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Samsung aims to transform telephoto modules on smartphones into a “second main camera”. By this, the company means that current telesensors are smaller, have lower resolution, and lag behind on features like HDR and video frame rates compared to the phone’s main camera.
To serve as a proper second main camera, the telephoto module will require a sensor that is as good as the main camera. Samsung believes that its 200MP sensors, such as the ISOCELL HP2 and HP3, are the right tools for the job.
ISOCELL HP2 and HP3 vs. ISOCELL sensors currently used in telephoto cameras
Some phones that don’t have the budget for a separate telephoto lens already use 200MP sensors. These sensors typically offer 2x and 4x zoom capabilities at the same resolution (i.e. 12.5MP, which is also often the default for the main camera).
Here is an example of what can be achieved with such a camera:
The native zoom capabilities of a 200MP sensor
These sensors have a multitude of pixels to work with and can even outperform a low-resolution sensor with a long lens in cases where the user zooms past the lens’ focal length. Here’s a 4x zoom comparison between a 200MP sensor and an 11MP sensor that combines 3x optical and 1.3x digital zoom (for a nearly 3.9x total):
200MP sensor with a wide lens versus 11MP sensor with optical and digital zoom
This is what we have today. In the near future, Samsung’s 200MP sensors may be used behind a 3x telephoto lens, enabling 3x, 6x, and 12x zoom capabilities. Here is a demonstration of what will be possible:
12.5MP image captured by 200MP in-sensor zoom and some areas enlarged to show details
The ISOCELL HP2 and HP3 are 1/1.3” and 1/1.4” sensors, respectively, and they share many features. They utilize a 4×4 deep learning remosaic algorithm, which rescales the sensors’ 4×4 Tetra²Pixel arrangement into RGB. This process occurs on the fast DSPs and GPUs of modern smartphone chipsets. These premium sensors also come with advanced autofocus and HDR capabilities, surpassing the typical sensors used in telephoto cameras today.
Effective pixel size of the HP2 at different resolutions
Samsung also highlights the importance of telephoto lenses for portrait photography. The main camera on today’s phones is too wide for capturing good portraits, often leading to distortion. This is why longer lenses are preferred.
Face distortion with a 24mm lens versus an 85mm lens
Telephoto lenses also naturally create bokeh, which helps separate the subject from the background. Although computer photography bokehs are generally good nowadays, they can still occasionally produce undesirable results. Samsung notes that a larger sensor will generate a shallower depth of field compared to a smaller one at the same focal length, making these HP sensors ideal for portrait shots.
You can find Samsung’s detailed post on why 200MP telephoto cameras represent the future by following the Source link. However, there are currently no specific plans mentioned for bringing this technology to the market.
Recent rumors suggest that the Galaxy S24 Ultra will feature a 50MP 3x camera (up from 10MP 3x on the S23 Ultra), which will provide native 3x and 6x zoom capabilities. However, this falls short of the hypothetical 200MP 3x camera showcased above. Therefore, while we may not see it next year, if the company is already discussing it, they likely have something in the lab.
This approach by Samsung offers an alternative to Sony’s method, which involves using variable focal length lenses similar to traditional cameras. Currently, Sony’s approach is only seen on Xperia phones, though other brands are also experimenting with similar lenses.