How To

From megapixels to dual-lenses: phone cameras explained

Get to know your mobile phone camera and the confusing lingo with this handy guide.

As we all know nowadays, smartphone cameras are pretty darn impressive. Soon, they’ll be knocking DSLR’s off the pedestal with photo/video quality and choice of shooting modes.

Whether you’re an Apple or Android user and want the best smartphone cameras, we’ll be able to help you understand all the cameras features, and which phones come with the best ones.

So, without further ado, let’s turn your pixelated view into a crystal-clear HD one.

Are More Megapixels Better?

Its not all about the megapixels folks, but it certainly helps. But, what does megapixels mean, and how does it affect your phone snaps?

Megapixels are all about the pixels (believe it or not), a camera with more megapixels means you can capture images with more detail, boasting bigger and better quality photos. More pixels allows you to enlarge your images too, without the loss of quality, making them ideal for blowing up images for a canvas or other printing.

When choosing your next smartphone, it’s not all about the megapixels, it’s about much more, from aperture to the number of lenses (we’ll get onto these later).

Check out the Huawei Mate 10 Pro for a smartphone that boasts quality megapixel cameras, as well as an accomplished all-round camera package.

Different megapixels shooting the same image.

What is Aperture on Your Mobile Camera?

When it comes to aperture on your smartphone camera, smaller is better. Yeah, that’s right. For the first time ever, a bigger size isn’t what counts.

Larger aperture ratings have smaller numbers, so for instance, a phone with an aperture of f/1.4 would let in more light than a camera with an aperture of f/4.5.

If more light is available for your photos, the better quality they will be, whether in the brightest daylight or low light of the nightclub. Better light control means better pics.

Aperture is something Samsung’s bossing on the latest Galaxy S9 | S9 Plus.

Different levels of lens aperture.

What do Dual-Lens Cameras do?

Dual-lens is present on many advanced smartphones, and no doubt gives them an edge over single-lens cameras. But what does it mean, and are you getting more camera for your buck?

Dual-lens tech means you’re getting one camera to take the photo, while the other does another job, like enhancing focus or capturing depth of field for bokeh style photos.

A photo shot with bokeh effect.

Over single lens shooters, a dual camera system gives the user more room for error, more photo capturing benefits and importantly, more quality. That’s great news for the Instagram likes. New generation dual shooters will also generally perform better in low light too, giving you a more versatile smartphone camera. This tech is very much here to stay.

What is Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS)?

You may see, particularly on phones packing better technology, that most talk about OIS, but what does it do?

This bit of kit essentially aims to reduce any blur on your images. It aims to, as the name suggests, stabilise what is in the frame, back to your camera sensor.

This means that, thanks to OIS, the main culprits of ruining photos, having a shaky hand or a fidgeting subject, are countered, giving you better photos.

What About Autofocus?

Autofocus comes on most modern smartphones as standard, to help achieve clear and crisp images for you.

It’s an important part of the camera setup on your smartphone, and most smartphone manufacturers, like Apple and Samsung, use phase detection autofocus. This type of focus is constantly refocusing when a photo subject is moving, ideal for when you’re out and about and quickly need to snap a photo.

Autofocus helps reduce unwanted blur in your photos, trying to keep the subject in focus. Always a handy feature, in any scenario.

Are ISO Ratings Important?

ISO ratings (International Standards Organisation) followed by a number, like ISO1234, is a number that measure for sensitivity to light. Higher number ISO ratings are generally used in darker situations to control the brightness of your photos.

Your ISO rating will be in action when shooting both photo and video, to help get the best results, in both low light and bright scenarios. This tech helps get the balance correct, after all you don’t want overly bright or dull images where you can help it.

Smartphones nowadays will often out perform the human eye, the example below shows the human eye at ISO1600, next to a comparable Sony smartphone with adjusted ISO. As you can see, the higher rating allows for clearer and brighter imagery in the same way.

What About Video Capabilities?

Most of the features talked about above, carry through when shooting video on your smartphones too.

Undoubtedly, this could be a whole new topic on its own, but generally speaking, most market leading handsets now have 4K video shooting. This format gives extra detail to your videos, compared with older video shooting formats such as 1080p (known as Full HD or FHD to us smartphone people). This shooting format is now being surpassed, as more advanced manufacturers adapt 4K shooting to achieve cool features like super slow-mo on smartphones.

Frames per second (FPS) is something that’s also heavily talked about, thanks to the arrival of Samsung Galaxy S9 | S9 Plus. The Galaxy S9 boasts 960 fps shooting in super slow-mo, meaning an amazingly clear media output with 960 photos taken per second. Amazing, right? As you can see, the output creates fun and immersive video that will guarantee likes on your Facebook feed.

Hopefully, that little whistle stop tour of the smartphone camera will help you on your way to purchasing your next smartphone.

Check out our best smartphone deals right here.

Leave a Comment