Samsung has the key to improving the telephoto lens: 200 megapixels and virtual cameras

Samsung has the solution to mediocre cell phone cameras With 200 megapixel sensors you can make a crop lossless that emulates an optical telephoto

 

 Not so long ago, when a mobile phone was presented, manufacturers placed a lot of emphasis on megapixels. The more the better, and the more cameras… the better too. It was our task in the analyzes to clarify that more megapixels are not always better and, in fact, it seems that this absurd race has calmed down a bit in recent generations.

However, Samsung continues to bet on sensors with many megapixels, although as we have seen in the case of the Galaxy S23 Ultra has all the sense in the world for certain actions, such as a lossless crop or a spectacular RAW. Now want bringing 200 megapixel technology to the telephoto lens to achieve something similar to what we have seen with the iPhone 15 Pro: Expand the range of simulated objectives without having to add cameras to the rear.

The longer the lens, the better for certain photos

It is clear that, when we have to talk about phones with big camerasthe flagship from Samsung always take the top spots on the list. The South Korean company is not only putting special care in this section (for many years, even creating hybrids between a camera and a phone and even cameras as such), but it manufactures its own sensors.

in a new publication On its blog, the company wanted to talk about the cameras and has focused the message on the use of best sensors for telephoto cameras. Before getting into the topic of megapixels, we have been reminded that a portrait is not the same whether it is taken with the main camera or with the telephoto lens.

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Usually, we use the main camera to make the portraits because they are the ones in which the manufacturers put all the meat on the grill with larger and brighter sensors (usually sized between 1/1.4 inch and 1 inch, as is the case with the Xiaomi 13 Pro or of Sony Xperia Pro).

However, they have a problem: their focal length is about 24 millimeters. This means that they are still a wide angle and, therefore, deformations occur in the portrayed face. They make faces more elongated, for example.

 

Difference in the deformation of a face. On the left, portrait with the 1x. On the right, with the telephoto.

When we shoot a portrait with a telephoto lens (be it a 2x or longer), the faces have a more natural proportion, but the quality usually drops a lot not because of the number of megapixels of the telephoto sensor, but because its size is much smaller. Typically, these are 1/3-inch, 1/2.7-inch, and in rare cases, half-inch sensors.

The smaller the sensor, the less light enters it. and, if they provide it with many megapixels, there is a ‘clumping’ that implies that those megapixels will be very small and, therefore, they capture less light, less information and the quality of the photograph is worse.

Samsung’s goal is to minimize the difference between using a main camera and a telephoto in terms of final image quality. For that, it will boost the 200 megapixel sensors with different magnification options lossless.

Samsung and its 200 megapixel telephoto lenses to create virtual cameras

The bet is so aggressive that, in the article, Samsung wants us to call this telephoto “second main camera”. To do this, imagine a scenario in which we have a telephoto sensor with a 200 megapixel sensor with identical proportions to those of the main camera sensor.

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Same size for both the sensor and the pixels and, therefore, the same HDR and light collection capabilities. Samsung talks about, for example, a 3x telephoto lens with a 200 megapixel sensor. With it, photographs could be taken at the native 3x distance, but also at 6x and 12x digital without loss of quality and with a final result of 12.5 megapixels.

This is because It is not a digital zoom as such or a crop applied after the fact, once the photograph has been taken, but rather a cutout of the sensor before taking the photo itself. It’s something we saw in the iPhone 14 Pro and that we will also see, with a greater digital focal range, in the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

The iPhone does the following: we have the 1x optical and the 3x optical, but in between we see a 2x digital. This is not a digital zoom like that of many other phones, but rather a cutout of the main sensor. If a photo with the 1x occupies 100% of the sensor, one with the 2x would occupy 50%, the central part. Not only is it the best part of the sensor, but it also takes advantage of the sharpest part of the lens and produces lossless digital zoom, or lossless.

This is what Samsung proposes with that 3x telephoto lens with a 200 megapixel sensor. To achieve that 6x and 12x, you would use smaller portions of the 200 megapixel sensor, resulting in 12.5 Mpx photos without loss of detail. And, returning to the portrait, since the main sensor and the telephoto one would be the same (or very similar), there was no difference in image quality and we could use whichever one we wanted.

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4x with the sensor cutout vs 4x with an 11 megapixel sensor achieved with 3x optical and 1.3 digital. That is, the photo on the right is obtained by digital zooming on an 11 megapixel sensor of a tiny size compared to the 200 Mpx sensor and with a 3x focal length.

When focal points are added losslessyou gain versatility and, therefore, Apple can talk about Your iPhone 15 Pro Max has seven cameras in practice when, physically, he only has three. This is because the ultra wide angle is used as a macro, the wide angle is used as 1x, 1.2x (digital), 1.5x (digital) and 2x (digital) and then we have the 5x telephoto lens.

It is easy to imagine a scenario in which we see a Galaxy Ultra with a multitude of practical cameras, but fewer physical cameras thanks to the use of these very high resolution sensors. Now, the South Koreans have not announced that they are working on these telephoto lensesthey only tell us about the theory, but it would not be unreasonable to think that we could see it on a Galaxy S24 Ultra (of which we already have quite a few leaks) or a Galaxy S25 Ultra.