OPPO, the Chinese smartphone company is not new when it comes to trying out new concepts around the smartphone camera. They had the OPPO N1 which they released 4 years ago that had a 13MP camera that could be rotated and used as the selfie or primary camera. That was cool back then and now they have something even cooler.
See, the current optical zoom implementation on some smartphones and dedicated cameras needs telephoto lenses and motors which eat on space. Smartphones have limited space and it requires researchers to come up with a way to go around this system. It was teased that they are going to announce a superior camera tech on MWC today and they sure have.
Today, they announced a way to have optical zoom on a smartphone in a very interesting implementation. The system is inspired by periscopes which have two sensors: One facing up and one at a 90 degree tilt. The first one has the traditional lenses and sensor facing upwards and the ‘telephoto’ lens is positioned at a 90 degree angle where in between we have lenses and a prism.
Apparently according to OPPO, this will guarantee a 5x optical zoom which is impressive since the one system that we can compare with OPPO’s is the one on the iPhone 7 Plus, which only does 2x optical zoom. The module is only 5.7mm thick which may sound thick in smartphone terms but most optical zoom modules are way thicker than this. In addition, there will be OIS on the prism and telephoto lens to compensate for shaky movement.
Well this is an interesting demo by OPPO and we now wait for them to incorporate the technology on a mass device. Optical zoom is always better than digital zoom in photography and this is one area dedicated cameras one up smartphone cameras and this move by OPPO aims to bridge that divide.