Apple's Proposed Dual Camera Interface Brought to Life in Video Demo

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Amid rumors a dual-lens camera will be introduced in the iPhone 7, Apple recently submitted a patent application published in January which gives us rare insight into what Apple thinks a dual-lens camera interface could look like on future iOS devices.

The patent outlines a dual-camera system that consists of one standard wide-angle lens similar to what's in the iPhone today and a second telephoto lens capable of capturing zoomed-in video and photos.


Both lenses can be used simultaneously to take separate photos or videos, with Apple's software able to merge the images together in unique ways. As described by Apple, images from both lenses can be displayed on the same screen in the Camera app through a split-screen view that shows a standard wide-angle image on one side and the zoomed image on the other side.

When capturing a video or a photo, users are able to transition between both lenses seamlessly, tapping on a spot in the photo to zoom in with a second lens. Apple's system would work similarly to digital zoom does today, but because it's using a lens with a longer focal length instead of zooming in through software, there's no loss of detail and the zoomed in image is much more crisp and clear.

Using the information obtained from the patent as a guideline, MacRumors videographer Matt Gonzalez created this video depicting how Apple might utilize multiple cameras to add impressive new features to the iPhone's picture taking capabilities.


As a specific example in the patent, Apple outlines a photo-taking opportunity at a child's birthday party. A parent could capture a video of the moments before the candles on the cake are blown out using the standard wide-angle iPhone camera, and then tap on the screen to open a split-screen view and activate the telephoto lens for a close-up portrait shot of the exact moment the candles are blown out.

According to the patent, both cameras are able to be used separately, with each one capturing video (even slo-mo video) or one capturing video and another taking photographs. The resulting files can be saved independently or artfully merged together using Apple's software.

We can't be sure that the patent is representative of an actual dual-camera implementation we might see in a future iPhone, but it's certainly a possibility and it gives us a solid look at some of the ideas Apple is working on. We're still several months away from the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus, but multiple rumors suggest a dual-lens camera will be a feature for the larger-screened device.

Article Link: Apple's Proposed Dual Camera Interface Brought to Life in Video Demo
 
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YoitsTmac

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Aug 30, 2014
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In the video example, they used the second lens to "zoom" anywhere seen on the standard camera. I find this hard to believe, because that would mean the zoom lens and sensor would have to move. More likely it would zoom in just the way it does now, without loosing quality, which is a good improvement in itself. If that is the case however, that would be pretty cool.
 
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pgiguere1

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The idea of using the image from the regular lens to pan around and change which part the secondary lens is zoomed on is interesting, but the video doesn't explain how that would work technically.

Would the secondary (zoomed in) lens have a motor that makes it tilt around? Is this pure speculation or does any patent hint at such a motorized moving lens? That sounds like a pretty complicated system that I wouldn't assume will be there unless it's specifically rumored.
 

VulchR

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The split screen idea doesn't look to good to me - maybe having a zoomed preview if the low-mag picture is touched.
 
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arn

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The idea of using the image from the regular lens to pan around and change which part the secondary lens is zoomed on is interesting, but the video doesn't explain how that would work technically.

Would the secondary (zoomed in) lens have a motor that makes it tilt around? Is this pure speculation or does any patent hint at such a motorized moving lens?
The patent doesn't really specify, as I recall. There is a little "play" in what you are targetted at, since due to the crop, it's not using the entire sensor. The picture-in-picture part is a square, and so depending on the orientation of the sensor, you could move around left/right or top/bottom depending on the orientation.

arn
 

Someyoungguy

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Was hoping the dual lenses would be used to increase low light performance at the same zoom level (akin to radio telescope arrays vs. a single, large one), rather than this Jekyl and Hide approach to taking pictures. I think it could be difficult to act effectively as a TV control booth in the moment.
 
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diipii

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Was hoping the dual lenses would be used to increase low light performance at the same zoom level (akin to radio telescope arrays vs. a single, large one), rather than this Jekyl and Hide approach to taking pictures. I think it could be difficult to act effectively as a TV control booth in the moment.
Well said. This daft wide/tele mix is a complete non-starter. As you say the twin lens combination of images to boost light gathering is an exciting prospect for all cameras including video. Apple could be left on the sidelines if they go this route because of their blinkered vision.
 
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arn

macrumors god
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Apr 9, 2001
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Well said. This daft wide/tele mix is a complete non-starter. As you say the twin lens combination of images to boost light gathering is an exciting prospect for all cameras including video. Apple could be left on the sidelines if they go this route because of their blinkered vision.
I don't think one feature precludes the others. Multiple cameras could offer different advantages, depending on how they implement it in software.

This is simply the only thing we've heard from Apple, itself, about the possibilties.

arn
 

agsystems

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Aug 1, 2013
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Please Apple don't force me to buy a phablet brick to have this feature!
Going by the rumors, this would be something Apple will do - otherwise their precious ASP will go down

Assuming they go with this pricing on the low end:

Iphone 5s $ 250 (India, etc..)
Iphone SE $ 450

They will need to move up more folks to the plus models and adding the 2 camera system as an exclusive feature will certainly do that.
 
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