Love your mobile photography? Let’s face it, who doesn’t? Most of us these days use our phones to take pictures, and if you’re looking into buying a new mobile, then you’ve probably noticed that dual camera phones are all the rage.
Dual Cameras: The Basics
As you can probably guess from the phrase “dual camera”, a dual camera phone has two rear cameras. That is two separate lenses. On some cameras these lenses can operate individually, giving you great long shots and great close-ups, or black and white pics as well as colour pics. That’s kind of a nice feature, but in reality dual cameras are designed to be used together.
When you take a picture using both lenses at the same time, which is what most dual camera phones do by default, you get added effects or better photos. Now, it’s tough to be exact here, since different manufacturers are selling different kinds of lenses, but we’ll do our best.
On a dual camera, you’ll have one primary camera. This camera is your everyday, basic mobile phone camera. Where things change is that secondary lens. And manufacturers have a choice of three different lens types for that second lens.
A monochrome second lens (as seen on the Huawei Honor P9, for example) is a black and white lens. This lets the regular primary camera focus on getting the light and colours right, whilst the black and white lens better focusses on fine details. Combine the two lenses and you get a sharp, clear picture.
A telephoto second lens (as seen on the iPhone 7) is a lens that gets lots of detail on things that are far away (like a telescope). Combine this with the great close detail from your primary camera and you get a picture that has depth since there can be fine detail in both the foreground and background.
Finally, a wide angle second lens (as seen on the LG G4) is a lens that takes, well, wider pictures. Your primary camera captures the colours and details, and your secondary lens gets the full width of a panoramic picture. But instead of taking multiple shots and glueing them together (which is what regular panorama mode does), you get it all in one shot, so less chance of errors, stretching, or weird effects.
Depending on what kind of effects you’re looking for, one of these cameras could be better for you than others. So let’s turn to the photographic effects that we’re talking about.
The focus is very important in photography. This is what gives you crisp, clear pictures with plenty of fine detail. If you’re looking for laser-sharp photos, then you’re looking for a monochrome second lens, so something like the Huawei Honor P9 or the Honor 8.
An added bonus of having both a black and white and a colour lens is that this camera will also take great low light pictures. Software inside the camera will stitch your two pictures (one from each lens) together and can use the information from the monochrome lens to add appropriate light levels to the colour photograph, making for a brighter picture.
Zoom and Perspective
If you’re looking for different perspectives (angles) of shots, or the ability to zoom close in or very far away, then you could be looking for either a telephoto or a wide angle lens, depending on what you want to do.
The iPhone 7 Plus with its telephoto lens lets you get clear pictures from very far away, and even to combine pictures so that you get detail in both the front and the back of your pic. The previously mentioned LG G4 with its wide angled lens gets you more detail and wider angles on the sides of your picture (usually better for landscape or building shots, rather than portraits). Another option is the second “fish eye” lenses that are found on high-end Samsung phones, which give a strange bubble-like effect to pictures. However, fisheye lenses aren’t great for portraits and are generally considered to offer “special effects” rather than serious photographic effects.
Finally, there’s bokeh, which you might not have heard of, but you’ve definitely seen. Bokeh is a photographic technique that blurs the background of a picture whilst keeping the main focus clear. This allows the viewer to focus on the main subject of the picture and is great for portraits.
Both monochrome second lenses and telephoto second lenses will allow you to do this. And the iPhone 7 and the Huawei Honor P9 and Honor 8 all have bokeh settings that you can use. If you’re into serious portrait photography, then these are definitely models that you should be looking at.
A Gimmick or Not?
You might be forgiven for thinking that dual rear cameras are a gimmick, but they’re really not. In fact, if you’ve seen the latest Huawei P20 leaks from Tiger Mobiles then you’ll know a Triple Rear camera is hitting the shelves very soon. So for those interested in improving their photography skills, the dual lenses have a lot to offer. One of the main problems for mobile photographers is the fact that unlike standard cameras mobile cameras have fixed “apertures.” This means that you can’t change the focus of your camera in the same way that you could if you had a standard cam.
Dual rear cameras solve this issue since the two lenses will have different apertures and the resulting pictures can be combined in different ways to create the same effect as changing the aperture level on a standard camera.
However, the real bottom line here is that dual camera phones are going to give you better pictures. Even if you don’t get all the photographic lingo, and you’re not into playing around with camera settings, your pics will be sharper, cleaner and simply better with a dual rear camera phone.
Now your only problem is going to be deciding which of the many awesome models to go for!