Friday, April 18, 2014

Mobile Photography Lenses: Apple Wins Patent

The secret has always been the Bayonet mount. Apple has been granted the patent on the iPhone to make it lens interchangeable, now how would that affect you?

Well, you will get better telephoto and wide angle lenses no doubt but you won't be getting DSLR quality anytime soon. That's because the tiny sensor isn't going to allow you a wider dynamic range or better noise control in low light situation.

The thing with Mobile photography right now is this, dyou even NEED a lens attachment?

More Megapixels means better Digital Zoom

Take for example, the use of a zoom or telephoto lens. These days, we are seeing mobile sensors capable of 20 megapixels, and with the Lumia 1020, even 41 megapixels. The use of a digital zoom makes optical zooms totally unnecessary. Afterall, you are going to share it on Facebook and that means a 2 megapixel picture is more than enough. If you do the maths, a 16 megapixel sensor will give you a 2 megapixel picture with a 8X magnification.

Let's not talk about print quality. Any mobile photographer will tell you that the most they will ever print are 4R postcard size prints for their parents.

Better Daylight Imaging 

The bayonet attachment filed as a patent by Apple is exciting. To get the best out of a small sensor lens, you need to have the attachment fixed accurately in place to avoid the usual hazards of poor imaging like color fringing.

Remember the Moment Lenses that was mentioned here a while back? They have a jacket to hold the external lens in place.

Wide angle lenses are more susceptible to flaring if not affixed properly and this is one area that Apple will be addressing. Moment lenses have a 18mm angle of view and that is pretty wide, probably pushing the limits of what is capable on the iPhone. I would like to see Apple better that.

More Lenses for Smartphone Photographers?

Probably not. Technically speaking you only need one lens if you have a high quality sensor above 16 megapixels. Wide angle has been the problems so far for mobile photographers so telephoto lenses or optical zoom lenses will be a bit of a hit or miss affair.

There is really no need for it. Telephoto lenses are rarely used and not all that useful unless you shoot sports, wildlife or aspire to be a future paparazzi.

Even for portraiture, you need only dial in a 2X digital zoom to get a close up with a pinch and zom. And if you have a 16 megapixel sensor to boot, cropping it by two times isn't going to be fatal in terms of picture size. Apple will eventually endow the humble iPhone with such a sensor once the time is right.

Macro is over rated to say the least. You need to be very steady with your grip as any minute shakes will be magnified, making true macro photography impossible. Even for the pros, you can't hand hold a DSLR to shoot tiny insects with available light.

People get the idea that close up is macro and macro is close up. I can assure you this is not the case. Macro gets much closer to the subject.

Going forward, what I fear now is that Apple will stifle independent lens makers with this patent and if that happens, there could be another lawsuit in the works once a successful venture like Moment lenses comes up on Kickstarter.

For Android, the future is really in larger sensors of above 20 megapixels. This will negate the need for external lenses. Those using the Lumia 1020 will know what I mean.


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