then doing some software cropping magic. The result is a video with a lot less shake.

If you use 4096 x 3073 resolution, you can't employ this technology (at least not horizontally) and OIS will only get you so far.
 

Eli_C

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4k resolution is 4096 x 2160, so while you would not have any room on the horizontal axis at 4096 (shooting wide screen), 3073 is 142% taller than 2160, and would allow for cropping in the vertical axis, as you stated.

Regardless, I think 4k will remain someone gimmicky for at least the next 2 years and think sensor size and pixel size are much more important the the number of pixels, especially after 8-12 MP. When 4k becomes more important, the engineers can figure out how much oversampling they need and increase the MP, only as much as they need, keeping the pixel size as large as possible.

Panasonic's CM1 seems impressive on paper with a 1" sensor in a phone 21mm thick. That's probably a little thicker then I would like, but if they can get a 1" sensor in a 22mm thick phone, I wonder how much they could max our in the 10-12is mm range?
 

Eli_C

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If you use 4096 x 3073 resolution, you can't employ this technology (at least not horizontally) and OIS will only get you so far.

Would be nice to know how much oversampling they need. But 10% oversampling would give you 4506x3380 resolution (15.23 MP), with 2µm pixels on a 9mm x 6.8mm sensor.
 

salmanahmad

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Photography is one of my most favourite things to do on a smartphone.

http://imgur.com/a/cpKQZ

For me the perfect smartphone sensor would be one that sported:

1/1.5'' sensor size
2 µm pixel size
28 or more megapixels(megapixels matter less with a bigger sensor)

The sensor is sensitive enough to go as low as ISO 40 and as high as ISO 12000.

The sensor supports 8MP bursts at 30 FPS, and also supported 4K. 120 and 240 FPS support would be great too.

If the camera supported an 8s shutter speed, that would be great though 32s shutter speed is great too for taking images of the moon(or light trails of the moon)

Phase detection autofocus(or laser autofocus) coupled with a Xenon flash(it's much better for taking motion images, I've come to realise).

Hardware aside, if it came with a full featured camera app with manual controls(like Nokia/Lumia Camera on Windows Phones) and the image processing software is close to what Apple does with iPhones, oh and RAW image support/editing would be nice.

This hardware would need to coupled with an extremely powerful SOC, but that's something not directly relevant to the topic.
 

Eli_C

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Photography is one of my most favourite things to do on a smartphone.

For me the perfect smartphone sensor would be one that sported:

1/1.5'' sensor size
2 µm pixel size
28 or more megapixels(megapixels matter less with a bigger sensor)
.

This can't be a 1/1.5'' sensor size, which is 8.8x6.6mm and have pixels that large with that many MP.

The resolution would need to be 6102x4588 to give you ~28MP, and at 2µm pixels, this would be 12mm x 9.2mm, which would require the phone to probably be at least 15mm thick. I would be ok with a phone up to about 15mm thick, but I don't know about the general public (Apple certainly thinks thinner is the way to go)

If you go with a second camera (like the HTC M8), and you separate it more from the primary camera (the other end of the phone), then you would probably want a higher MP count and wider field of view, to align the images.

I disagree with the desire for more MP though, and would prefer to see even larger pixels if they could get a sensor that big in a reasonably thin phone. In fact, with a sensor that large, you could have 2.6µm pixels @ 16 MP, which is more than enough spacial resolution, with way better light sensitivity.
 
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salmanahmad

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This can't be a 1/1.5'' sensor size, which is 8.8x6.6mm and have pixels that large with that many MP.

The resolution would need to be 6102x4588 to give you ~28MP, and at 2µm pixels, this would be 12mm x 9.2mm, which would require the phone to probably be at least 15mm thick. I would be ok with a phone up to about 15mm thick, but I don't know about the general public (Apple certainly thinks thinner is the way to go)

If you go with a second camera (like the HTC M8), and you separate it more from the primary camera (the other end of the phone), then you would probably want a higher MP count and wider field of view, to align the images.

I disagree with the desire for more MP though, and would prefer to see even larger pixels if they could get a sensor that big in a reasonably thin phone. In fact, with a sensor that large, you could have 2.6µm pixels @ 16 MP, which is more than enough spacial resolution, with way better light sensitivity.

That didn't occur to me, you are really good at this stuff. :)
 

Rukbat

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I agree with JohnBoy (post #7). My ideal camera would be sub-micron pixels and at least 1GP (about the resolution of fine-grained 35mm film), with an ISO of 0 to at least 40,000 (with no artifacts or noise at low light), a lens with at least a 1.2 opening (0.95 would be better), selective metering (move the spot where you want it and averaging, at least, speed or F-stop preference would also be nice, if not both fully settable, F-stop down to at least F32, maybe F64, shutter speed from at least 16 seconds to 1,000 second, and visual zoom of at least 10X from very wide angle to mild telephoto (and I wouldn't mind a 35mm-equivalent of 500mm telephoto). With a tripod thread for both orientations. And a separate (at additional, but low, price) remote shutter release. And an adapter to connect it to a standard 1-1/4" tube for micro- or tele-photography or extension tubes.

