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Wonder how dual cameras in smartphones work? Here is all you need to know

A quick guide to different aspects of dual cameras and how original equipment makers use them for their devices

Khalid Anzar  |  New Delhi 

Smartphones, dual cameras, dual camera
Photo: Shutterstock

Dual camera set-ups are fast catching up as a trend in these days. The year so far has seen many devices – flagship or mid-tier – sporting dual cameras. The latest offerings from Asus, InFocus and Huaweihave added to the excitement around such camera set-ups, assuring the camera game in the smartphone industry is here to stay.

Technically, not all dual-camera set-ups are the same, as they deliver different prepositions. Here is a quick guide to the different aspects of dual cameras and how original equipment makers (OEMs) use them for their devices.

Primary camera, coupled with depth sensor for Bokeh effect

Nubia N17
Nubia N17
One of the common dual camera set-ups, mostly employed in budget and mid-range devices, this set-up consists of two different sensors – primary lens with large sensor and secondary lens with depth-sensing sensor. In this set-up, the primary camera captures the shot while the depth-sensing sensor measures the background and other objects. The image processed through the primary camera is then treated with the information retrieved through the depth-sensing sensor to create a single image where the object in focus remains sharp and the background gets blurred, creating the so-called Bokeh effect.

Cameras with RGB and monochrome sensor

Huawei P9
Huawei P9
A slightly more popular implementation of the secondary sensor is the monochrome camera. In this method, the primary camera is accompanied by a mostly identical secondary camera. Both cameras usually have identical sensors, apertures, lenses and focusing systems. The main and usually the only difference between the two is that the second sensor lacks an RGB colour filter. This means that the sensor cannot capture colour information. But on the upside, because there is one less thing blocking the sensor, the monochrome camera can capture more light.

Dual cameras with different frame of view (FoV)

LG G6
Not very popular yet in the smartphone game, this set-up has its benefits and might find the demand in the time to come. In this set-up, the dual cameras carry different field of view (FoV) – normal lens and wide-angle lens -- and both the cameras work as separate entities. For normal shots, the high-resolution sensor takes the shot and processes it without taking any help from the secondary camera. And, the secondary camera, with wide-angle lens, comes into play when the object does not fit in the FoV of the primary camera.

If worked around, the set-up could deliver detailed landscape shots with a panoramic view captured through wide-angle lens infused with details collected from primary high-resolution sensor. 

RGB and monochrome sensors

This set-up, too, is not very popular yet. But it has its own benefits, especially for photographers who enjoy taking true-monochrome images. In this set-up, the dual cameras utilise two different sensors – a RGB sensor to capture colour photographs and monochrome sensors for black-and-white images.

The monochrome sensors feature one less layer – Bayer filter responsible for colour imaging – so they captures more light than RGB sensors. When both the sensors – RGB and monochrome – work in tandem, the final image comes out with much more detail and information.

Telephoto lens

Xiaomi Mi A1 Android One smartphone
Xiaomi Mi A1 Android One smartphone
This set-up is fairly common in flagship because of its limited lossless zoom capabilities. The primary camera sensor is coupled with a telephoto lens, which takes magnified photos and, therefore, allows instant 2x optical zoom. 

The set-up also proves more essential for taking portrait shots than any other set-up. In this set-up, the portrait is captured through and the bokeh or blur effect is created using the primary sensor. The outcome is also far more superior than any other combinations as the blur is created using primary sensor that captures a lot more information than the other sensor.

First Published: Mon, October 16 2017. 13:05 IST
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