2019 is really the year of multi-camera smartphones. The last stronghold of the single camera, Pixel, was also broken when Google switched to dual cameras, admitting "the more cameras the better". Both the two big owners of the top segment, Samsung and Apple, have decided to "upgrade" from dual cameras to 3-cameras (or more) for the main camera cluster, following the challenges of Huawei and Xiaomi. Finding a way back to be impressive, the mobile king once Nokia lifted the Nokia 9 PureView model with a cluster of … 5 cameras.
Hardware and software
But if it comes to a smartphone with many cameras worth waiting for, perhaps Sony fans will not be able to forget the Xperia 6 camera … in legend. After an impressive comeback with Xperia 1, in the middle of the year, rumors began to leak about a Sony smartphone with 6 cameras on the back. Those 6 cameras can change the way general technology believers view the camera concept.
In 2019, referring to the camera on a smartphone is to mention the code.
Why not? Because the camera on smartphones is now the camera of the code. For many years, Apple, Google and Samsung have really revolutionized the concept of "photography" when changing the focus from hardware to software. Through high-end smartphone models, these three giants have proved that the algorithm alone is more than enough to create images beyond imagination.
For example, both Apple and Samsung allow users to focus after shooting by simulating a change in focus. Without a studio flash, Apple simulates the position of the light shining on the model. Without the need for a dual camera, Google uses a single camera to measure the depth of field and create bokeh images. Most amazingly, without the need for a huge lens, the search giant also offers digital zoom capabilities with nearly the same quality as optical zoom.
On the opposite side, the first one to launch a 5-camera smartphone, Nokia, showed a lot of cams that could come with … failure. Many cameras but Nokia does not know how to combine or allocate these cameras, especially the processing stage is still too limited.
Blindly racing the hardware can bring negative effects.
Or, for a direct comparison between the Pixel and a smartphone with lots of cam, many reputable review sites still make the claim that Google creates the most realistic and accurate bokeh. It's not unreasonable that many companies have chosen the number 3 (1 main cam, 1 wide-angle cam and 1 telephoto cam), for the simple reason that having more cameras also does nothing. There are algorithms to support, any task can be done with these 3 cameras only.
Hope (lost) in Sony
If a big guy could break the limit of 3, it could only be Sony. Reason: Sony is unlike any other smartphone company. Sony is both a smartphone manufacturer and a camera powerhouse. In other words, may be inferior to the code, but Sony is the only smartphone company that knows how to manipulate physical elements on the camera.
The truth is like that. Except for Samsung which had a camera business (now abandoned), no other company is selling DLSR or MLC, let alone a famous business like Sony. Despite Huawei showing Leica, Nokia showing Carl Zeiss, the fact is that these brands only bring brands to market, not bring the "soul" of the camera to the smartphone. Xperia is now no longer an independent unit but has been transferred to the illustrious Alpha camera development team. If Sony develops a smartphone with six cameras, it will be a smartphone with the soul of Alpha.
With the knowledge of the camera, Sony could have turned the tide in the hardware vs software war …
But the lack of positive feedback for Xperia One shows that now no one wants to take a "Pro" camera anymore …
But that dream is dead. Rumors from July to now have been silent. Sony's smartphone segment continues to sink into recession. Xperia One reviews are loudly decrying the color factor. No one understands that Sony makes smartphone camera for professionals who know how to use RAW images. Everyone is now following Apple and Google thinking, using software to create eye-catching "easy-to-use" photos.
Instead of showing off new smartphones, instead of causing the press to waste ink on Xperia 6 camera, Sony continues to show off the IMX sensor. Sony is returning to its familiar position in the booming smartphone camera battle: behind Apple, Google and Chinese smartphones …
Now everything is just a dream for those who still have feelings for "the emperor." Who knows, Sony will use the sensor like for the other 6 cameras? Who knows, in the hands of a true photography giant, hardware could turn the game against software.
A dream is only a dream. And the reality of Xperia died with a Sony smartphone that never came out again.