OPPO’s 10x lossless zoom tech is coming to smartphones this year
Just before MWC 2019 could get underway, Oppo took to the stage at its Oppo Innovation Event 2019 in Barcelona to preview its newest camera technology. Oppo’s newest tech is a smartphone camera module that claims to offer 10x lossless zoom in a really compact form factor that makes it perfect to be utilized in smartphones without adding the bulk that conventional optical zoom setups would require.
Oppo’s camera technology comprises of three cameras and a periscope setup. First, you have a 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor as your primary sensor. Then there is a 120° super wide angle lens that has a 35mm equivalence of 16mm, which forms the base “1x” zoom setup on the phone.
At the bottom of the setup is the telephoto camera along with the periscope setup. What Oppo has done here is placed the image sensor and additional lenses perpendicular to the body of the phone (instead of sitting parallel and flat) and used a mirror setup to redirect light from the camera cutout towards the image sensor. This placement allows Oppo to provide for a 35mm equivalence of 160mm, forming the “10x” zoom part of the setup. By switching between these three cameras, Oppo provides for a full 10x range of lossless zoom with variable focal length from 16mm – 160mm.
Zooming in by such a large margin amplifies the minor shakes into major disruptions and blurs for the image. Oppo tackles this nuisance by equipping all three cameras with OIS. The telephoto-periscope setup achieves OIS by wiggling around the mirror by fractions of a millimeter to counter unintended hand movement. However, because of the magnitude of the zoom and the challenges involved in the technology, previewing photos through the telephoto lens produces a jelly-effect, which is a bit jarring to the user experience (but does not affect the end result). You can see the jelly-effect in The Verge’s video:
The telephoto lens also has a long minimum focusing distance for shooting, so its main usage is for capturing greater detail in landscape scenarios, rather than for zooming in for macro photography.
Perhaps the best part of Oppo’s new camera tech is the fact that it is ready for mass production and will feature in a yet-to-be-announced device that will release in Q2 of this year.
The camera tech was shown off in a prototype device that came with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC, an FHD+ display, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage. The battery capacity of the prototype was 4,065mAh, and it did not feature a headphone jack, or a visible fingerprint scanner (likely because it housed an in-display fingerprint sensor). To be clear, this was a preview device that was meant to show off the camera technology rather than the phone, so the final consumer-ready phone from Oppo may have a lot of variance with these specs. However, we expect the device to come with a high price tag, and as a consequence, some high-end features.