Between all their various space, cost and computation constraints, smartphone cameras are hard. Producing great photos from a tiny lens and sensor in a pocket-sized device is a serious challenge, even at the high end.
Essential, makers of the Essential Phone is one of the many manufacturers adopting a dual rear camera system in its handset, with one sensor capturing color detail and another capturing monochrome images for improved clarity.
Yazhu Ling, lead image quality engineer at the Andy Rubin-led startup, walks through exactly how this dual camera setup works in a new post on the Essential company blog:
That's all well and good, but combining data from the monochrome and RGB sensors into a pleasing photo is another challenge altogether.
The blog post itself is well worth a read if you're interested in how you go from photons hitting a sensor to JPEGs in your Gallery app. Ling also offers an interesting comparison of the same image captured throughout the different stages of camera tuning — from March through until present.
The Essential Phone is due for release in the next few weeks, having missed its original target window of July 2017.
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Alex was with Android Central for over a decade, producing written and video content for the site, and served as global Executive Editor from 2016 to 2022.