Periscope cameras: Trendy fad or here to stay?

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Periscope cameras: Trendy fad or here to stay
Periscope cameras have already made ripples across the phone industry, pushing back the boundaries of what we deem possible to do with our devices. Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, and others have been at the forefront of ultra-long zoom lenses on flagship phones, allowing the user to not only take quite a usable photo from pretty afar.

At first sight, there's nothing wrong with these cameras. The more, the better, right? As far as technology improvements go, there's little reason for anyone to huff and puff about camera advances.

Peter: Periscopes are a gimmick


Okay, I know I might be in the minority here, but periscope lenses definitely feel slightly gimmicky to me. Sure thing, they work wonders and let you zoom 5 or even times without a noticeable loss of detail, and if you're willing, you can go to about 100X or even 120X zoom on select models, all for the bragging rights. And, see, the best part is that periscope lenses work wonders. So, what's the problem exactly?

The way I see it, for the most part periscopes are useful but somewhat gimmicky as well. Surely, when you get a capable device with a long zoom, you use it all the time during the honeymoon period. I'd know, I've used a bunch of these. For a period of time, you kind of forget about the main camera of your phone and only use the mega zoom to look around your immediate vicinity and snap pictures of objects that are otherwise totally uninteresting. And I get that, it's only natural to be enamored by the flashy new features you get on your new device.

My reasoning won't attract many supporters, but from my not so brief time with various periscope-enabled cameras, I've come to the conclusion that once you're past said honeymoon period, you only use these as monocular to zoom onto car license plates, distant signs, and what have you. After that, I've always kind of forgotten about the periscope camera as the main one is the one I've been using almost 90% of the time, so it's much more important than the periscope. That's what happened with almost all periscope phones I've used, and I'll have you know I've used a bunch: Oppo Reno, Huawei P30 Pro, Huawei P40 Pro, Galaxy S20 Ultra, Galaxy S21 Ultra, Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, and several others.


Martin: Don't touch my periscope camera!


First of all, I have to agree - periscope cameras aren't everyone's cup of tea. However, it's always nice having a warm cuppa when it gets cold outside. Looking past the vague analogies, what I'm saying is: Isn't it better to have a periscope camera, even if you use it occasionally than not having one when you do need it?

Furthermore, ever since I started using my Huawei P30 Pro almost two years ago, I've found several use cases for my periscope camera. As Peter pointed out, some are purely practical, like looking at a sign that's far away.

But! Where a long-range zoom camera truly shines is when you have what to take pictures of, or in other words - trips and holidays. I've taken my P30 Pro to several countries, and there's no other phone I wish I had brought with me (the P30 Pro was somewhat ahead of its time).

I've managed to snap some truly beautiful pictures of the Icelandic glaciers and volcanoes; unique street views of Dublin; the sunset at a German airport (I know, it's random); and of course all kinds of birds and smaller animals, which aren't all that approachable otherwise.

Zooming in not only brings the camera closer, but it makes the final scene much more intimate - as if you really are close to someone or something. I guess photographers will know what I mean (I'm not a photographer).

And, hey... Don't forget Moon mode or whatever you'd like to call it. Is it gimmicky? Yes. Is it a cool party trick? Definitely! At first, it's kind of surreal when you get a shot of the moon, and you can see the texture. It's not super-clear, but it's also not bad at all. We haven't even asked for that, and periscope cameras gave it to us.

To wrap it up, of course, long-range zoom cameras aren't a fad. Whether in their current form or as part of a continuous zoom system, they are here to stay. Before it became a verb that describes the action of getting on a Zoom call, zooming had been a part of photography forever. So, whether it's a wild cat or a pigeon; a stop sign or a banner; the sun or the moon... we'll always want to zoom (rhyme intended).

From wide to 5/10x periscope zoom. You can't deny the magic.

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