Dual-Pixel sensor in the Google Pixel 2... does iPhone have this? Does it matter?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Starfyre, Oct 4, 2017.

  1. Starfyre macrumors 68030

    Starfyre

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    #1
    I just read about the new Google Pixel 2 and 2XL have a dual-pixel sensor, which is supposed to divide every pixel into two. This means...
    - Pixels are smaller (1.4μm instead of last year’s 1.55μm, which maybe allows for better quality?)
    - Allows for faster autofocus
    - Portrait Mode / Blurred Background without a second camera
    - Portrait Mode for objects and not just people, and can also work on the front-facing 8 megapixel camera
    - Google smarts allow the camera to make a depth map and use that to help it identify the foreground and background of a photo and blur out everything but the subject

    So given the above, how does iPhone 8/8+ stack up to this? Do the new iPhones already have small pixels and all the features that this new "dual pixel" technology provides?
    Is this really earth shattering for smartphones or does it not really matter?
     
  2. oplix Suspended

    oplix

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    #2
    samsung has had dual pixel since S7. its very good autofocus technology. basically it makes autofocusing instant so very fast moving objects should not blur.

    iphone uses something similar called focus pixels but it's not as good
     
  3. dallas112678 macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    The iPhone doesn’t have dual pixel. The advantage with dual pixel specifically for autofucusing is that every pixel is essentially a focus point rather than having significantly less dedicated focus points on the iPhone. Samsung have had this for awhile and is why Samsung phones focus significantly faster and more accurately. This is especially important for video.
     
  4. Starfyre thread starter macrumors 68030

    Starfyre

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    #4
    This might be a silly question, but if iPhone cameras were dual-pixel too, would that yield better image quality? Or are there other factors that help iPhone take better photos? I feel like there has to be some negative tradeoff for the iPhone to not be using it given the S7 has it...

    Is this dual-pixel technology patented by Samsung or Google?
     
  5. swein1992 macrumors member

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    #5
    shouldn't be. HTC U11 also has it. (Now you know where they get that camera from)
     
  6. Billburns macrumors 6502

    Billburns

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    #6
    Apple has something that’s not very good or the best? That’s shocking
     
  7. dallas112678 macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    The negative trade-off is that it's a more complicated sensor and thus probably more expensive. Samsung has always had some of the highest quality pictures in smartphones. I think you are assuming because you saw some photos that you didn't like in a certain review, that the camera is lower quality. I've seen tons of great photos from Samsung phones that look much better than the ones in that Cnet review, not to mention the most respected camera sensor review site (DXOmark) gives equal scores.

    I don't think the technology is patented. Canon uses the same dual pixel setup in their DSLR's which is what gives them some of the best video autofocus performance in the industry.
     
  8. oplix Suspended

    oplix

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    #8
    in most cases, that becomes a question of whether the auto focus is fast ENOUGH for the shot. under situations where iphone's might not be fast enough, then those situations would highly favor dual pixel
     
  9. fs454 macrumors 68000

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    #9
    It doesn't really matter - and honestly I wouldn't get too worked up about the camera compared to every last detail of the competition. All of the sensors are in the same size class and the difference between two same-generation smartphone cameras is going to be very small.

    Dual pixel is a little faster, the S8/Note 8 have it and it's evident in any 8/8 Plus vs Galaxy test where they do a series of pans back and forth on small objects close up. Apple doesn't have it because they don't deem it necessary to make the pixels smaller (a degradation, not a benefit: bigger pixels = more light pickup per pixel among other things) for autofocus performance on a camera with a sensor so tiny that everything is basically in focus anyways. The smaller the sensor, the deeper the depth of field (the area in which things are in focus). You don't really often hear of complaints about focus in these cameras as it doesn't have to do much work in the first place.

    In Google's case, they're also using the dual pixel tech to create the depth map like the 8 Plus does with Portrait Mode and its dual cameras. This is a cool concept and it'll remain to be seen whether it performs as good as Apple's implentation - but at the end of the day, computational photography stuff aside, the performance of all 2017 flagship phone cameras is going to be similar enough.
     
  10. Starfyre, Oct 4, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2017

    Starfyre thread starter macrumors 68030

    Starfyre

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    #10
    What situations would qualify under the "auto focus" not being fast enough? Is this typically low light shots like trying to focus on the moon? Or of there is some fast moving target like a cheetah running?

    I like how fs454 mentioned how dual pixel means smaller pixels for each shot, even though you get "more detail", the pixels are degraded, so that in and of itself seems like a compromise to me besides cost. What it sounds like is low-light performance should be better on the iPhone 8+, or any other phones with non-dual pixel because more light gets to the "bigger pixels" (if this is the right way to think about it, unless there is some major compensation that dual-pixel technology uses to deal with that sort of situation).

    Though it seems a little bothersome that Nikon also has a patent for Dual Pixel Auto Focus:
    http://thenewcamera.com/nikon-patent-bsi-cmos-sensor-with-dual-pixel-af/

    So if Canon and Nikon both have this, and no one is complaining about their pixel size not letting more light in, is this because DSLRs already have big image sensors, so they can afford to offer dual pixel autofocus without compromise to image quality... while smartphone sensors are already much smaller, so dual pixel does not offer as big of an advantage, and in some cases (like Samsung's or Google Pixel 2's case) photos might turn out worse than the iPhone 8+ because of it?
     
  11. macfacts macrumors 68040

    macfacts

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    #11
    Just a guess, it costs more and would result in lower profits if Apple used it. That is the negative.
     
