Nokia 9 and its 5+ rear camera array

Darmok N Jalad

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So the Nokia 9 was introduced today, with an almost spider-like array of eyeballs for photography. I’m curious what it will do for quality, but as a former Lumia 1020 owner, I’m quite intrigued by the concept. Is this the future of smartphone photography? Thoughts?

https://www.anandtech.com/show/14022/nokia-launches-nokia-9-pureview-at-mwc-2019

The Nokia 9 is the world’s first handset to use a camera featuring six sensors/modules: two 12 MP RGB sensors featuring Zeiss optics, three 12 MP monochrome sensors using Zeiss lenses, and a time-of-light (ToF) depth sensor. The camera is controlled by a tiny 14 mm2 ASIC developed by a company called Lightthat specializes on imaging solutions using 6, 12, or 18-camera arrays.

The Light ASIC independently controls all camera modules in order to focus them, adjust exposure levels per aperture, calculate white balance, etc. Once the cameras capture their images, the ASIC fuses them together into a single ‘RAW’ image (as Nokia puts it, ‘HDR image’) containing both color and lighting/shadows information. Then the chip transfers the ‘RAW’ data using two MIPI transmitters to a host for further processing. Since contemporary Qualcomm Snapdragon SoCs do not natively support six camera modules, Nokia needed the ASIC from Light not only because it controls the sensors, but also because it packs the data into a format that a mobile SoC can consume and process.

Once the data gets to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon, the magic from Nokia kicks in. The company developed algorithms that use Qualcomm’s general purpose, ISP, and DSP hardware to process the image data from the sensors. According to Nokia, use of the ASIC as well as various hardware capabilities provided by the Snapdragon enable the Nokia 9 PureView to do some serious image processing without dramatically harming battery life.

Combining data from five 12 MP sensors, according to the company, enable the Nokia 9 PureView to capture a gargantuan amount of color and light details. Obviously, using the data available, the phone itself can apply various effects to photos on-the-fly using the Pro Camera UI, including the popular depth-of-field (bokeh effect), various kinds of blur, tilt, shift, etc. What is, perhaps, more important is that RAW (DNG to be more precise) images that the Nokia 9 PureView produces can be later edited in all ways possible, focal points may be changed and so on using pre-installed Adobe Lightroom app (or Google Photos depth editor). With its six-module camera, Nokia essentially unlocks possibilities previously only available to photographers with high end cameras practically to everyone.
 

mtneer

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AFAIK the Nokia phone is stuck with one focal length despite having that many cameras. I am not sure if that’s the best use for all that hardware. It’s telling that “Light” the company has been trying to commercialize that multi-camera package for many years now and none of be big guys have taken it up.
 

F-Train

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In theory, this makes it possible to do a lot of image manipulation. Personally, I'm not thrilled at the idea of spending a lot of time processing mobile phone images. There will apparently be a bunch of Lightroom presets available, but then, what's the point?

US$700 unlocked.
 

Ledgem

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I think it's the future of smartphone photography, and possibly standard photography (if camera makers can figure out how to implement it). We've been used to one-shot, one-photo style photography for so long; high-dynamic range (HDR) imagery showcased how taking multiple snaps can lead to a superior image over a single exposure, getting around hardware limitations, but for the longest time that was about it (aside from stitching multiple shots into panoramas). Traditional cameras didn't really allow for mixing of focal lengths to process a single image, and sensor development largely occurred fast enough that people became reliant on the idea that continued development would solve all problems.

Smartphones have more generalized computational power than your average camera, they have some form factor constraints, and they also have form factor freedoms that traditional cameras lack. Because of the smaller sensor and fixed optics they have to resort to some software trickery to match certain things that cameras can do with ease, but this will allow them to do more, as well.

Nokia claims that there is 240 megapixels' worth of data, that is then automatically processed and distilled down to a 12 megapixel image. That's a lot of data to work with. I'm intrigued and am awaiting a review that shows off what the camera can do. Apple and Google already do some interesting things with single- and double-lens phone camera systems, so it seems that there should be a lot of possibilities here.

I don't think we're even a few years away from having a smartphone possibly replace a traditional camera, but this is just another example of how we might be getting there.
 

F-Train

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Because of the smaller sensor and fixed optics they have to resort to some software trickery to match certain things that cameras can do with ease, but this will allow them to do more, as well.
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So far, it's 100% trickery. The future tense in your last clause is duly noted :)
[doublepost=1551128656][/doublepost]I was a big proponent of mobile phone photography until I purchased a Sony RX0. The RX0 is the size of a GoPro, but unlike a GoPro it's a real camera. It's basically a miniature RX100. Fits in a shirt pocket, and can be used without the contortions involved in shooting with a phone.

Here's a video made with one, followed by a short "how we used the RX0 to shoot it":



 
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Robotti

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Oct 16, 2014
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It’s telling that “Light” the company has been trying to commercialize that multi-camera package for many years now and none of be big guys have taken it up.
Sony has taken it up. It’s also being rumored that this very Nokia camera is a result of co-operation with Light. Since Light and Nokia have a connection from the start, I’d buy that rumor.