The imaging features on smartphones are no longer simply part of the product's overall bells and whistles, they are oftentimes one of the more highly touted features, standing front and center in the device's marketing plans.
Such is the case with the new HTC One and its two lenses on the backside, a feature dubbed Duo Camera. What HTC is doing here is a move away from the norm in many ways, but most striking is the fact it is focusing on a lower pixel count, instead using larger pixels on a 4-megapixel sensor. We are told this should help significantly with better low light performance when shooting.
The sizzle in this steak is the fact the two lenses, among other tricks, allow the user to perform the trick of shifting the focus in an image from one area of to another (think Lytro) after the picture is captured; apply the always fun digital blurring effect to more accurately simulate bokeh (the blur in out-of-focus images); and also color-isolate just one area of an image, an effect that has also grown in popularity the last few years.
What the HTC Duo Camera is ultimately doing is shinning a light on the how smartphones continue to make significant strides in image quality and useful photo-related feature sets.
If you've been watching smartphone commercials the last year or so you've seen most of the major manufacturers highlighting their devices' image capture capabilities. In 2013, Nokia was zeroing on the Lumia 1020's 41MP capture capability that allows you to do your zooming long after you've captured the shot. LG spent some time touting the LG G2's optical image stabilization, while Samsung has been quick to point out that all its Galaxy smartphones feature 16MP sensors, again highlighting the image-capture muscle of the company's future releases.
"We're not very far off from the time when pro shooters will be able to use a smartphone for some of the jobs they do," said New York-based professional photographer Jim Cummins.
Yet another big splash in the area of imaging capability in smartphones comes from Chinese manufacturer Oppo with its new Find 7, a larger screen (5.5-inch) model that boasts a 50-megapixel resolution. As is the case with numbers like this in the megapixel race, the trick here is in super-zoom mode, where the Find 7 shoots a burst of 10 images at 13 megapixels each. The device then turns them into a 50-megapixel composite shot. However cool you may find this, don't expect to see a North American release, at least for now.