Smartphone cameras and DSLRs have been moving in opposite directions for the past few years, and the image quality of phones will finally trump that of their single-lens DSLR rivals by 2024, according to Sony.
As reported by Nikkei Japan (opens in a new tab)Sony Semiconductor Solutions (SSS) President and CEO Terushi Shimizu said at a press briefing that “we expect the stills [from smartphones] will surpass the image quality of single-lens reflex cameras within a few years.”
Some fascinating slides (opens in a new tab) presented during the briefing were even more specific, with a slide showing that, according to Sony, “still images should exceed ILC [interchangeable lens camera] image quality” in the year 2024.
Those are two slightly different claims, with “ILCs” also including today’s mirrorless cameras, alongside the older DSLR technology that most camera makers are now largely abandoning.
But the larger conclusion remains – far from hitting a technological ceiling, smartphones should continue their imaging evolution and, for most people, make standalone cameras redundant.
So what technology will lead to this continued rise in best phone cameras? Sony points out a few factors, including “quantum saturation” and “AI processing” improvements. Interestingly, Sony also expects the sensor size of “high-end model” phones to double by 2024.
The larger pixels of these sensors will, he says, allow phone makers to apply multi-frame processing that “realizes a new imaging experience,” including improved Super HDR modes and zooms that combine optical folded (as on the Sony Xperia 1IV) with AI algorithms.
Sony also highlighted the development of its “two-layer transistor pixel technology”, which we heard last yearwhich promises to dramatically improve the dynamic range of phone cameras and reduce low-light noise.
Similar advancements are also coming for video, according to Sony’s presentation, with the higher readout speeds of next-gen sensors supporting 8K video, multi-frame processing (including HDR video) and a general realization of “AI processing for video”. In other words, computational video techniques like Apple’s Cinematic mode.
While it’s not unusual for Sony to make bold predictions about an industry it invests heavily in, there seems to be substance behind its predictions for the continued evolution of phone cameras at the expense of DSLRs and DSLRs. mirrorless cameras.
And this is significant for all smartphones, because according to Statistical (opens in a new tab)Sony holds 42% of the global market for image sensors for phones, while teardowns of the iPhone 13 Pro Max show that it uses three 7-series Sony IMX sensors.
Analysis: Phones continue their meteoric rise
Predictions about the demise of DSLR cameras are nothing new – without saying anything explicitly, Canon and Nikon have both admitted that DSLRs are a legacy format from discontinuation of certain models, such as the Nikon D3500, without replacing them. But Sony’s latest statements underscore that phone cameras still have a long way to go before they reach their technological ceiling.
The greatest advances in recent years have come in multi-image processing, otherwise known as computational photography. But Sony was understandably keen to highlight the role the new hardware will play in elevating the phone’s cameras to new photographic heights.
His prediction that the sensor size of high-end phones will double by 2024 is slightly surprising, given that this is limited by factors such as lenses. For example, the Sony Xperia Pro-I became Sony’s first phone to have a 1-inch sensor last year, but its lens wasn’t able to project an image circle large enough to cover all of that sensor, so it couldn’t take only 12MP photos rather than the native 20MP resolution.
Perhaps more significant is Sony’s new stacked CMOS sensor with dual-layer transistor pixels, which effectively exposes each pixel to twice as much light as a standard sensor. It sounds like a hardware advancement where the computational algorithms could certainly jam their teeth in order to improve dynamic range and noise performance.
But given how good the latest phones are when it comes to photography, the most notable advancements over the next few years are likely to be in video. Sony’s presentation underlined this with references to multi-frame processing and its Edge AI platform, which promises to improve both video performance and support for augmented reality applications.
While DSLRs and mirrorless cameras will always have an audience among amateurs and professionals alike due to their handling, creative control, viewfinders, and unique image quality, the kinds of advances described in Sony’s presentation show that the next few years are going to be a particularly exciting time for phone cameras.
#Smartphones #kill #DSLR #years #Sony