A patent filed by Samsung at the end of 2019 has just surfaced, revealing the company’s plans to develop a six-sensor smartphone camera array.
HMD Global currently holds the crown for the most sensors in a single phone’s camera setup, thanks to the penta-lens design found on the back of last year’s Nokia 9 PureView. Now it seems Samsung might be cooking up a six-sensor setup with some decidedly unique tricks up its sleeve that would allow for a more versatile shooting experience from its future smartphones.
In a patent submitted to WIPO (the World Intellectual Property Organisation) in December 2019 and published on 11 June 2020 (as spotted by Let’s Go Digital), Samsung details a multi-sensored smartphone arrangement (sometimes featuring four, five or six sensors) with the ability to tilt and angle select sensors within the array to achieve feats of never-before-seen smartphone photography.
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The 59-page document goes into exhaustive detail regarding the benefits of so many sensors built to work in concert but we’ve picked out some of the highlights.
The setup employs a series of (up to) five wide-angle cameras with a 28mm focal length (a 35mm equivalent), accompanied by a single telephoto sensor. Much like the PureView, Samsung envisions the data from multiple sensors being combined to create one high-fidelity composited final shot.
This approach benefits areas of image quality like noise reduction and dynamic range but also enhanced low-light shooting too. Better yet, the field of view from each sensor overlaps with one another (see above) allowing for, as an example, each 32Mp sensor to help build a 100Mp+ final photo.
The patent doesn’t stop there, however, introducing the idea of tilt-shift sensors which can change their angle and position inside the body of the phone to capture a greater focal length/wider field of view.
As well as capturing wider images, this mechanism could also bring a ‘pano-bokeh effect’ to photos that’s characteristic of traditional tilt-shift lenses. Shots would essentially offer a wide field of view but also sport rich, creamy bokeh either side of the plane of focus.
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