IOW, build a cellphone into a Hasselblad.

I prefer a great computer, a usable cellphone (there's nothing wrong with my 10 year old V551 - as a phone, and even as a better-than-snapshot camera) and a camera I can take decent pictures with. If I'm looking to do serious photography, I'll use a serious camera. I don't ask for a vehicle that gets 55mpg, can do 0-60 in 4 seconds, a top speed of 200mph and can haul a load of oak trees. There are vehicles that can do any one of those, but not one that can do them all. I don't expect a great cellphone with a great computer and a great camera - unless I'm willing to spend a great amount of money - which I'm not, since I can buy a great cellphone with a great computer, and a great camera as a separate item, for a lot less money than an all-in-one would cost. (Right now - in 50 years, we're going to be laughing at primitive devices like Note 4s and Moto Turbos. Anyone want a Motorola Digital Personal Communicator [it was called "the Brick" because it was almost as large as one - but the "screen" was just a little LCD display of the number you dialed - manually] or a Bag Phone in 2014? Everyone did when they first came out.)
 

Eli_C

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I prefer a great computer, a usable cellphone (there's nothing wrong with my 10 year old V551 - as a phone, and even as a better-than-snapshot camera) and a camera I can take decent pictures with. If I'm looking to do serious photography, I'll use a serious camera. I don't ask for a vehicle that gets 55mpg, can do 0-60 in 4 seconds, a top speed of 200mph and can haul a load of oak trees.

Fair enough for you, but the cell phone camera has decimated the point n shoot market, and myself and many others want the best performance we can get out of a cell phone camera. I understand its never going to be a DSLR. But I always have my phone with me, and if I catch a great shot or memorable moment I want the best image I can get, and I don't want to miss shots because of a slow camera or poor light sensitivity, etc...

With regard to your silly reply (since its currently outside the realm of current tech), that you want 1000+MP, etc, thanks for your constructive post, it is, as you mentioned only a cell phone camera. Everything I have suggested is within current technological capabilities.

Regarding sub-micron pixels, the visible spectrum is ~0.4-0.8µm, and once the pixel size starts approaching the wavelength of light you are trying to capture there are new problems. There is a reason top of the line cameras are using even larger pixel (often 4+µm). And more pixels often just means a larger picture file size without significant benefit and more processing overhead for the camera and SoC.
 
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Premium1

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The camera is arguably one of the most important features on a smartphone. Apple has some of the best cameras, with Nokia, Samsung, LG and Sony having very good cameras as well.

Larger sensors and larger pixels are more important than more megapixels. Optics, shutter speed and image processing are also very important. While DSLR (and to a lesser extent point n' shoot) cameras can have very large sensors, the size, and more importantly the thickness of phones limits the size of the sensor. The Nokia 1020 has one of the largest sensors (8.8 mm x 6.6 mm sensor size) and has a reasonable thickness of 10.4mm (same thickness as the Moto X), setting a reasonable upper limit on sensor size and acceptable thickness.

Many people are looking for 4k video recoding, setting 4096 x 2160 as a minimum resolution. However this is a 16:9 aspect ratio and most sensors are 4:3. This would give a minimum resolution of 4096 x 3073 for a sensor resolution.

So an ideal camera would have the following sensor

2.2µm pixels (21% larger than HTC's 2µm"ultrapixels" and 215% larger then Apple's 1.5µm pixels [2.2x2.2=4.84]/[1.5x1.5=2.25])
4096 x 3073 resolution
12.59 MP
9mm x 6.8mm (61.2mm^2 - 341% larger then Apple's 17.94mm^2 sensor)
Curved Sensor
BSI
phase detection autofocus
Optical Image Stabilization


Additional Features:
*laser autofocus, like the G3

*a second camera with a smaller sensor, like HTC's M8 and Google's Project Tango
-the second camera should have infra-red capabilities
-be at the other end of the phone, more separation would give more depth of field
-second senor could be used to help sharpen primary image

*flash should be at the other end of the phone from the main sensor, not right next to the primary sensor

*a dedicated shutter button at the bottom right of the phone

*possibly something like the Movidius VPU

Thoughts? Other ideas?

For me I want a 12mp camera, with apple doing the software part of it. They seem to kill it every year with regards to the camera software and putting cameras into their phones that "just work" and provide great pictures regardless of the person taking the picture. I understand their are better cameras out there, but few do as well, and are as well rounded as what apple seems to put. Even with their "low MP count"