Dual camera setups are redefining our expectations of what’s possible from smartphone photography, but Chinese manufacturer, Huawei, looks set to go one better by introducing a triple rear camera.
According to prolific, and famously accurate, leaker, Evan Blass, Huawei seems to have been considering a 40MP three-lensed camera for a forthcoming smartphone, probably the P11.
Taking to Twitter, Blass writes:
“Is the next Huawei P-series going to be an imaging powerhouse? A digital artist at one of the company's creative agencies added these "PCE Series" ads to their portfolio -- claiming 40MP, 3 lens rear (5x hybrid zoom) + 24MP selfie, all Leica-co-developed.”
Is the next Huawei P-series going to be an imaging powerhouse? A digital artist at one of the company's creative agencies added these "PCE Series" ads to their portfolio -- claiming 40MP, 3 lens rear (5x hybrid zoom) + 24MP selfie, all Leica-co-developed. pic.twitter.com/t8w3VlL55L
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) December 6, 2017
The “PCE Series” information shown in the leak, which has since been removed from the artist’s portfolio, includes details of a 40MP camera using three lenses to deliver up to 5x zoom, taking its capabilities far beyond currently available smartphone cameras.
Huawei pins a great deal of importance on its smartphone cameras, not only in forming a working relationship with premium camera manufacturer, Leica, but also in terms of the cost of the camera hardware itself.
This latest development, should it turn out to be true, would be a perfect for a company so clearly aiming to make waves in smartphone photography.
Why include three cameras?
The obvious question is whether or not three cameras could actually deliver any tangible benefits to the user over a dual-camera setup. After all, Google’s Pixel 2 currently delivers first glass performance with just a single lens.
In my opinion, there most certainly are advantages to be gained from a third camera and here’s why:
While the benefits of dual cameras can include increased light-gathering capability, optical zoom effects, reduced image noise and some level of 3D depth-perception, the actual benefits received depend on the particular configuration of lenses used.
Simplistically put, you could use a pair of dissimilar lenses as in the iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy Note 8, to enable telephoto or wide angle shots or, as Huawei has chosen to do with the current Mate 10 flagship, you could use a pair cameras with identical lenses and combine their output for higher image quality.
However, adding a third camera would, therefore, allow the use of both of these approaches at the same time. For example, by combining a pair of similar lenses for great quality with a third telephoto lens to add extra zoom capabilities.
Huawei’s current implementation does offer a 2x ‘lossless zoom’ mode which relies on the higher 20MP pixel resolution of a dedicated monochrome camera to boost the details captured by the 12MP main colour sensor.
However, adding a third zoom lens would allow for the extended 5x zoom range mentioned in the leak. Fitting a 40MP sensor in a smartphone would usually be problematic due to the additional image noise which would likely occur. However, combining the output of three separate sensors could go a long way to mitigating against this.
Also mentioned in the leaked advertisements are a 24MP selfie camera, a ‘Pro Night Mode’ and ‘Pro AI camera assist’. If done well, a three-camera system from Huawei will definitely be one to watch.
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