The eagle-eyed among you may have spotted a recent patent application approved on July 2, which reveals the key details of Xiaomi’s upcoming telephoto implementation. The patent describes the combination of a main camera with at least one complementary periscope lens which will be placed perpendicular to the main one. Thanks to the process of light refraction, the periscope lens will be able to achieve varying zoom magnifications without increasing the size of the primary camera and in turn the device.
This is awesome news for me! Current offerings from Huawei and Oppo go up to 125mm and 135mm focal length so we can expect Xiaomi’s version to be in the same range. You may recall that I am currently using a P30 Pro, as I take lots of photos and really love the versatility that I get with this device.
Well now my dreams will come true, and I can ditch the Huawei and return to Xiaomi!!!
So, exactly what are the periscope cameras and how do they work? Let's cast our minds back a little...
Just a few years ago, phone cameras were all still competing in the megapixel race. Then it was all about dual-lens cameras, pairing a standard camera with a depth sensor for bokeh shots, a B&W, telephoto or wide angle lens. OEMs have decided the best way forward is to include even more camera sensors, and they’re going a little crazy — some phones have as many as four cameras on the back.
Multi-camera phones are the norm now, but the modules they use have a traditional design, one optimized for size. The thickness of your smartphone limits the focal length – which, true to its name, is a measure of the distance from the lens to the sensor – meaning that telephoto cams rarely go above 2x zoom (and we’re yet to see one go above 3x). A new breed of telephoto cameras has emerged - the periscope type cameras, which are called that because light is reflected 90°.
It’s tough to fit longer telephoto lenses in phones because everyone wants a compact, slick-looking device. Well, this problem can be solved by turning the telephoto sensor sideways in a technique called folded optics. The camera optics are aligned perpendicular to the back of the phone in a periscope that redirects light so the camera points the right direction.
Periscope camera guides light along the width of the phone, allowing for long focal lengths without making the phone too thick. Better still, the prism that reflects the light can be used for optical image stabilization, vital for long focal lengths where even small hand shake is multiplied.
Personally, having experienced the periscope zoom in the P30 Pro, I can never go back to a phone that doesn't have this option. Which is why I am so glad that Xiaomi look to be bringing out their own implementation!
Are Periscope Cameras Really the Future of Smartphones?
Let me know your thoughts in the poll and comments section!
Special thanks to Crossfiree for the inspiration for this thread!
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