It’s the next big thing in the photography world: dual camera smartphones, giving users the power of a wider and a longer lens built in to the phone, each with own imaging sensor. It’s like having a traditional camera with a wide angle lens and a telephoto lens mounted simultaneously. By circumventing the physical requirements a zoom lens would necessitate in a smartphone, or in other words: by avoiding having to build a massively protruding zoom lens in to a phone, engineers elegantly solve the problem that remained the big advantage of mirrorless and DSLR camera gear.
The processing power smartphone cameras offer is already pretty astonishing. According to several online reports, the iPhone 6s is perfectly capable of shooting better 4K video than professional and vastly more expensive camera gear. Now imagine that the next generation of those flat communication devices we hold in our palm and keep in our pocket can do what my beloved big high-end camera can do that cost me an arm and a leg.
It’s all still rumor, but a dual camera option might be the main reason why Apple is pushing ahead and could introduce the next-gen iPhone 7 already be this summer several months ahead of the usual yearly upgrade cycle in September.
The writing on the wall about SLR image quality delivered by smartphones became apparent when Apple bought the Israeli camera technology company LinX last year. The idea of combining several low resolution imagers to create a high resolution image has been around for years. Not that the iPhone will suddenly replace the DSLR, but users will enjoy a more DSLR-like experience with more versatile shooting options and more rendered details.
Expect every major smartphone maker to offer flush dual camera systems. Apparently Huawei is following on the heels of Apple. Leaked photos of the Huawei P9 dual camera flagship show a distinctively iPhone-like device paired with Leica-made lenses (!) that could turn out to be a solid performer and not only draw some crowds away from the Apple fold, but also convert DSLR and mirrorless users for the sake of convenience, connectivity and mobility.
I’m not about to relinquish the beauty of a solidly built camera in my hands that has some weight and offers stability, but that’s dinosaur thinking. Apple already changed photography per se, now they’re leading the kill on a traditional industry in its final throes. Dual cameras are not the end of traditional camera gear, but the going will most certainly get even tougher for camera brands.
I’d recommend Canon, Nikon, Olympus & Co. to team up with a smartphone maker, something Leica just did. But who’s left for that kind of forward-looking diversification? Tech giant Sony plays in a league of its own and does everything in-house from scratch, including world-class leading sensor technology. Apple would never share some of its pie and Samsung is no less proprietary than Apple. BlackBerry is finished and mighty Microsoft for the time being cannibalizes the venerable (Nokia) Lumia brand.
One of those cases that innovation leads to further consolidation. But well I’m voting with my purse, the offer on the table that fits my needs best shall get the hard earned cash.