Huawei’s P20 Pro, Samsung Galaxy A7 2018 and now the LG V40. It is getting normal to see a phone launch with a triple camera setup. And from the trend, we may not be stopping anytime soon. But how did we get here?
When we first saw dual cameras, it seemed like a joke. Why have two cameras? What would they be doing? And then the trend took off, and here we are where it is normal to see dual cameras on almost every device, from low end to high end. Even though at first, it confused many, including consumers, as to what the dual setup was achieving in totality.
The most common of the dual setups has been a normal lens plus a telephoto lens. But we’ve seen some companies like LG have a normal lens plus a wide-angle lens, while some like Huawei have a normal plus monochrome lens. Some companies like OnePlus on the 5T had two normal cameras, one lens only helping with night shots.
Setups with a normal plus telephoto lens have used the combination of lenses for portrait modes where you get that fake bokeh effect like you would on big cameras. But as time has moved on, many companies have had this replaced, or complemented with software.
And that’s why in 2018, the normal Galaxy S9, the iPhone Xr, and even last years Google Pixel 2 (as we wait for the Pixel 3) all use a single lens to achieve portrait mode.
Which begs the question: Are more lenses really necessary?
Even as I ask that question, I know that DxOMark is a thing, and extra lenses help with better ranking. And the best example to support that is the Huawei P20 Pro which leads in the rankings. You’ll notice the first 7 devices in DxOMark rankings all have extra lenses. The Pixel 2 comes 8th with its single camera.
And I agree, for any professional camera, you’ll need extra lenses specialised for different modes, and functions. But for normal smartphone photography, for the usual stuff we do with our phones, are all these lenses actually doing anything? Or are we at the peak of innovation where there’s nothing new to offer so we start throwing in new lenses for fun?
For how long will we see triple lens phones? The Galaxy S10 is said to have 3 cameras. We don’t know how many companies will go with the trend next year. We already Nokia has an upcoming phone with 5 lenses at the back. Light has been working on a 9 camera smartphone. At this pace, are we heading to a future where the whole back of the phone will be full of different lenses complementing each other? LOL. What are your thoughts on extra smartphone cameras?