How many phone cameras is enough?

Samsung is coming out with a new phone with 4 rear cameras. Is this enough? Will it stop there, or will somebody decide that they need more, such as 8 so that you can do everything in 3D?

Not being a Luddite, I could care less how many cameras they put in my phone as long as it does everything else it needs to do.

4 rear cameras. How very “South Park”.

They’re doing this because a set of 3 separate cameras for wide angle, normal and telephoto is more compact and more reliable (and perhaps cheaper) than one camera with a zoom lens. The 4th camera is for depth-of-field effects, e.g. to blur the background.

I think they should have added a 5th one on the opposite end of the camera, with a wide angle lens, to allow true 3D photos. Honestly.

They seem to have included 1 general purpose camera with 3 specialist cameras. However, if you were using those cameras as an array of cameras rather than 4 alternative cameras, what sorts of things could you do?

p.s. The new LG V40 phone also has 5 cameras total: 3 rear cameras (normal, wide-angle and telephoto) and 2 front cameras (normal and wide-angle). The wide-angle front camera sounds useful for people who often take group selfies.

The depth-of-field camera is only used to supplement the other 3 cameras. The image processing software uses that information to determine which part of the photo is the foreground, and apply effects - e.g. blur the background.

Combining the telephoto/normal/wide camera data would allow for a wide-angle image with really good detail in the middle of the image.

Thanks. The depth information and processing reminds me of light-field cameras. Any chance to see those being used in any significant way, even outside smartphones?

So it would replicate the human eye in that way.

Since the cameras are next to each other, would you have a 3D effect?

Just to add a little; they’re all what are called fixed-focal length lenses, which means no moving parts, save the focusing mechanism, if they all even have that.

Your average point and shoot camera has both a zoom lens (variable focal length) and autofocus, but that’s fairly bulky, involves a lot of moving parts, and is usually, but not always faster at any given focal length than the fixed equivalent.

So it makes sense- the DSLR equivalent would be having multiple primes instead of a single zoom.

Yes, I already knew this. But there is still room to add more, such as a 4x telephoto, a 10x telephoto, a fisheye, a macro, an infrared, probably a few more.

Let me know when there’s one for x-ray vision.

You get that with the infrared.

You mean like this? (No IR though)

If they would just put a razor blade on each camera one could see in real time how close a shave they were getting…

There are some phones that do that - in theory, you can use an array of cameras to achieve some of the benefits that you’d get from a larger sensor (which you can’t fit in a slim device) - higher resolution, better light sensitivity, lower noise, etc.

The only reason these phone makers are coming out with more cameras is because they don’t have the software chops to get the job done with 1 really good camera - like Google and their Pixels. The just-released Pixel3 has arguably the best overall camera experience ever with just 1 lens. They have some really smart people working in that department.

Take a look at this sucker.

Absolutely! Mediocre engineers have always thrown more hardware at problems best solved in software.

That’s not true. That’s like saying a professional photographer needs all those lenses because his camera is inferior to a point and shoot.

I take it you have not seen any examples of what Google has accomplished with computational photography. DP Review has done a number of articles on it and they are generally considered the authority on camera phones.