What is the periscope lens? Why can it overcome the limitations of traditional smartphone camera design?
OPPO has a long time testing to apply the periscope camera on their smartphone product. Finally, this firm has successfully in the newest product line – the Reno 10x Zoom. This device enables users to achieve distant shooting capabilities without losing image quality.
What is the essence of the periscope camera system? Why can it do this?
Advantages of professional camera
One of the biggest reasons why many professional photographers continue to use DSLR camera or Mirrorless is multipurpose. All of these cameras have only one sensor, but they have the integrated mounts to replace lenses for different shooting purposes.
The critical goal is the ability to zoom far away, especially useful for people shooting animals or sports photos. They cannot approach the object at close distance. Dedicated lenses for these two types of shots have a high number of the focal points (which can zoom far away), meaning they are large and the price is not low either.
Limitations when applying zoom on the smartphone
Why cannot manufacturers use telephoto capabilities on their smartphones for a long time? The answer is in physical restraints. There are two ways to achieve a far range: Making the lens longer to accomplish a big focal or making the sensor smaller to capture a small part of photos (it means to create a massive image multiplier).
Both ways above have their own disadvantages. The first option will make the device thicker, going against the smartphone design trend nowadays. The second option will reduce the image quality because it makes the image sensor to get smaller; this means the image cannot be received enough light.
Samsung experimented the first option on the Galaxy S4 Zoom product, ‘a smartphone camera’ with a big optical zoom lens 10x (24 – 240mm) at the back. S4 Zoom is indeed a unique product, but it is not successful as this firm expected and then, they do not have successive products.
For a long time, smartphone companies just apply 2x zoom (means the focal twice the primary camera). It seems to have a compromise between the thickness of the camera and the zoom capability, the final image quality.
Periscope lens solution
Technology becomes more and more developmental; smartphone firms have gradually got “smarter” in designing shots system to overcome the obstacles above. On OPPO Reno 10x Zoom, Chinese electronics firm have adopted cameras with “periscope.”
OPPO has taken ideas from the view lens of submarines. With periscope, submarines can dive underwater and still see above the water things, helping not to be detected by enemy aircraft or ships. They can rely on the part of the triangular prism to bend the light 90 degrees downwards.
Applying this theory correctly, Reno 10x Zoom with 13MP zoom lens also has a triangular glass component, which can bring light come to the smartphone sensor – placed deep in the camera body.
By this way, the lens system can be made longer (bigger focal); it will also solve the problem of smartphone thickness. OPPO Reno 10x Zoom owns the powerful telephoto capability and the entire lens sets equal with the camera body, not create any embossed clusters. This prevents to scratch the front glass or not be lame when putting on the table.
The complete combine from smart software
In theory, Reno 10x Zoom camera only has a physical 5x zoom indicator, raising the focus of the main camera lens from 26mm to 130mm. But, when combining with smart software, integrating the high-quality 48MP sensor, the photo of the camera still doesn’t lose too many details on zooming to 10x (260mm).
For practical using, Reno 10x Zoom gives the superior photo quality compared to the regular Reno version (using all digital zooms, not physical zooms). It also allows users to zoom to 60x, raise the physical zoom range to 1560mm.
However, the image quality will be the best (enough definition to publish on the internet, the color does not become pale) at about 5x – 20x. After that, the device has to increase the image quality by the software; this may cause the result does not catch the expecting.
An interesting factor when using a periscope zoom camera is the blurry area (also be named bokeh) will have a rectangle rather than a circle like regular lenses. This may be an advantage to make the photos taken by a periscope outstanding and different from many other photos.
Some more test shots from OPPO’s periscope camera Reno 10x Zoom:
The system applied on OPPO Reno 10x Zoom really impressive, but it’s just the beginning of integrating telephoto cameras trend on smartphones. The lens components can also be further extended, increasing the zoom range to 20x, even 30x.
Or, if integrating moving lens components, we can change the focus similar to a professional camera. The potential of the periscope zoom system is vast, just wait for smartphone manufacturers, including OPPO, to explore.