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"Superzoom" lenses will be the biggest thing to do with smartphone cameras this year



For all those fanfare who get ultra wide-angle cameras on the Internet, it gets closer, which has long given the biggest frustration in smartphone photography. Digital zoom has been the technological scientific humor for years, a feature reserved for those who are so illiterate in their use of cameras, not to understand that it achieves the same final effect as cropping an unseen image with a single editor. Why zoom at all, do we say when the camera is unable to collect more data, but in reality it destroys and too noisy, blurred image? Although this has a strong ring of "technically true", I also think it basically ignores and misunderstands why people use zoom in the first place – and also why I think optical super zoom systems are the future of smartphone cameras.

Having had a chance to try out a couple (I've shot photos on Oppo's Reno 1

0x last week, and now I'm using a Huawei P30 Pro). I am now fully convinced: Any serious smartphone manufacturer in the coming years will develop with at least one phone with these new super zoom systems. Whether the periscope style currently used by Huawei and Oppo (and soon to be Samsung) or another solution we have not yet seen, I think all manufacturers will find that customers love the experience and move fast to exploit it. We have already seen that the mild zoom "portrait" lenses popular with Apple have been quickly picked up by most of the industry, and I think these new high-power zooms (which are about 120mm equivalent ) will soon follow for exactly the same reasons.

Reading comments from some people in the industry, you might think telephoto's ability is a niche concern; something for true mobile photographers who want a proper pro camera in their pockets. I think it's nonsense – the people we so often see (and unfairly mock) using digital zoom are not serious photographers, but tourists visit landmarks, parents capture future memories of their children, spectators at all events, and anyone who ever tried to take a picture from a plane, train or car. That some people seem to think only of professional wildlife photography and artistic framed architecture when thinking of zoom lenses is quite bizarre to me because it ignores the literal dozens of very real cases that are capable of getting closer, can activate.

Imagine you are at your child's birthday party. You will have a reaction image of their face when they open the big gift, the one you made them wait until the very end to finally unpack. Shoving a phone in their face can kind of kill the magic, which can be a huge DSLR – many kids are camera shy. Being able to stand 10 meters away and quickly snatch a proper close-up of the open mouth surprise is something many parents would kill for, but with digital zoom you get a pretty terrible result. The same goes for their first sporting event, the first day of school, or just a moment you won't be able to get three feet away from catching. A zoom lens is invaluable for honest photography and can preserve such human moments – emotions, reactions, and interactions – that a wider, more open line simply cannot or would not require violations at that moment in a way that harms it by its authenticity. This may sound like a whimsical drive to you, but I assure you that a shot of your child, strengthening their first bat in a small league game with a 5x zoom factor, will capture that moment with so much more emotion and focus than an ordinary smartphone camera.

Shot on Oppo's Reno 10x – this image captures the depth and hits the scene in a way that a wider lens simply cannot.

The same goes for concerts, professional sports matches, a zoo trip, or just taking fun portraits with your friends as much as it captures the moments that become lifelong memories – moments that actually look good to print and put on your wall, refrigerator or desk. So please: Don't talk to me about superzoom is a niche feature – I understand that many people don't like taking pictures, especially of other people, but for the countless families out there who cherish the moments they have Captured with their phones, those who want to remember a concert or sporting event, or just take a neatly framed picture of a pet, it's incredibly obvious to be able to get closer. I'm not exactly shocked that most childless young men don't see the appeal so clearly, but they're not the audience either.

For those people who do not follow all the big smartphone innovations, I think these powerful zoom cameras will show their ease of use quickly and convincingly – far more than AI scene recognition, RAW capture, 960FPS slow mo or the countless other geecentric and Virtually useless features like manual controls that have turned on smartphone camera interfaces to rat fairs. Being able to bring you closer to a moment, a person or an experience is one of the central purposes that a camera should aim to fulfill. I have not seen any innovation that enhances the ability as much as one actually brings you closer.

PS I hope someone in the Pixel team takes notes.

Shot on Huawei P30 Pro.


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