Smartphone camera with optical zoom? This technology can help!

Corephotonics demoed us their new camera technology; it is not yet available in a phone, but we wanted to show you what the future may bring. In order to add high quality optical zoom and avoid having a huge camera module, Corephotonics have created a system that uses two different optics - one wide lens and one narrow (zoom) lens - paired to a couple of identical sensors. The two image streams are then processed by a couple of image signal processors (ISP) and are combined to get one final photo/video. Interestingly, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor family has dual ISP built-in, and that's probably why Corephotonics partnered with Qualcomm for developing this product. 

What are the benefits? Combining the two streams, you get real optical zoom with full resolution photos. So if you have 13MP sensors, the final image is 13MP even if the zoom was used. In our case, the lens had up to 3x zoom in in 13MP photo mode and up to 5x in 1080p video mode. You should also get better detail and less noise, as you actually have twice the image sensor area compared to a single sensor. Focus speed can also be better, as the processor can use data captured by both sensors and calculate the distance to an object instead of only relying on traditional contrast detection technology. By calculating the distance to objects, augmented reality can also be improved.

The drawbacks? Of course, it is slightly bigger than just a single camera. The prototype we saw was about 6.5mm deep, so if you have to integrate it in a phone, it can't be the thinnest one without having a camera bulge. It was interesting for us to see this new technology, and whenever it is available in a commercial phone, we'd be happy to test it out. 

reference: Core Photonics

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18 Comments

1. mr.techdude

Posts: 571; Member since: Nov 19, 2012

Can't wait to see this in action on propably the greatest phone yet, HTC one2

3. xperiaDROID

Posts: 5629; Member since: Mar 08, 2013

Qualcomm just demoed this technology at MWC, so you think the HTC All New One will have this technology built into it's camera?

4. toink unregistered

leaks seem to indicate that it is.

5. xperiaDROID

Posts: 5629; Member since: Mar 08, 2013

I hope so. HTC must not disappoint us this year, this is the biggest chance for them because the S5 disappointed many people. So, HTC... Hold The Chance Have The Courage Heat The Crowd Here's To Change.

8. Birds

Posts: 1172; Member since: Nov 21, 2011

Just prepare for disappointment. Dog the "All New One" out in your mind so you'd subconsciously beleive that the phone is going to be turd paste then when it comes out, you'll turn and be pleasantly surprised that the leaks weren't nowhere near as bad as they lead on. That's what I'm doing lol. Also, you remember when the original one had leaked and all of those people complaining about the odd design then those same people fell in love with it? I beleive it's the same scenario here just replayed for 2014.

15. Odiin

Posts: 373; Member since: Apr 23, 2013

Completely agree with U. S5 is the best example. People will never learn though.

17. LiyanaBG

Posts: 381; Member since: Nov 07, 2013

here is proof it is used in the HTC One 2014 watch the video and look on the back poster it has a HTC one on there own Corephotonics poster http://www.engadget.com/2014/02/26/corephotonics-dual-lens-smartphone-camera/

2. kaikuheadhunterz

Posts: 1157; Member since: Jul 18, 2013

So it's similar to the Pureview camera, only smaller?

6. _Bone_

Posts: 2155; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

I like the idea but have a logical question: instead of two fairly robust camera units, why not have just one really large mobile sensor with really quality optics? The Lumias do better cause they don't go workarounds, the 41MP sensor is just big, and photographic quality is as simple as that: more light, better results. At that resolution and still fairly large sensor pixels, lossless digital zoom beats out any try at tiny sensor optical zoom, or Exmor BSI tech or Samsung ISOCELL filtering, and selective focus, OIS and high quality flash is also part of the Lumia deal. Seriously. Just copy Nokia. I mean for our sake.

9. Birds

Posts: 1172; Member since: Nov 21, 2011

I don't think HTC would do that considering that Nokia and HTC aren't really best of friends right now. But I heard that both these camera sensors were 1/4" in size and that is just pathetic. Maybe those advanced ISPs can allow the sensors to take pictures using giant pixels like 2.5-3.5 microns to compensate for such a small sensor.

10. _Bone_

Posts: 2155; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

Fair enough, but I'm not saying steal the technology, just also make a large sensor with many pixels, quality optics and OIS, that's the heart of PureViews. Can you imagine Sony's Exmor sensor at 1/1,5" and like 32 megapixels? Tremendous amount of well lit details, quality lossless zoom, great low-light images... I know Sony, HTC and Samsung are trying very hard to bring great pictures, but the solution is easier than they think. Put a 1/1.5" sensor and fitting lens in it, and there you have it, 300% more light captured It's really that simple..

7. luis.d

Posts: 354; Member since: Dec 04, 2013

Sorry, folks, CorePhotonics stated that this technology isn't going in the HTC M8.

11. iAmFish

Posts: 3; Member since: Feb 26, 2014

Where is that info from?Any poof-links?

12. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

Well they are at MWC they can just ask the horse

13. iAmFish

Posts: 3; Member since: Feb 26, 2014

Ahh, i was so excited, and now i am disappointed :(

14. HTCOE

Posts: 650; Member since: Nov 20, 2011

this technology is used with the All New HTC One

16. HouTexan

Posts: 462; Member since: Jan 08, 2012

No, it isn't. Read Luis.D's comment.

18. LiyanaBG

Posts: 381; Member since: Nov 07, 2013

here is proof it is used in the HTC One 2014 watch the video and look on the back poster it has a HTC one on there own Corephotonics poster http://www.engadget.com/2014/02/26/corephotonics-dual-lens-smartphone-camera/

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