Optical zoom in smartphones is principally different from that of DSLRs. They don’t employ actual moving lenses for zooming as its the case with traditional cameras. In our phones, multiple sensors with individual fixed focal lengths are used when we cycle between various levels of zooms (2x/3x/5x/10x). But all that’s about to change with the introduction of variable zoom in phones.
A Chinese image sensor manufacturer named O-Film has demoed a periscope camera tech that’s capable of achieving continuous zoom.
The periscope zoom is something we have already seen within phones from Huawei, Samsung, and Oppo. But, this new implementation will be even more useful.
Here’s how it works in theory:
How variable zoom in phones work?
As you can see in the above animation, O-film is using a piezoelectric motor to move the lenses between the preferred focal lengths. It states a seamless variable zoom between 85mm and 170mm (35mm equivalent) while the lens aperture changes from f/3.1 to f/5.1.
The company says currently it can cover anywhere between 3x to 7x magnification, as a result. And going forward, it can produce designs with 3 to 5x, 5 to 8x, and 3.5 to 9.5x zoom ranges. This brings versatility and more perspectives.
Further, you would see both motion stability (thanks to periscope prism) and autofocus being handled simultaneously.
It’s not just the zooming capability, O-film also revealed its periscope module to be just 5.9mm in thickness, making it the slimmest. So, phone manufacturers can use it without worrying about camera bumps or broader chassis. Speaking of which, O-Film says it’s ready to deliver to phone makers across the globe.
We hope it works as advertised and that we are able to experience an actual variable zoom in phones sooner than later.