  12. AKS3003 macrumors member

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    #12

    Dual Pixel technology has been around since the days of the iPhone 6S. All the Samsung Galaxy phones, since the S7, have had this technology. Both Apple and Samsung use this tech for fast focusing. The only difference is that, on the Samsung all the pixels are "dual pixels". this allows for crazy fast auto focusing, which is evident on Samsung phones.
    On iPhones, about 5% of the pixels are "dual pixels". This allows for fast focusing, but no where near as fast as on Samsung. Its not earth shattering. The difference is most evident in videos, but for still images, it only helps in locking on to a subject faster. After that, the image quality is up to other factors , like sensor, software, etc.
     
  13. oplix Suspended

    oplix

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    #13
    exactly. so it can improve it in certain situations but in others it might not be as relevant
     
  14. roeiz macrumors 65816

    roeiz

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    #14
    Seems rather significant to have faster focus on video, and take snappier photos.
     
  15. dallas112678 macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    Here's a better explanation.

    https://www.gizmotimes.com/smartphones/how-does-the-samsung-12mp-dual-pixel-sensor-work/9264

    Each pixel still collects light, it doesn't dump half the information simply because it's "dual pixel". Look at it like this, in each pixel, you have two subpixels. These two subpixels essentially collect light (which creates a charge) and the varied information from the subpixels help with the focusing, the charges of the two subpixels are then essentially combined for an overall charge for the pixel.

    Also, it's not as simple as pixel size with regards to noise. For example, lets say you have two sensors, both of which are the same size, one is 12MP and the other is 24MP. Now, if you printed at the full sensor resolution, the 24MP sensor would indeed have more noise per pixel as the pictures are smaller. HOWEVER, if you then downscale that 24MP image to 12 MP (to match the resolution of the other sensor) then you not only throw away the extra detail, but you are also essentially getting rid of that extra noise, so the images would look very similar from a noise perspective.
     
  16. rasputin1969 macrumors 6502

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    #16
    I think people really underestimate the importance of fast autofocus. I’d love to see Apple concentrate on this and catch up with Samsung, and now Google. Instead we get a gimmick like portrait lighting.
     
  17. Relentless Power macrumors Penryn

    Relentless Power

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    #17
    I don't think Portrait Lighting is a gimmick, I think it has its advantages and allows for user customization with Photos. And that's really what it comes down to, is users want to be able to take more unique photos and establish them in their own style preference.
     
  18. rasputin1969 macrumors 6502

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    #18
    OK, so

    Portrait lighting - allows users to take a more unique photo on some occasions.
    Fast and accurate autofocus - allows users to take quicker, clearer and better photos all the time, every time.
     
  19. Relentless Power macrumors Penryn

    Relentless Power

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    #19
    But that's all somebody maybe wants, is to take a photo that is unique and have an alternative method, similarly to what Portrait mode offers. Again, the point is that it's still a unique Way of utilizing an iPhone camera and it's capabilities. But it doesn't make it a gimmick, just because you don't agree with the feature or will utilize it.

    Also, for reference, have a look at this thread that indicates Portrait Lighting and portrait mode with 60 pages worth of photos that others find unique.

    https://forums.macrumors.com/thread...-mode-portrait-lighting-photos.2074218/unread
     
  20. rasputin1969 macrumors 6502

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    #20
    In a couple of months there’ll be nothing unique or alternative about shooting with portrait lighting, that sort of cookie cutter shot will be all over instagram. What makes your shot unique is the composition ans detail.
     
  21. Relentless Power macrumors Penryn

    Relentless Power

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    #21
    It's unique to the user, it doesn't have to be something that needs to be conflated with social media. Portrait Lighting and Portrait mode offer more creativity. Not everything has to be in comparison to what somebody else does with their phone. Having more options with the iPhone camera is better than having limited options. Not To mention, everybody uses their iPhone camera differently.
     
  22. rasputin1969 macrumors 6502

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    #22
    Fair enough, you rate portrait lighting highly. If you had to pick one which would choose - portrait lighting, or much faster autofocus?
     
  23. Relentless Power macrumors Penryn

    Relentless Power

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    #23
    I don't necessarily see Portrait Lighting or Portrait mode being the next biggest thing, I just like the fact that it expands with what the user can do with Photos today on a smart phone.

    And I have not experimented enough with Portrait Lighting, so I would have to say faster auto focus at the moment.
     
  24. rasputin1969 macrumors 6502

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    #24
    So for the most part we’re in agreement only you question my use of the word “gimmick” when applied to portrait lighting. The OED defines gimmick as

    “A trick or device intended to attract attention, publicity, or trade.”.

    Portrait lighting, as we’ve seen from the Apple promo spots, is being heavily pushed by Apple. Would they have done the same with a much more important feature like faster autofocus? It’s doubtful. That being the case is it fair to say that Apple is concentrating on a features capacity to attract attention and publicity, over core camera capabilities?
     
  25. Relentless Power macrumors Penryn

    Relentless Power

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    #25
    No, I don't agree that it's a gimmick and you're on the verge of conflating. I'm simply stating it doesn't need to be appreciated the same way across the board from everybody. Everybody will use this feature differently and again, it's about the customization that it offers. That was my original point. But just because I don't think it's the next biggest thing, doesn't mean that I classify it as a gimmick either.

    For example, the same argument is made that 3D Touch is a gimmick. Which I disagree with, I think 3D Touch is a convenience factor that offers a shortcut through applications for ease of simplicity.
     

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30 October 4, 2017