Thursday, May 26

From the megapixel war to the battle for useless cameras and the macro of your new mobile


Sometimes I think that the times when we knew less about the technical characteristics of our devices were… better. Sounds very grandpa chive, but let me explain.

Access to information has always been there thanks to magazines, forums and, obviously, web pages, social networks or YouTube and I am a defender of the transmission of knowledge so that anyone has at their fingertips, in their mobile, that information.

However, there is also misinformation. This disinformation comes from the hand of people with a big loudspeaker who are dedicated to spreading hoaxes or data that is not accurate based on both their beliefs and myths.

mobile camera sensor

The mobile camera war is no longer being fought over megapixels (and that’s good for you)

If phrases like those of my 200 euro mobile does the same as your iPhoneremember that when you buy the mobile you must download it completely and recharge it to 100% so that the battery is perfect” either “wow! How many megapixels is your camera?“It is because you are already a few years old in some cases and because someone close to you has stayed with myths from the past.

Yes, old batteries had to be treated in certain ways in certain circumstances, but it’s been many years now that we don’t have to worry about certain things from the past.

And yes, your 200-euro mobile phone does the same thing as a 1,000-euro phone, but it doesn’t do it the same, it’s not as fluid, the cameras are not as TOP… are you getting me? And these phrases are just some of the ones that are heard and read out there, since there are many more examples.

However, it is not only individual and “anonymous” people who, probably due to ignorance, continue with issues such as the more megapixels, the better, or the calibration of the batteries. Companies also have a lot to do.

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I’m going to focus on the cameras. And it is that, not so many years ago, the mobile market and some camera segments entered into an absurd battle for megapixels. The more megapixels, the better.

If they had 12 it was better than 8 and if they had 24, better than 16. And if they were 50 instead of 24… wow, even better. And 108? And what about the 200 megapixels? Well, my buddy Rubén wrote a few years ago about this because the quality of a photo is not given by megapixels.

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Yes, they help to have sharpness, they allow us to make cuts or prints without losing quality, but they are only part of the equation. It matters, and a lot, the size of the sensor, the size of those pixels, the treatment of color by the software… in short, a lot of factors that come into play so that the 12 megapixel photos of a mobile like the iPhone 13 Pro are better than those of a Xiaomi 11T with its 108 megapixels.

Or look, not to go off the mark, that the 50 megapixels of a terminal like the Xiaomi 12, with a sensor that we love such as the Sony IMX 766, are better than the 108 megapixels of the Xiaomi 11.

But hey, I recognize that the battle of megapixels seems to be overcome, at least by the brands (although they keep trying to do somersaults to explain to us why their phones last year had 108 Mpx and those of now 50 Mpx when they know that the people of the street that is going to shock him), but the one they have not overcome is that of the cameras.

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IF you have a mobile with three or four rear cameras… have you ever worried about whether the “”depth sensor”” does anything? I encourage you to take a portrait covering that camera with your finger to see what happens. But hey, the most common thing now is not that camera, but the macro.

How many times have you used the 2 megapixel macro of your brand new mobile? I know that it is not a type of photography for everyone, but surely the answer will be that you have not used it and I can imagine why: because you have realized that the photos come out much better if you move away a little, you take them with the main one and then you expand that if you do them with the macro.

Well, there we have many, many brands determined to put a macro because, in this way, they can say that they have three rear cameras.

Typical 2 Mpx macro

There are very few mobiles that currently only come with two cameras and, so soon, I can only think of the iPhone 13 and the Pixel 6 with a main and a wide angle, the two necessary and that only need the company of a TV. End, no more is needed.

So, if it’s worth nothing and it’s clear that something, even a little, costs the manufacturers both the lenses and the sensors… why do they keep putting these cameras in? Well, because it’s marketing pure and simple and if your phone has 3 or 4 cameras, it has a “””better camera”””” than phones with only 2 or 3, respectively.

And it’s something I shouldn’t care about in the slightest and, in fact, in my analyzes I practically do not test the macro because I tell you, literally, that you are not going to use it either because it is worthless, but it bothers me that being able to do things well, companies insist on marketing.

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Huawei with phones like the P30 Pro (what mobile was it, please) made the wide angle work as a macro. That is something that we have seen in recent mobiles such as the Oppo Find X5 or the iPhone 13 Pro and it works well, much better than the 2 or 4 megapixel macro that these same brands (except Apple) introduce in other of their mobiles.

However, the one that, curiously, has understood the macro issue best is Xiaomi. Yes, Xiaomi, when it inserts a macro it is the telemacro that we see on mobile phones such as the Xiaomi 11 Lite or the Xiaomi 12, among others.

It is a 2x telephoto, but with a maximum focus distance of 10 centimeters and it gives spectacular results if you have good light and a little pulse.

Macro of the Xiaomi 12

And, since I know that it can be done well, that’s why it bothers me that the rest of the market continues with the battle of “oh, look at our phone with four cameras, one of them a great macro and another one a depth camera that is not a ToF“, since it reminds me so much of the meaningless war of megapixels.

Oh well, I say that they will get tired of doing this and bet on something that is really useful. Or maybe not and go for something more absurd, who knows.

And going back to the beginning, when I was more ignorant about the subject of technology, and about any, the more I enjoyed my purchases, and sometimes I miss that time.

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