Oppo announces slew of new smartphone camera tech

PAT PILCHER looks down the newly announced long lenses to be found on the next batch of Oppo smartphones.

Oppo’s new optical image stabilisation

At an online ‘Future Imaging Technology Launch Event’, Chinese phone manufacturer, Oppo, announced a slew of camera-related smartphones, including an under-display camera.

 

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Oppo kicked things off with a telephoto lens featuring a continuous optical zoom. While most typical periscope zoom setups jump when they switch between cameras, Oppo’s continuous zoom lens can move throughout an 85-200mm zoom range, allowing images to stay crisp at every focal length as there is no need for any image processing including digital zoom, cropping, or sharpening. As good as this sounds, it may be some time before eager consumers will get their hands on it as Oppo has yet to confirm a shipping date for a commercial device incorporating this technology.

Oppo’s big smartphone camera announcement

A capable zoom is only ever going to be as good as the optical image stabilisation built into the phone. This clearly hasn’t escaped the attention of Oppo, which also announced a five-axis optical image stabilisation system that uses lens-shift and sensor-shift methods along with data from the phone’s gyroscope. The combination looks set to offer anything up to a threefold improvement over existing smartphone optical image stabilisation setups. Oppo says that they’ll release the OIS system on Oppo phones in the first quarter of 2022, which could translate into a mid-year release in the New Zealand market.

Having improved the optics and image stabilisation, Oppo also announced an improved image sensor that uses an RGBW (red-green-blue-white) sub-pixel arrangement, which it says should theoretically offer a 60-percent bump in light sensitivity as well as vastly improved detail capture in low light settings. While Oppo has made earlier attempts at RGBW sensors, even they admitted that these had their limitations. But they’re also confident that their new version should offer up significant improvements. The new image sensor is expected on Oppo phones shipping from Q4 2021.

Oppo’s new under-screen camera

Last (but by no means least, Oppo also unveiled its under-screen camera technology. This was achieved by optimising phone display subpixels around the camera and applying AI algorithms. Oppo says that the under-screen camera “maintains the integrity and consistency of the entire screen, both during use and while in standby”. If this under-screen tech is as good as Oppo says, expect selfie camera notches to go the way of the dodo in flagship phones from 2022 onwards.

Combined, these refinements should help to close the gap between high-end smartphone cameras and their dedicated digital camera counterparts. Witchdoctor hopes to be able to put each tech to the test once commercially available phone hardware with the new camera tech becomes available.

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