Three is not the limit: does it make sense in smartphones with four cameras?

In 2018, another trend appeared on the smartphone market - a third camera in addition to the already familiar two. This idea was proposed and implemented by Huawei and LG. Samsung representatives decided that this was not enough and presented the Galaxy A9 2018-a model with four cameras. It is unlikely that this trend will be picked up by non-flagship smartphones, and will the presence of a fourth camera become a trend?

What is the point of a dual camera?

There are five types of dual-camera smartphones. They have either a sensor for the depth effect, or a telephoto camera, a wide-angle, monochrome camera, or a camera for night shooting. Smartphones with a telephoto, wide-angle, monochrome, or low-light camera allow you to shoot portraits more efficiently, while the depth sensor is most often used in inexpensive devices – it allows you to achieve the effect of depth of field within the budget price.

Accordingly, the dual camera allows you to improve the quality of images. The only problem is which type of second camera to choose. It depends on the tasks that you are facing. If, for example, you like landscapes and you want to put more details in the photo – you need a wide-angle camera, at the same time, the regulars of nightclubs will appreciate the camera for night shooting.

What changes the presence of a third camera?

Switching from dual to triple cameras will remove the problem of choice – now you can get both a telephoto camera for portrait shooting and a wide-angle camera for shooting landscapes and attractions.

For example, in the first smartphone with a triple camera-P20 Pro - a 40-megapixel main camera, an 8-megapixel telephoto camera with triple zoom, and a 20-megapixel monochrome camera are used. This kind of combination, combined with the software, allows this device to take beautiful pictures in low light and, at the same time, achieve a close-up effect.

Huawei has used a monochrome camera to improve the quality of images taken in low-light conditions, but the same camera is also used to get the hybrid zoom effect, resulting in a five-fold increase in size.The LG V40, another triple-camera model, offers a 12-megapixel main camera, the same telephoto camera, and a 16-megapixel wide-angle camera. Accordingly, this device allows you to take three types of images with different perspectives.

It seems that the developers from LG have created a new trend, and this combination was successful – the same combination of cameras is used in the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. In it, the usual and telephoto cameras remained unchanged, the same as in the P20 Pro, but the monochrome camera at 20 MP turned into a wide-angle camera with the same resolution.

And if there are four of them?

Samsung representatives decided to surprise the public by introducing a smartphone with four cameras-Galaxy A9 2018. Korean manufacturers have added a 5 MP depth sensor to the standard, wide-angle and telephoto cameras. This move is somewhat unclear, since telephoto and wide-angle cameras already provide sufficient depth of field. The Galaxy Note 8, Galaxy S9 Plus and Galaxy Note 9 models take great pictures with a good depth of field only due to the telephoto camera. Perhaps the reason for the fourth camera is to get an even more detailed bokeh effect and even clearer portraits.

However, the need for a fourth camera is a very controversial question of space. Smartphone cameras do not take up much space in the device case. And indeed, after placing the screen, battery and chipset in the device, there is really very little free space. Modern sensors for mobile phone cameras are specially made very thin in contrast to the sensors of standard cameras, and the image quality in them is achieved through software processing of the image.

Adding another, fourth camera can mean reducing the space in the smartphone case for the rest - and this worsens the quality and increases the software requirements. Or developers will have to reduce other components, such as the battery, which is unlikely to please users. Another way is to make the smartphone thicker, but it is not too good.

Also, adding a fourth camera isn't necessarily going to make your shots look great. If all the other cameras in the device are not particularly good, then adding a fourth one will have no effect. However, while the developers continue to go on the path of increasing the number of cameras, and the positive result of this outweighs the negative. The only question is when the opposite effect will occur.

Such an example already exists – this is the Light L16 camera, released last year and offering 16 lenses in one device with a focal length of 28 to 150 mm. In theory, it should take pictures with a resolution of 52 MP-but only in theory.

Reviews claim that this camera is not only very slow, but also does not cope with low-light shots. In addition, it did not initially support video recording. In the future, the situation was improved programmatically, but the result is obvious-an increase in the number of cameras does not improve the quality.

As Huawei with its three cameras demonstrated a fantastic result to the public, it seems that this solution will become the main trend of 2019, and the idea with four cameras is not particularly inspiring yet - such conclusions can be reached by analyzing the general trends and the feasibility of increasing the number of cameras in modern smartphones.